A sight for sore eyes

So coincidence or not, it has been exactly a year since I last blogged. That is almost like a lifetime when it comes to the blogging community. In fact I am sure that some of my followers will struggle to recognise me when I sneakily show up in their email list with a new entry. After all, they subscribed a year ago to receive my updates and then…..nothing.

A year! 12 months, 52 weeks and what a ride. I don’t really know where to start so I am going to sum it up in a few sentences and then elaborate later.

I had a baby boy, my husband got cancer, my husband beat cancer, I got fat….and unhealthy….again!

Around the time of my last blog my husband started getting sick. It happened suddenly and ran alongside my pregnancy thus plunging us into this spiral of illness and doctors and surgeries and appointments and I do apologise but seriously, blogging was the very last thing on my mind.

So long story short and I will tell you the full version another day when I have more time, everything culminated in ” the week from hell” in September when my husband was hospitalised on a Friday, diagnosed and rushed to surgery on the Monday and I had a c-section without him and delivered our second baby, in a different hospital over the other side of town four days later.

There is a funny thing about cancer, or should I say the weird thing about cancer because let’s face it, there is nothing funny about it. I have seen it time and time again in people I know. I am not entirely sure what it is but it is that thing that makes a wife keep smoking even after she loses her husband to lung cancer. It’s that thing that makes you go out and have a scotch and coke after you find out someone you love has been diagnosed with liver cancer.

I guess what I am saying is that you would think that a loved one getting cancer would be this magical wake up call that forces you to immediately give up all of your unhealthy vices and convert to a religion of super foods, antioxidants and early morning workouts. Well dear friends, I can now tell you from personal experience that it does not work like that.

My husband got bowel cancer. At the ripe old age of 37, after a lifetime of not smoking, rarely drinking and a fair amount of healthy activity, he got bowel cancer anyway. Was it the weet-bix
every morning? Too much coffee? Not enough coffee? One too many Big Macs? Trans fats, processed food, environmental factors, genetics? Who knows and trust me, if you think about it for more than a few seconds at a time you risk becoming a super-paranoid hypochondriac cancer-phobic hermit who never leaves the house for fear of breathing in carcinogenic pollutants in your own front yard. It really can do your head in that much!

For the first 12 weeks after his surgery and my c-section, we both hobbled around the house like an arthritic old couple, groaning and moaning at every slight movement. We both ate what we wanted and did no exercise. Exercise was forbidden for the time being so that was that. After husband having lost 30 kilos of body weight including most of his muscle mass, he looked like, well….for lack of a better description…a cancer patient. He was hollow and sickly thin and sunken. So he pretty much got a ” get out of jail free card” when it came to eating what he wanted. As for me? My post baby hormones were in full swing, I ate anything and everything in sight. My mission was to get husband to put some weight back on but in the process I did too, only I really couldn’t afford to!

Six months later, we are back to the old drawing board. Both of us overweight …..again. Both of us feeling old and unhealthy……again. Not even the big C could deter us from that Big Mac, that block of chocolate, that bowl of pasta, that packet of tim tams! Can I just take a moment to say ” WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US!” It’s like every time we reached for something unhealthy we would have the same dialogue.

“Oh we really shouldn’t”
” Probably not, but you only live once right! I had cancer so I am going have that tim tam if I want to!”
” I had a baby so I deserve that massive piece of chocolate cherry mud cake!”

And now, we are six months post cancer and post baby and we feel worse than ever. I am not even going to focus on the weight part of it but more just the overall feeling of being unwell. Joints ache, nerves twinge and pinch, head pounds. There is an undeniable feeling of overall inflammation. Nausea pays a visit from time to time and I just have the overwhelming feeling of standing precariously on the edge of a serious health problem. I can’t explain it but it is just a strong feeling that if I don’t get this under control now then things are going to happen that I cannot reverse. I am on the fence between reclaiming my health and sliding into a life of chronic illness. It is up to me which side of the fence I choose.

I read a quote the other day, I can’t remember where, most likely facebook. It said that every time we eat food, we are either fighting disease or feeding it. It made sense to me. Enough sense for me to get out my old paleo cook books and download a few new ones. I am going to choose to fight disease. My life and that of my two kids depends on it.

Today I start day 1 of my whole 30 paleo challenge. 30 days to reclaim my health, slay the sugar dragon and reset my brain. I will no longer be an incubator for inflammation and illness. Those of you wondering what the hell a whole30 is can visit Whole30 and find out the nitty gritty. Basically for 30 days I am cutting out all inflammation causing foods and eating only whole, natural foods that our paleo ancestors would have eaten. No dairy means my gall bladder will be most pleased and no grains means my waistline will be Downright delighted. Probably most importantly, no sugar ………

Now I just have to figure out what I am going to do with this?

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Babies, definitely not for the faint hearted!

All comical musings of excess hair growth aside, week 17 turned out to be quite harrowing and in no way helped my cause when it comes to eliminating grey hairs. As it turns out, I think I learned the direct correlation between blood pressure and stressful situations this week from personal experience.

With Monday came my midwife appointment at the clinic where I waited for half an hour after my appointment time to be seen by yet another new face and asked all of the exact same questions I was asked the previous week. Sigh! No I have not started smoking , changed my diet, gotten taller or become an alcoholic in the past seven days. Better ask me again next time though, in case I succumb to a life of vices in the next seven days.

Measurements were good, babies heart rate was strong and I managed to survive the entire appointment without turning into a feral four year old and having a tantrum on the floor of the consultation room. Barely.

The rest of the week went by without too much drama apart from business drama in regards to clients suddenly all forgetting to pay us…at the same time…and a particularly interesting smelling customer that had me revisiting my close bond with the porcelain bowl after she had left. I have said it before and I will say it again. Deodorant is not a luxury item, it is a god damn public service people. Get it on ya!

Thursday night came along and husband had a couple of big jobs to finish worth some big dollars when they were collected on Friday. I set him up for the night at his work bench with drinks and snacks and off I went home to cook dinner and look after our daughter. I was feeling fine, things were on track and silly me, I thought they were going to stay that way.

Midnight , right on the dot, I am sitting on my bed watching tv while my daughter slept next to me and I felt something odd down below. Off to the toilet I go, only to find when I stand up that my pyjama bottoms now look like they have been involved in a chainsaw massacre. I was sure they were blue when I put them on. Now they are red. Well actually, now they are in the bin. There was no saving them.

Freaking out is not a term that adequately describes what I felt at that moment, seeing so much blood at a time in pregnancy where you well and truly do not expect to see it. I bled a lot when I was pregnant with my daughter but never after 12 weeks. I remembered every time I rushed to the hospital feeling like I would bleed to death being told that there was nothing they could do , i was better off to go home and miscarry there.

Naturally, my first instinct was to go but not wanting to feel that sting of rejection for both myself and my baby I decided to call the maternity ward first. Seems 17 weeks deserves a little more attention and I was told to come straight up.

The rest of the night was a blur of blood tests, iv’s and the most excruciating pelvic exam in the history of the procedure. I kept a brave face. I had to. My daughter and husband were waiting just outside the curtain. The non sound proof curtain. The only evidence of my plight was the sky rocketing blood pressure and heart rate on the monitor and the cold sweat I was drenched in. Talk about stoic. I even managed to crack a few jokes during the ordeal so that my husband would think nothing serious was happening at that time. Whilst I was waxing lyrical about random subjects the nurse chuckled and the obstetrician used forceps to pull large blood clots from the surface of my cervix. Fun on a bun!

Another midwife arrived to listen for the babies heartbeat. We listened. And listened. And we got nothing. Looks were exchanged, brows were furrowed with worry and the midwife even tried to pass my own heart beat off as the babies to make me feel better but we all knew, myself included that this was not a good sign.

The obstetrician then had a conversation with me in a low voice, with a sympathetic hand on my shoulder that involved the word miscarriage more time than I care to count. He tip toed around the word, almost using only a whisper whenever he had to say it just in case I turned into a basket case at the mere mention of what we all knew could very well be the reality at this stage. My reality!

Then the worst part. I had to wait until 11:30 the next morning to have an ultrasound. That was nine hours away. That was cruel and unusual punishment. My husband and I barely spoke. The next morning we both went to work, as usual. Set up shop as usual. Just pretty much business…as usual until 11am when I quietly said goodbye and went off to the hospital.

My words to a friend , “it is what it is”. What could I do? I could not get caught up in a game of what if and if only. It helps nobody. I had to stay level headed. I could fall apart later.

My appointment time came and went and my bladder was full to bursting. Every woman in that waiting area did the same awkward little shuffle to her seat, the same little side to side shift and the cross / uncross of legs. Silently we suffered until I was the last one in the waiting room and I could suffer no more. There should be a law against keeping a pregnant woman waiting past the time of her ultrasound appointment. In fact when all is said and done i might make that my new crusade. Because you know, It is not like I don’t have enough on my plate right now.

There are no words to describe that rush of relief when that ultrasound shows a healthy baby, a healthy heartbeat and you realise you haven’t lost it. It is an experience I have now had twice in my life and it always takes your breath away. There was baby, kicking away. The sonographer said that my placenta was lying over the cervix which was more than likely the cause of the bleed but other than that the baby was normal and right on track.

So now, in order for me to successfully avoid another c-section, my disobedient placenta has until 32 weeks to move its ass upwards and out of the way. I had a feeling I was getting out of things too easily this time round. But all is well for now. I am taking it easy, no heavy lifting and I am going to have relax my standards about house tidiness but it will be worthwhile in the long run.

For now, here is the latest pic of the baby Sasquatch.

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Girl? Boy? Or…Sasquatch???

The general consensus between my family and friends seems to be that I am having a boy this time. I have to say that I am inclined to agree even though it actually goes against what I thought was my destiny but I will explain about that in a moment.

Many reasons have been given behind their pick of sex ranging from gut feelings, the way I am carrying to the sheer fact that this pregnancy has been so drastically different from my last. I hate to tell them but it could go either way, I mean, the odds are fifty percent it is one or the other right?

At the risk of sounding a bit flaky I went to see a medium once and she told me quite certainly that I would have two babies without the need for fertility treatment. They would both be girls and the first one would be within the next 12 months. After ten years of no baby I thought, yeah whatever but then along came Daughter number one right on schedule. I became convinced that she was right about everything but I guess our destiny is constantly changing to stay in line with free will and the decisions we make in life.

The reason why I am starting to lean towards maybe carrying a boy is because of the sheer amount of hair that I am currently growing. For that reason, I must apologise that it has been so long between blogs. My daily tweezing, waxing and plucking rituals have gotten way out of hand and it is taking up way more of my spare time than I care to donate.

The PCOS has always kept things interesting when it comes to black, fast growing hair in weird and unwelcome places but this is a whole new species of animal right here. My expanding stomach has developed the loveliest black snail trail. Inch long, straight, thick and black. The very same kind of snail trail that might be coveted by some men with washboard abs. The problem here is that I am not a man and I most definitely do not have washboard abs!

My husband and I were spending a rare moment lying in bed together the other morning when he began to stroke my lower back. With his usual lack of discretion, diplomacy or even self preservation he asked me if pregnancy makes you grow more hair. I raised an eyebrow and told him that sometimes it did, why did he ask? I then proceeded to warn him to think through his answer very carefully before delivering it lest he experience what happened the last time he referred to me as ” preggo” . Needless to say, the bruises from that little slip up are still fading.

He had asked me because apparently I have a patch of hair growing on my lower back now that could sustain its own ecosystem and may explain why I have been feeling warmer than usual lately. The logistics of waxing, plucking or even threading my own lower back started to do my head in but there sure as hell was no way that I was going to go anywhere publicly to have it done. I decided that it would stay and I would try hard to embrace my inner wolf man.

In a rare show of speed and accuracy, I answered my husbands question and statement about my current rate of hair growth with a swift elbow to the exact same region where his bruise was from the last episode of ” how to piss off your pregnant wife in ten seconds or less”

I feel compelled to say that In no way do i encourage domestic violence but seriously people, who in their right mind calls a pregnant and dangerously hormonally imbalanced woman “preggo” and “hairy” ?

A dead man walking, that’s who!

For now, the question will remain. Does this excess hair growth signal the arrival of a baby boy? Am I just getting hairier with age? Or am I giving birth to the worlds first Sasquatch baby to be born in captivity? Only the 20 week scan will reveal the answer. Perhaps.

Until then……happy waxing.

Ageing gracefully? …..not on your nelly!

I heard the alarm go off this morning and knew that I should get up. I really should wash, dry and straighten my hair, apply a respectable amount of makeup and in general, just try to make myself presentable for the workday ahead. If this was going to have even the slightest chance of happening, I had to get up now. Right bloody now.

My four year old had crawled into bed with me last night and was sleeping peacefully next to me. I didn’t want to get up. I just wanted to cuddle her and lay in bed until oh, say…noon, watching cartoons and eating toast in bed. But no, I had to get up now.

I looked at the wardrobe door. Behind its mirrored surface was the dryer, straightener and ever growing collection of cosmetics. Grrrr, I really had to get up right now. For a moment, in my head, I reverted to a five year old. ” but I don’t wanna get up, I’m still sleepy” I said to myself in my best childish whiny voice.

Childish whiny voice won the battle, I rolled over and cuddled my daughter for another five minutes. Of course before I knew it I was dozing and five minutes turned into half an hour and all hopes of makeup and sleek glossy hair went out the window. When I finally got up, I had accepted that teeth brushing, hair brushed and swept away with head band and deodorant were about all I could hope for now.

Husband was already in the shower as I stumbled into the bathroom. Our bathroom is unfashionably small and impractical and it is turning out to be a hazardous place for my increasingly pregnant frame. I stumble into walls, knock things off of the tiny, narrow shelves and just generally create havoc while I am in there.

This morning, whilst plucking a surprisingly black, thick hair that had cropped up overnight from my chin ( thanks PCOS) I noticed the sun glinting off of something on the top of my head. I leaned in closer for a look. This resulted in me knocking over and potentially destroying my electric toothbrush and nearly spilling a whole bottle of eye makeup remover.

I leaned in further. What did I find? A freaking grey hair. Pointing loudly and proudly straight up from my head. Gleaming in the sun like a beacon to guide lost seafarers back to shore. I slammed open the shower door. I possibly broke shower door in the process but to hell with that, there were more pressing matter at hand here.

” what colour is this hair” I demanded in a voice a little to high pitched and panicky for my liking.
” ummm, it’s grey, sorry Hun ”

It took me less than a second to pull that bitch out and I had to restrain myself from combing through every individual strand looking for its partners in crime. I still had a child to dress, teeth to brush and now it was more important then ever that my hair be hidden underneath a head band.

As I stormed off to the bedroom, I pondered my old fading stretch marks from my first pregnancy and the ability of the new stretch marks to begin to form even though it would have seemed there was no room for more. I thought about the patches of delightfully dimpled cellulite that this pregnancy has brought to the backs of my thighs.

Today I literally feel like I am deteriorating at a rapid pace. I am still a sensible person and have no intention of running off and having various plastic surgery procedures that will result in me looking like a really badly made up drag queen ( cue pic of Pamela Anderson ) but I am definitely not going down without a fight.

Needless to say, I found time for makeup this morning. The fate of the entire western world depended on it.

Does anyone know CPR? Resuscitating the healthcare system.

I have not ever seen an advertisement for a job vacancy within our local public hospital system. However, after my visit today I imagine it would look a little something like this……

Job Vacancy
Medical Receptionist
Bendigo Health

Must have relevant medical experience and be able to demonstrate complete and utter disinterest in all patients.

The ability to be rude to even the nicest of patient will be viewed favourably.

Please send resume and three references from people you have been recently rude to within the last fortnight to the manager.

………………………………

As you may have gathered, I have just returned from my booking in appointment. Yes folks, my time has come once again to make my way through the maternity maze and hopefully come out the other side in one piece, physically at least. Mentally may be a different thing all together.

The midwives were nice. The clinic ones always are. Somehow they never seem to be the same ones you get on the ward though. I did require some extra blood tests that my GP forgot about so off I went in search of the new pathology place. It would have been nice if someone had told me that the hospital pathology department now only caters to emergent patients or patients on a Saturday morning. For everyone else you now have to walk outside of the hospital and about five minutes down the road to an inconspicuous looking building situated in a very strange spot.

I found it, eventually, after much walking around like a doofus. I entered and looked upon a room full of people sitting quietly and no reception desk. I looked again. Nope, still no reception desk. After a minute or two of looking like more of a doofus, an elderly gentleman pointed to a small table hidden over in a corner. Apparently you just take a number and sit down. Eventually a blood letter will materialise and call your number. I was number 17. I think I just felt the day get longer.

After the blood letting I then had to make my way a little further up the road to radiology to make my 19 week scan appointment. Upon entering and presenting my referral I was told that they did not handle the obstetric scans here and that I had to go back to the hospital. Grrrrrrrrr. I think I may have audibly growled at that point.

It was now 11am and 2 hours had passed since my 9am appointment. I was getting hot, flustered and of course, now I had to pee as if civilisation itself depended on it. Deep breath. Onwards towards the “other” radiology. Which just so happened to be across the road, up a steep hill and around the other side of the hospital.

I walked through no less than ten people standing in the entrance way to the radiology smoking their cigarettes and wondered if I should go back to maternity and update my details about my smoking status as I now felt like I had just chugged down a whole packet myself. Of course, there was a line. I lined up, I waited.

Once I was seen by reception I presented my referral once again and was cut off mid sentence and told to go around the corner to desk number four. Okey dokey then, around the corner I go to find desk number four in complete darkness. Back around to the front and on the end of the line once more. I felt like a kid in that South Park episode where they go to a theme park and line up for. Ride that turns out to be just another line. After all, it is not a true theme park experience without the lining up and waiting is it!

Once I made my way to the front again and informed the receptionist that desk number four was in fact closed she rolled her eyes and told me to go to desk two then. As if I should have already known this and was wasting her precious time.

Desk two had a sliding glass window complete with lock and key. Behind said window was a plump and in no way pleasant looking woman who was furiously typing something into her computer. I smiled as her eyes darted up to meet mine but my smile was not returned as she went back to typing. I shuffled on my feet for a moment wondering if she was going to open the window anytime soon. She must have realised I was not going away so she finally decided to open the window and snap at me “next please” . I turned my head. There was nobody behind me.

My referral made a third appearance and this time the lady snatched it from me and read it with a deep sigh of frustration.

“What is this for”
” my 19 week scan” I replied.
“When do you need it for”
” well when I am 19 weeks pregnant I assume”
( eyes rolling) well how far along are you now”
” 15 weeks so I guess I need it no later than the 10th of may”

A this stage the woman’s eyes rolled so far back in her head I actually became concerned that she was having a seizure. She snapped at me something about being booked out until June so she may not fit me in, I shouldn’t have left it so late.

What the hell! I was given the referral an hour ago, how much sooner could I have gotten there!
Well I had ju st about had enough by this point so my pleasant demeanour quickly morphed into pissed off mama mode.

The following exchange went a little something like this……

” excuse me, the fact that you are booked out until June is neither my problem or my fault. My first booking in appointment was an hour ago, I was given the referral then. The hospital have been aware that I am expecting since I was four weeks pregnant. That was eleven weeks ago. They only decided that they needed to see me today. I appreciate you are busy, I am busy also and I don’t see why I should have to be subjected to rudeness when I am simply following an instruction given to me by my midwife.”

Well, her tune changed a little then and what do you know. Magically an appointment became available on the 10th of may. What a miracle!

Finally I was done, safely in a taxi on my way off of the hospital grounds. My phone rang. It was the midwife. Se had forgotten a blood test. Could I come back and get the referral.

No way, not on your life. She is now posting it to me. I am free. Until Monday for my next appointment. God help me.

The very hungry caterpillar

14 weeks in and a very familiar yet still very strange feeling has begun in my tummy. I must say that I have been most surprised by the subtle squirming I have been feeling from time to time as I had not expected to experience it yet although apparently it does happen earlier with the second baby or so I have been told.

These first few movements always kind of creep me out a bit. Oh come on, don’t act so shocked, when have I ever struck you as that eternally maternal mommy! I’m just telling you how I see it. The first movements are weird. It feels like a small alien is squirming around in there. I swear that if one didn’t know they were pregnant they would be certain that they had some kind of parasite living in their digestive tract.

Personally, I prefer the more definite movements that happen later on. The kicks to the ribs and such. But then again I have always been a glutton for punishment!

I can’t help but think of my squirming baby as the very hungry caterpillar. I have a strong urge to eat one of everything that the caterpillar eats in the book to appease it. Maybe everything but the leaves. I try to steer clear of unidentified plant matter as a rule.

The good news this blog is that I have been nausea free for weeks now, thank you very much! The bad news is that this signals the return of my appetite and someone might want to pass on the memo to my brain that being pregnant is not an excuse to eat everything in sight.

On my recent holiday I ate way more chicken parmigiana than was socially acceptable. Even the mention of chicken parmy has my mouth watering as we speak. I am also experiencing a brief yet intense flirtation with mayonnaise. Which is disturbing seeing as I recently found out that it is one of the most calorie dense, bad for you, fat ass inducing foods known to man. And there is no 99% fat free Praise crap in my fridge. We are talking full fat, whole egg American mayo.

Great, now I want to eat a chicken parmy with mayo on the side. Hmmmm, breakfast of champions? I think not.

I also read recently that I should expect to put on between 11 and 16 kilos this pregnancy. Mostly in the next three months, second trimester. The same article also mentioned that regardless of that recommended weight gain, the actual weight gain during pregnancy seems to be closer to 20 to 30 kilos among women in Australia at the moment.

30 kilos, are you freaking kidding me! I am literally petrified at that thought. Considering that the birth of the baby will shed maybe 10 of those, that leaves an extra 20 to dispose of after all is said and done.

Holy biggest loser batman. I really have to get this eating thing under control now otherwise you will have to read my baby weight woes in about 6 months time. As of now, I have not actually put on any weight. Still the same as the day I fell pregnant so those parmy’s have yet to absorb into my ass cheeks. I may just go home and dispose of that jar of mayo however, before it is too late.

On a side note, next Monday is the dreaded checking in appointment at the hospital. “Shudder”
So I anticipate that I will be spending most of this week getting worked up and anxious about my return to the maternity ward from hell.

Wish me luck.

Size 15 & 3/4 – the curse of the muscle memory.

This winter I predict that I will be suffering from a major, season long wardrobe malfunction. My prediction is based on the current fashions on offer for the upcoming seasons. Hideous is not a strong enough word. It really isn’t. I am talking about the normal fashions too mind you. My brief and vastly unsatisfying venture into the maternity section had me gasping in horror at the slim offerings that I would not even consider using as pet bedding let alone actually wear them on my ever expanding frame.

Yes, I am only three months pregnant. Yes I am already looking at clothing alternatives and let me tell you why. Usually the phenomenon of muscle memory is a good thing. It means that a person who has previously built muscle mass at the gym and let themselves go can find themselves bouncing back to their former rippled glory much quicker the second time they go to shed the flab. Their slackened muscles remember the routine and jump back into their jobs of making that sleeveless shirt look fabulous.

Pregnancy does weird things to a lot of muscles, primarily abdominal ones. I got about half way through my first pregnancy before I had to consider maternity wear. This time I will not have that luxury. The muscle memory has kicked in and my body has started it’s expansion project, onwards and outwards.

Almost the moment I became pregnant, my body answered the call. It was all ” oh we know what to do here!” And to my dismay I am now finding that a mere 12 weeks in and my choices of apparel are shockingly limited. I actually look pregnant now. 2 weeks ago I just looked I had been hitting the maccas drive through on a regular basis but now I think it is becoming blindingly obvious that I have a bun in the oven, not a Big Mac.

Maternity wear had always been a bit of a bone of contention for me along with anything bridal. Those two niche markets have always given me the shits based on the fact that anything to do with either of them comes with a massively over inflated price tag for no reason other than that they can.

If I was a stay at home mum, I would be tempted to spend the winter in trackies and one of my husbands hoodies but we have the issue of work here. I need to look at least part way presentable. And that is so not going to happen thanks to the target maternity range of burlap sacks.

The thought of pumpkin patch maternity makes my wallet break out in a cold sweat. I would struggle to buy my daughter a winter coat there for under $100 so I shudder to think what a maternity one would cost. I really don’t want to have to take out an overdraft through the business to clothe myself this season. Is there anyway that this can be a tax write off? Nah, I didn’t think so.

For those of you who have never been pregnant and are suggesting that I buy normal clothes but a size or two bigger, let me diplomatically point out one of the many flaws in your suggestion. Pregnant women do not put on their baby weight evenly distributed across their entire body. Bigger clothes may accommodate the expanding tummy but will swim and look like tents everywhere else. No thanks.

So it seems I am in a quandary and I will put it out there to my readers in blog land. Any suggestions for perhaps online maternity wear that is presentable and reasonable in price will be most appreciated. After all, it only needs to last one season, we are not talking haute coture here!