'Tis the season to be busy. At least the volunteering piece of the pie is light these last 10 weeks of the year, meaning that there is some available time/energy for holiday and baby-related stuff. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house a couple of weeks ago. Two families came over and the house was filled with friends, laughter and delicious food. It was a surprisingly relaxing evening, despite having hosting duties. I have converted to the idea of cooking and carving the turkey well before the company arrives. Instead of frantically trying to find counter space to carve the bird while greeting people and making small talk, Zac and I were able to sit back and have apple cider for the couple of hours before people arrived and go straight to eating when the guests came through the door with their side dishes. It alleviated a lot of stress.
Last week we had Zac's command's Holiday Party. I was about two deep breaths away from a complete, tear-soaked pregnancy meltdown before we left. Up until the last two weeks or so, I haven't felt that foretold hormonal chaos that some women experience. But starting sometime early last week I found myself more easily moved to sad, sentimental or angry tears. This, despite my rational brain telling me to chill out and that I'm overreacting. It's a bizarre feeling, not being quite in control of my emotions. I have found that in order to cope, and save Zac some grief, I really have to focus on what is truly making me upset and breathe deeply. For example, the other day I had Christmas music on. I love, love, LOVE Christmas music. As I was listening to the songs I haven't heard since this time last year, I realized that next Christmas (2014) Zac will be deployed and Baby and I will be celebrating Christmas without him. That started me thinking about setting up the tree alone and buying a "Baby's First Xmas" ornament without Zac. And then I started thinking about taking pictures of Baby in some sort of cute holiday outfit and sending them to Zac while he's half-way around the world and quickly I deteriorated into the throws of Karen-Carpenter-Merry-Christmas-Darling fueled tears.
After going through two tissues, and some deep breaths, I got a hold of myself. I'm crying about next year's Christmas? Seriously? I have this Christmas with Zac, and he'll be here for the first nine months or so of Baby's life, a luxury in military families. He will be here for the initial heavy lifting, learning to be a parent alongside of me and bonding with his child. Yes, he'll miss Baby's first Christmas. But Baby won't remember Baby's first Christmas. Hell, the three of us could celebrate Christmas in the late spring when Zac gets back and kiddo would be none-the-wiser. If I spend the next few weeks feeling sad about Xmas 2014, I'm going to lose out on the joy and the fun of Xmas 2013. I settled myself down and by the time Eartha Kitt purred "Santa Baby" on the radio, I had regained my emotional footing.
Getting back to the Holiday Party's (almost) melt-down, I had been looking forward to the Party for the last month. Usually people get fairly dressed up - think semi-formal or cocktail attire. Girls in sequined, shimmery party dresses and guys in slacks and vests. Everyone all dolled up, enjoying a glass of wine and dinner and the camaraderie of their fellow sailors and spouses. I bought a cute, semi-formal maternity dress back in September for the Khaki Ball and had intentions of wearing it again to the Holiday party. As it was a knee-length dress and strapless, I knew that I'd be chilly wearing it as it was going to be in the high 40s at the time of the party. (And I never know what temperature the room at an event will be.) The day before the Party I went out to the mall to purchase a black shrug or bolero to wear over my dress. (Bolero - a short, little jacket - designed to cover the shoulders and upper back.) I have seen these many, many times in different stores and figured I'd find one easily.
I spent three hours at the mall and found nothing. Not a one. I was incredibly frustrated. 75% of the non-pregnant time I hate shopping and lately I hate shopping even more knowing that if I find a cute deal on a sweater I can't even try it on to see if it "fits". So not finding the item I wanted to purchase pissed me off. I walked out of the mall, thinking that I would be able to find something at home to make the dress work, somehow.
I got dressed that night and as I put on the dress I realized that despite it being a maternity dress I am larger than I was in September. In particular I noticed that it was tighter across the chest. On the one hand, woo hoo! Boobs! On the other hand, I felt bloated and chubby and my puffiness was flowing over the dress especially near my armpits. I couldn't wear the dress without something covering up my shoulders, I was simply too self conscious. I had to find something else to wear. My sister had lent me a black maternity dress that I could have worn, but it didn't fit quite right. And with that dress I still faced the issue of trying to find something to cover up my shoulders.
This meant that I wasn't going to be wearing a dress to the Party. I had been feeling so awkward in my body lately that I was looking forward to dressing up and feeling cute, maybe even attractive. The disappointment of having to wear pants weighed on me. I had a pair of black, dressy maternity corduroys I could wear with my heels, but I didn't have any sort of fun, sparkly, shiny holiday top to go with them. I ended up wearing a plain red top, clinging to the idea that maybe because it was red it was festive, but all I wanted to do was cry. I didn't look like I was going to a Holiday Party. I looked like I was going to work, to a staff meeting. For me, the Holiday Party had gone from semi-formal to work-casual, and I was miserable. Zac assured me that I looked lovely and that I would fit in at the Party. I appreciated his support, but I knew what was coming.
Sure enough, we walked in to the event and every last woman was wearing a dress. Sparkles, sequins, shimmer, bright colors, gold, silver, LBDs (little black dresses) everywhere. My eyes welled up with tears. All I had wanted that night was to look attractive again - to not look like a pregnant female mammal, but a woman. I had been forlorn in the car on the drive to the event, and now my disappointment had flipped over to a seriously negative, acrid attitude and unfortunately Zac was caught in the crossfire. After wallowing in self pity for the first 15 minutes of the Party, Zac wisely(?) turned to me and said with exasperation, "If you're going to be in this foul of a mood, we should just go home." It was what I needed to realize that I was really acting like a pill. Fortuitously at that moment I ran into one of my good friends, who is about four months pregnant. She and I paired off while Zac went off to find some friends that weren't pouty. After she gushed about how cute I was, I admitted to being on the verge of tears and was sad that I couldn't wear a dress that night. She laughed a knowing laugh (she has a two-year old) and told me she understood. She, too, had narrowly avoided totally losing it while getting ready for the party as well. Over something silly and relatively insignificant. I sighed, took a couple of deep breaths and decided that not being able to wear a dress wasn't the end of the world. Yes, I still felt like an asexual being in the large scheme of things - but as far as my attire for the evening, it wasn't that bad. It might have been work-casual, but at least it was nice work-casual.
And truthfully, when I took a hard look at it and why I was truly angry, most of my frustration could be traced to the fact that I waited until the day before (and day of) the Holiday Party to figure out what I was going to wear. If had tried on the dress a week earlier I would have known it wasn't going to work. Had I hit the mall earlier I would have had a better chance of finding something to modify the dress or to buy something else to wear. It was my lack of foresight and planning that caused me to have limited choices of apparel that night. I took a second to myself to compose myself and found Zac. I apologize for my snarky, negative attitude of the last few hours and admitted that I was angry at myself for not planning ahead and I was uncomfortable because I didn't feel like his attractive, sexy wife anymore. He kissed me, told me he loved me and that I was beautiful. I believed him, and we proceeded to have a great evening.
So I guess in pursuit of "Tis the season to be jolly," "Don we now our gay apparel" can include pants and a plain red shirt. But if I've ever pregnant again during the Yuletide, I am getting something with sequins.