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Eternity Maternity Clothes

Stepping outside the maternity big box.

Eternity Maternity Clothes

Seven and a half months into my pregnancy, I showed up at my OB's office for what seemed like my 67th check-up of the month. My doctor looked me up and down and raised an eyebrow. "You're taking the day off work?"

"I have work today," I said. "I'm just . . . pregnant."

I can tell you exactly what I was wearing -- not because it was special, but because it was the only outfit I ever wore by that point: the blowsy tank top, stretchy cotton skirt and cork wedge sandals combo that had become my de facto uniform. "They sell some really cute maternity clothes," she said. Her tone was sweet and she was trying to be helpful so I still smiled, but internally rolled my eyes. "I should get on that," I said.

Truth was, I had already spent hundreds of dollars at that midtown maternity store everyone goes to on stretchy, overpriced versions of winter clothing I never would have worn had I not been with child. The unattractiveness of it all was downright tyrannical. So when summer rolled around, and my ankles were as wide as fire hydrants, I kind of gave up. There was no way I was going to spend a week's salary on another load of stuff that made me wince. But my doctor's words stung, and in the (few) weeks that followed that embarrassing visit, I made a point of searching for clothing that my doctor would approve of. And reader, I found it. I just had to look beyond the places that were marketing to me.

Here are a few spots to go to for clothing that you fit into and actually feel pretty in. Hopefully you'll get around to it a little earlier than I did.

CENTURY 21 in Bay Ridge

This location is usually better stocked than its downtown (and tourist-ridden) sibling. Go to the women's designer section and look for fancy tent-shaped dresses that are meant to be high-fashion, yet could fit two of you. I found a Japanese designer Aoyama Itchome dress in dark leopard print, reduced from $250 to $30. I still wear it.

c21stores.com, 472 86th St, Brooklyn (R train to 86th St.)

ABC CARPET AND HOME

My goodness, this place is heaven for the big-tummied set! The first floor is lined with women's clothing boutiques that all share a groovy, fancy lady who does yoga in India vibe -- tons of tunics and baggy dresses that will still look good down the line. I especially like the Matta section.

abchome.com, 888 Broadway at W. 19th St.

JOHN ROBSHAW

The textile designer is known for his Indian-print bedding, but he also makes beautiful apparel. I bought two lightweight robes online, both of which saw me through the late-pregnancy elephanting around the apartment, as well as my hospital stay, and the housebound months that followed. One note: the M/L tends to run on the larger side.

johnrobshaw.com

BIRD BROOKLYN

Recently voted Best Women’s Boutique in New York City by New York Magazine, the three outposts of Brooklyn's Bird empire are stocked with clothes by visionary labels like Tsumori Chisato, A Détacher and 3.1 Philip Lim. And since "cutting-edge" rarely means "skinny cut," you're sure to find bump-friendly threads galore. Another bonus: the shop often carries Woerishofer cork-soled sandals, the criminally comfortable footwear that got my giant ankles through months six through nine-point-nine.

shopbird.com, 226 Smith St. (Cobble Hill), 316 5th Ave. (Park Slope), and 203 Grand St. (Williamsburg)

Read more of Lauren Mechling on her blog or her bi-monthly column.

All images via Pinterest

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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