Amalah’s hitting the home stretch. The focus this week is on memorializing your pregnancy.
- Is officially a little chunkin, at well over six pounds and 19 1/2 inches long.
- Is also officially considered “full term.” In other words, he or she is STRAIGHT UP FREELOADING from here on out.
- Is practicing making fists and fetal breathing in anticipation of life outside the womb.
- Have probably had enough of this magical special time, thank you very much.
- Backaches, joint aches, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, Braxton-Hicks contractions, painful kicks, bladder pressure, stretch marks, itchy skin, swollen ankles, fatigue, dry mouth, mood swings, did I miss anything else in this cavalcade of late-pregnancy hilarity?
- Are alternating between crazy excitement about finally meeting your baby and crazy panic about oh my God, you’re finally going to meet your baby and they’re going to expect that you take it home and like, keep it alive and stuff.
This week we turned our bedroom into a photography studio. I only have a handful of “real” photographs from my pregnancies (beyond the disembodied self-portraits of my belly that I’ve taken every week), and I was determined to remedy this. Not determined enough, apparently, to remember to find and book an actual maternity portrait session with an actual maternity photographer, but surprisingly, I’m really happy with the results.
We draped a couple sheets over our bed and tacked them up on the wall (with Scotch tape, for we are Classy), covered two cheap clamp lights (available at any hardware or art supply store) with tissue paper and attached them to the ceiling fan, set up the camera and the tripod and ta da! Do-it-yourself maternity portraits.
Now, I HATE having my picture taken. I HATE IT. But I also hate not having any decent photos of myself. So I agreed to suck it up and go along with my husband’s posing instructions, despite feeling like a giant, squishy, stretch-marked whale. We looked online at what the professionals do (HUSBAND, WHILE GOOGLING: Please God, don’t let a ton of porn show up.) for ideas, and then sort of improvised based on our half-assed set-up and photography abilities. I wore a bra and some stretch pants, then even got brave enough to shed my clothes (tastefully, I swear), and we used the camera’s timer to let my husband get in a few shots.
Crappy color was fixed by switching to black-and-white or sepia afterwards, and my admittedly rudimentary Photoshop skills were enough to fix any other complaints (namely, armpit boob, what the hell?). I’m still annoyed that I didn’t have my act together enough to book a “real” photo session, but if money is tight or you’re really shy about the idea of getting maternity photos taken, I encourage you to try your own session at home. Once my husband showed me a couple of the photos he’d taken, I went from that squashy beached whale feeling to a wonderful feeling of…well, this is corny as hell but true…BEAUTY. Look at what my body is DOING! Look at the curves and the bump and the BABY! Only a couple of them are anything I’d consider framing or showing people, but I think they’re all beautiful and I’m so happy I’ll have them to remember this pregnancy by.
The whole night ended up being a really great little celebration of the baby and the last days of pregnancy. We were taking my photo but it was really about him, and after we put the camera away we came to an immediate and easy agreement about his name — which was a freaking MIRACLE, believe me.
In addition to maternity photography, there are other ways you can celebrate and preserve the Final Days of the Belly. A couple other ideas:
- Make a cast of your belly. You can buy special kits or hit the local craft store for plaster mixes, or just do old school paper mache. I think most women like the IDEA of these casts but are always a little creeped out by the idea of hanging them on the wall afterwards. But if you’re artistically inclined, though, they certainly do make a cool canvas to paint and decorate afterwards.
- Skip the plaster and just decorate your actual belly. Linda got a gorgeous henna design and THEN set up her own at-home photo shoot, which was also gorgeous. If you’ve got older kids, buy some face or body paint and let them each have a go at your belly, creating their own little message and painting for the baby, then take photos. (I’m picturing a side-by-side collage frame of a series of little fingerpainted masterpieces hanging in the nursery and totally loving it.)
Finished with the Pregnancy Calendar and want more? Visit Amalah’s postpartum weekly column, Bounce Back. Bounce Back is about the postpartum experience — the good, the bad and the gory.