If you haven’t been following my Instagram or Facebook page, you may not know that my husband and I are expecting. Surprise! Like a truly dedicated crazy person, I decided to attend Costume College, an annual costuming conference in Los Angeles, while five and a half months pregnant. For those who don’t know (because I didn’t until now), that means I am nearing the end of the second trimester and in my 24th week of pregnancy. Over halfway done!
I learned a LOT. A lot to do with my limitations. I tend to be the sort of “I can do EVERYTHING!” type person, so get extremely frustrated if I can’t. Although I knew, by hearsay, that pregnancy changes things, I don’t think I really noticed it *that much* until placed in a setting that was so “on” All.The.Time.
I wasn’t going to go, but at the last minute I decided to go for it and luckily my friends had one spot open for me in their room.
So, for other crazy people like me who are thinking of attending a costume convention while pregnant, here’s a few random tips in no particular order.
1- Accept that things will be different. They may be different than you even anticipate, but do not expect to be able to do all the things you did over these long weekends before pregnant. You’ll be much easier on yourself and get less disappointed if you realize beforehand that this will not be your average experience. Be flexible
2- Have a roommate, and chose this roommate carefully. A good choice would be your husband or close friends. You’ll get tired. Having somewhere there to pick up stuff you dropped or bring you a water or ask you if you’ve eaten in the last few hours is SO HELPFUL. Make sure you chose people who are low key, laid back, and not selfish. We all have been there and had the one roommate that monopolizes bathroom time or is demanding, but your real friend or a good roomie will recognize that pregnant women have to go to the bathroom all.the.time, and ask before hopping in the shower. And they realize you may not have the energy to stay up until 2am chatting, so are ok with you bailing to go to bed early. Don’t room with someone high stress. Pregnant people create enough stress of their own (hi, hormones), so choose wisely (cue Indiana Jones music). My roomies were AWESOME.
3. Be a good roommate. If you have a crowded room (we had 4 in a room, two in each full size bed), try to keep your stuff at an easy reaching distance and keep it corralled. Sprawling everywhere and asking people to get things for you or find things for you isn’t a nice thing to do anyways (though I have been guilty in the past), but especially now, keep things within easy reach. If you’re sharing a full size bed, be certain before you bring your monster pregnancy pillow (if you use one), that your bedmate is ok with it. If you forget to ask beforehand, bring it along but be ok with altering plans. You can always call housekeeping for more pillows to shove at all the little strategic points to make your sleeping easier. Bring headphones and a face mask if you KNOW you’re going to bed early and your roommates go to bed late. Expect to be mostly self-sufficient. Don’t expect someone will be around to bow to your every whim. And just do the normal things that a good roommate does- don’t monopolize the bathroom, be respectful of space, and help others within your limitations.
4. You will have to eat, and more often than you usually do. Bring snacks or go in on snacks your roommates pick up. Ask for a fridge. Be aware that conferences often don’t have things handy that fit your pregnancy diet needs, so you may need to block out chunks of time to sit at a restaurant or order room service if you can’t or chose not to eat cold cuts. Bring a bigger food budget than you usually do. If you wake up STARVING, splurge on the hotel breakfast. Eat a lot of protein. Your baby, and your growling tummy, will thank you for it. Also realize that conventions slow down service time, so don’t wait to eat until you’re starving, because by the time you get your food you might feel shaky or lightheaded. That’s why snacks are so good to have on hand. Keeping some in your bag is a good idea.
5. You may need to duck in and out of classes. Even if you’re LOVING the lectures or classes, your ribs may ache, your back may ache, or you may be completely and unexplainably exhausted. It’s OK to duck out of class, even if it means getting up from the front row and moving out of the room as quietly and quickly as you can. If you’re visibly pregnant, most people will realize you’re not being rude and won’t take it as such. And if they do, you have full rights to use the growing belly as an excuse. Hey, those chairs can get HARD after a while. My tailbone kept falling asleep.
6. Bring more casual clothes than you usually do. You just may not feel like dressing up every day, all day. And that’s TOTALLY OK. You’re not cheating. If you’re comfortable you’ll have a much better time. I wish I had packed about 4 more tee shirts.
(Drawstring 1790s dresses were my best friend. And I can adapt this later or non-pregnancy by re-hemming the front.)
7. Ditch the heels for flats. Your period shoes may be beautiful, but even if your feet don’t swell (mine haven’t yet), you may find those heels more uncomfortable with your 10+ extra pounds you’ve gained and your point of balance being different than it usually is. Bring flats. Plain black ones work well for a variety of periods. I also wore my sandals almost non stop, even when I was wearing vintage, because I just couldn’t handle even the two inch heels I brought.
8. You want to socialize *in theory*, but the reality may be different than you expect. You may plan on getting up, going to class, hanging out at the social events, and then going back to friend’s rooms or out to dinner like in prior years, but TRUST ME, you just won’t have the energy. You may not get to spend all the time with everyone, but your friends will understand. Make sure you schedule down time, or if you’re just tired, excuse yourself, go back to your room, and put your feet up.
9. If you find an empty chair, sit in it. Even if you’re not tired. I was surprised how FEW people actually offered to give up chairs for me in classes, in hallways, or at events. I can literally count, like, three. I may have grumbled under my breath when a performer kicked me out of a chair they weren’t using at an evening event, or when no one in a class that was standing room only offered their chair or even a place against the wall to lean on, but instead of making a fuss I either left the class or found somewhere else I could lean or sit. Chivalry, even among fellow women, isn’t always a thing anymore. Don’t be surprised.
10. Which brings me to- Some people may honestly not know you’re pregnant. Let’s face it, people are shaped very differently. Especially if you dress in a non body-con way with non-clingy clothes, people may just not notice or assume that’s your natural shape. Or not notice if they don’t see you in profile. Sometimes they may genuinely not know you have limitations.
11. Chose fashions that work for your expanding figure. I went with all 1790s and one vintage outfit. Room for the tummy, not restrictive, no corset required (though I did have short stays, which are kind of like a modern bra). If there’s time to go without proper period correct underwear, this is it. You won’t have the energy to sew new things, so repurpose or alter as much as you can beforehand. I made ONE new dress. And, like I said, pack more modern clothes than you anticipate wanting.
(In historical costume, even the undergarments, you may just feel big EVERYWHERE)
12. People will make comments. They may not notice they’re being rude. I was totally self-conscious all weekend because of a few comments I got. It happens. Make sure you have a good support system to tell you how FABULOUS you look, even if you feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. This too shall pass.
13. Make an effort to stay germ-free. You don’t want “con crud”, especially while pregnant. Not only are most medicines off limits, but some flus or germs can be damaging, especially in the first trimester. I’ve already had a cold once so far and it was just rotten to not be able to take medicine. Bring lots of hand sanitizer, wash your hands often, and stay away from people with germs. I even posted on my personal facebook friend asking sick friends to warn me and stay an arm’s length away. And you know what? A few people did just that and I was SO GRATEFUL. It’s not that I don’t love them- I just don’t love their germs. And they understood.
14. Morning sickness may decide to rain on your parade. At 24 weeks, I still had bouts of occasional “morning sickness” at night. I knew this before I went. But I didn’t anticipate that being so tired and overdoing it a bit would bring on a few nights where I felt yuckier than usual. Getting to sleep while overtired and nauseous was hard. Luckily I brought the morning sickness meds my doctor prescribed so I was able to sleep once they kicked in. If you have them, bring them. And bringing extra ginger pills, or whatever doctor approved holistic approach you used for nausea, might be a good idea, too. Knowing that I still get a bit icky in the evening and have random food aversions at that time made me chose not to do group dinners or the gala event. It was the best thing I chose to do because I went to the hotel buffet and realized, based on what they had, that my expensive dinner ticket would have been wasted due to food aversions. The buffet, however, was perfect!
15. The second trimester is the best time to do events. I know everyone is different, but I was so horribly sick until a few weeks into my second trimester. Like I said, medicine helps, but I didn’t start feeling that much better until 20 weeks, even though most people said it goes away at 12 weeks. Don’t plan on the “schedule” of morning sickness (or not morning sickness) your friends or family had. Or even your experience you had in your last pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different, so listen to your own body and do what you need to do. You might need to cancel, or you might chose to go last minute if you’re feeling better. Toward the end of the weekend I was really noticing getting up and out of bed was more challenging than before, and so was leaning over to get things I dropped or putting on shoes. I’m glad I did it at 24 weeks, because I’m noticing getting around is a little harder at 25 weeks, and I only anticipate it getting more difficult in my third trimester. Like I said, listen to your body, and just because it’s like that for me doesn’t mean it will be that way for you.
I may add more to this list as I think of more things.
Have YOU ever attended a costume event while pregnant? Share your tips in the comments!