I met up with Elena at her family’s Stinson Beach home, built by her late father, who was a Bay Area architect. We discussed everything from the struggles of dressing through a winter pregnancy in Philadelphia, to reconciling ambition and motherhood.
Tell us about your pregnancy journey:
For us, trying to get pregnant was more stressful than being pregnant! I am in a combined medical school and MBA program and had a summer window for pregnancy before residency interviews this coming fall. I had two very early losses in short order, which made us nervous about whether we’d be able to have a baby before I start medical residency in 2024. Thankfully everything looks good for this one! He is due in August.
Being in med school means I am very aware of all the things that can go wrong. In the first trimester, I used to go over to the medical school every week just to ultrasound myself and say hi to the baby.
Now that I am 32 weeks, I am feeling much more relaxed.
I am a very energetic person who loves school, travel, and projects, but I am feeling myself slow down and don’t have the energy I normally do, which has been hard. Despite the slowdown, we have done a lot of trips because we know it will be harder to do later. The baby has been to 5 countries in utero!
Are you apprehensive about going through residency with a baby?
Thankfully, a lot of parents do residency with a baby, so I know I can do it too. My husband loves children and is aware that a lot of the extra things will fall to him during this period. I am glad our son will be born during my last year of medical school before I start working 80 hours a week. That being said: if we have another child it will definitely be after residency. And I know we will need a lot of paid and family support.
When I think about where I want to land in my career and look at my role models and mentors, even those I know spend an admirable amount of time with their kids are working a lot. I think being a parent and being ambitious just means you have to be willing to work really, really hard.
Tell us about how you have been dressing through pregnancy:
I love to make clothes. I love color and prints and being creative. I knew I wanted to be pregnant for some time now so I have been keeping an eye out for clothes with a more forgiving fit or that could be nursing friendly. At least for me, my style did not change much being pregnant. I still love natural fibers and contrasting colors and prints.
The hardest phase was winter in Philadelphia. I couldn’t fit into my old clothes anymore and all I had were these terrible Abercombie maternity jeans. There’s so much more I can wear now because dresses are back in play with the warmer weather.
Since the spring, I have been enjoying sewing my own dresses. You don't really need pregnancy-specific clothing. For pants, I buy wide-leg cuts with elastic waistbands and just size up. The great thing with sizing up is that you can always have a larger piece altered smaller post-pregnancy. I have four pairs of loose fitting pants, one to two sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy size; they are so much better than maternity jeans. I try to buy from ethical, small makers when possible, which tends to be more expensive, but I know they are things I can wear afterwards too, which helps justify the investment.