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FeedithNola: Tips on pregnant parading

Memories of my first Mardi Gras are more than a little hazy: bright lights, the weight of bushels of beads on my neck, a bottle of cheap champagne carelessly dumped into a plastic water bottle, a drunken late-night phone call to my sister, me in a tutu spinning on St. Charles Avenue, the ceiling spinning in my dorm-room… Though I’ve (marginally) increased my level of maturity since then, this remains my favorite time of year.

Carnival is a chance to forget that I’m an adult, go out on the weeknights (gasp!), and completely over-indulge. When we found out that I was pregnant with Edith, it didn’t take me long to do the math: I would be 8 months pregnant on Mardi Gras. Insert Fat Tuesday joke here…

Though the experience was quite different, I had just as much fun. Here are my top 5 tips for parading while pregnant:

  1. Own it. A pregnant woman may be the only person who can compete with that cute kid grasping for ALL the throws. (You know the kid I’m talking about.) No one can resist giving a giant stuffed animal to a woman frantically waddling toward a float, pointing at a baby bump, and yelling, “For my baby! For my baby!”
  2. Play dress up. Everyone loves a pregnant lady in costume! The warmth of people’s smiles and well wishes was enough to rival the smooth burn of the Sazerac that I was not drinking. Plus, we have fun photos to show Edith when she’s older! My favorite was a bedazzled “8 months sober’ shirt with matching headband and tutu. A close second: my egg in a bird’s nest for Mardi Gras Day, inspired by a mask caught at Thoth.
  3. Invest in a camera. Carnival gave me a chance to experiment with my fancy new camera before the baby arrived. Embarrassing photos of my friends stumbling around were lagniappe.
  4. Find a pack mule. Carrying a small human was enough cargo for me. My husband was in charge of carrying everything else, and I did not feel bad about that. If he had been physically able to carry me to the car after Muses, I would have let him.
  5. Plan for the bathroom. The walk from Krewe du Vieux to our car was nearly disastrous. Learn from my mistakes. Go early and often.

This year, with a 10-month-old, I will likely not return to the debauchery of the Carnival of my college days. “Throw me something, mister!” will turn into, “Gently lob something in our general direction but away from the baby’s face, mister!” Our parade day packing will require more than just what we’re drinking: appropriately festive change of clothes, protective noise-canceling headphones, baby safe “decoy” beads, etc…  But as we gear up for Rex & Zulu on Mardi Gras morning, I’ll grate a little nutmeg into both my brandy milk punch and Edith’s baby bottle, we will have a family toast, and be grateful that this is the sweetest Mardi Gras yet.


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