Nobody prepares you for the emotions you experience when you first become pregnant. I knew that. What took me by surprise were the emotions I experienced the first time I went shopping for maternity clothes.
I had accepted the fact that I was going to wear pants with paneling, skirts with elastic waistbands and some "tunic style" tops. But when I walked into my first maternity store, it was as if I had stepped onto another planet, a planet where none of the clothes seemed anything like me. Planet Pregnancy.
I left the planet immediately. But when I was about four months pregnant, the selection of my jeans and skirts I could squeeze into was becoming quite limited. My T-shirts were becoming "Britney Spears" tight, and my jeans were
cutting off my circulation.
So I took a deep breath, ate a cookie, ate another cookie and then braced myself for feeling lost in space. The store was huge and there were not just clothes. There was a maternity spa. There was a maternity accessories shop. (And by accessories, I don't mean cute shoes and handbags. I mean baby carriers and "boppies." If you don't know what a boppy is, don't worry about it '- I still don't.)
There were an abundance of loud flower prints and baggy T-shirts. Now, I don't wear loud flower prints on a normal day, and I don't think many women do. Who is the genius who thought we would want to wear them when we were double our size? And what's with the tiny bows at the collar? Do we have to dress like babies when we're having babies? And these clothes are really expensive too. Don't get me wrong '- expensive clothes that are fashionable, no problem. Dopey and expensive: problem.
I couldn't ask my friends with children. I was one of the last of my close friends to get pregnant, and they had already imparted their words of wisdom to me about everything from baby nurses to diaper purses. They had all told me how comfortable maternity clothing is. But I'm not exactly a freak about comfort. I like things that are pretty... and sexy... and cute. Comfort doesn't need to be there. I mean, I've bought shoes that were two sizes too small because they were cute and on sale.
As I stood in the store, the reality of being forced to dress in a way that didn't feel like me swept over me. Evidently I was not the only woman to have walked into the store with a look of dismay on her face, because before I had the chance to ask for help, help came to me. A very sweet saleswoman rescued me and walked me through the store. She helped guide me through the tents and pastels and large floral prints. In short order I found a pretty wrap sweater, cool jeans, a peasant top and halter tops that were actually sexy and wearable for my new-and-improved larger bustline.
In fact, I hesitate to confess, it turned out to be a pleasurable experience. When I tried on my first pair of maternity jeans, I couldn't believe how comfortable they were. No longer would I constantly need to tug at low-slung pants to prevent my butt from hanging out. In these I could eat a meal without unbuttoning afterward.
The saleswoman who helped me find clothes I could relate to also inadvertently helped me understand that things are not just about me anymore. There is someone else to consider. Life is different now. So what if my feet will be too swollen to squeeze into my stilettos? So what if my pants have a pouch? If I'm lucky, pretty soon my silly stilettos will have spit-up on them, and my skinny, costly pre-pregnancy pants will be accessorized with mashed peas. Everything shifts on Planet Pregnancy. I'm having a baby and I'm thrilled about it. And I'm... comfortable.