Because of my expanding waistline and stagnant wallet, my mother generously volunteered to visit for a few days and take me shopping for maternity clothes.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I do know that my regular clothes are getting uncomfortable. My pants dig into my belly, sometimes forcing me to unbutton them in public for a little much-needed relief. And because of my bigger belly, my form-fitting tops no longer look quite so streamlined. Not to mention how my button-down tops pucker at the chest now, eliminating much of my closet.
I had asked friends with kids where they had shopped for clothes and was given quite a few suggestions.
The first stop was a department store in a nearby strip mall. I quickly discovered that, when in doubt, look for the maternity clothing next to the baby stuff. Makes sense, I suppose.
At first I was horrified. Everything is elastic and synthetic. EVERYTHING.
"Oh, I am SO not wearing any of this," I said, holding up a pair of pants that would've stretched to fit a rhinoceros. "Absolutely not."
My mother just laughed, grabbed the pants for me to try on and whispered, "Oh yes you will."
The tops were hideous. Nothing that said, "I'd actually want to buy and wear this on a regular basis if I wasn't metamorphosing into a bloated manatee."
I am of the less-is-more line of thought when it comes to clothes. I don't need ties and straps and buckles and brass studs and frayed edges and seizure-inducing patterns. I want simple and classic, perhaps with a little subtle detail.
After a quick browse around the racks, I was convinced that no such thing exists in maternity land. And I hands-down refused to shimmy into a T-shirt with sparkly pink lettering that says "Princess is having a princess." If someone forced me, I would puke on it, preferring instead to wear my regurgitated stomach bile. Because a vomit stain would be better than that logo.
Putting up much resistance, I eventually headed into a dressing room with a few capris and two tops that actually came in black and white. Nothing that doubled as a doily and screamed, "Now that I'm going to be a mom, I vow to give up all sense of style. ... Please pass me those tapered-leg jeans."
Somewhere in between unbuttoning my tight pants and stepping into the maternity wear, a miraculous thing happened: I felt comfortable for the first time in a week.
Granted, they were hideous. There was a fake zipper flap and button for looks, but the entire top was a solid band of stretchy cotton-ish material that went up to my bra line.
BUT I DIDN'T CARE.
"Oh, I am SO never taking these off!" I said, trying not to notice what I looked like and instead enjoying the pure bliss of not having a restrictive waistline digging temporary marks into my flesh.
And oh joy! When you pair it with the synthetic flowy tops, you'd never know there was 45 yards of stretchy fabric underneath! The fake zipper flap and button say, "I'm totally normal. See? The button? Normal."
After reluctantly putting my jeans back on, we settled on a few pieces. I had officially started my elastic collection.
The next stop was an actual maternity clothing store and the selection was vast. Much to my delight, it had more fashionable offerings and even a professional and formalwear section. I quickly claimed a dressing room and one of the clerks devoted herself to bringing me the entire store, one piece at a time.
Then I saw it.
The faux belly.
As if on cue, the clerk explained through the door that I was to Velcro that hideous thing around my waist and it would add about three months to my belly, taking me to six months, so I could see what the fit would be like on everything.
After taking a deep breath, I mentally committed to it. As I wrapped the Velcro around my back, time sort of slowed down. When I looked up, my spirit was instantly crushed.
Oh. My. God.
Would I really look like this? Like a 20-pound bowling ball took up residence in my abdomen? Like the chick on "Alien" right before that slimy creature thing erupts out of her chest cavity? Like something that looks like it shouldn't be able to walk upright?
I grabbed the stuffing-filled monstrosity with both hands, forcibly ripped it off and threw it to the ground. No. Nope. I don't need to see that. I'm fine expanding gradually. I don't need a fast-forward button. Too graphic. Too scary. The clothes will expand to fit. I get it.
After seven stores and much trial and error, I now have an elastic collection that should take me well into my third trimester. Although its early to be wearing any of these things, they're so damn comfortable that I don't care.
It's hard to imagine that even my new clothes will be tight eventually.
And when that happens? I'll just safety pin some bedsheets around my huge ass and talk about the good ol' days when pants had actual zippers and buttons that functioned.