Dressed to the nine (months)

Week 18: 5/07/2007


First, some things to know about me: I am not a clothes horse. I'm not even a clothes puppy. I like to look good, but I'm A) cheap, B) lazy, C) mall-averse, and D) married to someone who was pre-programmed with the phrase "Don't you already have something that looks just like that?" in his cerebral cortex.

But I do like to look good, and I have a very specific idea of what that means. I like my clothes to be tailored--not baggy, not tight. I like to feel attractive and feminine--neither conservative and buttoned-up, or sexed-up. As a native New Yorker, I'm drawn to black, but I also like a range of interesting, vibrant colors--no pastels, and I've never looked good in khaki. I want to show my funky, "fashion forward" side--but I don't want to pay for it, I don't want to pound the pavement to find it, and I don't want to stick out like a sore thumb, a peacock, or a clown. But I do like to stick out just a little.

So while I'm not someone who is especially known for style-setting, and the sheer inertia of sticking with the same three pairs of pants and a few nice tops can be a powerful inhibiting force, like anyone, I have my preferences.

And now I'm pregnant.

They make it look simple

Flipping through the magazines at my midwives' office, it's easy to get the impression that maternity fashion is a snap. If anything, a lot of the women in maternity ads look better than regular models--like being pregnant is an ingenious fashion accessory. It's hip to have a "bump." (I hate that word. Bump? That's what you get when Daffy Duck clobbers you over the head with a mallet.)

But just like my awakening when I got braces in seventh grade--which I thought would make me look kind of cool and mature, like an urbane sophisticate with a shiny mouth full of metal--I have found actual bumpitude to be more of a challenge.

Which is one way of putting: Last weekend, when Aron and Sylvia were already in the car and ready to go meet friends, I needed to find something to cover my bottom half other than a bathrobe or sweats, and the only solution to this problem I could think of was flinging clothes out of my dresser and over my head, one item after another, in an emotional state best described as a mix of anguish, panic, and just a tiny bit of perspective that I was being ridiculous.

A reluctant mall shopper

Have I mentioned that I hate the mall? I think I have a psychosomatic allergy to the place, marked by a headache, a need to pee, and an inability to remember what brought me there in the first place. I see it from the highway, and shudder.

But I had no choice. I had a fancy event coming up for work, and needed something just right. My emergency was mostly pants-related: my regular pants are now too tight--I feel like I'm seriously cutting into the baby's real estate every time I put on a pair. And everything I have from my previous pregnancy, or handed-down from friends, has already been stretched out by absurd 9-months pregnant bellies. Huge and heavy bellies that were selfish and short-sighted, marking their territory by decimating the elastic properties of waistbands all along the eastern seaboard. Or so it can feel now.

I had the perfect place in mind for my maternity shopping spree. It's cheap but funky, with a surprisingly awesome selection for pregnant women. I parked at the door nearest to the store and hoped for the best--in and out in under an hour, having spent no more than $100.

Only to find that this particular location doesn't carry the maternity line anymore. "Argh!" I shouted (yes, like Charlie Brown) when I got to the section of the store, now filled with bikinis and skimpy lingerie.

So I ended up at the nearest maternity store, one I had forgotten about even though it's the most obvious choice. Just because I could see it from where I was standing.

An hour and four trips back and forth from the dressing room later, I emerged from the store, shocked to find that I had spent $184 on: a pair of jeans; a t-shirt; a pair of black pants; and a simple royal blue top. I was so intent on getting clothes that felt somewhat right that I hadn't been tallying up the total.

The clothes all work, though. The blue top and black pants were just fine at the fancy event, once I had dressed them up with dangling earrings and red heels. The one bummer is the jeans, which felt so perfect in the dressing room--they were staying up! Yet they were also allowing me to breathe! And weren't exactly low-riding but also weren't up-riding, but just right, actually making my butt look attractive!--but start slouching every time I take a step or two. Which is a big bummer, especially because when I demonstrated this to Aron, he said, "Yeah, you're right--when they fall down like that, they do make your butt look kind of flat."

But I do love the t-shirt. It's definitely up front about the fact that I'm pregnant--no getting around it, this is a maternity shirt. But it's soft, and I really like the brown stripes. And you know, it kind of makes me feel, for now at least, that being pregnant is--in addition to all of the other wonderful things about it--pretty.

Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.

Next week: Emily and Aron have a weekend getaway.