In the early days of my first pregnancy, when I was throwing up or just feeling sick and dizzy, I was impatient to start showing -- and not just so I'd get more sympathy from strangers on the New York City subway. I wanted to be big enough so that I could finally start wearing maternity clothes.
Who doesn't love an excuse to buy a whole new wardrobe? And besides, pregnancy wear has come a long way in the past decade. It's just like regular clothes, but shaped differently.Maternity Clothes
In fact -- and this may sound weird -- I like maternity clothes more than my normal clothes. They fit me better. I'm normally what would be a size 11, if there were such a thing, but I make do with either a 10 or a 12. Most clothes almost fit but are a little too tight or loose. I'm way too lazy to get things tailored, so I usually avoid shopping like the plague.
But buying maternity clothes, for me, is totally different. First and foremost, they're made to be forgiving, so fit isn't so much of a problem. It's especially nice that they're designed for a curvy silhouette -- there's room in the chest, hips, and tummy. (Though, let's face it, plus-size women are still pretty much ignored. Maternity clothes are roomy if you start as a size 12, but many women normally wear a 16, 18, or larger.)Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
I feel more comfortable in my own body when I'm wearing maternity clothes. When my belly first started to swell, I said to my husband, "I think I have the right body type for this. Finally, I have the right body type for something!" There was no reason to feel self-conscious about my already larger-than-usual chest, which had grown a cup and band size since I conceived. I had a green light to show off all my curves instead of trying to tame them into submission, and so I grew to love my body's changes as much as the new clothes that highlighted them.
The pregnant shape is lovely and sensual; that makes me feel confident. People, I learned, are delighted to see a pregnant woman's belly growing, and you can't help but feel good when someone's face lights up at the sight of you getting bigger. And I think the famous "glow" comes from the amazement at what your body is capable of: stretching out and making a baby.
So, putting on maternity clothes makes me happy. I'm now expecting my second daughter, and wearing my maternity wardrobe is a constant reminder that she's coming. It's so hard to wrap my brain around the fact that she's in my belly, but having special clothes is one more way to make the pregnancy feel real.
Will I get back to my size "11"? Who knows. But as I look down at my first child, I relish this final thought: Any worry about how I look will never quite matter as much again.
Tracy Guth Spangler is an author in South Orange, New Jersey.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2005.
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