Today I checked my calendar, and realized that I have approximately three months and three weeks left before my maternity leave begins. Mind you, I enjoy my job, and my calendar-checking was not to count the days until I can get the hell out and stay at home for five blissful months of babydom. No, I have but one pressing concern: what the hell do I wear?
Over the past few years of corporate life, I’ve accumulated a decent collection of work-wear. Never a proficient shopper, I’ve managed to assemble an assortment of pencil skirts, cardigans and button-downs that have taken me through many a workweek with at least some modicum of fashion sense. However, over the past couple of weeks in my newly expanding state, I have realized that - much to my dismay - I am no longer capable of simply trotting out all my old stand-bys.
The day starts well enough: In the small-bellied mornings, I’ll slip on, say, my classic black Banana Republic number with no problem and strut into the office feeling triumphant. Three hours, one breakfast, two glasses of water, a mid-morning snack and one crowded uterus later, I find myself gasping for breath at my cubicle, wriggling under the desk to loosen the zipper, and hoping that my shirt is long enough so that my now-exposed thong doesn’t poke out. In short: not attractive. Fortunately, my boss has yet to wander by and witness my display of round-tummied, bloat-freeing acrobatics. So far, anyway.
Yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and headed to my local Old Navy (good frugal mommy) to inspect their maternity department. Upon arriving, I was dismayed to discover from the perky salesgirl that the only Old Navy with a maternity section is in Santa Monica (in other words, not my ‘hood). Craptastic! Not to be discouraged, I quickly rounded up a slew of normal-people clothes that looked like they’d be forgiving to a growing stomach, and headed to the dressing room.
There, under harsh fluorescents and atop frigid concrete, I was confronted by the most GODAWFUL array of ill-fitting potato sack-esque cotton that I have ever had the displeasure of wriggling into. There were tent-like babydolls, under which I could have hidden an entire set of Encyclopedia Brittanica in addition to my abdomen, boxy peasant tops ideally suited for some kind of strung-out, homeless Janice Joplin costume, and frighteningly low-cut slip dresses from which my now-ginormous (and disturbingly veiny) boobs protruded, threatening to leap out and smack someone. With each new monstrosity, I became increasingly convinced of my righteousness in avoiding maternity wear altogether (and, in the future, all of Old Navy’s normal clothes as well). I left the store beaten down by fashion - yet toting a new, fabulously unnecessary ten-dollar handbag.
Lesson: maternity clothing is foul, and I am beginning to believe that the entire industry exists merely to take advantage of women when they are feeling their most susceptible – bloated, hormonal, and vaguely terrified of impending responsibility. So far, I have found only one exception to this rule, a miraculous piece of clothing handed-down from my friend Jamie (bless her sweet baby-havin’ little self): the BELLA BAND, a tube of spandex whose simple appearance belies its genius. I wriggle into it in the morning, fold it in two, and – ta dah! – my sleekest pair of previously-unbuttonable work pants fit! My pencils skirts are once again wearable – no wriggling necessary! Look at all those happy pregnant women in the picture - they are eating, drinking, and breathing freely in all their preggers, pants-wearing glory. Their co-workers have not seen their thongs. Brilliant!
I’ll reattempt the maternity shopping at some point, but until then, elastic is my friend.