When my mother was pregnant with me, she was six months along before she told anyone. According to my ever-sensitive aunt, mom was dismayed to have gotten pregnant again so quickly after her two little boys (though we’re all well over two years apart) and therefore wasn’t eager to spread the word of Baby Number Three. To this day, my aunt still sounds incredulous when she recounts how, six months in, my mother looked perfectly unpregnant.
My mother and I are similar creatures in many ways. We share the same long, thin arms and legs, the lanky, delicate build of my grandfather. Though popular folklore maintains that my gazelle-like mother carried me magically tucked away under her ribs, fetus unbeknownst to all, I was always certain that I would carry like a wildebeest. After all, my mother has a long, lean torso and boyish shape, providing a baby with plenty of room to wiggle about, stealthily hiding behind organs and under various bony protrusions. Though I’ve never gained weight easily, I am slightly more compact and curvy, and therefore assumed (irrationally, some would say) that nature would play a cruel joke, causing me to blimp up to truly insane proportions during my pregnancy. Little children would stop in their tracks as I approached, running to hide behind their mother’s skirts. Grown men would gawk openly at my increasing girth. “Paige was such a pretty girl, before the baby came. What a shame.”
I wouldn’t mind, though. I would happily wander about, munching freely, with not a care in the world about my expanding ass and ballooning belly. I’m baking a baby. I’m creating life. To hell with you, fatty-haters!
So far, my pregnancy fantasy has only proven half true. I do wander, happily munching, but at just shy of five months pregnant, I remain remarkably small. Although I’ve gained a fairly impressive seven pounds so far, only in the past week or so has my belly begun to curve. I welcome the change, though I’m still in the Wow, Paige had better lay off the cupcakes… - DAMN! Lookit the beer belly on that one!! phase. To look at me, one wouldn’t immediately suspect that I am a Pregnant Person. With Child. Expecting. Knocked Up. Baby on Board. Glorious euphemisms abound for my current state, but still, it is not immediately apparent to the outside world.
I try not to mention this amongst my uncomfortably pregnant friends, those that packed it on in the first trimester and found themselves, as one expectant mother friend puts it, “covered in a layer of blubber from head to toe.” I know I should be thankful for my relatively small baby belly, but strangely, I find myself coveting the roundness of others. These women needn’t publicize their pregnancies – their tummies tell the tale for them. Their swollen abdomens shout it to the rooftops. “Is she or isn’t she?” is no longer applicable. I want this. People tell me to be patient – that soon enough I’ll grow big and round, and rue the day I aspired to weight gain. Perhaps they’re right - still, I covet the bellies.
I think about my mother, pregnant with me in ’79, when the flowing fashion of the day dictated caftans, muumuus and maxi dresses, perfect for concealing a burgeoning baby bump. Today, I live in the land of skinny jeans, sky-high heels and tank tops. Most of my pre-pregnancy clothes still fit, so I have chosen to spurn unflattering babydoll dresses and floaty, shapeless tops. My own little bump is proudly displayed to one and all.
And by month six, I’ll be good and round, with nothing to hide.