Pregnant Style

It’s weird, at my age, but I know several people who are pregnant. Not women my age, of course, but people I would call contemporaries if only because I’m a little bit immature.

It’s weird, because being pregnant has changed so much since I was last pregnant, and even more so since I was first pregnant.

Take the clothes for example. When I was pregnant for the first time I wore things like this:

It’s hard to find photographs of maternity clothes pre-1990, either because we thought the camera would steal the baby’s soul or because the tops were so ugly we didn’t want any photo evidence.

During my first pregnancy, I worked, yet I had a total of about four outfits. If I remember correctly, I decided it was a waste of money to buy an entire wardrobe of clothes to fit a morbidly misshapen and deformed body that was morphing larger by the quart of ice cream. But I’m pretty sure my coworkers felt sad every time they saw me walk into the news room in my teal ensemble, less than a week since I had worn it before.

My maternity pants had an elastic panel in front that was the size of my current back yard, with big wide legs to handle the baby, just in case he decided to move from my uterus down into a thigh. They were made from shiny cotton fabric in teal, royal blue, salmon/peachish, and white. Add some Easy Spirit tie shoes (which I did, thank you very much) and I looked like a fat nurse in scrubs from the waist down.

But not on top. My tops were that same fabric but in gingham checks and florals in coordinating colors. To say they were “A line” is to do a disservice to all those Butterick artist’s rendering models. They had Peter Pan collars and little puffy sleeves. Big cartoonish buttons. One of my maternity tops had some smocking.

And then there were times that I had to get really dressed up. When I was about two days past my due date during my first pregnancy, my husband’s friend Mark got married. My husband was in the wedding. There is a God, so I wasn’t. I bought a dress for the occasion. I can’t imagine that I had any choices because I picked a hot pink floral pattern dress that made me stand out even at the most festive reception. To make the dress, I’m pretty sure the people at the Mother-To-Be factory took a sheet of hot pink floral fabric and stretched it out on a football field, had some offensive linemen pick up the one end and walk it over to the other side, where it was sewn together, gathered, puckered, puffed and then sold to me to cover my unborn baby.

Maternity clothes had two missions in the early 1980s: One, to do everything in their power to hide the actual shape of your pregnant stomach, and Two, to make us look like pre-pubescent virgins who would rather have a lollipop and some sidewalk chalk than to have sex with our 30-year-old husbands.

It’s a little bit sick how we were dressed like little girls. But trust me, that’s all that was out there. God forbid you wear your normal clothes a little bit tighter for even a couple of weeks. I even wore a maternity bathing suit, which is the most ridiculous piece of clothing since the bustle went out of style.

And then Princess Diana got pregnant. She was photographed swimming in a bikini when she was about eight months pregnant with one of the little princes and that big old royal stomach was hanging right out there in the breeze. We were shocked - it was something you would see in a documentary or in the examining room of the doctor’s office or in the mirror in the privacy of your own bathroom (with the lights dimmed even there), but not out in public! Quick! Find that woman a cave to go into and wrap an afghan around her!

I thought it was cool. And it started a turn of events. Expectant mothers began wearing knit tops - in black and gray no less! - so tight that you could see not only her newly outed bellybutton, but you could almost determine the sex of the baby in there.

In Sparta in about 2003, I was driving and saw a hugely pregnant woman power walking, wearing only a pair of short shorts, tennis shoes, a sun visor and a sports bra. I hardly wrecked the car at all.

I’m excited for my pregnant friends. They get to wear chic clothes in trendy colors and let their stomachs stick out as much as they want. Or they can buy regular size 2 clothes at Macy’s and still let their stomachs stick out as much as they want.

But they’ll be hard pressed to find the clothes I wore 20 some years ago. Even Goodwill tears them up for rags. Good riddance.

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