At 4 months pregnant, I wore the same dress every other day for at least a month. It’s one of the only items of clothing I had that felt comfortable. My existing wardrobe became useless at just four or five weeks, when I made a trip to Target (there is no point in spending a lot of money on pregnancy clothes!) and got the aforementioned dress, a pair of ubiquitous black yoga pants and a small collection of loose-fitting tops. Lucky for me, long bohemian dresses were very much ‘in’ this past season (empire waste, halter top), and they were cheap, and everywhere. At four and a half months, I went out and bought two or three more, as well as a few cardigans, and those purchases (plus the yoga pants) should last me through the fall. I’m five and a half months along now, and the time is fast approaching when I’ll be a whale and will need to bite the bullet and get some real maternity clothes. But first, a few notes on the long bohemian dresses… and on quickly metamorphosing into a whale:
First, loose, flowing clothing may have been ‘in’ this past season, but I am, at heart, a miniskirt (pencil skirt for work… tight pencil skirt) and heels kind of a girl. I like tailored styles. Hippie bohemian dresses with bright colors in mushroom-trip patterns have not really been my thing.
Until now. By God, I’ve embraced them. Cuz here’s the other thing (the whale part): I have, impressively, always eaten more than the men I know do (including my husband). Burgers, for me, just turned into a good butt. I am 24 years old, and blessed with an effortlessly fit body. I was a dancer for a number of years, and I guess the lean look just stuck. I never thought much about it before. Suffice to say, I definitely noticed when it started changing, and it came as an unpleasant shock.
What tipped me off on being pregnant in the first place was that I couldn’t stop eating. I was obsessed with food. I know that the respected medical sources say that in the first trimester one’s body doesn’t actually need additional calories, but I have a hard time believing it. I was hungry. Physically famished. All the time. One evening as I was making dinner and standing by the open cupboard simultaneously shoving blue corn chips and cheese into my mouth, my husband asked, ever so gently, “Is it that time of the month?” I chewed and chewed, and swallowed, and said (while shoving another handful in) “Yes, in fact I’m still waiting on it… I’m a few days late… God I can’t stop eating!” I stopped eating for a moment right then, though, and we looked at each other. The next day, the digital pregnancy test gave us a big YES.
Walking around knowing that a little collection of cells inside me was becoming what would one day be a walking, talking person was the most incredible feeling. I was walking on clouds. Rapidly outgrowing my clothes was not such a fun feeling.
All of a sudden I wasn’t obviously pregnant, not even a little, but I also wasn’t obviously hot. I’m sure I was the only one to notice, at first. My husband has been wonderfully complimentary and reassuring all along (he of course loved the overnight boob-job). But being uncomfortable in my jeans, and getting some extra padding around my midsection, made me feel self-conscious and frustrated. I did not feel sexy at all. I was ecstatic to be pregnant, and I was looking forward to the more extreme body changes, namely the bump. Waiting for the bump, though, and enduring the less extreme creep of a disappearing waste line, was a bit rough. I was exhausted and emotional as it was (like PMS on steroids); feeling frumpy just made me feel worse.
I can offer a little bit of encouragement and advice for you ladies who’re not yet showing, but who are, well, thickening up. First of all, you’ve got a lot going on right now, and a lot to think about (early pregnancy paranoia, excitement, and nausea, to name a few). This is easier said than done for many of us, but cut yourself some slack. Take it easy at work, let your partner make you dinner, and eat it. If you want seconds, rock on sista! You’ll be showing soon enough, and eating healthful, delicious food right now is important. Statistically speaking, you’ve likely dabbled in dieting for years, so you should probably even eat more than you have been immediately pre-pregnancy. Try not to worry about the extra padding.
It’s hard not to feel weird about it, of course, so do not delay in going out and getting yourself some nice flowing hippie dresses (cardigans make them less hippie-like), some stretchy pants and some spacious tops. Put your regular clothes away. Put your “hot” clothes in storage, under the bed. Get rid of the clothes you didn’t even like that much in the first place. You’ll eventually be your normal size again, and then you’ll get to treat yourself to new clothes (though bear in mind that your baby will probably spit up on them).
Pamper yourself. Steaming hot baths are not advisable (your baby can’t cool itself), but I took plenty of pleasantly warm showers, got manicures and foot rubs, watched movies, and slept. You probably feel kind of crazy (actually crazy), so just let yourself feel that way. It’ll pass. Try not to scream at anyone, though. That’s just not nice, and will result in people avoiding you rather than helping make your life easier.
Lastly, I told the people that I’m close to, and my boss, that I was pregnant. Like, right away. This goes against conventional wisdom due to miscarriage rates, so only tell people you are comfortable telling, but I found that telling our friends and family helped me feel better amidst all of the physical changes because it returned the focus to the amazing reason for those changes— there’s a baby in the making! Telling my boss was a good move, for me, because it allowed me to not worry about missing a meeting here and there to go to the doctor (“So… I’m not going on interviews…”), and it gave a good—as in, everything goes-- explanation for my lethargy and, yes, weight gain (“I’m also not depressed”).
The first few months crawl by as you approach and reach the milestones of hearing a heartbeat and clearing the 3-month mark (when miscarriage rates decrease significantly). But things really do pick up after that. You start looking pregnant, not fat, and gaining weight for real. My appetite actually mellowed out after the first couple of months. And I do feel sexy again, bump and all. I’ve found that now I’m not worried about my body; I’m thinking about my baby. I know I’ll get my ass back in good time.