Saying “yes” to maternity dress

Let me start this post by giving you some context: I stand about 5’2” and although I’m petite, I have long legs for my height and a short torso.  Depending on the store, I wear a size 0 through 4, and finding sizes and clothes that fit has always been a battle for me.  Now, add to that a smaller than usual uterus and an obsession with Jillian Michaels and we have a recipe for hilarity brewing at Destination Maternity.

I was one of those people who really didn’t see the lure of running out and buying maternity clothes right away.  And until the end of my third month, I was still fitting into my normal pants and shirts, though they were getting a little tight.  I purchased two of those “belly bands” at Target and thought that would be enough.  But then as my stomach grew, my shirts started not fitting well and weren’t long enough to hide the fact I using a hair tie to keep the button closed.

Just buy your normal clothes but bigger, was some of the advice I got.  It sounds like a good, logical idea.  Here’s my issue with that philosophy though: your body is going to expand in unpredictable ways.  Issue 1:  I carried extremely low; only until a few weeks ago the entirety of my bump was exclusively below my belly button.  I own normal clothes in much larger sizes – I have work pants in a size 11 from my “big girl” days that are just so comfortable to wear on days when I don’t care.  Size 11, people.  I can’t button them.  And I’ve only gained 10 pounds – less than what I weighed when I bought those pants in the first place.  Had I bought larger “normal” pants when I first got concerned about clothes I would still be in the same place I am now – with nothing “normal” fitting.

Issue 2: Even if you are wearing “normal” shirts, you’ll need them to be much longer and roomier.  First, your stomach’s surface area will continue to increase inch by inch.  If your shirt is too tight around the waist, especially in early to mid pregnancy, people might just think you’re carrying a spare tire, not a baby.  Second, if you’re wearing a “belly band” or otherwise jerry-rigging your pants to stay up, you’ll want to cover the evidence.  (I don’t even zipper my pants anymore).

Issue 3: Even yoga pants can become uncomfortable, and dresses will only get you so far.  Anything that’s too tight around the belly might give you discomfort physically and gastrointestinally.  Elastic waistbands are the way to go.

Borrow your boyfriend’s/husband’s clothes.  Incredibly this advice is from pregnancy magazines.  Really?  I mean, really?  He’s one foot taller than me.  Do you really think that’s going to work out well?  (Our legs are almost the same length, actually…)  Isn’t wearing larger, roomier clothes and sweaters frumpy enough?

With all these issues in mind, I decided to try my luck at the Destination Maternity.  I walked in – about four months pregnant – wearing a summer dress and was greeted with, “Hi, how can we help you?” and a quizzical look.  “Are you looking for something in particular?” meaning, “Why are you here, exactly?”  I explained that I was pregnant, it was my first time shopping for maternity clothes, and I had no idea what to do.  She explained that I should look for clothing in my “normal size” and that all the cheap stuff was in the back.  I started rifling through racks and she started a fitting room for me.  Once I had collected an armful of clothing, she showed me the assortment of bellies to use to see what the clothes would look like.  She handed me the biggest belly they had – the “7 months more” belly.  Even though she knew I was 4 months along.  Seriously?  I took pictures of me in the clothes with the belly for future reference.  Later, another saleswoman said to another first-timer, “As they say, you’re not going to start any new fashion trends while you’re pregnant.”  Damn straight.  Bring on the sweatpants!

I haven’t gone bonanza making maternity clothes purchases.  I did buy two pairs of work pants, a few t-shirts, and a few long-sleeve lightweight shirts.  My normal clothes are hit-and-miss with fit, and it’s a daily chore to create an outfit that looks presentable in the morning.  It’s even harder to find weekend wear.  I found a website called “Borrow for Your Bump” which I will be using for a formal event I have to attend in November.  I’m tempted to look into purchasing maternity jeans next, but maybe I’ll see how much further I can stretch in what I’ve got.

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