When I finally got dressed this afternoon, after wearing my nightgown and robe for the better part of the morning, I put on my favorite black maternity t-shirt. Within 5 minutes, Josephine had spit up on it, leaving a gooey, smelly wet stain from my shoulder to my boob. I am gorgeous: I wear the glow of new motherhood accessorized with the stench of barf and the drag of excess weight. Fashion means wearing something that has a waistband with a button rather than elastic, but let's be honest: I prefer the elastic. My maternity clothes remind me of one of the happiest times in my life, in addition to being the most comfortable, forgiving garments ever created. Maternity clothes are not the tent dresses of yesteryear; many highlight and celebrate the bump with bows and arrows (and worse), so even those of us who started out Rubenesque can feel cute. sexy, and beautiful when we're expecting. It's hard to give up these clothes.
Let's be honest: society allows women to be heavy for nine months times the number of children she has. Fat outside of those guildelines is very much frowned upon. Somehow, after giving birth and while we're nursing (and in some cases, recovering from major abdominal surgery), we are to quickly morph back into our pre-pregnancy shape. I'm warned on a daily basis to lose whatever I've gained before I get pregnant again for fear it will make pregnancy even more taxing next time. So after having a difficult time conceiving, I am in awe of what my body produced, and at the same time, but impatient with the aftermath. In the three months since Josephine was born, I've been taught to hate my body all over again.
It's interesting. I never once felt fat when I was pregnant. Even at nine months, teaching in an un-airconditioned school, my feet so swollen I could barely walk, I never felt fat. I was encouraged to eat, and my burgeoning belly was celebrated by all, friend and stranger alike. But after baby arrives and as time goes by, baby weight becomes a more complicated issue -- and they don't make postpartum clothes.