You're supposed to gain weight, they said.
You're eating for two, they said.
I stretched the bottom of my red sleeveless top with one hand while holding an invitation in the other.
A picnic celebration for all medical residents
It said nothing about bringing your extra-large, oversized, eight-month -pregnant wife.
I protested. I whined. "I can't go," I told my husband in tones muffled by ham and cheese on rye. "I don't have anything that fits."
Go shopping, he said.
Everyone knows you're pregnant, he said.
Gee, do you think? I walked past the store mirror and caught a glimpse of the 73 pounds of "baby weight" I had added. On some, that kind of additional weight would be impressive, possibly lovely or voluptuous. Not when you're 5'1. Not when your arms look like the size of legs and your legs look like sunken tree trunks, bloated and warped.
"Can I get you a dressing room?" The saleswoman eyed me up and down. From swollen ankles to puffy nose, I was a trainwreck that demanded attention.
"Yes, I need an outfit, a top, anything. My usual size is small."
"When you're carrying twins, we suggest you go up a size or two."
"Oh, no, " my belly engulfed the three-foot span between her and me, "I'm not having twins."
"Oh, dear." She spun around, her arms flailing in the air, looking for help, a doctor, boiled water, torn sheets.
"I'm still a month away from delivery, it's fine. I just need something for a picnic."
"Yes." Most picnics are outside.
"In this heat?" she fanned herself with a well-manicured wave. "who would ask you to do such a thing?"
"My husband," Yes, I thought, this is all his fault. He and his 6'3 frame, his biggest-baby-in-the-family award, his picnic.
I waddled over to the eyelet muumuus.
"This is pretty." I fingered the thin cotton. Something cool. Something that works well with these sneakers. The only shoes that fit.
"Why don't you try that and I will bring you some other items."
We don't have a full-length mirror in the apartment, only one where I can view from the waist up or the hips down. It's worked so far. Or, maybe not. The red tent-like top was so overstretched that it was lopsided and saggy. The khaki shorts rubbed awkwardly against my thighs, and while one sneaker was tied off to the side, where I could reach it, the other shoelace was loose and dirty. You can do this, I thought. It's only clothes, nothing to be afraid of, nothing to cry about.
I wiped the tears from my eyes.
The poplin top was adorable, white, and crisp. I twisted it around, looking for the buttons. None. There was a 1/4 zipper under the left arm.
"Do you need help?" she said.
"Yes, yes, I do."
"May I come in?"
The saleswoman opened the curtain and gasped.
"How did you do that?"
"I don't know."
Her expression reflected in the mirror was one of utter horror.
Look away, look away, I'm hideous.
"Sheila," she called for backup, "I think we need another set of hands in here."
"Oh," Sheila stifled a giggle.
The shirt was tight and twisted, stuck above my elbows, below my chin, my left breast (which was not entirely within the confines of the bra) was sticking out the zipper hole. The enormity of my belly was in full view.
"This shirt won't work at all."
"No," I said, "unless I can't get it off, then I guess I'm taking it home like this."
They pulled, tugged, pushed my shoulders, wrapped their hands around my head, and shoved it down. There was grunting, groaning, I may have bitten someone. At last, the shirt was off, thrown to the floor like a white towel. I surrendered.
Sheila looked at me in the mirror.
"Don't worry, I have just the thing, with buttons all the way down the front."
Sheila was young and thin.
"And congratulations on your twins."
"Yep," I said, standing shirtless, "thanks."
Hope this lightened your day.
Love and Luck,