There comes a time when the romance of pregnancy wears off. Your gut is as hard as a rock, your bladder muscles barely managing to hold your wee in on a gentle ten minute walk up the road, and you’ve shoved yourself into as many of your forgiving, generously waisted dresses and stretchy banded trousers and husband’s flannel forestry shirts as you can find. Then, you have to go get some maternity clothing to despair in.
This is harder than it looks, because maternity clothes are beyond repulsive. Mostly they are polyester parachute shirts with perhaps a ‘feminine’ self-tie belt which cuts you under your boobs (mine are still tiny, btw – don’t get pregnant just because your boobs are small thinking they will grow into luscious melons because it might not make any difference and then you’ll be stuck with a baby and scrawny tits) or some shit t-shirt with plentiful polyester material which gathers over the lower half to encase your gut or some horrible dress that you wouldn’t ever think about wearing in your non-pregnant civilian life. H&M was just insulting and TopShop lost all of its fashiony edge as soon as I got near the minuscule maternity section, which was filled with stripy t-shirts with the pouchy bit and horrible wrap around dresses which just look so very DVF counterfeit 2003, and so I walked out, vowing to keep ramming on my own clothes until they ripped. Jeans can still be yanked on but no longer can be zipped up, so you have to stick a rubber band between the button hole and the button, and hope your too-short t-shirt won’t ride up and expose your DIY shame.
So I ordered some stuff from ASOS – a £10 jersey tube pencil skirt which is extremely tight across my bum, but this is fine because when you are pregnant, the usual maddening cellulite and dumpy hips and lumpen thigh-issues simply disappear against the massive stomach, and you are a magical walking Bridget Riley optical illusion painting where only the taut middle gets any attention. I also bought a big stripy swinging dress – alright, a bit tenty, and then I succumbed to the leather-look trousers. The leather look trousers were supposed to be quite leather-looking, but they are thin, shiny black disco pants. They are making my legs sweat, sitting here in the cold flat on a greyish Autumn day, just like they would if I wrapped my legs in layers of supermarket plastic bags. They cling and shine on my upper thighs and ruin the Bridget Riley effect big time. I have teamed them with a tight cotton black and flowered tube dress and this morning I topped it all off with trainers, gold hoop earrings and a black silk bomber. I looked very accidentally gangster – sweaty gangster – slightly wee-sy sweaty gangster in plastic pants.
The problem, Maternity Clothes Designers, whoever and wherever you are (are you a group of men, perhaps?) is that I don’t want to spend much money on maternity clothes because they are a temporary blip. But I don’t want to look old, or conservative, or asexual. I would like to look like me, with clothes that are not inherently flammable, in clothes that comfort and enhance and enable the difficult shape my body is taking. Then I want to give them away and return back to myself (as quickly as I can because I am tired of lugging milk-fed upper arms and pudding guts everywhere). Isn’t there a middle ground? Can’t you make quirky stuff that cheers us up a bit? Also, why can’t I get my cartilage pierced when I’m pregnant, or the tiniest tattoo of five (argh! SIX!) little birds on my wrist when up the duff? I feel like there’s *quite* a lot of loaded morality shizzle piled upon the visibly pregnant among us. These babies are FINE without their mothers having to reign themselves in too much and adopt the visage of the modestly- and age appropriately- dressed. Gah.
Anyway, those children of mine who have exited the womb did a bad thing on Sunday. We went to a party up the road, which was a kid’s party but quite clearly also for the adults, and mine didn’t really know anyone. So they did this thing when they get a bit gang-like, and they crowd around each other for support and make little in-jokes and giggle and do a tiny bit of good-natured shoving, and then they came across the artfully arranged tables of food.
Did they hang back? Did they ask me if they could have something to eat? Did they ask the hosts? Did they take one or two things each, on a plate, eat nicely, and then pop their discards away in the appropriate place?
Readers, they did not. In fact, they found FORTY SHINY INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED FERERRO ROCHERS and ate them all. The whole table was wiped out in minutes like some biblical locust-afflicted horror story. Worse, they hid the balls they couldn’t fit into their praline-filled mouths by stuffing their hoodie pockets with them like Bad Squirrels. They thought it was hilarious and that they were so clever, but the host was not very impressed and made a bit of a shaming scene, and I was hormonal and lost my temper and nearly cried. I bent down as far as the restrictive belly would allow and hissed into their faces that they had to walk home RIGHT AWAY and some of them cried and some of them hid under the food-laden table which made me madder and so I reached under and grabbed them by the arms and marched them out and down the stairs and sent them home in a white whirlwind of fury. That evening, I made them sit around the table and I told them how much they had embarrassed me, and we did some role play of Good Party Behaviour. I also told them that until they move out into a flat of their own, they are forbidden to ever eat more than two items of party food, ever.
Pictorial Round Up:
All five kids go to school now. It’s like a marvellous fantasy. (Is that bad that you can see the name of their school? Don’t steal and try to ransom them because we mightn’t have the cash to pay up, and you’ll be stuck with them scrapping over which end of the couch they sit on, forever – you won’t like it):
Casper eats burger with massive hair and natty leg-over:
We went and saw Ottolenghi at Daunt Books and it turns out that the woman in the middle, Tara Wigley, actually does most of his writing. Unsung women – who knew of such a thing? Anyway, the new book Simple is changing my life, especially the cornbread.
This is 13:
This is 41 and 13:
This is 41 after operating on a husband’s skin tag in an unmentionable place with sharp scissors. Harrowing for the both of us:
Pregnancy agrees with you, you are looking lovely in those pics, ‘glowing ‘ as they say! I lived in stretchy jeans, t-shirts and the odd kimono jacket thing while pregnant, not exciting but you’re right, the bump trumps all other lumps!
It’s always awful when kids make a show of you in public, I feel for you. They are very handsome in their uniforms though, and you appear to have an indie rock star on your hands in the teen x
Ha ha… good times. Don’t tell them, but they must get it from their mum… I remember a few weddings where you, Glenn and I pulled similar tricks, though usually with the sparkling grape juice (probably only because there weren’t any Ferrero Rochers back then…). 😀
You are marvelous and wonderful. Maternity wear was hideous 50 years ago also. Was there ever a time when it wasn’t? SO glad you have a new baby coming; brightens the future!!! Thank you so much for writing…. those of us ‘across the water’ really really really need your voice these days as the ugly continues to be ugly, and the future ugly is .. well, uglier.
This popped up on my feed yesterday. I haven’t read it so can’t comment on it (because I don’t ever plan to have to buy maternity clothes again PHEW) but she’s usually got a good feel for things, and usually not too spenny: https://onthespike.com/2018/09/27/maternitywear-2-0/