I've officially rounded (ha!) the corner from "aw, look at my cute belly!" to "crap, I don't own shirts that come down far enough in the front." One week ago, the tank top that I'm currently wearing actually covered you, and now...not so much. I had to do a frantic two-day run around local consignment and department stores to find anything that would fit so that I didn't have to wear one of my two still-fitting tank tops to school. Again.
I had a funny experience a few years back that has made me feel somewhat better about alternately wearing the exact same clothes for several days straight and dressing like a well-showered vagrant. It was only a few weeks after I moved to Maine, and I was at work at the ill-fated chain book store where I had managed to lock down a rare and precious part-time job. In college, I wouldn't dare say that I had a sense of style, but I did definitely put effort into what I wore. (Having friends who enjoyed shopping, making their own clothes, and dressing up for even concocted occasions certainly helped.) Right after college, I will openly admit that I was still trying to impress your Dad, so arguably, I might have even tried a little harder.
This day, I couldn't tell you what I was wearing, but it was definitely something I'd put any energy into picking out and putting on. My job didn't necessarily require any specific formality of dress, but I had quickly learned that as a "bookseller," my job was far more pleasant if I dressed with any intent and some modest but strategic exposed skin. Such attempts stood in stark contrast to the typical comportment of the average customer. This could be a nation-wide phenomenon, the genesis of which I somehow missed during college, but in Southern Maine, few people seem to actually get dressed before leaving their houses. That's not to say our shopping population wanders around nude (though that could conceivably be an improvement for some), rather that there seems to be little expectation for any change in hygiene or clothing choice between the couch and the mall. Some people are more or less visibly clean, but are wearing pajamas that look like they crawled, self-propelled, from a mud pit. Others are wearing ostensibly tidy clothes, but bear a tangible layer of grime over their entire person and could easily grease a marathon's worth of bike chains with their hair. Yet others demonstrate the worst of both possibilities, and while there are some who are simply clean and wearing pajamas, it is a little weird standing in line to pay for a pretzel behind a forty-something year old man in SpongeBob Squarepants flannel jammies and a "I support two teams: the Red Sox and whoever beats the Yankees" t-shirt.
While sorting books to be reshelved, I was approached by a woman whose hair looked about as familiar with a brush as I am with Finnish verb conjugation. I don't think I could ever forget her outfit; she wore a pastel pink sweatshirt that came down almost to her knees upon which was emblazoned a forlorn-looking Disney dwarf and the catch phrase "I'm only grumpy on days that end with Y." There were also stains. Many, awful stains. She was also wearing baggy gray sweatpants that terminated around her no-longer-even-close-to-white sneakers in a hefty ring of mud and (more) stains. What really caught me off-guard was the fact that she was not much older than me, seemed perfectly in-tune with the world, and was looking for a fairly obscure grammar text. This could have been me on another day. I helped her find her book, and she walked with me back towards the sorting desk. While on the way, she looked me up and down with an expression of relative confusion. "You're not from around here, are you?" she queried. I explained that no, I had only recently moved to the area, and she smiled knowingly. "I figured as much. Honey, I give it six months before dressing like THAT," - she eyed me up and down - "...goes out the window."
She was so completely right. Within a year, possibly within her predicted six month window, I caught a reflection of myself in the front doors of the grocery store. Not only was my hair a grungy pile of unwashed horror crammed half-assedly under a Red Sox hat, but I was wearing the same pajamas that I'd spent the last straight twenty-four hours in and it was brutally apparent that I had only just crawled off the couch. As a family composed only slightly more than I was elbowed past on one side, and an older gentleman in a discolored track suit approached me on the other, I came to a state of peace and acceptance. While I still get a slight twinge getting out of my car wearing conspicuously unwashed clothes, with conspicuously unwashed self and hair, I don't let it get to me. It's like driving: as long as I can see someone going faster and someone going slower, I know my speed is reasonable. As long as there is someone grungier than me, and there is always someone better put-together than me, I'm okay.
Being pregnant seems to have put me in a weird state of dual expectations. On the one hand, it's perfectly acceptable to wander around looking like a homeless person because no one expects me to have the energy to do more than cover my delicate bits. On the other hand, my being adorably dressed and groomed seems to give others a voyeuristic degree of pleasure. Students, coworkers, family, and friends alike seem to adore fawning over my appearance, especially when whatever I manage to pull on somehow emphasizes your presence. The upside? Wearing clean clothes that mostly fit seems to garner compliments galore, regardless of how frequently I've worn said clothes, or how appropriate they really are for whatever situation I'm in. All I can say is...thank goodness.
This public approval of my fashion choices (or lack thereof) is especially a relief because of how massive I've been feeling. More than a few people have told me how big I am, which actually really sucks to hear because of how much bigger I'll have to get. Nothing seems to fit properly, which especially sucks because of how tight money is getting. You've also made some kind of jump, growth-wise or something, since you're now not only kicking more often, but WAY harder...harder like I'm worried you're going to kick through my abdominal wall. I've definitely never noticed any pregnant woman's stomach visibly jumping around, but your activity has been majorly noticeable from the outside. Weirdly, you still clam up when anyone wants to feel you move, but I'm convinced that just ignoring you for a few minutes gets you going just fine.
For now, I'm sticking to a handful of oversized tank tops that, while fairly tight, still cover far enough below and above you to keep me decent. Yes, I'm basically wearing some variation on one of the same three outfits every day, but whatever. You're still growing plenty, and I'm still only really looking huge around the baby belly and not too much anywhere else. I'm kind of really regretting not doing the once-a-week belly pictures that so many women do, but given both how gross I felt for the first trimester (and then some) and how overwhelmed we were with medical stuff after then, I'll be sated with an absurd number of ultrasound pictures and a few holiday shots where someone else is gazing with near astonishment at you.