Suddenly we’re all wearing maternity clothes

I became an adult in the late ’60s and early ’70s, when women wore mini-skirts and platform shoes, peasant blouses and bell-bottom pants. In high school, I had some psychedelic-patterned, tent-shaped dresses so big you could have hidden another person in there. They seem hideous now, but that was the style.

Pregnant women wore “maternity clothes,” stretchy bottoms and big blouses with Peter Pan collars, bows, and lacy sleeves. The object was not only to make room for the baby, but to be “modest,” a word we don’t hear much anymore. As desirable as it was to have children, there was something crass about showing one’s baby bump in public.

I never had a baby bump. I had a my-period-is-late-and-I’m-so-bloated bump. I had a my-period-is-late-and-please-God-let-me-be-pregnant bump. And these days I have a can’t-stop-eating-mayonnaise-and-French-fries bump, but I never had a baby bump. That did not stop me in my days as a young married woman from wearing big clothes and hoping people thought I might be pregnant. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I might caress my belly and pretend there was a baby in there, but there never was.

In today’s tight dresses, there’s no way to hide one’s pregnancy status, but back then, it was easy to pretend, to play mommy-to-be dress-up.

More than the actual baby, I think I wanted the public affirmation of my womanhood, the approval, and the excitement of entering the next phase of my life. Instead of maternity clothes, I put on suits, narrow skirts, slacks and blazers for my career as a journalist.

Why do I think of this now? I realized the other day as I put on my leggings and matching “tunic,” that we’re all walking around in pseudo-maternity clothes. I could wear that stretchy outfit all the way to my delivery date if I were pregnant. I don’t know about where you live, but all the women and girls around here (Oregon) are wearing leggings. They’re only flattering if you have a perfect figure. They’re not warm enough in the winter. Some derrieres are showing that shouldn’t be shown. But oh Lord, they’re comfortable, and if you wear a big top, who cares how many French fries you eat.

Ironically, the women who are actually pregnant don’t try to hide their pregnancies. The other night at a concert, I saw a young woman wearing shorts and a tank top that stretched way out with her pregnancy of at least eight months. No frilly blouses and stretch pants for her. We have all seen celebrities flaunting their “baby bumps.” There’s no doubt what’s going on in their uteruses.

When you’re clothes shopping, do you ever accidentally find yourself in the maternity section? I rush out of there as if someone is going to catch me and point out that I don’t belong. What do you do? Do you long for those Baby on Board tee shirts or try not to look at them?

Am I the only one who has worn big clothes and hoped people assumed for a little while that I might be pregnant? Do you know anyone who has?

I apologize if this whole discussion is making you feel bad. From my post-menopausal perspective, it’s interesting. And now that I have Googled “maternity clothes,” I will be plagued with ads for pregnancy-related merchandise by the heartless algorithms of the Internet.

Here’s a look at maternity fashion through history. https://www.whattoexpect.com/tools/photolist/100-years-of-maternity-fashion

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Some great comments have come in on my previous posts about millennials delaying pregnancy. Check them out here and here. 

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My novel Up Beaver Creek is out now at Amazon.com. My first hard copies arrived yesterday. They are beautiful.

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Fourth of July brings out the baby blues

It was Fourth of July. Everyone seemed to be gathered in family groups, and there I was with my dog Annie. My friends I had planned to spend the day with had suddenly gotten busy with visiting children and grandchildren, so I headed to Yachats, a small town to the south where the 1960s continue unchanged. They were having a street fair. After walking around a little bit, Annie and I settled in one of the plastic chairs near the stage where a group was performing music that seemed to be a blend of reggae, New Age and yoga chants. Annie leaned against my legs, nervous in the crowd, a little worried about the tie-die-garbed woman doing a hula hoop dance a few feet away, the lady doing henna tattoos under the canopy next to the stage, and the tiny human who kept asking if she could pet my doggie. Sure, I said and watched her pat Annie’s broad tan back.

Next to me, the little girl’s mom exposed her baby bump between her midriff top and long skirt. She had flowers henna-tattooed around and below her navel. I will not let this bother me, I told myself. I sang along with the music, I pet my dog, I stared at the blue sky and green trees rising up behind the stage. The temperature was perfect, we had nowhere else to go, nothing else to do. But there were kids and moms and dads everywhere.

The night before, watching fireworks in Waldport, I was surrounded by couples with children, little ones and big ones. I felt like I didn’t fit in. And here, watching barefoot young women in flowing dresses dance with their children, I had to wonder how I missed out on something so natural and normal. Men and women come together and make babies. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to go? Didn’t I want that? Where did I lose my way? If I had stayed with my first husband, wouldn’t we eventually have had children? Maybe I should have married someone else. But I was 22. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know this could happen to me.

Annie was getting hot and restless. I was getting sad. “Come on,” I said, and we went home to our big house and big yard with no children and no mothers.

Sorry. I’m feeling down today. You know how that goes. I hate holidays. They bring out the blues. Don’t you find that’s true? How was Fourth of July for you?

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Starting Sunday afternoon, I’m going to be offline most of the time for a week or so. If I don’t get to your comments or post something new, please be patient. I will seek out wi-fi as often as I can. Have a great week.