Today was an exciting day for me. It will not sound exciting to anyone else, but here it is: I received a large package from The Gap.
The package was for me. It wasn’t a gift for someone else, or a mistake, nor did the package contain shoes or a bag or other accessories. No: it contained actual clothes. Maternity clothes. For me.
Now, the reason why this is so exciting is because the last time a piece of clothing – namely a pair of jeans and men’s shirt – from The Gap fit me was in 1996, if I remember correctly. I was a sophomore in college. It was a long, long time ago.
I did not miss The Gap in all those years. I have worn size 18 clothes pretty much since 1996, and when you are curvaceous like that, you just know and accept that some stores our out of reach. Sure, I may have stopped in front of its shiny, glittering, yuppie windows and longed for a pair of signature khakis, but then I snapped out of it. Whatever. I have boobs and thighs and a stomach and sure, a few extra rolls of chub where they shouldn’t be. The Gap does not approve of that. So screw The Gap.
But this is not about bashing a clothing store.
Shopping for maternity clothes was fraught with anxiety in the beginning. Everything made me look too… pregnant. So I wore my “normal” jeans and tops until about 18-19 weeks, when my bulging belly just said “no thanks.” The whole gum band through the buttonhole trick worked for maybe a week or so in extending the life of those jeans, but it did not exude sexiness or fertility-goddessness. Not at all. Also, pregnant women have to pee a lot. No gum band should stand in the way of that.
It was time to shop.
I wondered into The Gap really by accident. I wanted to check out their baby section – surely my newborn baby will not be too fat for Baby Gap standards. And there, in the back of the store, was a whole section of maternity clothes! “Nah,” I thought. “I won’t fall for this.” But I pulled out a shirt… It looked vaguely like it might fit me. And another… That too, looked surprisingly like it was made for actual pregnant humans. I tried them on.
Emboldened, I ordered two sweaters and two t-shirts from their website. They arrived today and they all fit on every part of my expanding body – boobs, belly, everything.
As I stood in front of the mirror tonight, my resentment towards the store – and towards my curves – vanished in an instant. I know that after I have the baby, I will not be able to shop there again – and I probably wouldn’t want to either. The Gap is not really my style.
But I think that in a strange way, those couple of t-shirts and sweaters helped me make sense and appreciate what is going on – with my body and with my life. Most days, even as the baby gently kicks my rib cage, I am still in vague denial about what’s going on in there.
But things are changing – I can’t deny that. What used to fit, does not fit anymore. What used to be off limits, now seems possible. What used to taste good now seems repulsive. My body is off on some strange mission of its own – most of the time without my permission – not really caring what I dress it in or what I want it do or not do. I am not in control anymore and strangely, I don’t want to be.
I looked at myself in the mirror for a while tonight, admiring the way the blue and white stripes of my new t-shirt hugged my belly and the way my new gray cardigan draped around it. It didn’t seem like my body – I didn’t see any fat rolls or too much breast or a big butt. I saw myself for the first time in 26 weeks and three days.
I am having a baby.