Yvonne Hogan: From fear to maternity
The first time I put on a pair of maternity jeans, it was like coming home. I felt loved, cosseted, free ... think the complete opposite of Spanx
The first time I put on a pair of maternity jeans -- the type with the big belly band that comes right up to your bra -- it was like coming home. I felt loved, embraced, cosseted, free, validated.
No other type of attire has ever made me feel this way. Not even the most flattering dress or sexiest jeans can make you feel as good as that big old belly band.
Think the complete opposite of Spanx; physically, psychologically, culturally. With Spanx, you feel ashamed and chastised.
Every restricted breath you take is met with: 'Aren't you lucky that I am here to squeeze you into shape, you useless, horrible, fat pig? If it weren't for me, you would look even more disgusting, wouldn't you?
'Not only would you be fat, you would be lumpy and bumpy. Now, sit up straight and look as if you are enjoying yourself, even though you couldn't possibly because I am squeezing all the happy out of your soul.'
With maternity jeans, no matter what shape or size, your body is loved, welcomed and celebrated.
'It doesn't matter how big you get you cheeky monkey,' that soft, fluffy belly band laughs, 'there's room for loads more. Aren't you great the way you are, just getting bigger and bigger? You are. You're gas. Have a cake.'
It really is like getting a big, loving, validating hug. I just love it, and I will miss it.
A friend of mine got so attached to her belly band that as soon as her babies were born and she was back into her normal jeans, she started wearing vests to try and recreate that loving feeling.
I think I might be joining her.
In fact, I wish I had started wearing maternity clothes sooner. Like most people, I tried to keep going with the normal clothes for as long as possible, as if it were some mark of achievement. Sure, I was only fooling myself.
Normal clothes are not designed to flatter pregnant bodies. Good maternity clothes are.
And don't listen to people who tell you to buy normal clothes that are a size or two bigger than your size. Either the shoulders will be too big, or the back too tight and you will feel and look all wrong.
And you will look bigger than you are.
The other day, I was looking for something nice to wear to a thing and I came across a dress in my wardrobe that was a size bigger than my pre-pregnancy size and in a stretchy material.
I had bought it in a sale because I liked the colour and the pattern, thinking I might get it altered or something. Anyway, I came across it and I thought, 'Wow, I knew that would come in handy some day. I'll try it on'.
It stretched across my bump fine without getting too short, covered enough of my boobs to be decent and it looked okay from the front.
"How does this work?" I asked my husband. "Grand," he replied. Great, I thought. I'll wear that tomorrow so.
He either lied or he wasn't really looking, because the amount of remarks I got while wearing that dress was unprecedented.
"Not long now," one colleague remarked as she walked past me. "Jaysus, you must be having twins," said another.
Later that day, I was in a taxi and the driver quipped, "I must be careful going over those speed ramps. I don't want to end up in the Rotunda!"
These are not the kind of remarks a pregnant woman of any stage, particularly one with a full three months to go, wants to hear. I didn't feel loved and as if I should have cake. I felt like a piggy who had forgotten to wear her Spanx.
I learnt my lesson and the next day I was back in my big old belly band, feeling all cosy and confident again, and no one passed any remarks.
Maternity clothes are the business. The only problem being that nice, affordable ones are as rare as hens' teeth. But there are places to go and bargains to be had.
Next week, I'll share my tuppence-worth on assembling the ultimate maternity wardrobe.