After many awkward months of looking maybe-with-child, I’ve reached the stage of the undeniable basketball bump that anyone and everyone feels free and happy to comment on. In the last few weeks I’ve heard, “Wow, you’re getting big!” and “You’re definitely pregnant!!!” more times than I can count. I laugh and say, “Yep, sure am!” but I secretly hate these interactions, having internalized the terrible patriarchal lie that women should be small even when we are in the biggest, baddest stage of our career as women, which is creating life inside our bodies.
As I’ve noted in this magazine before, I generally gravitate toward XL attire that deletes my curves and makes me look like a floating grain sack. I like my dresses billowy, my jeans boyfriend-y, and my shirts wide. When I am not carrying a human in my uterus, I sometimes opt for a crop top (still wide, but short), which I believe creates a bit of mystery amidst a full-coverage fit. Does this woman, a passerby might think, indeed have a waist?
Right now, this woman does not. As such, I have spent many moons searching “wide-legged maternity pants” online, trying in vain to maintain my sense of style and self within the sci-fi boy morph that is pregnancy. Eventually, my search paid off, and I found a pretty dope pair of maternity carpenter pants — sure, they were a fast=fashion Kamm Handy Pant knockoff with a disturbingly low fly, but for a few months they’d certainly do. They worked with my tomboy vibe, and I decided I’d wear them every day, like a uniform, styled with one of the gigantic oxford button-ups from my gigantic oxford button-up collection. (If anyone’s wondering where I get my gigantic oxfords, they’re mostly from my sister, who runs a vintage Instagram site called Baer Vintage that specializes in high-quality basics from better times.) This uniform worked for a while, until I saw my reflection in a shop window somewhere near 30 weeks and realized that the bagginess was bringing me down. The floating sack of my body no longer had any mystery to it. I was just a large convex shape covered in lots of cloth.
That night, an Instagram ad I had been served since conception caught my eye in a new way. It was for something called the “Bumpsuit,” which was essentially a full-body leotard for pregnant people. I had previously scrolled past these spandex-clad ladies and their perfectly round tummies and somehow still-small boobs, thinking it was all a bit formfitting for my taste, but this time I held my thumb on the image, then clicked to shop. Could I, should I, slide into a whole new pregnancy style? Only if I didn’t have to spend actual money on one of these things (they’re between $108 and $135), which, because I am writing this article, I did not. I asked their press contact for two of their most iconic (read: best-selling) and conservative (read: wide-strapped) styles — the Lucy and the Cindy. The Lucy is a tank bodysuit with a full pant. The Cindy is the same but shorts. After an out-of-stock colorway snafu (I’d wanted the Cindy in ivory, but they only had lilac), my suits arrived. I eagerly tried them on, then spent the week in them. Here’s how it went.
Today is Wednesday, and it’s cold, which is annoying because it was just hot a few days ago. Such is the dick tease of spring. We are all anxious for the weather to fully turn so we can live out our Aries-season fantasies, which include frolicking, being a little bit bad, daffodil stealing, and possibly donning a Cindy Bumpsuit in lilac. Alas, it’s not her time yet — it’s 46 degrees and drizzling. I opt for my long-legged Lucy suit, and, because I’m working from home today and have vague designs of “working out” later, I pair it with running shoes and a faithful vintage Adidas sweatshirt the color of cherry blossoms. Then I race to the kitchen, where my husband is making himself a cappuccino, to tell him that “this is the most comfortable thing I have ever put on my body.”
It’s true. The Bumpsuit is crazy comfortable. I would say it feels like a second skin, but that’s not quite true, because a second skin would feel weird and I’d be tempted to peel it off. Instead, it feels like a hug from a person you want to be hugged by. It is both creamy-soft and containing, somehow straddling the line between thin air and a weighted blanket. For a rainy day at home, it is the perfect vibe. It holds me gently while I send my emails. It transitions seamlessly into and out of my third-trimester YouTube workout video. But will it cut it in the real world? Only time will tell.
I’m doing kid drop-off today, which means I’m going in public in my Bumpsuit. To ease the transition, I pair the Lucy long-legs with one of my gigantic oxfords — a pink-and-white-striped Polo Ralph Lauren number in a great heavyweight vintage cotton. I add white Vans and a Carleen car coat to complete the look, which ends up giving an “ex-Brooklynite at the country club” vibe. I go unnoticed by the preschool moms.
After drop-off, I go to the local café, which is one of those ’90s places that serves sandwiches on ciabatta and burns the latte milk, but it’s what we’ve got around here (I live in a small town upstate that has not yet caught the third espresso wave). I get an iced latte to stave off the burnt factor, find a table, and spend a few hours pounding the keyboard keys to make that money. In true small-town fashion, I see and make small talk with many people I know — a few moms from my kids’ school, the hot guy who runs the farm down the road, an old man named Bob whom I befriended at the library — but no one comments on my skintight garment, which I’ll admit you can’t really see with the way I’ve styled myself today. My Bumpsuit is my personal spandex secret, which I like — it’s like I’m having a little affair with my underlayer. It caresses my skin lightly and makes me feel privately sexy. Gladly, it does not literally make me hot. It keeps my bod at a stable temperature, despite the way they blast the air conditioner in this godforsaken pre-Y2K establishment.
It’s Friday and it’s fully warm, which means it’s Cindy’s time to shine! As a reminder, Cindy is long-legged Lucy’s shorter-legged sister, and in this case she is an unsettling shade of purple that the Bumpsuit copywriters have called lilac. (In my opinion, this colorway is too cartoonish to be named after anything from the natural world; it looks like the grape flavor of Laffy Taffy.) I don’t really want to wear this thing, but duty calls, so I put it on under a striped cotton shirtdress and go forth with my funny little life. I take my kid to school, do some work at the dumb café, and then decide to go for a long walk because it’s Friday and I deserve it and I am a self carrying another self, which means I should probably prioritize a little bit of self-care! I go to a trail I like called Poet’s Walk, where you hike up a hill toward a spindly Wiccan-looking gazebo that overlooks the Hudson River. About midway through the hike, I confront a problem: I have to pee.
I have peed in the Bumpsuit in a normal bathroom many times by now, and yes, it is a little bit annoying — you have to take off whatever you’ve layered on top and slide the straps down, as with most jumpsuits — but it’s ultimately doable and worth it. But peeing in the woods just off a public trail presents a bit more of an issue. I need to buy myself more time than I normally would while nature peeing, so I go pretty far off the trail, into a kind of dewy thicket where I imagine fairies flirting with each other. While I am drip-drying, I become aware that if there are pee remnants (which there always are), they will likely soak through the taffy-colored fabric and create a darker lilac pee spot, revealing my true nature as someone who pees in nature. Oh no, I think, but then it’s fine. By the time I reach the gazebo, the blessed spring breeze has me and Cindy feeling fresh and dry.
Today I decide it’s time to strut my stuff, weekend-style, so I wear the Lucy (it’s cold again) to my daughter’s soccer game with my button-up unbuttoned and my jacket unzipped. Read: The Bumpsuit is finally on display, as is my pregnant bod and a certain newfound confidence. I am making a statement. I am a full body carrying a full body in a full-bodied suit. I am a creator of life living an Instagram lifestyle. I am a soccer mom on the loose. Another soccer mom tells me I look great, which feels incredible. After the game, we eat at a famous old diner, and I order eggs, hash browns, bacon, and rye toast. My Bumpsuit stretches gladly, no matter how full I get, and then trots along with us to Home Depot. She is incredibly agreeable, I decide. Our relationship, like her design, is becoming utterly seamless.
By now, putting on my Bumpsuit feels as second nature as brushing my teeth. It’s better than my pajamas and better than maternity leggings and better than my husband’s boxer shorts, so I’ve taken to putting it on right when I wake up, even on a lazy Sunday. My husband and I attempt to read the Times while our daughter pesters us to engage in her usual mayhem. I make her a million snacks between sips of my cappuccino. I am trying not to be annoyed with her for (a) needing and wanting so much, and (b) not having slept a wink last night, and (c) asking so many freaking questions. All of those things are in her DNA; they come directly from her mother, who is a needy, insomniac existentialist. At bedtime the previous evening, she asked me if boys had uteruses, if she could marry another girl, if she’d always live in this same house, and if I loved myself or her daddy more. What I mean to say is that she’s a crazy genius and I love her.
As I am making my latte while simultaneously fixing her a fourth breakfast, I spill milk on my Lucy, right on the bump part of the Bumpsuit. Right now might be a good time to tell you that I am fearful of washing my Bumpsuit. I am really scared that she will not be the same after she endures the trauma of a spin cycle. She could shrink, fade, pill, or just be less soft. I privately decide to go as long as possible without washing her at all, and opt for a spot-clean for the spilled milk.
Luckily, Lucy cleans up well; the milk basically wicks right off. What is this magic fabric? Is it made of literal lamb’s ears? Chobani extra-silky oat milk? Homespun maternal caresses? I rub my soft belly and wonder who’s living inside there, under the soft layer of cotton and flesh. What will her nighttime questions be? Will she befriend old men at the library? Where will she find joy? What will she see when she catches her reflection in the window of a shop?
Because I have an appointment with my midwife today, at which I can expect a tummy examination that includes fetal-heartbeat monitoring and gross belly gel, I decide not to wear my Bumpsuit. I immediately regret it, and spend the rest of the day itching the equator of my personal basketball, where the maternity carpenter pants are digging in aggressively.
It’s the last day of my Bumpsuit experiment, which breaks my heart a little bit. To think that I will no longer be tracking my outfits and feelings in my Notes app. Luckily, these Bumpsuits are mine to keep. Today, I put a striped sweater from Apiece Apart over my Lucy. It’s cold but sunny, and I head to a nearby town to get a coffee and a smoothie and a cookie in close succession — today I am taking advantage of the “free” part of being a “freelance writer.” I dip into antique stores and carefully maneuver my belly through the tight aisles. I go to the bookstore and touch all the books, then buy the ones that speak to me. It is rare that things feel easy like this, I think, when nothing is rubbing up against anything else. This new uniform makes me feel a little lighter on my feet, a little more taken care of, a little more like the fullest version of myself. A shop owner eyes my midsection and congratulates me, and I proudly tell him, “Thank you.”
Molly Prentiss’s new novel, Old Flame, is out now.
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