amy + evan at 10 weeks

 

In the early weeks of being pregnant, I didn’t give much thought to maternity clothes. I was consumed with just the new, frightening, wonderful, exhausting possibility of motherhood. As far as I thought about clothes, I think I figured that I wore pretty stretchy clothes, so I probably could get away with those.

 

bright flowers 2

 

But, yesterday I packed away nearly all my non-maternity clothes, because even the stretchiest of my shirts leaves a few inches of my expanding belly exposed if I move, and all my non-yoga pants stopped being comfortable, let alone button-able, months ago.

Fortunately, the other women in my life knew, even if I didn’t, that I would need real maternity clothes.

 

amy and alison 2

 

At 8 weeks, we had lunch with church friends, and I left their house with 3 borrowed stretchy dresses and a couple of sweat shirts. At 10 weeks, a friend from Washington DC emailed to ask me if I wanted all her maternity and nursing clothes.

 

shower

 

At 13 weeks my mother took me shopping at my favorite thrift store for maternity wear. At 15 weeks, a friend showed up at church with a bag of maternity shirts, many that had belonged to other women at church. At 19 weeks, a DC friend passed along a bag of pants and tops that someone had given her since they were the same size.

 

Lesley and Amy

 

And just this week (week 28!) my sister-in-law and I went through her sister’s maternity clothes, picking out a few gems.

 

27 weeks

 

It has been surprisingly meaningful to be clothed in motherhood in such a tangible way by my community. I am wearing the same shirts and tops that stretched and held so many other mothers: some who I knew when they were pregnant, and some I’ve only met after their babies are the rambunctious children darting in and out of our legs in the church fellowship hall.

 

double kisses

 

I have been amazed at how I feel connected through the knit cotton and stretchy elastic to this community of motherhood. (Evan kids me about being part of the Motherhood of the Traveling Pants) These women have wrapped me up first in their hugs and then in their warm sweaters—meeting a need that I did not even anticipate really having.

 

claire!

 

Not every shirt or dress has been something I would have picked out for myself. I am a rather plan jane, classic casual kind of lady who avoids shopping and loud patterns—but I have found myself wearing neon-yellow and purple flowered shirts and even jean capris…which normally I would simply refuse to consider.

 

bright flower 3

 

I am learning, in bold t-shirts and shorts, that motherhood stretches us to try new things, to try on things we might have dismissed and missed all together.

 

goddaughters

 

I am learning to let go a little of what I thought pregnancy would look like, and let it take the course that it is taking.

 

amii

 

Pregnant bodies are simultaneously something that we love — we love to see babies and bellies growing, strangers commenting or even wanting to touch the expanding miracle.

 

belly kiss 2

 

And at the same time, pregnant bodies are something we avoid the reality of—images of pregnancy are often tiny models with tiny empathy bellies sporting beautiful and expensive outfits—like little girls playing dress up with basketballs or pillows down their shirts. Women compare and bemoan pregnancy weight gain, before the baby is out they talk about losing baby weight, and buy a dozens creams to avoid or repair stretch marks.

 

Lizzy

 

I do not have the answer to this. I both love my body now, and I also feel that it is too much—takes up too much space. But putting on a dress that has expanded and contracted with real live moms whose children I know and teach at Sunday school grounds me. I feel like it is alright to be a real person, eating and breathing and expanding at the rate that I and this little baby are. And there is comfort in that.

 

belly kiss

 

And maternity clothes are nothing if not comfortable. I have discovered the wonder of the belly band and the full-panel maternity pants—both of which allow me to breathe so much more deeply and freely. I didn’t even know that I was uncomfortable until I tried them on.

 

alison and amy laughing

 

I didn’t know that I would appreciate this gesture of welcome by the women in my life. We are so often worried that our closest female friends echo the harsh voices in our own heads about how we should look. They’re not. So I am trying to listen to a different story, the one that my stripped maternity tank says to me—we love you as you are, as you are growing, as you are nourishing yourself and this baby—we are making room for you here.

 

baby shower

 

How have you found your community has welcomed you in unexpected ways? 

 

6 Responses to Wearing Motherhood: Sharing Maternity Clothes & Community

  1. Nothing is more feminine or lovely than a soon-to-be Mama! You look radiant.

    With my first guy a woman in our church took me shopping. She spent hundreds of dollars on maternity clothes for me.One of the attendants asked if we were family, and her response was ” We’re sisters in Christ.”It was such an incredible gift.

  2. Alicia Richter says:

    Amy- These are beautiful words! When my best friend and sister were all pregnant together it was a never ending swap of clothes, hugs and support. I am now about 8 weeks pregnant and have already started reaching out to friends to see if I can share in the joy of motherhood once again.

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Oh thanks Alicia! How fun to have shared that time with your sister and best friend! And congratulations on your own new one! So fun! I hope it’s going well–those first few weeks can be so tough.

  3. You look so beautiful. These are wonderful pictures. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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