One thing I eagerly anticipate after giving birth is not walking into a maternity store again for a very long time. When I was nine months pregnant with my daughter, Olivia, I shopped at the maternity store for tent-sized pajamas and I remember walking out in a state of euphoria. I figured that was my last trip to elastic-pant-land—possibly for life.
Now imagine my displeasure when I walked into that same store three months later. After my son was born, I was back into my old clothes after a few short months. I was 29, breastfeeding exclusively, and walking everywhere (since I lived in the city at that time).
When Olivia turned six weeks old I hauled my boxes of old clothes out of the garage, surely I’ll need them soon, I thought. But like every pregnancy, childbirth, or child: this time it was different. I was twice as huge during my second pregnancy despite eating healthier and chasing after a toddler.
Last week, when I opened my drawer of old jeans (at nine weeks postpartum), I fit one ankle into one pant leg before I realized I’d have to cut them off if I tried to put them on.
At that moment I knew a postpartum shopping trip was necessary. That shopping trip humbled me. I stopped trying on clothes when I realized a three-size increase wouldn't rid me of muffin top.
Since it seemed that my clothes were going to collect dust for the next six months; I decided to go back to where I was comfortable. A place with arbitrary sizes and accordion-style waistbands. I went back to the good ol’ maternity store.
I bought four pairs of maternity leggings; shed a couple tears after the cashier asked when’s your due date? (it’s a valid question at a maternity store); and then I called it a day.
A woman’s physical appearance is one of her least important attributes. I plan to reiterate that fact—as often as necessary—to my daughter. The impact of this experience has nothing to do with the perfect weight or significance of certain clothes. It’s a simple acknowledgment of how challenging it is to give up aspects of your pre-baby self, and your wardrobe is one element of this sacrifice.
It doesn’t make you vein to miss your old clothes. A thoughtfully crafted wardrobe filled with clothes you collected over the past ten years becomes filled with small pieces of material comfort; these comforts remind you of your life before you became pregnant. When they don’t fit the experience becomes symbolic of how much motherhood has truly changed you.
Conversely, your adorable little baby makes the pursuit of fitting into your wardrobe seem trivial. Pregnancy and childbirth are incredible experiences filled with growth—not just for your baby or your belly.
Motherhood has given me far more than it has taken away. I will try to focus on gratitude for what my body has provided me rather than what it doesn’t fit into anymore.