I didn’t know what to expect this year. We’ve been going to Dragoncon for 11 years now, and I’d never been pregnant at the con before. However, for years and years I’d been making the same joke about a character I created in 2005, Dolly Deathstar. Perhaps I should explain her first.
Back in 2005, we were doing a set of costumes from The Princess Bride. I bought a wig for my Princess Buttercup costume without the use of a smart phone back in those days to instantly reference the character while still in the store. So, naturally, I got home to discover my non-returnable wig was the wrong color. I moaned to Ryan, “This isn’t Buttercup… this is… this is… Dolly Parton!” He agreed, but there was not much to be done other than go buy a darker wig. I didn’t want it to go to waste, though, so I thought and thought of how to make a sci-fi related Dolly Parton costume. Finally, it hit me: DEATHSTAR BOOBS!!! So, with a black outfit, some funnels, styrofoam, and lots of glitter, Dolly Deathstar was born. If you Google “Dolly Deathstar,” many MANY photos of me pop up from over the years. I was featured on Chad Vader, I was mocked on College Humor, a girl chose her Roller Derby name after me, I was all over the place. I bring Dolly to Dragoncon once every two or three years, always with a new dress, always with the same old wig and hat. For years and years I would joke, “If I’m ever pregnant at Dragoncon, I’m making Dolly Deathstar a belly deathstar that’s under construction!” And this year, that’s exactly what I did.
It’s funny to me that I got to do the two costumes I’ve joked about forever in consecutive years. I talked about bringing a tiny baby to Dragoncon dressed as a mandrake and I’d be Professor Sprout. “Then if it cries, it’ll be in character!” I’d quip. Last year, Harrison and I made that costume set a reality. Who knew my Dolly Deathstar joke of so many years would come true the following year?! Ahh, life’s funny that way.
So, anyway, I made Dolly Deathstar a new gown, new (lighter, sans funnels) deathstar boobs and an under construction deathstar belly, and I was so excited to wear it out on the floor of the con. I got really excited and posted a photo of myself in the new ensemble on the Dragoncon fan page on Facebook. That’s where the real surprise came. Congratulations and “like”s started pouring in on the photo I posted. The “like”s grew to over a thousand—more than I’ve ever had on anything I’ve ever posted in my life. Then, in real life, people at Dragoncon were coming up to me in my costume and offering sincere congrats and smiles, wishing me luck and saying they thought my costume was awesome. People were saying they had photos of or with me from over the years and they were so glad I’d brought her back. People were kind and wonderful in a place where it’s easy to be completely overwhelmed by the 70,000 bodies wandering the convention floors. I was so touched. I’m still touched. It made Dragoncon feel like a real community. I felt like it wasn’t just a fun place for our friends to reunite for the weekend and play dressup and board games (though we did all that, too). People actually care about the attendees around them. Granted, yes, some people were too drunk to care about much of anything, and that often resulted in Dolly Deathstar being groped or verbally harrassed from time to time, but not this year. Maybe even the drunks saw the belly and left me alone. It’s a new level of respect, the Mom thing. Even drunks have Moms, eh?
That was surely my favorite part of Dragoncon this year. Of course, I loved our Into the Woods costume group, too, though it wasn’t very popular. I’m not sure why: I loved that movie! I worked really hard on my costume for the witch that Meryl Streep played. The group turned out nicely, too. I made the base of Ryan’s Prince Charming tunic, and he did the insane amounts of trim on that costume. When my folks got to our house to stay with Harrison and Dean Yeager (our dog) for the week, my Dad agreed to give Ryan’s prince wig a haircut. He looked great (and since he’s bald, he joked that this was his first haircut since 2004!). Unfortunately, I hadn’t hemmed my gown quite enough, so I was stepping on myself all that day. I got really annoyed and ended up voting to go change, but never wanted to put the whole thing back on. Oh well. The photos are nice.
We had a lot of time in the hotel rooms this year, which was great because I was EXHAUSTED. Luckily, the first trimester symptoms that had plagued me and made me soooo sick seemed to subside when we got to Dragoncon! Maybe it was the relief of not having to keep the secret anymore. Maybe it was the stress of saying goodbye to Harrison before we left. Maybe it was a little nod from the Dragoncon gods saying I deserved to have a good vacation. Whatever it was, I was thankful to have an appetite, to not suffer so much from the nausea and food aversions that had been so mean to me, and that my back had started feeling better. We played great games in our room: Snake Oil, Telestrations, Sheriff of Nottingham, Werewolf (One Night). I love playing games and it’s gotten much more difficult to do that since having the kiddo, so that was a real bonus to my first baby-free vacation.
It was hard to leave Harrison, as I’d figured. I sobbed on the plane. I sobbed that first night when I found myself alone in the hotel rooms (I’d been too tired to join everyone out on the floor). But my last story for this article is a thank you. I was sitting in the bed, crying my face off, thinking about my baby boy at home. My folks were having a great time with him and he was being really wonderful for them, which is great, but both times I tried to FaceTime, he was already asleep. So I had to go my entire first day without my baby boy without seeing him either. My heart was just breaking (and my hormones were not helping). I sat there, crying almost uncontrollably, when the door to the adjoining hotel room opened and closed. Travis and Keeley had returned early from an event they’d gone to and I was mortified that anyone might see me crying. I tried to pull it together as they came through the open adjoining doors to see if anyone else was there. They found me, still sniffling. I made the mistake of trying to talk and my voice broke, giving me away. Keeley, whom I’d only ever met one time in person and briefly at that, came over to me immediately and wrapped me up in a huge hug. Travis came and hugged me, too. They then sat on the beds near me and got me to talk and laugh with them, temporarily forgetting my sadness. I’m truly grateful for them and that gesture. My first time away from Harrison was tough, and I needed good friends to get through it. (Note: Ryan was coping by dressing up in the Ghostbusters costume he’d worked so hard on and going out on the floor with everyone. I had hidden how sad I was and said I was just tired and was going to take a bath. I don’t want you to think he abandoned me… I sort of told him to.)
Anyway, doing a big convention weekend while pregnant is exhausting and certainly a challenge, but it was my first vacation without the baby, and our favorite time of year. It was a reunion, a laugh-fest, a costume party, a string of game nights, and a pregnancy announcement party all in one. It was perfect, really, and I can’t wait til next year!
Until next time… “Spectacular! Spectacular! No words in the vernacular can describe this great event, you’ll be dumb with wonderment!”
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Tags: baby, baby belly, baby-free vacation, belly, Blue Witch, Chris Pine, cosplay, costumes, deathstar, Dolly Deathstar, dolly parton, dragon con, dragoncon, ghostbuster, hormones, Into the Woods, mandrake, Meryl Streep, mom vacation, pregnancy, pregnant, Prince Charming, professor sprout, sincere costumes, sincere mommy, Tara Schile, under construction, wig, Witch