The mannequins inside A Pea in the Pod, a maternity store in Los Angeles, showed off their bumps in slinky sundresses and chambray rompers. The clerk asked whether I’d been in before. I hadn’t. It was the end of my first trimester, and I was returning jeans I had ordered online. I had not chosen my pre-pregnancy size but a size up (a mistake, the clerk told me), yet the denim’s bad fit—it bunched at my knees—was the least of my problems. When the jeans arrived, I’d been shocked by the bandage-colored elastic that stretched above the waistband, empty casing for a giant sausage. Reluctantly, I’d tugged them on, but the elastic showed even through a black T-shirt. Jeans would be like brie or sushi, something I’d do without for the next six months.
At A Pea in the Pod, I brought a romper I’d seen on a mannequin into the fitting room, along with a few body-con dresses. As I dressed and undressed, I tried to fast-forward through the next two trimesters, when my stomach would be more beach ball than food hangover. I pictured the pregnant women I’d seen in my ob-gyn’s office, their hands hatched beatifically over their bellies, wearing floral silks and delicate flats, and in the mirror I saw no such photogenic future for myself. Why would you accentuate this? I caught myself thinking. What’s the point of spending money on clothes for a garbage body that’s about to be stretched and ruined? You’re trash; you’re disposable, I told myself. You container; you stupid vessel. I could hear the blood in my brain pulsing as it churned up negative thoughts—obsessive, caustic, frightening.