I have a girdle. A giant gestational jockstrap. Before this, I’ve never had sympathy for an inanimate object — but I’ve also never subjected innocent poly-nylon blend to such near-ripping tautness.
It feels good, all things being relative, for about five minutes. Gives me a break from having to cup the heaving mass with both arms like a sixth-grade class runt buckling under the strain of laps with a medicine ball. Then, a spontaneous perimeter breach as a snap gives way with an audible TWANG! between my legs.
And the heckler comes to life inside what’s left of my brain: You’re wearing a GIRDLE. GirdleGirdleGirdle!
Am not, I say to the voice. Shut up. It’s an Intimate Prenatal Support Garment.
Are too, cackles the voice. It’s aGirdleGirdleGirdle!And you’re TORTURING IT. There’s a statute in the Geneva Convention that outlaws what you’re doing to that poor, helpless girdle right now. You’re a heartless despot to girdles everywhere.
This morning I woke up feeling impossibly stretched, like every joint and muscle and inch of overblown-balloon skin is about to stage an illegal wildcat strike. I can’t possibly get any bigger than this. I just can’t. People tell me I look ‘cute’. But given context, I can see they’re aghast. I would qualify as cute if I had a bag of onesies and a box of breast pads waiting by the front door, ready for imminent labour. But I am only at 27 weeks, with two months of expansion still to come. A Mount Everest of both time and fundal height.
All that lies ahead is pregnancy of grotesque proportions. I know I’m supposed to be positive, and I’m supposed to glow. But my belly throbs with relentless pressure, crawls with itch. I want it to stop. Anything for it to stop.
Then, thoroughly miserable, I trip over this.
I was in Hawaii, all bronzed bubbliness. I was so thin. Was I ever so thin? Not appearances-thin but unoccupied-thin. What heaven it would be to inhabit that body right now, when I can’t tie my own shoes without help.
I am miserable, huge, incapable, hormonal. I am a bottomless pit of complaints. I can’t help it: the only relief I have is for people to understand. I need you to know how this feels, this urgency to be empty again. They spill from me, these complaints, because sympathy is the only relief I can access other than distant birth.
I’m suddenly restless with it, this lust to be empty. And guilty too, for souring my womb when I should be breathing deeply and sending waves of motherly affection to Alpha and Bravo, sumo-wrestlers dear.
The me in this picture didn’t whine and shuffle through the day. She buttoned up her pants, leapt out of bed in the morning, walked briskly. She had no idea how free she was. Looking at her now I’d swear she skipped through life. If I met her today I’d use my belly to smush her into the wall like a bug just for provoking me with her perky existence.