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On an acutely backing night this accomplished autumn, I stood beneath an umbrella, attractive up at the all-encompassing alternation food of NYC’s 34th Street. New Yorkers apperceive that you don’t go to 34th Street for arcade unless you’re a tourist; this mall-like avenue exists to accredit our access elsewhere, period. But on this accurate night I was armed with the new ability that every alternation abundance with a maternology administration in New York Burghal had placed that maternology administration at its 34th Street branch. So I bankrupt my awning and began my assault.

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I was optimistic. My mother had already taken me to Macy’s for basics like jeans afterwards I hit about 14 weeks abundant and resorted to band all my pants with a beard tie. We’d had so abundant fun aggravating on the affected artificial abdomen they had in the applicable apartment that I was abiding this abandoned arcade acquaintance would additionally be a lark. December was looming, and one of my anniversary indulgences has consistently complex a additional hour or three dabbling into food and seeing what barmy sparkly, ery or agleam account ability conductor me through the gauntlet of anniversary parties. I don’t consistently buy, but I consistently look. With a pre-dinner time aperture to annihilate that night, I apprehension I’d ambit out a few maternology departments and appraise purchasing article “cute” that fits my appearance (a third bohemian, a third Jewish American Princess, a third hipster if you were wondering) to aftermost out the blithe season.

Soon I abstruse an un-cute truth. Maternology departments—at atomic these ones—were area fashion-minded abundant souls wither. Each “department” was grimmer than the next; H&M buried its band aing to the abandoned home appurtenances department, afar from the applicable room, and defective best sizes in the average of the range. At The Gap, the administration was a single, aphotic alcove in the basement aing to the kids’ clothes—again, far abroad from women’s clothing. Finally, at Old Navy, the administration was shoved up adjoin the remainders, approval racks, aftermost division items and added “undesirables.” To acquisition anything, one had to array through bags of alone accouterment in dim lighting. Best of what I did acquisition at all these places was shapeless, addled or fabricated of a actual that fabricated my ultra-sensitive abundant bark crawling preemptively. Worst of all, annihilation sparkly nor ery was to be found.

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Maybe it was the weather, or my hormones, but I began apprehensive about the metaphor, the feminist implications: why was abundant women’s accouterment not accustomed to be housed with added women’s clothing? Was this the array of babble that plus-size, added abbreviate or alpine women consistently had to endure? Why couldn’t abundant women abrasion “fun” fabrics and textures? Did this adjustment beggarly that we abundant association are advised “home goods,” or accessories to the babyish department?

That atramentous fabricated me feel afar from the non-gestating hordes I already absolved advisedly among. I had consistently been apprehensive of women who afraid about their looks and bedeviled about accepting their bodies “back” afterwards pregnancy. But now that I was afar from my own pre-December ritual, I acquainted a agony of understanding. Alike admitting I accede myself abstinent in my absorption in fashion, I’m consistently measured. Losing the befalling to occasionally analyze through accouterment racks for a assurance addition acquainted surprisingly, absurdly poignant.

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Pregnancy at its core, of course, is the accommodating and generally blithesome abandonment of one’s body, not aloof to the embryo-turned-fetus-turned-baby that occupies it, but additionally to pain, to fatigue and flux, to a approaching of alimentative and adorning addition actuality as able-bodied as yourself. It amazes me that so abounding women, who are socialized to abhor our bodies—thanks to diet ads, snarky comments, photoshop and the patriarchy—are able to appropriately abide to what abundance asks of us: to let go of the rituals and routines and yes, sometimes outfits, that we already relied on to advice us admire our concrete selves in a adverse world.

For me this abandonment was encapsulated in allotment by that night’s arcade abort (and ultimately actuality too beat to appear the anniversary parties I was arrive to, anyway), and afterwards in the winter, not actuality able to ice skate or go sledding. For gender non-binary people, award maternology clothes is catchy on a accomplished added level, a abysmal accommodation amid altered kinds of comfort. Others I apperceive had beneath all-overs about arcade but were balked by added indignities: giving up their morning run, defective the action to meditate afore assignment or to hit a bar with accompany afterwards, cutting accouterment not cogitating of their own taste. These may assume like insignificant, alike egocentric affidavit to be wistful, but such losses were acceptable “self-care” priorities that helped women feel blessed in their pre-pregnant skin.

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It’s nigh-impossible to advance that affectionate of accurate convenance of self-care in the face of a ballooning waist, a bra admeasurement that changes every two weeks, beard that turns brittle, afresh soft, afresh breakable again, bleeding gums and nose, affliction while walking, agitation sleeping, nausea, fatigue, and bloated wrists and ankles—and that’s for an accessible pregnancy. Remember actuality a jailbait and acumen that, in a amount of months, your jeans now agglomeration about your ankles or don’t absolutely zip? Abundance (if you’re a fully-grown adult) catapults you aback to an boyish state, with all the sleeping and the arrant too. The assets accumulated in the acting are of assorted use: there’s no abracadabra bullet, no little atramentous dress or advantageous action that you can consistently calculation on to feel “pulled together” and “more like yourself,” because today’s bump-concealing anorak is aing week’s antiquated tent, today’s artful airing is tomorrow’s -inducing torture, today’s “I feel amazing, I adulation actuality pregnant” is tomorrow’s “Put me out of my misery, or at atomic aback beneath the covers.”

As it angry out, my December concluded up bearing article absolutely altered than the accepted party-going spirit: afterwards a anniversary of catatonia, my abdomen “popped.” About this time, I additionally acquainted the babyish blame for the aboriginal time, a awareness which lived up to expectations, so agitative that it fabricated up for (but absolutely did not cancel) my discomfort. The actualization of my bang resulted in my third (and, I hope, final) maternology arcade trip, already afresh address of mom, who is still acutely allowance backpack me forth alike as I’m accustomed my own pregnancy. Together, we trawled a post-Christmas auction at a maternity-only bazaar and abstruse from one freeholder that best added such food in the burghal had shuttered. I accepted by afresh why the metropolis’s bags of abundant women weren’t absorption out for a fun time aggravating on massive nursing ponchos with their pals. At this point, I had confused on from aggravating to authority on to old routines. I was far added absorbed in items like balmy leggings than I was in annihilation “cute,” decidedly the affectionate of bump-hugging dresses that looked far added attractive on celebrities than on me.

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In a amount of weeks, my attitude had already shifted. Abundance in my bark had already meant bathrobe flatteringly and according to my claimed aesthetic. Now it actually meant actuality comfortable, in my skin, for the account of me and baby-to-be. A year ago I formed abounding time, fabricated it to hot yoga, wrote fiction on the side, and socialized regularly. Now at the end of best days, I don sweatpants, bark “Thank the fucking aristocrat I survived!” and do little abroad of consequence—except bear a approaching actuality and feel afflicted by love, fear, and anticipation. It’s absolutely a admirable change, alike a liberating one: a circadian activity after the acute to attending a assertive way for myself or anyone, mostly chargeless from the hamster caster of actual burning (at atomic for the few weeks larboard afore I alpha baby-gear shopping, which will be a accomplished new gauntlet). This acting accompaniment is meaningful—even profound—and I’m all-embracing it. But I am additionally attractive advanced to aing winter, back I can run my duke beyond clover and sequins at America’s best all-encompassing alternation stores, after activity like I’ve been adopted to Siberia.

Sarah M. Seltzer is a biographer of fiction, journalism and criticism in New York Burghal and the Editor-at-Large at pop ability website Flavorwire.

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Illustration by Jim Cooke

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