I told myself I wouldn't. I'm not going to buy maternity clothes, I thought, feeling very superior in February. I might need them, but I'll get by!! I will!! I will survive!! Persevere! Fortify!
Not only was this a really weird thing to try to do, it was also really stupid. Because let me tell you, even if you can get a normal waistband on when you're pregnant (either in legging form or pants form, and if it's in pants form, let me say, I'm impressed), you probably won't want to. Because if you're anything like me, the cutting sensation of a waistband hitting right underneath the burgeoning, if quite small, baby bump is potentially the most painful, annoying, frustrating thing in the world.
I really thought I could do it at the beginning. I really thought I would be able to make due with my leggings and jeggings, and a belly band to cover up my unbuttoned pants. I really thought it would be ok.
First things first, the waistband of normal leggings hits at potentially the worst spot in the world for pregnancy. About 11 weeks in, I bought a pair of Aerie high-waisted leggings (my favorites) two sizes bigger than I normally wear. My logical thought was: I can pull this up onto the belly bump when the time comes. I seem to have forgotten the lifelong struggle I've had with things riding down if I try to wear them at the "right" spot. Basically, if I'm wearing a top, it will ride up to my waist; if I'm wearing a skirt or elastic waist anything at or above my belly button, even if it's tight, it will ride down to my hips. This is just home I'm shaped, but I really thought things would change. They wouldn't. As I got more spherical, my Aerie high-waisted leggings still rode down to sit just above my hip bones--a.k.a., the place where I could not stand to have a waistband. I sobbed, I whined, I pleaded with my body to just let me have this one thing. It wouldn't because my body is an organ that basically does what my DNA and brain, not my feelings, tells it to. I broke down and bought maternity leggings, which are not as thick as I like and have weird, baggy crotches. I'll make due.
I held strong on the jeans front. I bought an Ingrid & Isabel Be Band at Target (for kind of a ridiculous price tag) early on and thought, "Yes, this will work."
It does not work on my body. Ok, maybe it's just me. Maybe my body is just the random integer in a set of data, the outlier, the weirdo. But I don't think so. The band stretches out, both at the top and the bottom, so it sags, rolls, shifts, falls down. It stops fitting. It rides up, it rides down, it exposes your unzipped pants, it lets your pants ride down. When you wash it and dry it, it doesn't shrink back up. I bought the right size, according to the packaging, but I'm beginning to suspect that no size would make it work. It just wasn't going to work. Too small of a size would be unbearable to wear the beginning, only for it to inevitably stretch out.
So I broke down. I bought maternity jeans, the thing I said I would never do. I bought them, feeling strangely excited to be able to wear jeans instead of leggings again. And I'm glad I bought them when I did: my trusty Target is gradually phasing out the normal colors of maternity jeans (aka dark) and replacing them with stone washed frayed capris and white jeans. Honestly, it's like they want women to suffer.
Since then, I have delicately begun to search for maternity clothes elsewhere. Last week, I spent a terrifying 40 minutes in my local Old Navy looking for their maternity section (the Old Navy website insisted they had one); I eventually found it in the baby section, sort of behind a display of superhero-themed clothes. They had one rack, a messy shelf of maternity tank tops (all XS and XXL), and a clearance section consisting of about 5% maternity clothes and 95% leftovers from their plus-size collections. It was painfully disappointing.
You'd think with the proliferation of online shopping, physical stores would step up their maternity clothes game. I can buy tons of maternity clothes on websites like Zulily and Amazon, but if I want to try them on before purchasing or have the fun thrill of going to a physical store, my options are incredibly limited. Pregnant women get to choose between a series of frumpy tank tops and tee shirts, horizontal striped dresses, and ill-fitting maternity jeans. What's up with that?
Like plus size clothing, maternity clothing doesn't seem to have fully caught up with the rest of the shopping industry. There were a proliferation of fast fashion shops for conventional sizes, but if you're pregnant and/or larger than the standard sizes, you have to shop online and that is only if you find items that are actually, you know, flattering.
So, this is where I ask you: fellow moms, where do you (or did you) buy maternity clothes (or clothes that come in a wide variety of sizes that you could perhaps customize for maternity wear)? What items did you need the most? What could you not have made it through without? What worked for you? What didn't? Tell me about it!