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Maternity Clothes: The Great Pregnancy Racket

Tank top

Is this tank top from the Gap so great that it's worth looking this happy over?

So here I am at 22 week pregnant and finally admitting that my clothes don’t fit me. It’s not so much that I have to admit it, actually — when you risk injury to your unborn child by trying to pull up the zipper on your jeans, it’s time to move to Plan B.

But here’s the rub: It’s early May and there’s still snow on the ground and it’s still falling (ahhh, springtime in the Rockies). In another month, the snow should be safely gone, and I’ll have three months of medium hot to hot hot weather before I can start thinking about wearing jeans from my existing collection again without worrying about a visit from Unborn Child Protective Services. So, in other words, I’m supposed to outfit myself for two seasons and four months.

Like wedding dresses, it’s become quite clear to me that the whole maternity clothes industry is some kind of racket.

I wish the clothes from my last pregnancy still fit me, but they don’t seem to, even though I was pregnant during the exact same seasons. I lost all the pregnancy weight in two weeks after my daughter was born, but gained it back in between the pregnancies. So I’m now basically starting from where I was at the end of my last pregnancy (minus 10 pounds or so), which has rendered most of the maternity clothes I had useless.

I look at the boutique on the show Pregnant in Heels as well as at other high end and low end stores dedicated solely to maternity clothes and wonder who is it that’s gleefully going out and purchasing clothes that they will wear for a single season or two. If you have Mariah Carey or Kate Hudson money, I get it. If I had tons of money, I’d never wear the same outfit twice, too — pregnant or not.

But I don’t so I am forced to repeat looks. And this is my last pregnancy, so these clothes won’t be worn again. I’m not about to buy anything at the local thrift shop (I have a thing about used clothes and public pools anything where I have the potential to mix with the remnants of someone else’s pee is somewhere I don’t want to be). And I’m not about to spend my precious dollars on clothes that have a shelf life (pun kind of intended) — particularly such a short one.

It’s like the wedding dress business. Yes, I had one and it was lovely. But the whole time I was aware of the silliness of spending so much money on a dress that will only be worn once that is really only so expensive because it’s white and you wear it to walk down the aisle. Call it a cocktail dress and knock a zero or two off the price tag. I did get one because it was the thing to do, but at the same time, I can also enjoy pictures from my wedding for a lifetime.  Photos of me in maternity clothes, on the other hand, just aren’t as cute as, say, January Jones or whichever Victoria’s Secret model is pregnant this month. Yes, I will save one of two pictures of me knocked up for posterity, but that does not a maternity wardrobe justify.

You can drive yourself crazy looking at pregnancy magazines and websites and all of the must-have styles for each season. However, the articles and ads strike me as odd; instead of addressing the fact that each outfit will only be worn a handful of times, you’re made to feel as if the cute and fun pregnant women go out shopping for new high panel jeans and adjustable tops like they’re pregnant for a living, and if you don’t there’s an outside chance you won’t love your unborn and rapidly evolving child as much.

I have a bunch of oversized t-shirts and some leggings, but there are just so many days in a row that I can wear them without bringing shame to my husband. I suppose I could not leave my house until the end of August, although that could potentially cause as many problems as it solves. I suppose I could also raid my husband’s wardrobe, but if I wanted lots of button-down striped shirts, I could also go shopping in a prison.

It’s just a shame that maternity clothes aren’t just given out at the OBGYN’s office along with samples of nipple cream and coupons for formula. Then I wouldn’t feel so bad throwing them away when I realize I don’t need them anymore or they’ve expired, too.

How have you handled maternity clothes?

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