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My favorite thing about being pregnant is the socially acceptable stretchy waist pants you get to wear. I am currently serving as host to my third baby, and the first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant was bust out my stash of maternity clothes. Literally.
I quickly discovered that my poppy seed sized bump did not yet merit such elastic goodness, but I knew all I had to do was wait. I’ve finally progressed from the “She’s probably pregnant, but might have just eaten a large burrito for lunch” stage to the “Yup, she is definitely preggers and there is almost no chance she is smuggling a ham” stage of pregnancy. Cue the elastic goodness.
I like my maternity pants pulled all the way up over my bump. I want full coverage. This pregnancy, I invested in a few more pairs of amazing non-buttoning pants and a few cute maternity tops … and then I discovered maternity Spanx. Yes, maternity Spanx are a real thing.
Technically, they are called Spanx Mama! and come in long and short versions. When you get pregnant, you’re supposed to be a little softer, a good bit rounder, and have a little extra jiggle in your wiggle, but here is a product specifically designed to control all of that. These Spanx promise medium control, extra smoothness (to hold in problem areas), firmer butt and thighs, and no more visible panty lines. This makes total sense because every top 10 list of things to worry about while pregnant always lists visible panty lines as number one.
I no longer have to conform to office dress code standards. I left behind the beautifully tailored suits and heels for a work from home lifestyle. And while I’m certain my dogs are constantly judging me, I don’t think they particularly care about the lack of medium support on my butt and thighs.
That said, I’m no stranger to the virtues of a foundation garment. I possess a figure that benefits greatly from a little extra smoothing and toning courtesy of some kevlar-strength lycra and spandex, so I ordered myself a pair of maternity Spanx. I had wonderful visions of how they’d smooth over my problem areas while still showing off my adorable bump. I would wear all my empire waist dresses and glow with the knowledge that there wasn’t a visible panty line in sight. And it would be magical.
But there was no magic. There were tears and swear words. I might have peed my pants a little at one point, but there was no magic. To be fair, this wasn’t entirely the Spanx fault … just mostly.
The first time I was going to wear my magical new Spanx, I was getting ready to take my kids to the movies and dinner. Coming off of a frustrating day where nothing was going right and being pregnant and hormonal, I simply couldn’t face the task of putting on a pair of Spanx. If you have ever worn Spanx, you know they require some preparation — both mentally and physically. One does not simply slip into Spanx, so I opted for yoga pants and called it a day.
But I did open the package and discover that my Spanx came with an inspirational message. Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, was kind enough to let me know, “To me, failure is not trying, rather than not succeeding.” This was when the tears started. Try explaining to your husband that you are sobbing because you failed at the thought of even trying to put your Spanx on. There isn’t a husband on the planet equipped to handle that.
My second attempt at the Spanx was better in that, I actually put them on. I was prepared for them. I had a fancy family dinner to go and I was going to be smoothed and firmed and perfect. I put on my Spanx and quickly realized I had a very different idea of “medium control” than the creator. If I’m squeezing myself into a foundational garment, I want to be able to bounce a quarter off my backside and marvel at the impressive spring back action.
From maternity Spanx, I wanted this exact same result, but with a pouch for my baby bump. What I got was the control of a moderate pair of pantyhose with none of the pesky full leg action. This undergarment was wispy and delicate, and had already given it a little snag with my finger nail. Unimpressed, I put my dress on and went to dinner.
Two bottles of water into dinner, I realized the fatal design flaw in maternity Spanx: there is no easy way for a pregnant woman to pee. No quick release tabs. No open flaps. Nothing.
There I was, in the bathroom of a nice restaurant with my long dress tucked up into my armpits pulling them all the way down. I may or may not have made it in time. And what goes down must come back up. So as I pulled them back up, I put a hole in the front with my thumb.
The hole was small so I carefully hand-washed my Spanx and wore them one more time to lunch with a friend. The hole quickly made friends with a second, much larger hole that formed over my left butt cheek. It was then I called an official end to my great maternity Spanx experiment.
I wasn’t firmer. I still had problem areas. And now I was going commando … so I guess they did deliver on the promise of no visible panty lines after all. I guess that’s something.