I just found my old maternity bras in our garage. I’d been down there before scouring for them, but between furniture, Benjamin’s old clothes, toys and books and who knows what else, it seemed they were gone for good. Until, like a parting of the sea, Jay headed down to make a little space so we could maneuver through the chaos. And while bringing down my suitcase after our recent babymoon trip to Hawaii, there they were, resting in perfect view, as if they were asking, “Where ya been?”

This may not seem monumental, but when you are growing a human person in your body and that said body is growing in every sort of direction on a daily basis, the bosoms need a little extra care. It’s not just the boobs that are growing, but they are one of the first indicators of when my body is getting uncomfortable. Well, actually, it’s my back that’s trying to hold them up that is feeling the pain.

I know they have an important job to do. They are growing so that they can eventually feed our child. I know this rationally and intellectually. In fact, I know this about the whole experience of being pregnant. I know that my body is growing and changing and getting bigger (even though I am eating relatively well) because it is not only housing our future child but growing and nurturing it.

It’s beautiful.

But it is hard to feel beautiful when your back hurts or your breasts are falling out on all sides.

It’s especially hard because — not to toot my horn or anything — I used to be rather adorable. It’s been awhile since I have been incredibly adorable. But I have turned a few heads in my day. In fact, these very same breasts that are causing me such agita used to provide me with ample attention. When I was about 22 and they were young and perky, I went to theater school. I had this one teacher who used to say, “Lead with your tits!”

He didn’t mean just me. He meant everyone. Own what you have. Enjoy it. Make them stare.

But it is hard when they are staring and you don’t want such a constant gaze. I don’t know why pregnancy invites people to feel comfortable to comment on your body. And negatively at that. I am already having a hard time of it. I don’t need the little old lady at the bagel store asking me when I am due, and after I tell her she cocks her head funny taking in the size of my belly, and now knowing I have more than two months to go, says, “Sometimes doctors are wrong.”

So I’m big.

My husband keeps telling me he doesn’t think that I am so big. And I actually believe him. I believe he believes that. This is why I married this man. But regardless of other people’s responses, good or bad, sometimes I just feel a little displaced in my own body. I am no longer completely in control, which I guess is a perfect allegory for motherhood. I admit I am ready for it to be done.

Except for one part.

I love to feel the baby move. I love the kicks. I love laying on our couch and Jay leans into my belly and says, “Hi, this is your daddy” and then my belly dances. I love playing with Benjamin with his Elmo and Big Bird finger puppets. He places one of them on my belly to see if the baby moves enough to knock it down. Benjamin usually makes me laugh and the toy goes falling to the ground way before our experiment is complete.

This most likely will be my last pregnancy, so moments like those, I treasure. But chafing thighs, not so much.

It is not just vanity, though admittedly that plays a part. (I have been pregnant before and I know it will not just all fall off with great ease as it does for some women.) It is about being comfortable, about having to move differently in your own body than you have always been used to. It is a shift in how you know how to be. That is why finding those specialty bras (and not having to buy new ones) in my garage was such a coup.

I am trying to own it, to show off my belly, to lead with my tits, as they say. So I will hold my chin (or at this point chins) up high. For those who want to know how much weight I’ve gained or look at me with judgment, just remember, I am a walking science experiment. I am growing an actual person inside of me and then these ever growing bosoms will be able to feed that person. That’s pretty cool. So, even though I haven’t actually had one doughnut through this entire pregnancy, maybe I’ll go reward myself with one now.

Rachel Zients Schinderman lives in Santa Monica with her family. She can be reached at Rachel@mommiebrain.com.

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