Sunday, May 10, 2015

18 Years Ago: May 10th--The fashion post

Today is Mother's Day. For the record, Mother's Day fell on May 11th in 1997. As a pregnant person (even post-due), I considered myself not yet a mother, so my first time as an actual mother on Mother's Day was a year later.

I've been thinking a bit about what I wore while pregnant. The late 1990's were just on the cusp of the switch from tent-like maternity styles to skin-tight and below-the-belly styles. In other words, I still wore loose tops over panel pants (i.e., jeans or slacks with a stretch panel to expand over the belly). I bought some clothes myself (Sears seemed to have the best options), and my sister passed along a few items after she gave birth in January that year. Later, my main source of maternity wear was The Box. My cousins Annette, Lawrie, Lucy and Liddy had passed around maternity clothes, and I was lucky to get a turn.

Thinking about maternity clothes has sent me looking through old photographs. My personal photo albums begin with the day of Simon's birth. Before that, it's a collection of envelopes in shoe box after shoe box. Fortunately, they are semi-ordered and mostly labeled. I had fun looking through them this afternoon, and I picked out a few as a short review. The "quick" method of taking a phone-shot of a glossy print turned out to be more maddening than quick. Please forgive the cloudy quality.

#1 September 1996
In photo #1, I'm seated on the piano bench in my parents' dining room with my niece Claudia. It was the weekend of our Granny's memorial service, and the Williams family had gathered in Oberlin. My generation had babies, and we were all lovely adults in our 30s. The slanted look in my eyes comes from a combination of things: the sad occasion, the sweetness of my niece, the queasiness of pregnancy nausea, and the fact that my pregnancy was a secret except to the guy behind the camera. The secret didn't last long, though. I felt awkward about sharing the news in the circumstances (and also because I was barely a month along), but one cousin (Martin) observed my quizzical gaze at the lasagne and outed me.

#2 December 1996
Over the fall I wore a mix of maternity and non-maternity, as you do in the early months. Markus and I flew to Germany for Christmas to be with his family. We chose to fly out of Toronto so we could visit with my sister, Julie, on the way. Julie was pregnant with her second child, due in early January. Markus and I drove from Ann Arbor to Toronto, through a bunch of snow, as I remember. During the drive, we talked about baby names. We knew from ultrasound to expect a boy. On the long car trip, we took the letters of the alphabet one by one and called out names. When we got to "S" someone said "Simon" and almost instantly we were done. In photo #2 you see Mary five months, Julie nine. Margot three and a half.

#3 January 1997
I think Julie was in delivery while Markus and I were airborne on our return flight. We had the delightful chance to meet our new nephew, Nathan, the day after he was born (photo #3).

#4 March 1997
Markus and I (and Simon) were baby showered by three groups--at least that I found photo evidence for. My former colleagues at the Davidson Institute and my new colleagues at University Productions threw showers in Ann Arbor (I had changed jobs that fall).

Friends and family also put together a lovely gathering at the  Blodgett home in Oberlin. Photo #4 (sorry it's so dark) shows Jill, Barbara, Rebecca, Sarah Rose, Emma Rose, me and my belly. One gift I remember from this shower came from Jill and her family: a little green and purple beanie toy dragon. Simon loved that little guy so. Once he danced it too close to a candle flame, and we had to amputate part of a foot after blowing it out and rescuing the falling pellets. The little dragon and Simon's beanie pterodactyl are the ones he cuddled with up to the end.

#5 March 1997
Here I am with my dear friend Rebecca, who was co-pregnant with her second child in 1997. Rebecca and I were in the same voice studio as undergraduates at Oberlin. A third soprano, Julia, who lives in Switzerland, was co-pregnant with us that year as well with her third. Very sadly, Julia's daughter was stillborn, right around the time of this photo. The three of us remain a trio connected by the wonders of motherhood and the rarity of child loss. We lost Simon in 2004. We lost Rebecca's older child, Emma, in 2011. We remain good friends, cherishing the way our children interconnect and sometimes stand in for one another.

During the final two months of my pregnancy, I continued to work, swim my laps, and feel quite healthy. One dress that came my way (from my sister, I believe) was a stoplight green maternity sheath. It fit rather tightly. One night in the green dress, I went out with Markus for ice cream after a concert. We entered the State Street Stucchi's in Ann Arbor to the sound of Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Standing in line--I looked like an ice cream cone with my cherry face on top!--I looked at the student crowd around me. Of everyone in the place, I was the one most obviously not a virgin.

#6 April 1997 (37 weeks)
I believe the blouse in this photo came from The Box. It was a nubby linen-rayon sort of fabric. Staying clothed while pregnant was easy enough, with my combination of items like the blue outfit (above--I also had it in red) and the clothes I borrowed. Underneath I wore an over-the-shoulder-under-the-belly holder and sometimes a pelvic support called the V2 supporter. I slept propped against a four-foot long pregnancy pillow. I had times, as every pregnant woman does, of feeling stuck and confined by the hard ball in my belly. I couldn't remember what it felt like to be "normal" just as I couldn't recreate the feeling of pregnancy in my imagination even weeks after giving birth.

May 10, 1997: no notes. It's likely I spent my time getting used to the fact that my baby was coming later. Whenever he felt ready to set the whole show in motion.

May 10, 2015
May 10, 2015: Miriam put on a fantastic Mother's Day breakfast of scrambled eggs, apple pancakes, bacon, and coffee. Then we packed ourselves into the car to drive to the southern side of Stuttgart for the Mercedes-Benz WerkStadt Lauf. In March, Markus invited Miriam to start jogging regularly with the idea of entering a run. I join them occasionally, at my own slower pace. Over the weeks, they built up enough stamina to enter today's 6K run (along with hordes of people who work in different departments of Mercedes plus other groups and individuals). I had the honor of cheering them on and snapping some photos. Here they are before the race. (They are really cute.)

Markus pulled out the stops for dinner this evening, leaving me to type away. He made Spargel (white and green asparagus) with new Cyprus potatoes and homemade Hollandaise. We washed it all down with Pro Secco. Happy Mother's Day, one and all!

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