As the first of my friends to get pregnant three years ago, maternity photos were nowhere on my radar. But now it seems a glance at social media isn’t complete without stumbling upon one of these gestational shoots, a veritable milestone for the modern prego.
If you have somehow evaded this trend and get the chance to search “maternity photo ideas,” and I highly recommend you do, you will find they all seem to come from the same playbook. They are taken in a lavish forest or field, with a flowy dress and sometimes a crown of flowers(!), a doting husband full-on caressing an oft-bare, engorged belly. It’s as if every maternity photographer tells his clients he will turn them into Mother Nature herself if they just hold these cornflowers and flash a little of that popped bellybutton.
Though less common, other themes exist and are just as captivating. My favorites include the glowing mother-to-be shoving food in her mouth, and the pregnant woman who is on a bed and completely nude except for a lacy thong (or less). Because is there really a sexier time in a woman’s life than when she’s swollen and emotionally preparing for the imminent detonation of her birth canal? (READ: I’m just jealous.)
In general, these maternity shoots epitomize exactly what so many of us lose once that precious little bundle is born: glamour, willingness to allow ourselves to be pampered, ability to monopolize the spotlight and bask in everyone’s full attention. Naturally, my first thought was, YES I’LL HAVE SOME OF THAT PLEASE. What’s the big deal if I’m now on my third pregnancy and not my first?
Apparently, there’s a deal. Welcome to my third pregnancy!
Look, a family photo with the beautiful bump! Since my husband is clearly not making out with my naked belly, you may be wondering where he is. He’s behind the scenes, trying to corral the kids, who are supposed to be sitting around me with cherubic expressions and arms wrapped lovingly around their growing baby sister. Instead, the little one might be hexing you and the big one is doing something he knows with absolute certainty he’s not allowed to do. I look pretty though, right? Isn’t that what matters here? I put on fake lashes for this. ARE WE CLOSE?
I can remember calling my OB/GYN in tears when I was pregnant with my first because I had thoughtlessly lifted my cast iron pan into an overhead cabinet and was sure I had broken the baby. Or my placenta. Or some placental/uterus connection. I didn’t know why, but I knew lifting was trouble. In Pregnancy No. 3, you will find me often hauling two toddlers and also a laundry basket. Sometimes my youngest is IN the laundry basket, with the laundry, and I’m leaping over baby gates like a giant gazelle. I award myself bonus points if one of the kids is in the middle of a full-body tantrum.
Does this expression come standard with motherhood, or is it just me? I think it’s a mix of anxiety, exhaustion, and WHOSE IDEA WAS THE DIRT SOUP WHEN WE HAVE OUR FANCY CLOTHES ON?
Nothing is my own anymore. The first time around, people were throwing food at me. “Don’t forget your breakfast nachos!” they’d say at work. “Eating your ice cream with peaches and a dash of cinnamon? You’re a healthy genius!” my friends would insist. “You blacked out while eating a rack of ribs last night and woke up still encrusted in barbecue sauce? WAY TO GO!” my adoring husband would tell me. Now, if I want to eat anything, I have three options: give in to the tearful begging and split everything three ways (four if you count the one mooching in utero), eat the pre-tasted remnants from their plates after they’ve finished their own meals, or wait until they’re unconscious. AT NAPTIME, WE FEAST.
And there it is. The woods. The flowy dress. The daisies in my hair. The 15-pound bag of tricks. The sippy cups we can’t go anywhere without. You can’t see it, but there’s also an econo-size carton of Goldfish sitting at my feet, trying to blend in with the wildflowers. Ethereal, no?
WHEN DID I GET SO TIRED AND LUMPY? Pregnancy No. 3 may not be the best time for pictures of the aforementioned lacy underthings, but a photo shoot in bed has never sounded better.
My sweet babies, let me express how much I love you before this new one comes and puts the kibosh on our newfound stability and established routines WHILE simultaneously saving you from falling over this lovely, woodsy bridge. I am the new Queen of Multitasking. WHO TOOK MY FLOWER CROWN?
Prenatal caffeine restrictions don’t count when you have other kids to chase, right? That’s in the book, I’m pretty sure.
Subsequent pregnancies have a knack for adding insult to injury. For instance, from the very beginning, you’re not just throwing up; you’re now throwing up and peeing your pants at the same time. In this case, my center of gravity has shifted and I need help heaving myself to a standing position, but the closest person to me is this comically tiny boy. You’ll notice he’s unfazed by this process because he knows there’s no rest for the weary/drink fetchers.
To all you ladies out there making your way through your first pregnancies, congratulations. Enjoy this moment while it lasts — go ahead and take a nap, eat whatever and whenever you want, soak up the attention and set up a stunning photo shoot to celebrate YOU and this beautiful time in your life because you still can. Once that sweet little baby makes its way into your loving arms, the focus will shift — and in many ways, that’s a good thing. Like that 8-pound cherry bomb about to rip you to shreds, it’s all part of nature. (Good luck with that.)
To the rest of you on your second, third, fourth or more pregnancies, I implore you to revisit these indulgences. Take the time to pamper yourself, put on the fake lashes and lace, demand at least some of the spotlight. Laugh it off when nothing goes as planned, but try not to laugh at the first-timers when they complain about how tired they are.
No matter what number you’re on, whether it’s a complicated or standard pregnancy, we must always remember the ties that bind us all together. And that’s
stretch marks empowering female strength, superhuman sense of smell that gets you out of cleaning the fridge for nine months a desire to still feel beautiful and appreciated, and the shared experience of occasionally losing food in the boob/belly crease love for our children.
A special thank you to Elisabeta Photography for capturing our chaos.