My husband is calling me. “Liliana!” He must be upset, or hurt himself, because he never calls me by my full name otherwise. I hear him again. “Liliana!”
He’s downstairs in the crawl space. I make my way towards him. I’m starting to jog downstairs when our 10-year-old twin boys dash up the stairs past me. “Whoa!” I shout at the boys.
“Sorry Mom! Going to the park!” they yell back as they head outside. I pause. I’m about to ask them when they’ll be home when I get distracted. Neil is calling for me once again.
O.k., he’s switched back to calling me by what I consider my “real name” – he must be calming down. I scamper downstairs calling to him “I’m coming, honey!”
I peek my head into the half door, looking inquisitively at my husband. As I slip on my crawl-space sandals, I smile at Neil and ask him “What the heck was all that yelling for?” He scoots over to me on his roller seat. I sit down on mine and roll closer to him. I often wonder what the man was thinking in getting us these for our anniversary. A useful idea perhaps; however, a roller seat is not a romantic anniversary present! I sigh as I watch my well-meaning husband. Neil’s looking at me, rubbing his head and wincing. “Can you get rid of some of your junk in here? Some of your boxes toppled over. They hit me in the head as they fell!” I am about to respond, but he’s on a rant. “You’ve got years of teaching stuff down here. And what about these boxes.” He holds one out to me. “Take this one – Maternity clothes.” He plops the box down at my feet. “Can’t you get rid of this stuff?” He goes on. “How come you still have these clothes anyway? We’re not having anymore kids.”
I’ve stopped listening to him once I see the box. It’s magical and holds such wonderful memories inside. Before I know it, I start to reminisce about being pregnant and having my husband catering to my needs. Then I hear, “Lily? Have you heard a word?” I grin sheepishly and shrug my shoulders. “It’s that box, any other and I would have listened. I swear.” He rolls his eyes then rolls on out of the crawl space. Before he leaves he plants a kiss on my lips. “Please, get rid of a box or two? I need a bit more space for my stuff.”
I sigh and scoot on over to my maternity clothes box – actually a box of shared clothes – our maternity clothes. I am overwhelmed again with emotion and decide it’s time to call up the other co-owners of the box – my best friends Evelyn and Olivia.
On Saturday, four days later, it’s just us ladies. The living room is tidied. The sun is starting to fade as I pour the wine. Neil’s taken the boys out for dinner. We’re giggling, feet up on the coffee table, enjoying this time alone together with no demands – no kids and no husbands – just food, drink and each other. “I have a surprise,” I say. I point to the lone box sitting on the floor with a cloth draped over it. I had made some attempt to hide it. Olivia rolls her eyes, “Lil, I wondered what was under there, but then I decided not to ask. I thought maybe the boys were up to something like another science project.” I am laughing now, remembering how all our kids used to play together and make forts out of old bed sheets.
Evelyn says, “Okay, Lil. Enough with the suspense! What is it?” I whip off the drapery to reveal the box. “Ta-da!” I’m ready to tell them that Neil needs this box gone a.s.a.p., when, before I’m even finished taking the covering off, Ev and Liv are in there ripping excitedly at it.
“No way!” proclaims Olivia, pulling out a pair of stretchy yoga pants. “I wish I could still fit into these.”
“Oh yeah – the soft fabric and nice accommodating waistband!” I reach out to feel the soft cotton, remembering how we met. “I think these pants brought us together.”
“Wasn’t that in pre-natal yoga?!” Evelyn gives me a special look. “Oh my gosh – are those really the pants?” She and I are beside ourselves with laughter. Evelyn puts down her cracker with cheese. Olivia takes a swig from her wine glass. Evelyn then grabs the pants. “These are the gas pants!” Olivia turns a bit red, but Evelyn tells the story that we’ve heard a million times anyway.
“It was Wednesday evening at our pre-natal yoga class – my second class. I was three months pregnant. We’re transitioning from cow to cat pose when Olivia farts loudly. Her face goes bright red from embarrassment as she says “sorry.” She then proceeds to fart – even louder – this time! The whole class is in hysterics as she’s explaining how at eight months pregnant, she just can’t hold the gas in anymore. So, in the change room, Olivia notices my petite build and asks if I might like some of her clothes. That’s when you, Lily, overhear us and pipe in ‘only as long as she’s washed the clothes after farting in them.’” We giggle over the fond memory.
“It’s amazing that we all were able to wear this stuff.” says Evelyn.
“And everything fit, despite our slight differences in build!” Olivia exclaims. She was the lucky one – the largest breasts (large C cup) and nice hips – more of an hourglass shape. I’m less hippy and more muscular in the legs. Evelyn’s the most evenly proportioned though less busty than Olivia or I.
From that yoga class onwards “the rest was history.” We borrowed each others clothes, took stroller fit, then mom-and-baby yoga. Our families grew together. Olivia tugs on the pants. I let go and watch her try them on. Her size four waist looks even tinier. She sighs as she sticks out her gut to try and fill out the pants. Her fingers – long and slender – rub her belly. She’s closing her eyes. “I’ll always miss that feeling.” She exhales loudly. “A baby moving inside of you is one of the best feelings. I loved every minute of being pregnant with the girls.” She has tears rolling down her high cheekbones. Her nose is red and running. I hand her a tissue. “I would love to re-experience it.” She is quick to add “…for a day!”
I am in wonderment at my beautiful friend. She was the one of us who braved it out by having three kids. I tell her, “Yup. How you manage with three kids is beyond me…!!” My two boys were a handful of trouble as it was (and continue to be). “Knowing my luck, I would have had another boy.” I shudder a bit though I always wished (and still do at times) that I could have a third baby.
Olivia has put on another favourite – a delicate looking floral top. Evelyn is shaking her head and smiling. “Let’s just imagine for the night that we are all pregnant again – for the first time! Do you remember all the free time we had?!” I chuckle as I smell the cookies and get up to fetch them. I place them on the coffee table along side the cheese tray, olives, fruit and crackers. Filling up Olivia’s wine and my own – I notice that Evelyn doesn’t seem to have touched hers much – though she goes for a cookie. “Free time?” I ask rhetorically. “What’s that? Care to explain?” I take another sip of wine, feeling myself relax in the comfort of friendship and laughter. We pull on various stretchy tops and pants – I’ve got on a burgundy velvet empire-waisted top and pin stripe dress pants. I’m puffing out my stomach.
“Oh, how I loved those pants!” Olivia says. “Don’t you wish they made regular dress pants like that!?”
Evelyn’s sporting a red and white striped t-shirt, while Olivia has got layers upon layers of maternity tops on. We look absolutely ridiculous wearing our old pregnancy clothes. There was a number or two that I disliked – like the huge green dress given to me by my grandmother, but one of the only things that fit when I was my biggest with the twins. I look over adoringly at Evelyn and Olivia – friends for so long, watching our kids grow up together. “You guys!” I say. “We look so nerdy! I have got to get a picture of us!” I grab the camera, set it on the tripod and then set the timer. Click! A wonderful memory forever captured on film.
A squeal escapes from Evelyn’s lips as she pulls out a dress. She’s stamping her feet on the ground like an emotional 2-year-old – unable to contain her excitement – as she holds up a floral patterned strapless dress against her chest.
“Don’t you wish we could go back for a day?!” she exclaims. “I wore this to a friend’s wedding and received more compliments in this than any dress I’ve ever worn since – pregnant or not-pregnant!” I nod, noticing that she’s looking a little heavier than I remember. It’s hard to see us all getting older. I remember how young she looked in that dress, having a very clear picture in my mind suddenly. “Don’t you have a picture of yourself in it – by your car?” I tell her. “You looked pretty sexy.”
I remember my first time seeing that dress. Just before trying it on, I thought it would look terrible on. It didn’t. The material clung to every curve, enhancing all the beauty of pregnancy. That dress was amazing. It looked phenomenal on all of us, yet felt so comfortable – almost like you were wearing nothing at all.
Evelyn has suddenly disappeared with the dress. Olivia and I sip our wine. “What do we do with all these great clothes?” I ask. She nods and says, “even though it’s been a fun trip down memory lane, it’s time we let them go.” She grabs my hand and we are tearful as most women get reminiscing over pregnancy and childbirth. “Or,” I add, “we could hang on to them until our own kids have kids…” We are laughing now especially after Olivia reminds me how the styles have already changed. I stand up and hold up the awful green dress. I had to wear it to a maternity fashion show once. “This dress was horrible even in the day!!” “But it would make a great green monster costume for Halloween!” she adds.
Now Evelyn comes bounding into the living room and is grinning like the Cheshire Cat. She’s got the blue dress on.
“Hey! It still fits.” I say. She’s rubbing the fabric and looking at us oddly. I look from her to Olivia and back to Evelyn. Then I point to her wine glass. “You haven’t drunk any…” I’m about to finish my sentence as she turns and shows us her profile while rubbing her belly. There is a definite tummy there.
“Is that a baby bump!?!” exclaims Olivia.
We’re dumbfounded as Evelyn nods. “Can I borrow this for six more months?”
I sit down and fill up my own wine glass. I’m amazed – a baby at forty. Yikes.
“But, I thought that Jessie had a vasectomy,” I raise my eyebrows at her.
“Yes he did,” she says. “Unfortunately it is – like the pill – almost 100% effective. It’s quite fitting that you asked us over here to look at the maternity box! I believe on some cosmic level you must have known. So, Lily and Olivia, I have a question to ask of you,” Evelyn continues. “Can I borrow the clothes again?” “Of course!” we respond in unison.
The three of us clink glasses – I’ve now poured Ev a glass of chocolate milk – and we then harass her with questions: When are you due? Are you going to find out what you’re having? Who else knows? What are you going to do about work?
I feel so emotional today – maybe some of Evelyn’s hormones are rubbing off – in a good way. The maternity clothes box has found a new home and I’ve cleared out a box from our crawl space. I think Neil will be happy about that, too.