As this incredibly life-changing summer drew to a close, my husband thought it wise to drag my swollen body to the beach for an attempt at ‘fun-in-the-sun’. Between planning a wedding, moving into a new apartment, work, and school year prep, we hadn’t had much time to relax and enjoy the Michigan sunshine this summer. So on this particularly sunny Saturday morning, we made the two hour drive to Lake Michigan to separate ourselves from the mundane pre-parents we had become and to live like the naive young adults we wanted to be.
When we arrived at the small beach town bordering our Great Lake, we decided to stop for pizza (because it’s not really a vacation unless you’re eating in a place you’ve never been) at a small Italian restaurant and did what anyone our age would do: scarfed junk food, played with our iPhones, and of course, the classic, “Guess-What-the-Other-Tables-Are-Saying-Based-on-Their-Body-Language Game”. It was bliss. It was almost like I was back in high school- dating a loser, not caring about it, eating what I wanted…. oh, and not being pregnant. I was having a great time.
We decided it would be fun to grab some clearance swimsuits and actually play in the Pure Michigan Lakewater. So we went to a local store and grabbed the cheapest things we could find:
His: white gym shorts. (We discovered as he entered the water that they were profoundly see-through)
Mine: a fourth-of- July, stars & stripes bikini. (Spoiler alert: I am 6 months pregnant…)
Now, if you’ve read any of my other posts on here, it comes out that I am pretty self-conscious- especially when it comes to bathing suits. But just on that day, determined to rekindle my youth, I thought, Why not? It was either the 8 dollar 2-piece or the 52 dollar old grandmother one-piece that appeared to be made from an old rug. So off we went.
After hastily un-dressing and dressing in the car (there always has to be a family walking by at the exact second you have to remove your bra, doesn’t there?!), he walked and I waddled out to the surprisingly crowded beach. Wearing my husband’s sweaty white undershirt as a temporary shield of my belly, we camped the 3 dollar towels we had purchased into a less crowded area. As soon as we had put our towels down, three other couples claimed beach around us. On our left, an old Italian couple with fit bodies, sunhats, lawn chairs, and ample amounts of hair. On our right, a teenage Jessica Alba look alike with her Taylor Lautner-esque boyfriend, who would periodically engage in ruthless makeout sessions as they ‘lay out’- too hip to go into the water. Behind us, two thirty-something women, drinking beer and gossiping about what happened at a party and what might happen at the next one.
I felt like I was sitting in the middle of life itself.
I took off that dirty white undershirt and revealed to the world my beach body- er, beach belly. My husband and I left our towels and strolled to the water.
At first, I heard every gasp. I could read everyone’s faces: fat or pregnant? Disgusting or expectant? The lifeguard looked at me as if I was a walking Asian Carp. A stereotypical boy throwing a football gaped as his intended receiver would miss the catch due to his gawking at my belly. We reached the water and I ran in as fast as I could, eager to cover my belly and look like a “normal” beach babe (perhaps a slightly more well-endowed one than I would have been un-preg). We were chest deep before I would turn around. I was horrified I had inflicted people with so much visual dissonance…
Then the first wave hit my shoulders. And suddenly I was a kid again.
I remembered fun. I started wading in the Great Lake, splashing my husband, watching him do handstands, jumping in each “big wave”- even though there were lots of people around, I didn’t care. I felt like I had when I had first met my husband- happy, carefree, and young. I stopped noticing whether people stared at us, forgot to worry about my hair getting wet, and screamed as I swam far enough from shore where I couldn’t touch my toes to the mushy, sandy bottom. It was delightful.
As we walked out of the water hand-in-hand, back to our towels and Jessica Alba (who was untying her bikini to ‘readjust’ to her boyfriend’s delight), I felt, for the first time since discovering I was pregnant, young. And happy with my belly and the baby boy who is growing inside of it. Buying that bikini- well no, wearing that bikini- was probably one of the worst ideas I had ever had, but if it takes looking like a whale to be happy, then I suppose I should try it more often.