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Making (Bump) Memories

Jenny Feldon

E starts preschool tomorrow. She’s excited; I’m a wreck. Where did two and a half years go? Even though I'm pregnant with my second baby, I'm nowhere near ready to send my first one off into the world so soon. After she went to sleep tonight, I spent some time getting everything ready: clothes laid out, lunch packed, spare George Monkey prepared in case she wants to drag the real one to school with her and he somehow meets with an accident. Those things didn’t take up nearly enough time, so I turned my thoughts to my pregnancy with her, and dug around for some pictures to remind me of when my giggling, pony-tailed preschooler was the baby in my belly.

And…there weren’t any. Nope, not a single one. There isn’t a single shred of photographic evidence that I was ever pregnant with E. Nine full months of carrying her around on the inside and nothing to show for it except a laundry basket full of maternity clothes and hips that are two inches wider. There are reasons for this, of course: I hate cameras, J was in India for most of my pregnancy so no one was around to play photographer, I was vain and self-conscious enough to shoo people away when they got too close to my pregnant self (or my regular self, for that matter) with any device possessing a flash. But now I know how fast it all goes, how easy it is to forget the amazing details of pregnancy when you’re busy being a parent. I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Some pretty elaborate methods exist for preserving “bump” memories—I’ve heard of everything from professional pregnancy photo shoots, to special measuring tapes, to belly casts (?!). I may be regretting letting my former pregnant form be forgotten, but as much as I’d like to hang on to something from this pregnancy, I’m not willing to go too far out of character. Can't imagine the horror of stumbling on a bulging plaster stomach when I'm cleaning out the closets one day. I'm all for preserving, but the two-dimensional kind of memories seem safest. A good old fashioned camera should do just fine.

Except J still isn’t around, and I don’t have a photographer. I turned the house upside down looking for the better of our two not-so-great cameras to no avail. Grabbing the backup (which lives in the car for trips to the beach, pool, etc when I need something that can get dropped in the water without it being the end of the world) I discovered it contained neither a memory card or a battery. Grunting with exertion and cursing the day when the disposable Kodak camera went out of style, I resort to my usual photographic medium: the camera on my phone.

Taking pregnant self-portraits with a cell phone camera is pretty darn impossible. Most of my attempts came out with grossly unflattering angles (yes, still vain) or fun-house mirror effects. All were headless. I considered letting E have a turn, but a dozen pictures in my camera roll of blurry kitchen floor, the tips of her pink shoes, and a couple artistic shots of my left ear reminded me she’s too little to use a camera.

I managed to take a couple of not-so-terrible ones to get started with, and in an effort to be less vain and more zen about my ever-growing body, I’ve posted one here. It does a great job highlighting my favorite Swatch and the paint color on my bedroom walls, but not so much my pregnant self. 

But at least it’s a start! I promise to take advantage of willing picture-taking friends for the next few months—and share them here, with the rest of my hormonal musings—so I’ll have some bump pictures in addition to my written memories to look back on one day. Hopefully, a day far in the future when I feel thin, fabulous, and less like an eggplant stuffed into maternity denim…