You know the moment . . .
You’re in the dressing room after scouring the entire store for that perfect item. A handful of hopefuls hang on the wall awaiting their chance to grace your body and prove they’re the perfect frock for the occasion.
The tiny room—barely bigger than a bathroom stall—is somehow swelteringly hot.
Oh and have I mentioned, you brought your toddler with you into the dressing room and you’re eight months pregnant?
Okay, so maybe not everyone can relate to that specific part, but that was my predicament on this occasion.
I needed a dress for a function and nothing fit my pregnant body. I didn’t love the idea of buying something I’d basically never wear again, but it was non-negotiable.
I slipped on dress after dress to no avail. My one-year-old happily sat in her stroller like the little angel baby she was as thoughts coursed through my head:
Maybe I didn’t know what would actually look good on me anymore.
How had I managed to pick every size but the right one?
Why do they make maternity clothing so dang expensive?
The last dress went on just fine, though it offered absolutely no stretch. About mid-belly I realized this dress was not going to work. It was entirely too tight in all the wrong places.
Here comes the relatable part (well, for some of us, perhaps not others) . . .
The dress would not come off.
It was as if the cheap lining and my copious amounts of sweat had joined together to form some sort of glue that kept the dress exactly where it was.
My arms wouldn’t come out of the sleeves but they also couldn’t manage to get the proper grip on the dress that would free it from my body.
I twisted one way, then the other. Wiggled around. Jumped up and down. Tried to rub the dress off using the wall.
A claustrophobic panic washed over me. I was stuck. I’d have to live in this dress forever. Pay for the dress while it was still on me. Give birth in the dress.
My breaths were quick and shallow. Sweat dripped from my forehead. And my sweet little angel baby started to fuss.
“It’s okay,” I said. “Mommy’s okay.”
I assumed she was worried about me, though it was more likely she’d dropped her book on the floor or something.
Then an idea popped into my head.
I got down on my knees and looked at my daughter through the many layers of dress. “Mommy needs you to pull the dress off her. Can you do that?”
She was always terribly smart for her age. So it was no surprise when she nodded and started tugging at the fabric.
Too bad she wasn’t terribly strong for her age.
We tried this for what felt like hours, until I finally gave up.
I plopped down on my butt with my arms still up in the air like an orangutan and the dress around my chest.
My eyes settled on my purse.
Where I kept a small knife.
That was it. I’d simply cut myself out of the dress. It was either that or walk out of here half-naked looking like a pregnant gorilla who tried to put on a pretty—and way too small—dress.
I was digging through my purse for the knife—hidden deep inside a pocket within a pocket so my kiddo wouldn’t end up with her hands on it—when my gaze landed on the price tag.
My gut twisted. Or maybe the baby kicked. Either way, I felt sick.
I could hardly afford one dress. And it wasn’t like if I cut myself out of this dress, I’d be able to sew it back together. I just wasn’t crafty like that.
I dropped my purse and started to cry. My hormones brought big tears and even bigger sobs. I didn’t care that there were other people in the dressing room. I was a prisoner inside a too-small, too-expensive dress.
“It okay, Mama,” my toddler said. “It okay.”
A knock on the dressing room door had me scrambling to my feet and wiping my eyes. “Someone’s in here!”
I could just imagine someone bursting through the door and seeing me . . . like that.
“Uh, ma’am, is there anything I can help you with?” It sounded like the nice older lady who had been taking the clothes from the dressing room and putting them back on shelves.
I pushed away my pride and cracked open the door. “I’m stuck.”
She nodded. “It happens all the time. Can I help?”
I opened the door and within seconds I was free of that awful piece of clothing. “Thank you so much.”
She smiled and took the dress with her, as if she knew it was personally offensive. “It’s no problem, Dear.”
Now, I was crying for an entirely different reason. Though I didn’t know whether it from relief, gratefulness, or embarrassment.
I can’t remember exactly what I ended up wearing to that event, but if I had to guess, it wasn’t a dress.