Spanx on a pregnant woman. Like a crop top on an old person. It just doesn’t work, highlights a certain incongruity. Assures that the harder you try to be something you were, the less likely you are to be able to achieve it. That iteration of yourself that froze in your mind at a certain age–only to slap you in the face when you happen upon yourself in the mirror and see that what you think you look like in your mind’s eye doesn’t quite compute with the mirror’s. Yet you still try to force it. Like the pregnant woman convinced her Spanx will give her a convincing enough tummy tuck to make her appear “normal.” Still at least somewhat herself, instead of a future slave to a being that will never appreciate that slavery, but instead spit upon all services rendered.
Sophie couldn’t think of that now as she stuffed her burgeoning bump into the implied pouch of the Spanx, one of three pairs (the regular kind, not the kind designed for pregnant women so that the belly can breathe, ergo serving no purpose at all) she had bought despite the ninety-eight dollar price point. Not exactly a purchase she should be making, what with a college fund to think about now. Because yes, she would end up paying for little Brandon or little Brenda’s higher education (her husband was the one with the fetish for the “B” names, by the way–and since men had started to take a more active role in parenting than even women nowadays, Sophie was content to let Eric have his way. She really didn’t give a shit, she just wanted whoever it was out of her).
The Spanx pressed with pronounced rage over her belly, squeezing it with furor–essentially judging Sophie for how fat she had become, and that this wasn’t part of the job description of what any pair of Spanx could have possibly anticipated or signed on for. Sophie could understand that now and, walking into her yoga class wearing them underneath her already extremely form-fitting pants, she stopped cold when she saw herself from a distance in the full-length mirror. No, no, no, no. That’s not me. That can’t be me. Who is that horrible version of me in that alternate universe called “not happening”?
Suddenly, she felt overly exposed. As though she was showcasing to all these other pregnant yoga bitches just how pathetically she was clinging to something that had let her go the moment her piss demarcated a plus sign: her body. It didn’t care who she thought she was anymore. It was doing its own thing now, and Sophie would just have to roll with it. Like literally roll with it, she thought, as she envisioned Eric pushing her around the house by way of the effortless rolling potential of her stomach as the anchor. She shuddered and found a place in the back corner of the studio. Somehow, quietly, she had become a person who did yoga at a studio in Venice Beach. This was not who she had planned to be. She had very distinct ideas in mind when she was that other self, the youthful one with the false notion that she had nothing but time on her side. But time was more illusory even than love. And she had let it slip away without realizing, as so many do.
She took deep breaths despite the fact that the instructor hadn’t begun the class yet. She was freaking the fuck out and no amount of yoga could remedy her anxiety. The end was nigh. The Spanx couldn’t even conceal her state so much as accentuate it. What a fucking fool she had been. Worst of all, a fool who still believes that mistakes can be undone. But not this one, not the most irrevocable act of all: birth. Eric was over the moon about it, said it would finally give him the sense of purpose he seemed to be missing in the day, when he was at home, “working.” Eric had been living off royalties from a book he wrote ten years ago that was adapted into a widely successful movie. He couldn’t even adapt the fucking screenplay though. That’s how skittish he was about trying at anything ever again. Fatherhood would now officially be his ironclad excuse not to.
And what would Sophie do? Continue to run her boutique (which is the entire reason she had ended up finding a niche in Venice)? Sure. Making esoteric pop culture references on t-shirts and jewelry would always be her passion. Yet would it feel icky in the wake of becoming a mother? Like she was trying too hard at being that part of herself that technically no longer existed with the advent of what was expected to be her “greatest achievement.” She convulsed involuntarily at the collective expectation that, even still, the most meaningful thing a woman could do with her life was to have a child. It simply didn’t add up.
Going through the motions of the class rotely, Sophie flashed to the moment Eric fucked her over by fucking her (for the first time in months, of course, so it just had to result in something as a means of cosmic punishment for so-called pleasure). She could recall the feeling of insemination barreling through her vagina like a meteor. It made her think of those gross opening scenes in Look Who’s Talking where the sperm all rush to the egg in a mad dash of desperation as The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” plays. To further detract from any sexiness associated with sex, the names “Kirstie Alley” and “Olympia Dukakis” flash in the credits. And then there’s Bruce Willis voicing the sperm for added anti-allure to the reproductive process–oh god, why could she not get this scene out of her mind?
All at once, she remembered she wasn’t breathing. She had forgotten to in concentrating so heavily on the instant her own life was ripped away from her by Eric’s penis. Between this brief lapse in performing basic bodily functions and the extreme temperature of the room, Sophie passed out. Or was it all, in the end, the fault of the Spanx cutting off her circulation?
As she found out later that day in the hospital, the Spanx had suffocated her fetus. And she wasn’t mad about it.