I was about three months pregnant when South Africa went into complete lockdown. At first, there wasn’t much to show as far as a mommy-belly was concerned, but as the weeks went by I saw my body slowly changing and my waistline recede. Because I could work from home during the lockdown, I got away with wearing baggy jeans and loose-fitting tops without having to worry too much about the way I look.
I am now more than five months pregnant and almost overnight, I started looking properly ‘with child’. The past few weeks my belly has started to swell and I can almost feel myself stretching from the inside. The result: My jeans don’t fit as well as they used to. With the lockdown being gradually lifted, there is also all the more talk about us returning to the office. The thought of me arriving at the office in sweatpants and an oversized knitted top makes me go cold, so I decided that it’s time to go shopping.
As you might remember from my previous post, my husband is super paranoid about me (and by default the baby) getting infected with COVID-19. Going to the mall is, by my husband’s definition, equal to playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded shotgun.
Finally going shopping
I manage to convince my husband of the seriousness of the situation and on my day off I get in the car, armed with a face mask and a whole bottle of sanitizer. As I pull out of the driveway I promise again to touch only the necessary items and to sanitize my hands every seven minutes. I feel almost more excited than I did on my wedding day. My first trip to the mall in more than two months!
I don’t really know what I was expecting, but the mall is like a scene from Zombie Apocalypse. Every third shop is closed and people wearing face masks and sombre expressions stand in queues outside the open shops, waiting their turn to go inside.
I head straight to Woolworths, where I know I’ll find what I need. Luckily there is no queue and I hold out my hands to the woman at the door to spray them with sanitizer.
I breathe in the smell of new materials and hungrily look at the shelves full of clothing. I load my arm with different styles and sizes of black pants and head for the changing rooms at the other end of the shop.
My arm starts to go numb from the heavy load of clothing draped over it and my legs start to ache. When I get closer to the fitting room I see a black iron gate with a huge lock pulled across the opening. A signpost to the gate reads “Closed due to Covid-19.” Tired and hopeful I turn to the shop assistant nearby. “Is there perhaps another fitting room in the shop?” I watch her shake her head. “We are not allowed to open the fitting rooms due to the virus,” she explains.
I am too out of breath to complain and move to a nearby clothing rack where I deposit my load. I pick one of the pants and measure it with my eyes and against my body as best I can. How am I supposed to know how much weight I’ll gain? Or if the pants I buy now will even fit to begin with? I decide on a style and size that I hope will fit, confident that I’ll be able to return it if need be.
On my way out of the mall I walk by Milady’s. Their fitting rooms seem to be open and I head into the shop with my Woolworth’s bag in one hand. I head straight for the changing room, only stopping to grab a yellow top from one of the shelves on the way.
Once in the fitting room, I pull the pants over my legs and pull my face in the mirror. I look like a success story from a weight loss program, with both legs almost fitting into one trouser leg. Good thing Woolies is just around the corner. Half an hour later I leave the mall emptyhanded, tired and discouraged.
I suppose shopping will only get harder as I grow bigger. I seriously consider a pantless hermit’s existence when it dawns on me: Online shopping. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? Then I’ll be able to choose and fit clothing in the comfort of my own home. I drive home smiling, already imagining the heaps of brown cardboard boxes filled with a range of colourful materials being dropped at my front door.
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