I danced for the first 15 years of my life. All those years of toe shoes, blisters, and rehearsals played a large role into contributing to who I am today. However, around my sophomore and junior years of high school it soon became apparent that the directors of the Amercian Ballet Theatre were not going to be knocking on my door any time soon. I moved on to more traditional teenage activities: sports, student council and boys. My older sister, however, never gave up her leotard. She still is a professional dancer, teaches modern and ballet at several colleges and universities, and is the director of her own modern dance company. She is an athletic, strong, and amazing dancer and mother of two – next week she’ll make it three! – kids.
Ten years ago, before either of us had had any children, my sister came to me with a sweet smile and a reassuring hug. She had a performance coming up, a big one. She asked me to be in one of her numbers. Despite the fact that even though I had stopped my formal dance training a dozen years earlier, I still loved to dance. I still do. The idea of being on a stage again, in front of an audience, under the lights — well, that was enticing.
However, there was an issue.
I was 38 weeks pregnant.
You see, my sister was in a modern dance piece about pregnancy (if you are familiar with modern, you know anything goes). Their “expectant” mother had unexpectedly had her baby (THE NERVE!) and they were out their token pregnant mom for the piece.
After some back and forth, I agreed to be her token pregnant “dancer”.
Rehearsals came and went. I learned what I had to do. There was a rotating pedestal involved. I was to turn slowly around and around on the pedestal, waving my arms, leaning forward and backward, reaching, twisting, and arching to the music. All the other non-pregnant dancers would do their moves all around me. Truthfully, I enjoyed the movement and the rehearsals. I just averted my eyes when the mirror came around.
It was the night of the performance and I was beyond nervous when I arrived backstage.
Reality came crashing down as my sister handed me my costume: a UNITARD.
Not some nice black or camouflage color.
No, it was purple at the ankles, then cruelly graduated up to hot pink at the top.
You know, some gals can get away with wearing a unitard while pregnant. Maybe you are one of them. Maybe you wear a unitard every day for kicks.
Heck, unitards and I stay in different zip codes even when I’m NOT pregnant. But at 38 weeks? Every bit of my overripe body from my pregnant eyelids to my pregnant kankles screamed that was just wrong.
I sat in that dressing room with the unitard in my hand, trying to figure out a way to get out of this mess. Other than willing myself into labor right at that very minute, I couldn’t figure out an escape plan. So, I just did the deed and squeezed myself — all of me — into that thing and started the dreaded walk to the wings.
When I heard my musical cue, I lifted up my double D’s and slowly started my death walk out onto the the stage. The spotlight was on my huge belly and that blasted unitard.
I swear I heard some gasps and whispers from the audience (“Oh my gosh, she’s really pregnant!”).
After I stepped carefully up onto my pedestal (I did not pull a Miss USA falling stunt, thank goodness) and began waving my arms around, it started. The laughter. I could not control it. My entire pregnant self started shaking with the ridiculousness of what I was doing. As I was rotated around and around, the dancers did their choreography around me, basically worshipping me, the pregnant woman. They emoted with every movement, lunge, and layout. And there I was: giggling, hiccuping, trying to breath, and laughing my head off in front of several hundred people with tears streaming down my face.
IN A UNITARD.
Finally – finally! – the number was over and I waddled off the stage (if sprinting was a remote possibility, trust me, I would have). Without looking at a soul, I charged into the dressing room and ripped off the unitard. I had never been so happy to be back in the safety of my XL sweat pants with the lovely panel waistband and my lime green t-shirt that could have been used for a six-man tent.
Ah – home.
I left the unitard in a ball on the floor and went straight to the car at the back of the auditorium where the Doc was waiting for me in our getaway car. I told him to get me the heck outta there and I’m pretty sure he peeled out.
I know, I know, pregnancy is a beautiful thing. To be able to create another human is a miracle. Period. Our bodies naturally adapt and transform in order to accommodate a new little person.
But I strongly believe unitards should not be involved.