I guess I could say it was my Aunt Caroline’s fault, if I had to lay blame somewhere. She was, after all, the first woman I consciously observed as her body went through the changes of pregnancy. I was 5 at the time, and with each visit her swelling abdomen filled me with wonder and caused me to marvel at the potential I suddenly realized my own body held.

Near the end of her pregnancy when her abdomen had expanded about as far as it would go, I nervously formulated a plan. After she left, I waited until my mother was busy washing the dinner dishes. I tiptoed into the living room and filched a throw pillow off the couch. With the stealth of a professional cat burglar, I sneaked upstairs to the full-length mirror. I shoved the pillow up under my nightgown, drew the gown tightly over the pillow, thrust my hips out and admired my pillow paunch. I turned to my right to study my new profile. I was awestruck, captivated. So this is what I would look like when my turn came to be the mother, I thought.

Throughout the remainder of my childhood, every chance I had, I would sneak pillows off the couch to “try on.” When I couldn’t kidnap a pillow, a rolled-up sweatshirt would do. An obsession had been born.

Nearly two decades later, newly pregnant at my first obstetrician’s appointment and filled with anticipation, I asked the doctor, “When do I start showing?”

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