“Probably not until almost halfway through the pregnancy,” he answered.

I went home feeling, both literally and figuratively, deflated. I started making regular trips to the mall. Every payday, I would coax my husband into yet another trip to the baby section of my favorite department store under the guise of stocking up on baby basics. Once there, I would browse through the booties and layettes, all the while lecturing my husband on the good financial sense of stocking up a little at a time throughout the pregnancy rather than waiting for one big shopping trip near the end.

“A T-shirt here, a crib sheet there,” I said, piously. “Just think of the bill we’d have if we waited to get these things all at once.” I can’t be sure, but I may have even wagged my finger.

I don’t know if it was because he’d heard my lecture half a dozen times and was bored into a semi-coma by my repetitiveness, or if he was giddy with relief about spending one less evening poring over baby name books, but he never caught on to what I was really up to in that department store. For every pair of footed pajamas I asked his opinion of, and for every bonnet I considered, I was really peering over his shoulder, sizing up another outfit in the maternity department. I had to start showing soon.

I started buying books and magazines about pregnancy and childbirth. While I was gathering information on breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding, newborn vaccinations, and how to soothe a fussy baby, I was also admiring the pictures of pregnant women proudly showing off their rotund tummies, all carefully draped in modish maternity clothes.

One article espoused that the best way to save money before baby’s arrival was to wear your husband’s clothes. “Their shirts are big enough to cover a newly budding belly,” the writer counseled. “Men’s sweats are comfortable alternatives to a woman’s too-tight trousers,” the writer advised. “Besides, your husband will think you look cute in his clothes.” Who writes this stuff? I wondered as I slid the magazine under the couch cushion. My husband never looked under there.

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