Since I'm at the peak of my reproductive years, I always have about nine friends who are pregnant at any given time. No matter where I am, one of them is there. With her swollen belly, she insists she is the biggest pregnant woman to walk the earth. I smile. I promise her I was bigger...MUCH bigger. She smiles—sure I'm just trying to make her feel better.
Then, I pull up this picture on my phone.
I tell her about the time I cried due to my belly so I could swim in a hotel pool. You see, a belly that size makes you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do. My aunt used to insist Griffin was sitting with his back to my back and his feet sticking straight out. It was enormous. It was heavy. It was pushing me to my brink.
Towards the end of my first pregnancy, I knew I couldn't carry that belly one step further (or for one more loop around Surplus City). Everyone had told me going swimming was the best. thing. ever. You felt weightless! You could actually breath! It sounded like heaven.
The only problem was in early May it was too cold to swim outside. Even as miserable as I was, I wasn't looking for the polar bear plunge. I knew an indoor pool was my only option. We had just moved back to Paducah and the only places I could think to go to in my hormone -nduced stupor were hotels.
There were about five national chains lined up next to each other near my house so I picked an afternoon, put on a bikini (God save me, it was my only option!), and headed over. The first place I stopped was a huge hotel chain. To protect their reputation, let's just say it rhymed with Drury Inn. (It was Drury Inn, y'all!) I waddled inside and saw a nice, older lady behind the desk. Maybe I should have known that since a hair on her head didn't budge, she probably wouldn't either. I explained that I was very pregnant, very miserable, and I would be eternally grateful and pay whatever it costs to go for a swim in the hotel pool. She said she couldn't help me. That hotel policy strictly forbid it and sent me on my way.
My eyes were filling with tears before I was through the revolving door.
I was already a hormonal mess. I was already frustrated and stressed and emotional. It didn't take much. By the time I got to my car, I was sobbing. I drove to the next hotel and scoped out the entrance to the pool to see if I could just sneak in. I walked around and around and decided the only thing worse than being that pregnant was to be that pregnant and in jail.
I went to the front desk. I was still sniffling. I kept my sunglasses on but the young man behind the counter could tell I was upset. I tried to keep the emotion out of my voice as I asked if I could please, please, please swim in their indoor pool. He said they weren't supposed to let anyone but guests swim in the pool but he would go get his manager. He seemed a bit panicked. I think the size of my belly freaked him out and he didn't want a weeping pregnant lady on his hands. Smart kid.
His manager came out. It was a woman, only a few years older than myself and I was instantly relieved. The moment she saw me she picked up her pace and came quickly to my side. She put her hand on my shoulder, smiled at me, and said the words I will never forget.
"Oh honey, I've got three of my own. Go on in and take as long as you need."
Turns out that wasn't the last time I would cry over my belly because her kindness in my moment of need still brings tears to my eyes.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland