I’m not a fan of photographs. I mean, I like to take pictures of other people, but I do not like having my picture taken. Few things make me as uncomfortable, so it would follow that I have not been photo-documenting myself at my most uncomfortable. My mother on the other hand, she’s become quite adept at the “I’m just going to very casually remove my camera from my bag and take a picture when I think you’re not looking” maneuver. There is a part of me that wonders if I’ll regret not having some evidence of my transformation over the past nine months, but that part hasn’t been convincing enough for me to bare the belly. It did, however, talk me into doing a belly cast — and I’m so glad it did.
The belly cast experience did two things for me: gave me a truly spectacular keepsake of my über-pregnant torso, and allowed me to get together with a group of women who have been there for some much needed laughter and camaraderie. Maybe it’s just the women I know, but it seems one woman’s labor horror is another’s comedic gem — I laughed so hard I cried listening to these moms recall their most embarrassing labor moments from pooping to the mesh granny panties that await you after delivery. The whole evening seemed like a rite of passage: You’ve survived pregnancy, here’s what comes next. And I’m pretty psyched about my cast, too.
While technically, I suppose, you only need one or two helpers, this is a “the more, the merrier” kind of project. Invite a bunch of girlfriends over, eat food, drink wine (maybe just a sip or two for you, mom-to-be), and make a party out of it.
Prop mom up so that she’s comfortable, and her torso is vertical — this ensures that gravity works in her favor, if you know what I mean. Cover her belly and breasts with Vaseline so that the plaster won’t stick (if you’re super-modest like me, you can wear a bandeau bra, just be prepared to cut it off afterwards). Place a towel around her waist, and cover the surrounding floor with newspaper.
For the actual cast you’ll need the following: plaster tape (cut into long, thick strips) and a pan or bowl of warm water. Dip a strip in the water and then lay it over mom’s belly. As you add strips, make sure to smooth them out, finishing one layer before moving onto the next. Ultimately, you’ll want several layers (4-5) to make the cast thick. It begins drying quickly and can be carefully lifted off after 25 or 30 minutes.
What you do with the cast when you’re done is up to you. One friend displayed hers to be decorated by guests at her baby shower. Another let her 5-year-old son paint “his,” which he found really exciting. I’ve seen them hung on walls or atop a shelf. I haven’t decided what to do with mine yet — it’s currently sitting on my dining room table. Someone suggested I fit it with straps so that I could put it on when feeling nostalgic. I’m thinking that won’t happen… but I could see it coming in handy for Halloween.