A few weeks ago my co-worker, Jennifer Brindisi, came to me in the newsroom to ask if I would be interested in helping her with a story about belly casting. Now, I had heard of belly casting before, but that was about it. I didn’t know how it worked. I had never looked into it and I certainly never envisioned myself going through the process. I hesitated to answer her when she asked me. I mean, I know I’ve been very open about my high risk pregnancy, but I thought to myself, ‘Was I really interested in baring my big ol’ belly for all of our viewers to see?’ I asked Jennifer a few questions about the process and she began telling me about the two women behind it. Diane Zarlingo, who owns Mama and Me in Boardman, and her artist, Alane Jewel, have been belly casting women for about 15 years. Both women have experienced complicated pregnancies that have included loss and premature births. Realizing not everyone gets the chance to be pregnant or stay pregnant, the two women began casting pregnant bellies.
(Photo courtesy: Alane Jewel)
After hearing that, I agreed to participate. A week or so later, we headed to Diane’s studio to begin the process. It only took about a half hour for the entire casting. Diane and Alane covered Brooke (another soon-to-be mom) and I with a Vaseline-type substance. Then, they dipped each strip of casting material into a bowl of water and then draped it over our bellies until the cast was complete. After a few minutes of drying, the whole cast popped right off. Over the next few weeks, Diane and Alane will reinforce the cast with more strips of casting material and then Alane will paint it.
(Photo courtesy: Jennifer Brindisi)
When we finished, Jennifer interviewed Diane and Alane. She then asked Brooke a few questions and then she turned to me. Mind you, I had no idea she was going to interview me. I thought she just needed an extra belly for video purposes. Wrong! We clipped on the mic. Paul, the photographer, hit record button on the camera. Jennifer asked the first question and I immediately turned into a blubbering mess (click link to view story).
WFMJ Belly Casting Story
It was at that moment, I realized how incredibly lucky Patrick and I have been during this entire pregnancy.
When we first began this journey, we were told our chance for miscarriage could be as high as 70%. From week six, when we first learned we were expecting, until the end of the first trimester, the time when miscarriage is most common, we held our breath and kept our fingers crossed. Every new feeling, every new change to my body made me nervous. Thankfully, though we made it through. Heading into the second trimester, we were able to relax a little bit more. Our chances for miscarriage had lowered. However, we were still cautious, never wanting to get too excited in case something would go wrong, especially since during that time, two friends of mine, who were due after me, went into labor delivering at 24+ weeks and 28+weeks. Talk about strong women! Knowing that patients with uterus didelphys have a higher chance of preterm labor, I entered the third trimester with the same fears I experienced the first trimester. Thankfully, it’s been smooth sailing and all of the changes I’ve been experiencing this trimester are normal.
So, as I sat getting interviewed, I couldn’t help but think back to all of the times I worried things wouldn’t turn out in our favor, the times I thought we would struggle getting pregnant, the moments I worried we would lose a baby before we could meet it….all of those things that very well could have happened to me, but didn’t. That’s when the tears started falling. I realized I had a lot to be thankful for, not that I haven’t been thankful this entire time, but I’ve finally reached a point in my pregnancy where I truly feel comfortable with how things are going.
Now… to enjoy the next three weeks of my pregnancy with this big ol’ belly that is now preventing me from clasping my sandals, bending over, walking up the steps without running out of breath and rolling over in bed without grunting.