Beautiful Pregnant Women

August 16th, 2005 by Larry Smith

Part I: The Photos of Jennifer Maya Luz Pliego

I’m Not Pregnant, But My Friend Here Is
A lot gets by me, but for the past few years I’ve noticed an unmistakable trend: many of my friends are getting pregnant. They look big and beautiful and shiny and silly, all of which makes me want to take their picture. So far collection consists entirely of women I know well, typically photographed as late in their situation as possible (though I’m thinking I should start of mix it up for variety).

I don’t have a fetish here (really, there’s no Vanity Fair Demi Moore cover stashed under my bed), and my hands have never rubbed a belly (unless they have been specifically invited to do so). I’m not even sure if I want children myself. But I do think women look beautiful, and I get a kick out of taking their photo. And an even bigger kick out of having my photo taken with them. Below are my messy, amateur photos of some great works in progress. In the future, we’ll offer a space for readers to post their own shots and short videos. Until then, this video, 9 months of gestation in 20 seconds, is pretty great. —Larry Smith

Above: A chance meeting of two very pregnant ladies, Jen and Judy, outside of New York City’s delicious Grand Sichuan restaurant. They are looking forward to eating soup doublings for four. You have no idea how happy these dumplings make us all.

Marybeth. My friend Mary Elizabeth Williams, in my Lower East Side Apartment in the late ’90s. Salient fact about Marybeth: she has brilliant theory that any food can be improved by either adding bacon or chocolate. If you can think of a food that disproves this theory, email me immediately.

Margaret. Meet Margaret, mother of one small boy already (named Saul or Jackson or some other such name popular with the kids these days) with this one cooking quickly. She’s a glowing beauty and held up well at our friend Beth’s wedding.

Lori. This is Lori, soon to be mother of Carlos. Lori’s Jewish as well as Argentinean, hence she got away with giving her boy such a hip name. He’s got great (if inexplicable) red hair and energy to spare and looks forward to learning about So. California rock in the ’70s from his dad Larry (no relation to me).

Kate. I feel terrible, but I can’t quite remember the name of this totally cool woman I met at a wedding in California’s Sierra Foothills (Kate maybe?) even though I slept less than 20 feet from her and her husband on a houseboat a bunch of us shared that weekend and mustered up the courage to ask her for a photo (”See, I have this hobby … it’s not a fetish, really!”) after about five hours of drinking.
Update: Cate with a C and her husband Dean have spawned one Lea Marie Raspberry — good work and good luck!

Rebecca. This is Becca! Rebecca Paoletti is a contributing editor at SMITH, one of the greatest women of all time, and now, with husband Charles, mother of Milo (pictured inside belly), who will grow up to be a ladykiller.

Amy. Meet Amy Friedman, a women who has known me since the day I was born. Her family and mine go all the way back and she’s like a sister to me. However, unlike my own sisters, I can handle seeing Amy breast feed in front of me.

Beverly. From the left: me, my fiancee Piper, David Boyer, and about-to-burst Beverly Gage, wife of our famous cartoonist friend. I can go a long time without seeing him and Bev, yet always felt connected to them because I was there when they first met at an alternative newspaper convention (I was having a miserable time; they weren’t). They eventually moved to Connecticut and I haven’t seen them in years. I believe they got a boy. I wonder what he’s like?

Jill. This is Jill, my younger sister’s best friend. Jill not only had the pleasant surprise of becoming pregnant on her first try (that’s the spirit!), but also finding a camera pointed at her when she arrived at my apartment to have take-out Thai with a few of us the night before Thanksgiving. Jill’s a tiny thing, but at five months pregnant in this photo, is starting to show.

Cheryl. When Piper and I moved to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, everyone wanted to know, “So when’s the baby coming?” Sometimes it does feel that they hand you a baby and a latte at the door to the Slope. For now, Piper fancies lattes more than babies, and I’m still on the fence. So I practice future fatherhood by borrowing other people’s babies, or just hanging out with the expecting to get a feel for the whole thing. I’m getting a feel for Cheryl at Perch, a cafe with great coffee and an extremely high hot mom (and future mom) quotient. As the father of the basketball in her belly is named Ty, and is a huge golf fan, the obvious name for this child is Tiger—but Cher’s having none of it. A word about Cheryl: she is one of the great women of all-time. She’s smart, sassy, sexy, cooks so damn well it’s wasted or her just-feed-me-Ramen-and-I’m-good (but otherwise worthy) husband. Also, she’s Italian and the only woman in this series I’ve kissed.
Update: The baby is named “Ty.” But not Ty, Jr. You figure that one out.

Shana. This is Shoshana Berger, in gorgeous glow at a cafe in San Francisco as she approaches the halfway mark. Shana’s the editor of the excellent DIY craft + culture magazine ReadyMade, which she founded five years ago, pouring the massive amount of life and love she’s got to give into it. It worked: ReadyMade has become the rare indie sensation, with Shana perhaps the most crushed-upon babe in magazineland. SMITH is thrilled to have her as a friend and advisor (and we salute the light within her).

Xandra. I don’t know Xandra Castleton very well—I’ve met her a few times at the storied S.F. freelancer office space, The Grotto—but she’s instant good vibes. Besides being on nearly the same preggers schedule as Shana (above), it turns out they’re pals (which I didn’t realize until after they had coincidentally been consecutive subjects for the pregnancy series). Xandra’s the co-writer (with husband David Munro) of a new flick currently getting raves on the festival circuit, Full Grown Men. (It of the groovy Web site, so click on the previous link). Bilge Ebiri, friend of SMITH and critic for New York and Nerve calls it, “quite distinct, working with a genuinely different and surprisingly compelling stylistic strategy.” Nice.
Update: After I posted this my wife said, “I went to college with her.” Who knew?

Barbara. Barbara is very pregnant. Like eight and a half months, this-next-iced-coffee-could-be-her-last-as-a-mother-of-just-one-child pregnant. Barbara lives a few miles away from me in Brooklyn, with her husband Jonathan, who is known as the rabbi painter and is one of the great kibitzers of all time. She has a PhD in American studies, freelances for MTV’s Web site, and says that the most surprising thing about having her first child was that “it didn’t change our daily life as much as we expected” (i.e. they still got out a little and didn’t lose their minds). That child is the delightful Lucy, who’s about to turn three and who as a near-newborn I once watched snooze with the happiest little smile on her face while a New Year’s Eve party raged around her. Little Lucy is about to get company.
Update: b. Nathan Blum!

Lara. Lar! That’s the way Lara and I have been greeting each other since we met as freshman in college. Back then, she was a beautiful kook who was into photography, art movies, and Italian, and there was no one I enjoyed drinking what I now know to be nasty hazel nut coffee and probably-still-enjoyable-if I-had-a-pack Muratti cigarettes. Neither of us turned out as pretentious as we could have (that was close), but she’s remained one of my favorite people. Along the way, we each more or less have kept doing what we were doing when we met: I make magazines and she makes pictures, having carved out a super successful photography career. (If you’ve even seen a shot of the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Library, there’s a pretty good chance she took it). One more salient fact about Lara: We once had one date in college and it was one of the best ever: a screening of the re-release of Fantasia, followed by a fancy dinner that our friends for some reason paid for.

Lori. What a minute? Does something, or someone, look familiar here? Nope, it’s not that fellow with the fine head of hair, it’s the glowing dark-haired vision in white next to me. Lori has both a special place in my heart as well as in my Beautiful Pregnant Women series: she’s the first repeat customer. Scroll up about 10 woman and you’ll see her baking with Carlos, her red-haired wonder. At lunch today, Lori (who is the editor of the anthology Maybe Baby and creator of the hot site, IndieBride) put me in charge of naming her baby, which I proceeded to turn into a contest on this site. If you read this soon (i.e. late March, 2007) it’s not to late to play. On account of lots of dead Jewish grandparents, she needs a name that begins with S, F, or N. Note: Sadie, Fiona and Narissa need not apply. (I admire how unstressed out she is about talking publicly about names her and her husband are considering; why do people become such freaks of secrecy around this issue?) If you name her kid, you not only get to be the chick’s honorary godparent, but you’ll win a first-edition SMITH Magazine baby tee. Not too shabby, huh?

Sarah. I had been planning on getting together with my friends Brian and Sarah for weeks. I couched my dinner invite as a general “welcome to the neighborhood” gesture. But who was kidding who? They knew what I wanted. Despite a couple of failed attempts, two weeks before Sarah’s due date I arrived at their place packing cinnamon raison bagels and a Canon. This shot was taken in their living room around 11am. What you can’t quite see is that the painting behind us depicts a a woman and her baby, done by Sarah’s grandmother. My late grandmother also painted, in a style not unlike Sarah’s gram. So the photo had a little extra meaning and brings up all sorts of memories about the brassy lady everyone called Bubbie (”I’m the Bubbie!” she would bellow). Sarah is the following: super smart, supremely sweet, superbly Southern–and the best move my old buddy Brian ever made.
Update! William Emmett Dawson, b. 5/2/07

Suzanne. Could Suzanne glow more? She could not. I met Suzanne, a writer, teacher, and yogi, a few years after I moved to New York. I has been in the city just long enough to do my best to stop making friends. You know that feeling? You want to have bandwidth to let new people into your lives—isn’t that a big part of the point?—but you feel like you just don’t have it. No room. Yet there was nothing to be done. I had too much fun talking to her, hovering over bottles of bourbon at friends’ parties, and learning, with her considerable help and patience, how to do yoga. She became a true friend one of the founding members of my spiritual advisory board (everyone needs one; trust me). She is, in this photo six weeks before her due date and in the life that came before and will follow this baby, the essence of light.

Sari. Sari Wilson really wants this baby to come on out and give the world the high-5 sign. Josh Neufeld, her husband, and amazing creator of our webcomic, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, does too. I’m reasonably sure he’s more nervous than his wife. I got this gem of a photo at their home in Brooklyn, seemingly hours before the big moment. But due to some misinformation, they learned the due date is actually a week later. Sari’s a Brooklyn born and bred writer and editor and the kind of woman who walks into a room and immediately fills it with life. She’s ready to add more life to the world. Make that: more than ready. They don’t yet know the sex, but are open to name ideas. Don’t be shy.

Andie. Meet Andie Grace. Alias ActionGrl. Alias AG. Born in St. Louis. Living in San Francisco. Partner: a great man who answers to the name Thumper, who took this shot in the deep night of the Nevada Desert on his lady’s birthday. I’ve watched Andie, often from afar, as she’s glided through various life stages, tribes, trials, and transformations with more grace and beauty than sometimes even I can bear. Bassist. Filmmaker. Media maven. The girl you wished was living next door. Girl of Action. Mom to Be. Virgo. Her six-word memoir? “Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that.” Catch her if you can.

img_4522.JPGMo Clancy. Among the most creative, kick-ass, lovely women I’ve had the pleasure to know is Ms. Mo Clancy. Mo launches companies while you’re trying to figure out where to go for lunch, then gives you five new notions on how to make yours better as she walks home. She’s a straight shooter, a guy’s girl who women love, a superhuman person who seemingly has 36 hours in each day. She’s what Burt Reynolds calls a “1″ in Semi-Tough. You need to read the book to understand. So just trust me.

So here she is. Pregnant. Beautiful. As surprised as anyone about the state she’s in. And yet, as she tends to do when the unexpected shows up, embraced this moment without pause. And still, she’ll tell you exactly how it is. “I’ve got to be honest,” she told me as we ate burgers in Greenwich Village, “I’m still waiting for the maternal instincts to kick in.” I’m not worried: Mo can’t fail.

ls-ellend-preg.jpg Ellen. What makes a man step off a cross-country flight and jump in a cab from the SF Airport to the City to take one photo, and then get back in the cab in order to be where he needs to be, which is two hours in the opposite direction? I direct you to Exhibit E: This photo of Ellen Dunne and me. I’ve known for more than a dozen years, and seen the best of her from San Francisco to New York; under hot sun, pouring rain, and inches of dust; in various states of high style and deep slumming; in the most professional of circumstances and behaving badly at weddings. In perhaps the classiest moment in all of the many moments of sports fandom I’ve ever witnessed, this passionate Patriots fan helped me assemble my all-green outfit before I departed for the Super Bowl in Jackson, FL, where my Eagles were beaten by those nasty Pats. That’s a good friend. In every moment, she is uniquely Ellen Dunne: totally together, completely overachieving, taking on too much for too many, with no complaints nor discernible sweat. That’s the way they raise ‘em in New England. Plus, she’s very good to all of the cats and dogs. And too damn cute. A beautiful pregnant woman.

Her newest acquaintance: Mr. Sebastian Firestone Bradshaw, son of Ellen and Blair Bradshaw, genius artist and great man. Congrats!

Shawna. Shawna Shawna Shawna. She’s an important woman in my life, serving as consigliere onsigliore on my own marriage (Where do I get wool stocking my wife? What’s a good weekend getaway? How can I get out of the doghouse…again?), as I’m an always-available ear to her. She’s a beauty, a badass business exec, consummate party host and mixologist, and a lady who suffers no fools in every part of her existence. And there are also few women I know who are so much fun to flirt with, and yet inspire no ire in my wife, who’s quite fond of her as well. I’m lucky to have earned the honor of being referred to as her “second husband,” and am always up for the rights and responsibilities that come with it. In this photo, taken with much production by husband #1, Shawna’s just a few weeks away from her due date. It’s a date she’s worked long and hard toward; the world can’t wait for what her and Tate will bring into it.

Rachel. Rachel Pine makes the rest of us appear to be moving at half speed. When I first met her, back at P.O.V. Magazine, she was the Diet Coke-slamming, non-stop chattering, millions-of-ideas-a-minute PR manager, who few of us knew exactly what to make of. For me, her energy was an always will be infectious—I suspect she’s secretly emitting a signal that makes me smarter just by being around her. She’s part of any business’ dream team. And once the beautiful bean inside her belly pops out and she’s back to moving mountains, my plan is to have my own business ready to steal her back.
Update: Rachel writes: “We are very excited to let you know that on Sunday, December 28th at 6:43 PM, The Baby Formerly Known as The Bean arrived. More exciting and thoroughly shocking is the fact that despite both the Johnson family chromosomal pattern and our complete surety, we have a little girl!”

I feel kind of bad that I don’t remember this woman’s name (and can’t track it down via the station’s site). Weatherwoman. Rachel F. and I were in Portland, OR for the Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak book tour and went on a local TV station, KATU (watch the short segment, if you’re so inclined). That same day, octuplets were born, prompting the above weatherwoman to say, “I’ll come clean! Some of you have been emailing to ask if I’m expecting, and it’s true.” Although you can hardly tell from this shot, I couldn’t resist a photo with this lovely woman delivering the forecast on the West Coast. We had a good time talking six on the show, too.

Nicole. Check out Nicole Blades and I. We look good, all bundled up and wintry–especially Nicole, who was not so far from delivering a spring treat into her and her husband Scott’s world. I met Nicole at ESPN Magazine and we became fast friends, the type who know what the other is thinking via just a quarter arch of the eyebrow, and wouldn’t know what a break in the conversation looked like when we got the chance to chat during those times when we weren’t changing the face of sports journalism…. This shot was take in front of a cafe in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill, not long before her boy Quinn greeted the world. And then? The crowd went wild.

Susie. Hello, little sister! This is Susie Smith, who I’ve had the pleasure to know, love, and torment for the duration of her time here on earth. She’s a tiny thing, prone to running eight miles a day and living primarily off chicken and vegetables, but steely as all get out. And the crazy thing about this photo (taken in SF’s amazing Dolores Park by her husband, Michael), and the big belly of hers? She was still a good five weeks from giving birth. My new nephew, Eli Smith Mitton, has arrived, and I’ve had the good fortune to meet him this past July. He likes hiking, moving vehicles, and my sister’s boob. I guess there’s no way around it: little sister is all grown up.

Kari. This is Kari Harendorf. And that’s not a pillow stuffed in to her otherwise somehow-still-skinny body, but her almost-fully baked third child, due one week from when we took this photo in mid-October, 2009. Kari is not only my yoga teacher and member of my Spiritual Advisory Board, but my friend, and soon to be published Six-Word Memoirist (in which she appears in a photo doing yoga with her dog, Charlie). For my 40th birthday, my wife gave me five private lessons with Kari—this is how important Kari is to my physical and mental health. You’ll laugh more in her yoga class—which will kick your ass, by the way, or at least mine—then you will getting beers with your buddies (and feel a lot better the next morning). Her husband, Mike, a great man and fellow Phillies obsessive, was kind enough to take this photo after class in Kari’s East Village yoga studio. Kari and Mike’s third kid. Yoga on a Tuesday night. Baseball in October. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Then there’s this: 9 months of pregnancy in 20 seconds.

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