I recently saw video of an interview I'd done a couple years ago, when I was ginormously pregnant. Next to Annie Lennox, I was nine months pregnant, with body parts bloated beyond recognition and heading in directions they normally don't.
My breasts were falling to the sides -- why had someone not told me to wear a more effective push-up bra? -- my face was all puffy. I swear, I counted one, two -- no, three -- chins below my overly smoky eye shadow.
And then there was the belly -- a massive dome of a thing, so immense that Lennox looked like a wee Scottish lass beside me.
Jessica-Simpson-on-the-cover-of-Elle, no. Sexy, I was not.
But then I remembered an odd event that occurred hours after that encounter with Lennox, long after the eye shadow was wiped off. I was in a grocery store checking out avocados when a man approached. He was probably in his early 40s, clean-shaven, dressed in a sharp gray suit.
"Congratulations!" he said, beaming. "How far along are you?"
"Oh, I'm due in three weeks," I replied.
"You must be excited," he said. I didn't tell him that excitement doesn't really register when it takes a forklift and three bodybuilders to raise you out of bed in the morning.
"Is it your first?"
Ordinarily an exchange like this would wrap up at that point, especially since I'd found the perfect avocado and was ready to continue shopping. However, my curious new friend refused to budge. He had more questions. Boy or girl? Feeling good?
I wasn't sure whether to start lobbing bell peppers and radishes at the guy, or just accept the chatter as that kindness from strangers only pregnancy evokes. My instincts told me there was more to it and when pregnant, your instincts are pretty darn noisy. There was something behind his charming smile, his lingering and the urgent look in his eyes.
This dude thought I was hot.
But how could he? I mean, I looked like an upright hippopotamus. Was he merely homing in on the obviousness of my fertility? Did he have a thing for maternity jeans? How is it possible that when your pregnant self feels your stretched-out worst, you're able to attract random-dude-in-Tom-Ford in the fruit and veggie aisle?
But sex educator Logan Levkoff says during pregnancy, it's possible for women to be at their absolute best, and for others to see that, too.
"There is something about being pregnant that gives you this sense of confidence being in your own skin," she says. "The idea of having to exercise until you're blue in the face and be stick skinny and fit into the tiny little things, you kind of think 'This is not that time.' And there is something about owning that and owning your body ... and people pick up on that."
Levkoff, who wrote the book "How To Get Your Wife To Have Sex With You," also points out that a voracious appetite for food when eating for two translates to an appetite for other things -- life in general and, of course, sex.
It's no secret that the surge of pregnancy hormones can get a knocked up gal very worked up. I've heard husbands say that sex with their pregnant wives is the best they'd ever had.
But that's within a committed relationship. I was taken aback when one of my single guy friends once told me having sex with a pregnant woman was high up on his bucket list. What, like climbing Everest and going fly-fishing naked? What's that about?
I decided to ask my friend Marco Contini. He's a father of three, and Italian -- he tends to be very up-front about sexual matters. To my surprise, he admitted that he finds pregnant women attractive. And it all starts with "the glow."
"As banal as it may seem, it does have something to do with the light," he says. "Among other nonpregnant ladies, a pregnant woman does shine. Which, if you think about it, is technically absurd, since often enough the glow comes along with visible signs of fatigue and pimples."
And kankles. And stretch marks. And spatula-flinging outbursts of rage.
"Another more obvious aspect is the boobs," Marco said. "But that only applies to women one already knows well enough to notice the change."
Yeah, yeah. The boobs. Breasts get bigger during pregnancy, transforming even the smallest-chested woman into Sofia Vergara. But it was this next comment from Marco that really got me thinking: "A pregnant woman always brings out an odd mix of physical attraction and desire to be protective."
Protective. Even when the woman is not carrying his child? Could there be some kind of biological spell at work here?