I won’t lie, it has been a while. A long, long, looooong while. The last time I bought a new bra was in 2009, and I had been looking for the nursing kind. When my son was born that July, the girls were spectacular! Full, yet somehow still perky, and actually keeping another human being alive. Basically, my boobs were rock stars.
My daughter was born less than two years later, and I remember looking at myself in a full-length mirror thinking, “Hmmm…the girls look a little sad.” I recalled other women joking about how their breasts went from 32-B to 36-long after having kids, and that’s when the flashbacks hit me.
I was about 12-years-old, sitting on my parents’ bed, talking with my Mom as she got dressed for work. When it came time to put on her bra, the woman bent over at a 90-degree angle, lifted her breasts into her bra, then straightened up to inspect her work. She had caught my stare and winked: “This is a tried-and-true secret. You just wait!”
Hell no! I didn’t want to wait for the day when putting on a bra turned into calisthenics!
Enter baby #3.
In 2014, we completed our family of 5 and my boobs went from a bit sad to clinically depressed. After 6 years of being a human pacifier and sippy cup, I was finally depleted of milk and pregnancy hormones. I naively believed that meant my body would begin to resemble its former self, and while the rest of me kinda sorta went back to as normal as can be expected, the breasts? Not even close.
Now where were we? Ahhh, yes. Bra shopping. It became evident that purchasing a new over the shoulder boulder holder was necessary when I lost some weight and my previous bras no longer fit. YAY for losing weight! BOO for it being boob weight! A Victoria’s Secret gift card had been burning a hole in my pocket since Christmas, so my toddler and I headed to the mall.
I know, I know. Taking kids bra shopping is a rookie mistake, but I had no choice. Lay off.
Past the ample bosomed Angels and shorts so small they wouldn’t even fit my 2-year-old, I arrived at an array of bras so vast and demanding of my concentration that I immediately began to sweat.
Also? Those stores are effing hot.
I wanted a bra that would protect me on cold days and hold the girls at attention. I didn’t want frills, just function. It shouldn’t have been hard. Alas, ’twas.
Built-in boobies, AKA: Bombshell
Fabulous (their name, not mine)
All-cotton = zero support
I was struggling, man.
Just then, a familiar face from across the crowded store! My lovely neighbor! She has worked at VS for-ev-er and I knew she could help. But wait. What was that? Another customer snatched her up and away from me. Damn you, fellow bra shopper. DAMN YOU.
Feeling rejected, but not defeated, I grabbed a handful of random bras in my size and steered my daughter’s umbrella stroller around the looming towers of body sprays and lip glosses. Victory would be mine, oh yes!
Once inside a dressing room, I threw off my top and old, decrepit underthing. Bra#1: fail. Bra#2: fail. Bras#3-12: fail.
<insert whispered expletive because good moms don’t yell their swears*>
It had become crystal clear that I needed assistance. I poked my head out of the dressing room and in a voice so pathetic it rivaled my 5-year-old’s whining about dinner, I heard myself: “Please! Help! Anyone? I…just…can’t.”
Behind me, the toddler had unstrapped herself and was doing chin-ups on the stroller. “Hi, Mummy! Yook at me!”
I swung open the door open to reveal me in an ill-fitted bra, my postpartum belly beckoning from where it hangs over my jeans. My smile was quickly replaced with a look of horror when I recognized the young woman who had responded to my plea and had arrived measuring tape in hand: my 18-year-old neighbor. The same 18-year-old neighbor who’s in my husband’s Stats class. The same 18-year-old neighbor whose Mom was gobbled up by another needy bra shopper. The same 18-year-old neighbor whose breasts are probably still perky and who most certainly did not understand or appreciate the sheer humiliation I was experiencing.
When I’m nervous, I’m stupid, so naturally I announced a little too loudly, “WELL THIS IS AWKWARD, EH?” She gave me a courtesy giggle, then asked to measure me. Arms out at my sides, I realized too late that I hadn’t shaved under my arms in a few days. A week. Shut up. I glanced at my 2-year-old who was wearing a Bombshell as a hat.
Still nervous, I felt the need to explain the slow decomposition of my breasts. “Yeah, this third kid killed me. KILLED ME! And now I can’t find anything in my size, nothing fits right!”
Leary to make eye contact because she’s smart, the 18-year-old almost whispered, “Nothing fits because you don’t wear the same size now. You’ve lost about a cup, maybe more. Try this one.” And she handed me what appeared to be the same training bra I wore more than 20 years ago.
It’s true what they say about life coming full-circle. I just wish my full-circle moments didn’t have to happen in public with my teenage neighbor and my bare breasts.
So which bra did I buy? The one at JCPenney that cost $25 less and came standard with a 70-year-old measuring me while she sweetly recalled the “good ol’ days” when her breasts were as perky as mine.