**Warning – this post is about boobs and my relationship with mine.**
This past weekend, I went to an event at my favorite consignment shop in town – Posh, Home of the Frugal Fashionista. The event was – believe it or not – a bra fitting by a professional certified bra fitter (I didn’t know this was a certifiable thing – but I just went with it.) from a shop in Bar Harbor “fittingly” called Bra Harbor. For $20 you got a professional fitting and an opportunity to also purchase the bra. I’ve been having some bra issues – so I figured I would go and check it out.
When I was much younger and going through that awkward stage of puberty I hated that my boobs just kind of showed up out of no where. My Grandmother did everything she could to try to get me to wear a training bra, a sports bra, or even an undershirt. Whatever it was that I left the house in – I would quickly remove when I got to school. I hate it…the training and sports bras were tight and uncomfortable and the tank top made me feel too hot and I hated having a shirt under my shirt – what the heck?! I preferred to just let it all hangout. I mean, I had breast, but they were not that large or bothersome. The larger issue – that I realized much later was that we wore white shirts to school as part of our uniform and I was giving everyone a peep show – basically. I didn’t care. I wanted to play two-hand touch football with the guys at lunch and run around in gym and I didn’t want a tight uncomfortable bra making me miserable.
My teacher called home and gently suggested that it might be time for some support. My poor Grandmother was already at her wits end so she picked me up from school and drove me straight to Dorothy Stein – the old lady bra shop in Eastchester. I had no choice but to get a bra – enough was enough for her! My first ever bra fitting was THE WORST. I mean to start it off – I was not even OK with having breasts. I was a tom boy and I did not want to wake up and suddenly be into girly things. I wanted to run, jump, and play. The other girls in my class who had woke up with breasts seemed to also become more sophisticated and didn’t want to play tag anymore at recess. It’s really an uncomfortable time and transition. Not to mention being naked from the waist up in a tiny dressing room with an old lady that had a thicker mustache than my dad taking my measurements – was not my idea of a good afternoon. I remember pretty much crying the whole time and being so frustrated while trying on what seemed like a countless number of bras. FINALLy – they all decided that I had found the right bra and was ready to join the ranks of mature young woman. My Grandma made me promise to wear it to school – because I loved her and hated to see her upset with me – I did.
The transition through puberty was not an easy one for me – but I guess I survived. When I made it to high schools that ladies grew and grew. I really didn’t get very chubby until my junior year of high school. My boobs were naturally on the bigger side. I did not really like them and felt that they were mostly in my way when I was playing sports. I spent a lot of time trying to hide them. I also spent a lot of time wearing a sports bra instead of a real bra. This gave me an incredible uni-boob but allowed me to not feel like they were always in the way!
When I got to college that’s when the girls really came into their own and I developed a different kind of relationship with them. Obviously after the obligatory freshmen 25 – my boobs were pretty big and they brought me all types of attention both positive and negative. When I went home for Christmas break my Grandmother dragged me back to Dorothy Stein for the second worst bra fitting of my life! I don’t know what it was about that place – but I always left in tears. This time I also left with a real bra that was way larger than I thought I was – 44DDD. It would turn out that I would pretty much be a DDD until I started on this current voyage.
In college having bigger breasts brought me a lot of attention that I did not know existed for people like me. In some cases it wasn’t positive attention or attention that I would enjoy today. But, I’m not going to lie – I like it. Boys were not beating down my door because of my sparkling personality. I mean, they weren’t beating down my door at all, but they did pay attention to the girls. I wore a of low cut shirts and push up bras. There was a year in college where I actually lost about 100 pounds under a doctors care. For some reason, I lost very little boob. Imagine the attention I got when I was a size 10 pants and a 44 chest. As a woman who tries to encourage young women today to accentuate their intelligence – I admit that I’m embarrassed by my past actions when it comes to my breasts. However, I was young and felt like that was really the only thing I had to offer – in terms of my physical traits. Sad but true.
Over the years the number went up and down but the letters stayed the same. At my largest and also while breast feeding – I was a 48!! This is about the time that breasts took on a whole new meaning for me. Their main purpose was no longer for attention or attraction – but for feeding. Breast feeding is quit an ordeal. WOW. I guess I really don’t know what my expectation was. However, I knew that I want to nurse and that formula was super expensive. I also did not understand that sometimes it just doesn’t work – like you and the baby don’t jive. I knew that it would be what it would be…but I was at least willing to give it a go. With my first born – it took a little time to get her to latch correctly. We were about a week figuring out. In the meantime we were supplementing with formula. One day she and I basically had it out and I decided that she was going to nurse and not have formula. I thought I’d try this method and see how it went. By the end of the day – she was a breast feeding champ and we no longer had to supplement. Delaney nursed almost a full year. When she was about eleven months – I actually got an infection in my nipple and my breast got all swollen and hard as a rock. The ducts were all jammed and clogged up and I just couldn’t go on. It hurt so so bad. So – I went to my doctor and he applauded me for my efforts and gave me a strong antibiotic to knock out the infection. Delaney was pissed to be off the boob – but it had to be done. It took about three days for her to figure it all out. Luckily she was old enough to be eating some solids and smooshy foods. It took a bit longer for me to dry up and that was more painful than I thought. Once my work was done as the sole meal provider I had a totally different relationship with my breasts. I felt like a strong woman and a providing mother. Breasts were no longer a sex symbol in my world. I was proud of myself for nursing for as long as I did and really felt quite accomplished.
When my second baby came into the world – it was a totally different story. He would not latch. And he would not be forced to latch!! We had a couple good feedings here and there but right off the bat had to supplement. He had a touch of jaundice in the hospital and had to go under the lights – which made him cranky and he just did not want to work for his food. Also – it took a while for my milk to fully come in with him…sooooo….I became a full time pumper. OH MY WORD – this was like having a second full time job. I was up at all hours of the night pumping. When I went back to school I had to use half of my prep-period to pump in my classroom. My pump put me in a trance and sometimes when I hear the exhaust fan in the bathroom at school or home I get like freaked out that I need to pump. I was very lucky that my insurance covered the total cost of a brand new pump – and I got the Cadillac version. IT was awesome and got the job done as quickly as possible. Pumping was almost the easy part. The constant washing of bottles and sterilizing of nipples and storage of the milk was the drag. You have never really experienced true heart break until you accidentally dump 8 ounces of breast milk all over the floor. Or you have to dump milk that has gone bad down the drain….that is the worst. I was a full time pumper for just ten months and then I had to stop. I got another infection and it was time. I was so blessed that I could still feed my kiddo – even though he decided it would not be from the spicket. If you know a full time pumper – please reward and applaud her.
So now, here I am in the dressing room at Posh and the flash backs of my times at Dorothy Stein are flooding back. There were no tears this time – but a bit of a revelation, for sure. I did not start losing weight in my chest until really late in the game. I had bought a couple new bras at Victoria Secrets – which was a big deal for me. I had never been able to shop there before and just about boycotted it during my heaviest times. They do not make bras in DDD – but, like, why not? Women with big boobs want nice looking bras too. I found lots of bra love over at Lane Bryant – and bought all my bras and underwear there for many many years. The bras were really expensive but good and sturdy. I also had a good non-traumatic bra fitting at Lane’s and felt comfortable while shopping for what I needed. I’ve had three fitting at Victoria Secrets, and each time I was a different size. Therefore, I was a little confused about what size I really was. For me, it was worth the $20 bucks. The lovely lady did her magic and after trying on three different bras of various styles – turns out I’m a 36C.
What I learned is that 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra, which I was. What I really learned is that I am not defined by what size my bra is. I am defined by who I am. There is so much more going on and I have so much more to offer than what is in under my shirt. If I could go back and tell college me that…my self-esteem and confidence issues might have been a little bit different. I read a lot that people that have the surgery and lose a bunch of weight go and have breast lifts and implants – no thanks. I’m more than happy with my situation.