“We have to go bigger.”
“Bigger? Is that even possible?”
“Oh honey, you just wait.”
Cynthia the bra lady whisked an armful of circus-sized bras off the rack and hurried out the dressing room door. I stood half naked, assessing the new developments looking back at me in the mirror. The rounded belly I got from pregnancy wasn’t that bad — plus, I expected that. But the watermelons sagging below my relatively small shoulders? Absolutely ridiculous.
The immensity of my ta-tas had reached extreme levels over the past four months, and no one knew exactly what to do with them. My poor husband was simply perplexed. Total strangers approached me with expressions of shock and awe.
Take for example, the Irish woman from my writing workshop. It was only our second session when, after hearing that I was a few months pregnant, she slapped her hand down on the table in relief and said, “I was wondering why your boobs were so big!”
And the lovely drugstore cashier in North Carolina. In a move that I’m pretty sure isn’t advocated in the employee handbook, she took one look at me approaching the register and felt compelled to shout in a thick southern drawl, “Girl, look at them big ol’ boobies! When are you due?”
To be fair, I’ve always had an ample chest. I’m pretty sure I was the only girl in elementary school who needed a bra, so it’s not like my current situation was totally surprising. But pregnancy had launched my curves from Pam Anderson-land to sideshow freak territory — a vast and uncharted place full of embarrassing moments and back pain.
In just one trimester, I had run out of wearable undergarments other than an old sports bra that threatened to give out at any minute. My pea coat had long ago cracked under the stress, shooting a button across a crowded waiting room and nearly taking a woman’s eye out. I was fairly certain I would have to hire someone short enough to walk in front of me, arms raised, just to hold my chest up.
In other words, I had officially lost any and all semblance of a normal body, and gained a new set of challenges when it came to getting dressed in the morning. And so I found myself sequestered in the comfortably beige dressing room of the Neiman Marcus lingerie department, waiting for Cynthia to work her magic, wondering if the whole “miracle of life” thing was really worth all the physical humiliation that came with it.
Granted, it was a little too late to be weighing the pros and cons of procreation. My body had shifted into advanced autopilot, and there was no “off” switch. Nature was careening toward a steep cliff, and all I could do was cower in the backseat holding two flimsy double-D cups instead of a parachute.
Don’t get me wrong: I really wanted to make a baby with my husband. But deep down I was also terrified of losing myself, and of becoming someone I didn’t recognize. The thought of motherhood taking over my life, changing my personality, and yeah, blowing up my body and wrecking my wardrobe, scared me.
Solidifying that terror was the knowledge that my boobs were only the tip of the iceberg. Parts of me that I didn’t even know existed were going to change and grow and open up (literally) to let this child into our lives, no matter how wary I felt about ugly maternity bras. I was just along for my body’s nine-month freefall of transformation that promised to push my tolerance for discomfort — and the strength of my undergarments — to the limit.
Just as I started to panic, Cynthia returned and handed me a bra with cups bigger than my head. Two-inch wide straps, multiple hooks, and titanium-reinforced underwire — support mechanisms that would confound most MIT-trained engineers — barely concealed under a pink flamingo print. I gave Cindy a look that said you have got to be kidding me.
She wasn’t deterred. “Just try it. It’s actually one of our best-sellers.”
I grumbled something about my grandma having the same model and slipped on the mammoth contraption. Cynthia hooked me in, tenderly adjusting the straps and directing me to bend forward and “Shake! Shake! Shake!” my motherly bounty into place. When every ounce of breast finally felt snug and secure, I looked up into the mirror. Staring back was a mom-to-be with very nicely lifted and separated gargantuan ta-tas. And for the first time since I peed on the little stick, I felt like I could breathe.
Because somewhere under all the pink birds and bows, deeper still below the absurd diameter of my areolae, my heart was expanding in ways that I never could have planned. I knew that this baby would fill that heart to the brink of explosion, and then find a way to make it stretch even bigger. And that when it really came down to it, sporting an enormous pink flamingo granny bra would probably be one of the very smallest sacrifices I’d happily make for my child.
Cynthia peered over my shoulder. “So? What do you think?”
I smiled. “Sold, to the lady with the 32 double H’s!”