Friday, April 28, 2006

Breast Intentions

So the other day C and I went on our first babycentric shopping venture.

Or at least, preggerscentric.

I’m willing to now admit I’m pregnant but it’s a far larger leap of faith to say there will be a baby when my feet hit the ground. Other pregnant friends are filling their baby rooms with monitors and cots and dingly dangly things. C and I have bought nothing (yet) but we have received a load of hand me downs which have all been hastily stuck in the cupboard where we can’t see them.

Anyhoo, the time seemed right to shop for maternity bras.

I had actually attempted to do this a couple of months back when my bra size changed dramatically but I chickened out at the last minute and settled for a couple of non maternity bras that were a bit bigger than my normal size. These were now right at the end of their row of little hooks and uncomfortably tight.

I am not a well endowed woman, bras have generally only ever really been things to stop my nipples poking out of my teeshirt on cold days. Bra-shopping in the past was a quick and haphazard event based on Colour, Pattern and Is This One On Sale?

It was clear we needed the help of an expert. I had heard the rumour of the necessity for proper fittings and the dire warnings of back strain, wrenched shoulders and milk pudding boobs that would ensue if said Proper Fittings were not had.

C and I wandered into the ‘intimates’ section of a Large Department Store and lingered awkwardly around the maternity section. Row after row of wireless, double clipped, enormous cupped, wide strapped bras dangled from their racks, taunting us.

We looked at them, we took them off the rack, we fingered their odd little fastenings and marveled at their extra hooks and eyes. Then we put them back because those whopping big cups were scaring the bejesus out of us.

Diddly diddly dee went the musack.

A chill wind began to blow and a lone tumbleweed scuttled across the floor.

C and I clutched at each other’s clammy hands. One of us may even have whimpered.

Someone will come, we muttered to ourselves. Someone Who Knows About Pregnant Bosoms.

At one stage a sales assistant did flit past, replacing frilly delicate non-pregnancy things as she went.

Why look! Here is Someone Who Can Help, announced C in his best Actorly Projected Voice.
Yes, I smiled, relieved.

We took our eyes off her for only a second but when we turned back she was gone.

Fuck, we said.

Diddley diddly dee went the musack.

Finally we decided we could work it out together. Were we not grownups?
Had I not received hours of valuable Bionicle Assemblage tuition from the Naughty Nephews?
Had not C once built a house (in a previous relationship yes but the experience still counts) and had he not just spent days laying lovely wooden floors and doing fiddly carpentery bits in the Big House? Well then.

We selected a few bras based on what appeared to be my current size but also on Colour, Pattern and Is This One On Sale?

Then we located the fitting rooms.

Then we entered the fitting room.

Then the Shop Assistant who had done the neat disappearing act early on suddenly appeared in the doorway with a stern look on her face.

Then C was barred from the fitting room on account of him being a loathsome bosom-less man.

Then I bravely entered the fitting room alone.

Then I bared my boobs and attempted to attach the first bra to them.

Then it twisted itself round the wrong way and laughed at my ridiculous attempts to wind it round my body.

Then all the little clips in all the bras suddenly and maliciously sprung apart. An image reared up before me, of me, struggling to survive in my scanty brightly coloured pre-pregnancy bra, now faded and torn with use and held together with pins and bits of sticky tape. I was destined to be bowed down with strained back and wrenched shoulders, shackled to the cold hard earth by the weight of my ginormous Milk Pudding Boobs.

Then my face went red and tears of frustration crept into my eyes.

Then I swiftly redressed, did some deep breathing, and flung the bras down (but neatly) on Disappearing Shop Assistant’s plush padded seat thing as I stormed out the door.

I looked for my husband and wept bitterly because he had wandered off to the electronics section and also because lo the pregnancy hormones was surging through my body and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and odd looks from other customers.

Diddley diddly dee went the musack.

It was all too hideous.

C blew my nose and swiftly administered skim hot chocolate and small evil sweety thing to me and then we went into the Other Large Department Store.

Here we went straight up to the counter and asked for Someone Who Knows About Pregnant Bosoms.

And finally, finally the Someone appeared.

And Yes she knew Pregnant Bosoms and Yes she knew how to wrangle the nasty little clips.

C was once again banished from the fitting room but this time it was ok, I felt safe, I felt nurtured in the arms of wide experience, I was to be saved from back strain and wrenched shoulders (but alas probably not milk pudding boobs). I tried on bra after bra, was instructed on the mysteries of breast enlargement and shrinkage, advised on where my straps should sit, where my hooks should meet and where my nipples should point. She was very nice and very good and I felt much much better.

However after twenty minutes, I realised that I didn’t actually properly fit into any of the maternity bras she brought for me. If it fitted at the back then the cups were too big. If the cups were just right then we were right at the end of the hooks (and I had already been instructed that the bra should at this stage do up in the middle of the hooks).

(My friend Michelle later told me that I could buy a little extension thingy to increase the back of the bra for a few bucks and that would keep me going until I was ready for the next stage.)

Once upon a time, a long time ago, years ago, perhaps six, when C and I were in those first few months (stretching to the first year) of trying to conceive, C did buy something for baby.

It was a handmade patchwork quilt, just big enough to sit on a cot. Coloured frogs and rampant teddy bears were pieced together with boats sailing into clouds and wide eyed geometric cats. It was expensive, indulgent, impractical and beautiful. And perfectly fitting for C’s enthusiastic optimism for our impending offspring.

For years the quilt stayed folded up and hidden away. Once I unwrapped it, a year ago, when I was looking for blankets. It was a shocking reminder of our younger dreams. Instead of frogs and boats and teddies and cats I saw invasive tests and broken hearts and long empty years stitched together with self hatred and failure.

When we packed the flat and prepared to move to the Big House this year I found the quilt again. And the teddies were back and the quilt was beautiful once again.

C and I had decided to meet elsewhere in the department store and I sauntered towards him swinging my black and white shopping bag. C looked at it with interest.

No bra, I quickly told him.
No bra?

It’s a long story, I told him, but basically they don’t fit yet. So I bought a pair of trousers instead. They’re not maternity trousers but they fit comfortably over my tummy.
Also I liked the colour. Also, they were on Sale.

C nodded. It all made perfect sense. We held hands as we wandered out the door.

Behind us, racks of maternity bras jangled their fiddly hooks, waiting patiently for our inevitable return.

And diddly diddly dee went the musack.

23 comments:

Gabrielle said...

I hear your pain, and feel my own digging into my ribs. I am so disillusioned with maternity bras right now that I think I will just make my own. Sigh.

soralis said...

Love the post! I was lucky that a friend told me about those extension thingies before I went shopping (I have a bad ribcage to cup size ratio, apparently I should have a much bigger bust?)

Hope you find one soon!

Take care

spindleshanks said...

oh god. bra shopping anytime, anywhere and in any context is destined to be a miserable and humiliating experience. i occasionally skulk round a little lingerie shop in stoke newington which is full of Beautiful Things. but when the lady with the tape measure approaches, the "very wide across the back but doesn't quite fill the cups" horror returns and i scuttle out shame-faced. milk pudding boobs (i like to believe) are the province of all those blessed with boobs at all. there has to be an upside for less-bosomed amongst us xx

Fertility Faux Pas said...

And here I thought I was the only one. I'm sorry the experience was so hormonally challenging and uncomfortable, but at least know that you are not alone!

The quilt sounds lovely, by the way. I'm glad that it has come to symbolize something happy for you and C again.

Nico said...

Oh, boy do I hear you on this one! I caved a couple of weeks ago and bought a few nursing bras (that's all they had in the store I went to, and I was not about to go to another place, I HATE shopping). My old ones (size A, thank you very much) were digging into my sides and back, so I really couldn't keep wearing them anymore. These new ones don't fit right either, but they do stop my ever present headlights from showing through my shirt, so I think that's all I'm getting at this point.

Juliabohemian said...

you don't necessarily "need" a maternity bra. If your boobs are small it is just as easy to pop them in and out of a regular bra.

With my first child, I remember putting it out of my mind until the last minute...the idea that a baby was really in there. I felt like it was wrong to hope and that it couldn't really be happening. I never had trouble getting pregnant...it wasn't that. I had just suffered so many dissappointments in my life up until that point.

You ARE having a baby. She is really in there and she is growing and cannot wait to see you. Go, go shop for baby things. Indulge yourself. It is okay to hope.

mig bardsley said...

Oh I haven't laughed so much for days. Still wiping tears from my eyes. This is so much exactly how I felt 27 years ago...clearly things haven't changed much!
Milk pudding boobs...howling with laughter I was :)

I'm so glad you kept the beautiful quilt!

k #2 said...

I can relate to not buying anything for yourself or the baby too early. I don't think I really felt comfortable buying even maternity clothes until 7 months! (good thing my belly didn't pop until then!). I didn't want to jinx anything.

I love my "picture" of you and your DH in that store! Too funny.

PS Your friend is right ...the bra extensions will save you a TON of money in buying bras. A friend loaned me maternity clothes and the only thing that fit were the bra extensions! :)

Panda said...

I had the same problem bra shopping. They just didnt fit no matter what I tried. Wait until you're about 36-38 weeks, and then try again. Even if the cup size is a little too big at the time, trust me, you WILL fill it once the milk comes in. You wont believe how much those bazoongas can grow overnight!

Mony said...

You are gorgeous.

I'm gonna burn my bra. In your honour.

Cass said...

I am thrilled that you have the quilt, and that it's beautiful again. And bra shopping sucks.

If you decide you need something to tide you over, I suggest one of the less structured, more stretchy kinds of bras. I don't know what brands you have there, but you should be able to find a picture online of something like a Bravado (didn't actually fit me well, but some people love 'em) or the thing I have, which is a Medela Light Support (or something like that) - basically a lightweight, stretchy sports-bra style, but with no hooks or clasps or anything to get in the way. (Yipes - who knew I had that much to say about bras?)

Thalia said...

The quilt sounds lovely. The bras will be lovely when you are ready for them.

MC said...

Great post. Sometimes trying to get help in department stores is so frustrating.

Lin said...

Yesterday I was helping my daughter fold laundry and she held up two bras. One was worn during the final months of her pregnancy and the other is her nursing bra. She just held them up in the air and shook her head. Her only comment was, "I can't wait to deep six these things." She then wandered over to the electric breast pump and hooked herself up. "I'll be pretty damned happy when this thing isn't sitting on the kitchen counter, too." In the background the pump went whoosh whoosh and Baby Sophie awakened from her catnap.

It's a different world!

bean said...

Sorry you had such an odd, unfruitful bra search.
I'm a midwife, and I hear from women that the service at the Australian Breastfeeding Assoc shop is warm and lovely (they fit bras, amongst other things!).

4 McMullen Ave, Castle Hill Sydney
Phone 02 8853 4900
Shop Hours: 9am-3pm Monday-Friday.

Mary Scarlet said...

Just gorgeous, Ova Girl. Thanks for the update. I'm sorry about the breast adventures; hope the right fit happens soon

fisher queen said...

I loved that post. I love that the quilt is waiting for its baby.

I live in terror of pregnancy boobs. Mine were threatening to take over the universe to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Loved the post. You are so darn cute.
You should check into this thing. You can get it from Fertile Mind in Australia. Called a BellyBra and it has a bra and a support for your belly. Very cool.

frangelita said...

One day, in the far off future, bras will be designed by people who actually have boobs. They mighte even fit. Until then, bra extenders are very handy.

Think of the quilt as a symbol of the beautiful newness of that initial hope, not quite locked away but kept in your heart even when you were too afraid and too much in pain to think about it. You don't have to be afraid any more - you are pregnant and that quilt is also a symbol of the future you will have, bright and beautiful.

Urban Chick said...

i had a similarly harrowing bra purchasing experience POST partum (as they say)

it's a whole other world...

an aside:
a friend of my DH is having some fertility treatment and i was pondering aloud to DH in the car a day or two ago wondering if 'the deed' had yet been done:

me to DH: [entirely innocently and straight-faced] so is today squirty up the clacker day for R?

DH: whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? what did you say?

[slowly it dawns on my that that this is in fact NOT common parlance for 'insemination by catheter']

me: sorry, is she being inseminated today?

still think 'squirty up the clacker' sounds better

*shrugs shoulders*

Chee Chee said...

I am happy that you have rediscovered the beauty of your quilt.

The bras will definitely be ready and waiting for your return!

Meg said...

What super post! Great fun :)

Kyahgirl said...

Do you know what happened to me? I wasn't prepared, my baby came six weeks early, then, while we were in the hospital still, my milk came in and my breasts turned into ginormous footballs. They were all shiny and hard like the ones you see on the porn models :-)

there is no way I could have anticipated what size bra I needed. I bought an emergency one but then needed a few more. One of The key things is to find something you can attach and detach with one hand if possible. Well, there are lots of key things and it sounds like you have it well in hand !
good luck buddy.