As I’ve been struggling to get dressed lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my body and how I feel about it. I must start by saying that I think women’s bodies are pretty amazing. It’s actually quite incredible what our bodies can do. But that doesn’t mean I always love what I look like.
My breasts are one part of my body that I’ve always thought were ok. Pre-pregnancy, they were not too big but not too small. They seemed to be just about right for my 5’6”, 130 lb frame. The left was always a tiny bit bigger than the right, but not enough that anyone other than me would notice. Clothes always fit me just fine and, to be honest, I didn’t pay all that much attention to them.
When I got pregnant with Littleman in 2010, I started to notice changes in my breasts almost right away. The first thing was the veins. I’m a pretty fair-skinned (ok, pasty white) girl to begin with and my boobs had never seen the light of day, so the blue veins showed through pretty quickly. Then the girls started to grow. I hate having to buy new bras that I knew would never fit me again, but I did it to be comfortable.
After Littleman was born and my milk came in, they were big, hard and sore. Following a painful and miserable six weeks of getting used to breastfeeding, we finally settled into a good routine. Of course my breasts seemed pretty ginormous to me, but that’s breastfeeding for you, right?
It didn’t really bother me at first because I spent most of my time wearing sweats and hoodies. I had a few nursing tops but I didn’t really go anywhere that required me to look nice. It wasn’t until we had a few weddings to attend that first summer that I started to hate my boobs.
First off, I noticed that my left boob was now a lot bigger that my right. I don’t know if that side was more efficient at producing milk or if Littleman preferred that side more or if I hadn’t paid enough attention to switching sides when nursing. Whatever the case, it seemed much more noticeable to me and made me self-conscious.
Then, of course, there was the struggle to find dresses that fit appropriately. I needed dresses with sleeves or wide enough straps to conceal my nursing bras. There was no way I was getting away with a strapless bra. Then, there was the fact that the rest of my body could fit into my regular dress size, but my boobs needed a size up.
I managed to buy a couple of dresses that worked, but I hated the fact that I knew they would likely never fit me again once I finished breastfeeding. It felt like such a waste.
And then there were bathing suits. We had a holiday on the beach in Maine in the summer and then a wedding in Jamaica in the winter. I was still breastfeeding for both and trying to feel comfortable with my body in swimwear was really, really tough.
After 14 months of nursing, Littleman was finally weaned. I quietly hoped that the girls would go back to normal. No such luck. My poor boobs, which used to fill out my bras quite nicely, now felt empty. They seemed to be deflated. The top half of each breast felt like it had lost everything that used to be in there. I hated it! My pre-pregnancy bras were too big because I could only fill out the bottom of them, leaving a big gaping space at the top.
I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on new bras because I knew we were about to start trying for baby #2. Of course, after several months of trying, I still wasn’t pregnant and my bras still didn’t fit. So, finally, I bit the bullet went bra shopping. I felt pretty good in my new, smaller push-up bra that I actually filled out. My naked boobs were still empty and droopy but at least I looked ok when I was dressed.
Of course, two days later I got my BFP. I’ve never been a smoker but this kind of reminded me of back in the day when people used to smoke in restaurants. As soon as someone would light up their cigarette, the meal would come. Anyway…
That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and here I am now, almost 18 weeks pregnant again. This time, my original pre-pregnancy bras fit me perfectly. While my breasts don’t seem to have grown all that much, they’ve definitely filled out again.
I know that I’ll probably never love my breasts again. I’ll probably have many more moments where I’ll struggle to get dressed and wonder where the lovely, perky fullness has gone. But then I will remember the amazing things my body has gone through and the fact that I was able to feed my son – and, hopefully, this next baby – for many months. I did this for them. And then it won’t seem so bad.