"What kind of woman has boobs like that?" I remember wondering as I stared at a detailed breastfeeding diagram in a thick baby care book during the early stages of pregnancy with my first child. The woman's breast sloped and sagged into a shape resembling a popped balloon. The deflated boobs looked nothing like my small, perky breasts.
Three years later, that kind of woman is me. Almost A's (for 24 years) to brimming D's (each time I breastfed) to slumping B's (now). My breasts no longer fill out the jumbo nursing bras I wore through two babies, but the lacy A-cup bras I recently excavated from the back of the drawer cut painful red patterns into my back. Maternity panties fall off my newly flattened bottom, but my ruffled thongs seem garishly out of style.
So, two years and ten months after the birth of my first daughter, I finally summoned the courage to walk into Victoria's Secret again. Hours later, I returned home sheepishly clutching a Pink striped bag filled with panties that—if nothing else—at least fit properly.
My husband's reaction was so good that I went back the next day.
"I'll take the kids," he said. "You go."
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I felt sexy enough to wear dipping necklines on dinner dates and mini bikinis at the neighborhood pool. But then my body started changing, subtly but surely—my belly became a cozy home for a precious person; my arms became a cradle, my breasts a warm restaurant.
I had been a jeans-and-pony-tail kind of girl by day, a funky-dress-and-strappy-sandals girl by night. I wasn't afraid to use my body to attract attention, adopt an image or create pleasure—like wearing a body-hugging shirt underneath my tailored work suit or cooking dinner in a thong. As the baby began kicking in my second trimester, wearing a sports bra and running shorts out on a jog no longer felt sexy—it seemed inappropriate. Even if my tummy bump barely showed, I was someone's mother.