The Incident of the Underwire

October 2007

After my third and final child, I figured my body was done changing shape and I had come to an angle of repose, as Stegner would say. Grandma asked what I needed for Christmas, and I was honest and said a bra. She gave me a gift certificate to JC Penney.

In January I took all three kids to JC Penney to go bra shopping. Tommy was in a stroller, as he was 7 months old, and the ladies were along for the ride, at 4 and nearly 3 years of age. JC Penney is apparently saving money on labor, as nobody works in the store except the check out clerk, from whom I borrowed a tape measure. I found a couple bras that I thought might come close, so we went to the fitting rooms. The handicap access one was locked. It was the only one with a door, so I chose the curtained room farthest from the changing area entrance. Then I was faced with a choice. I could close the curtain and leave Tommy outside in the hallway, or I could put the stroller in the changing room and change in the hallway, with a view of the entire store, or rather the entire store would have a view of me. My third alternative was leaving the curtain open and the stroller in the hallway. I tried this, but the ladies were being “active” and I had a hard time keeping an eye on them without chasing them down the hall while hooking a bra behind my back. I am somewhat modest, and although the store was pretty empty, it seemed a little risqué.

I finally gave up in disgust and bought my husband some long johns with the gift card. I told the cashier, when she asked if I had found everything I needed, that I had not found anyone to help me in the bra department. She said she was sorry but she had to stay at the cashier’s counter.

We proceeded down the mall to Victoria’s Secret. The lady put all four of us (and the stroller) in a changing room that was larger than a standard bedroom, with a locking door and everything. She measured me and found me some bras to try. She even gracefully side-stepped my question about the weird under-arm fat bulges which showed up in one particular style I had tried. I bought two bras, which cost more than the gift certificate had been by quite a bit, but the service and privacy were worth it.

I had quit nursing Tommy four or five weeks before bra shopping, thinking that things would be back to normal. About two weeks after the incident, I noticed it looked like I had a couple of golf balls rolling around in my new bras. Have I shrunk more? I don’t have a lot to lose in the first place!

I don’t know of course, since I am pregnant again. For some reason Sears was the only place to buy nursing bras in our town, and they quit carrying their maternity line. Actually nearly every store quit selling maternity clothes between Jane and Leo. You would think the third largest town in Nebraska would have enough customers to keep a maternity shop in business, or at least a place to buy something between WalMart (where I don’t shop) and Yonkers (which I can’t afford). Last week I bought two nursing bras through the JC Penney catalog (it was private, and of course they don’t carry any at the store). The catalog said buy your pre-pregnancy size. Can’t wait to see how that works out. It just doesn’t seem right. My old nursing bras are shot, and they never fit well in the first place. I would have asked about nursing bras at Victoria’s Secret, but I had asked during my first pregnancy and found out that breastfeeding was not her secret.

I am not actually reading the book, but it looks good.  Will have to check out the library.

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