Swollen, round, with blue veins meandering like tributaries pumping warm milk to a single fount. Boobs had never been so functional yet so painful than during those early days of motherhood. Breastfeeding my child was my choice, a choice to endure the shocking sensation of stabbing needles when she first latched on. Every two hours my breasts would balloon up to a DD cup or beyond, rubbing against my upper arms in a way my would-be-C cup would never get used to. After another round feeding, they’d deflate back down to a B cup, then inflate all over again.
Victoria could no longer hold my lactating secrets as my breasts expanded by the hour. I needed something that could change with my body while securing leak pads in place. Enter: the glorious invention that is the maternity bra. Made of elastic and cotton, it stretched smoothly across the mountains that grew across my chest without restricting them to a single shape. Secured by simple clips, it could effortlessly peel and unpeel with only one hand as the other cradles an infant. Designed with function and convenience in mind, this bra was everything I needed to feel supported both physically and mentally as I learned to nourish my child.
How intimately it was attached to me like a second skin that first year. It was my uniform to suit my new duty as a mother caring for an unpredictable tiny human. The feeling of pins and needles would eventually morph into a sensation of intimate bonding with my daughter that lasted 14 beautiful months.
Almost five years have passed since my child latched on for the very last time. My daughter is now almost six. Like clockwork every spring during my Marie Kondo kick, I take the bra out and count how many years it’s been since I strapped it on. Flashbacks overtake me, visions of the slow afternoons as my child and I lay sideways in bed facing each other, her suckling as she dozed off into afternoon slumber while I gazed at her thick eyelashes.
Motherhood unfolded itself for me through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was a reprieve, the moments of silence between colic and deep bouts of postpartum depression that brought me and my daughter to a peaceful place together.
I ultimately tuck the maternity bra back in my drawer to spend another year completely out of sight. I hold onto this bra thinking one day, perhaps, I will need it again. The bra represents my past and even potential future. Now a bit too stretchy but still effortlessly snappy, it reminds me of how my body morphed miraculously throughout that first year of motherhood. Keeping the elastic, cotton, clip-on cups is a physical symbol of my choice — maybe one day I will decide to do it all again. Or maybe not.
Collage by Madeline Montoya.