My daughter is napping. In the few weeks I have been a mother I have learnt there is lots that can be achieved in these brief periods of rest. Like putting away a wash or making a cup of tea with ninja levels of precision so no rattling teaspoon wakes her or buying a strapless bra and some support knickers. It’s the last one I’m doing today.
I’m in Brent Cross, in the Marks and Spencer changing rooms. A saleswoman is asking me if I want her to leave so I can take off my top in private. As she’s going to see me without my t-shirt on, and in my manky maternity bra once she comes back, I tell her not to waste her time and to stay. Before giving birth I would never have felt comfortable doing this. Now, I don’t care who sees me naked. This body grew a person, this body is a fucking miracle.
After my boobs are measured with minimal fuss, the saleswoman drapes the measuring tape around her neck. Her elbow nudges the handle of the pram. We both startle, expecting screams which mercifully do not come. In a whisper she tells me my new, huge bra size and that this glut of bosom shall be short-lived. My soon-to-be shrivelled breasts are mentioned as a warning not to spend a lot of money on something I will get little use from. She leaves to get a selection of low priced bras and pants. Alone in the dressing room I wonder if she is a mother too.
Tiptoeing back inside, the saleswoman hangs a selection of beige undergarments on a rail next to the mirror. I am handed a bra and a pair of size 16 support pants to try on. She turns her back whilst I put on the bra. In the interests of hygiene I have to force the pants over the ones I am already wearing.
When they are on I look at my reflection, “These aren’t sucking me in at all.” My stomach is no flatter in appearance, it stays the same empty yet flabby belly it was before. “They’re too big. Maybe I should try the 12? I would have taken a 10 or a 12 before I had her.”
“Well that was before, wasn’t it?” Her eyes slice into mine before drifting to my belly and back to my face. “Things have changed.”
The woman tuts to herself and clears the rail of too large pants. Her elbow whacks the side of the pram. Whimpers of waking folllow straight afterwards before turning into shrill screams. The woman is right, it’s not like before.