Here is the sad story of a pregnant woman yearning for support and pain relief in apparently all the wrong places. It was a regular Sunday afternoon. It was cold and wet, and I was both excited and nervous to make my first pregnancy purchase. The crowds at the mall were mostly teenagers, elderly folks getting in their steps, and to my chagrin, pregnant women.
On a side note for all those who aren’t growing embryos, being pregnant itself is the weirdest feeling a person could have, especially in the beginning when you are just growing a clot of cells. You are still coming to terms with all the things you have to give up without the feeling of “motherhood” really setting in yet. This was before I had told my work colleagues, before my first OB appointment, and even before the dreaded morning sickness became the norm. It is a daunting time, and my boobs really hurt.
As a proud former mall employee doing seasonal jobs at both JC Penney and Charming Charlie, I was sure that there was a maternity store in the mall. I had considered online shopping but wanted the satisfaction of going to a place and admitting to strangers the secret I had been hiding from many of the people I love. I was also ready to tell a stranger because if I did miscarry, I would never see that person again or endure the “God has a plan” speech.
As I gazed upon the list of stores at ye olde Battlefield Mall, I couldn’t find the store I was looking for. According to Google, Motherhood Maternity is closed permanently. But I am at the mall, right? There are so many stores that sell so many niche items; how could one not have what I needed?
That is when the walk of shame began.
Why not head to an underwear store? Yes. of course. Let’s go to the most well-known one in the mall. Will my husband stand outside the store awkwardly? Sure! But that is his ordeal, and I have enough on my chest right now. So we go.
I walk into the store and look around at the lace and leather lining the walls. As soon as I see one of their doe-eyed employees, I ask where I can find maternity wear. She gave me a look of absolute terror, like I was a deranged grizzly bear who had walked into a honey shop. She looked around to see if anyone had heard and immediately shuffled me to the far back, dark, hidden corner of the store. And then she disappeared as if she were never there at all. Was I already so disgusting at eight weeks pregnant? Did I smell bad? Was this 16-year-old magic? We will never know.
Of the one type of bra they had for maternity, it seemed to be less for a feeding baby and more for the husband of a woman who also happened to be breastfeeding, if you catch my drift. This was not what I was looking for, and I was now feeling ashamed. I looked my partner in the eyes as I exited, and he knew without breaking eye contact, I had not found what I was looking for.
Our next destinations included each of the department stores, all of which made me extremely sad. My grandmother worked at a department store selling makeup her entire life telling me stories about all the fun people she met and the excitement of going to work every day. This was not what I was gazing upon. The stores are now in a state of disarray with little to no employees and havoc, where you could see a look of defeat on the faces of the few register workers left.
The underwear sections were either hard to find or had little to no inventory. I was able to ask a friendlier-looking female register worker if they knew of a place to get a maternity bra. She suggested the internet.
And I left the mall that day. No support for my engorged boobs. Feeling ashamed that I had even gone out into public. And wondering where the heck these pregnant ladies were getting their bras. Did a secret memo go out to them that I mistakenly didn’t get cc’ed on? Are they just wearing bigger bras? Am I living in a twilight zone where we say we care about the babies but forget about the people that carry those children to term?
In case you were wondering, I bought a bra online. It was fine. But I was hoping for something else. Is this motherhood?