It is only after having a child that I learned how deep into the alphabet the letters on bra labels run. Most of my life I had a D cup — a point of shame and frustration at school and of pride later on in life.

I never had a flat stomach or the kind of butt that makes headlines and requires insurance, but my breasts were always there for me when it came to making heads turn. Although D cup, as much as seemingly desirable by many women, can bring about a lot of challenges. 

I can never wear a dress with an open back or one of those bikinis that have two tiny triangles on top. Strapless and adhesive bras in bigger sizes are a joke. Wrap dresses require a pin to hold the sides together. And going sans bra has been out of reach since I was twelve. 

I used to look at models with their perky boobs, the outline of nipples showing through a silk blouse, strut on the runway, and think that if I ever tried to pull this stunt my boobs would be all over the place. 

First of all, you wouldn’t find the outline of nipples where you’d expect them to be. D cup means your nipples are much closer to the belly button than they are to the collarbone. And if I strut, they jump up and down so vigorously that it physically hurts. 

My boobs were never small or perky. But I loved them anyways. Especially, once I learned how to choose correctly-fitting bra. It was 36D most of my life. 

seven magic mountains installation
Around the time when I lost 10 kilos and downsized to cup C. My boobs are almost perky.

At 27 I downsized to cup C after loosing ten kilos. C cup is still impressive enough in a décolleté dress, but much lighter and easier to deal with. Spending money on new bras — as exciting as it was — was a waste, though, because eventually my boobs returned to their familiar size and stayed that way until I got pregnant. 

In the first trimester I had to say bye-bye to my trusty D cup as it was not ready for what was coming its way. My boobs were spilling out of the bra like bread dough after a good proof. As Lilly in How I Met Your Mother noted, “I got my pregnancy boobs! I’m in that sweet spot where the chestal area knows I’m pregnant, but hasn’t told the downstairs neighbor.” 

In the third trimester my boobs grew yet again — this time along with other parts of my body. I went shopping for maternity bras as close to the delivery date as possible, rightfully thinking that my postpartum milk-engorged boobs will be even bigger. But how much bigger, though? I reasoned that a bra with a wire would be the last thing on earth I’d want to wear after delivery, so I went for soft and comfy maternity tops. I grabbed size XL at H&M, the biggest one available. 

Six months pregnant, devouring a breakfast in Istanbul.

Fast forward a few weeks and you’ll see me quizzically looking at myself in the mirror, wearing a maternity top that covered about one eighth of my chest. At that point I wasn’t sure anymore what my size was — not that I wanted to figure it out — but it certainly wasn’t XL. Far from it. 

I kept wearing those tops anyways because in the first month of having your first baby there’s hardly enough time to take a shower, let alone go shopping for bras. My boobs kept falling out of the damn thing day and night, especially night. 

Maybe you already know it, but it came as a complete surprise to me, that I had to sleep in a bra. You have to stuff the breast pads somewhere because otherwise you’ll wake up in a pool of milk in the morning. 

As I lay on my side breastfeeding, the top boob (because when you are on your side it’s top and bottom, not left and right) would fall out of the bra under the influence of gravity. And no amount of trying to tuck it back in helped. Eventually I’d give up and fall asleep, the bra underdone, boobs scattered in opposite directions, milk everywhere. Must have been a sight to behold for my husband in the morning. 

When Kroshka was about two months I’d finally had enough. It’s one thing to walk around the house, boobs flailing, it’s completely different when you go out and want to look decent. Let’s not aim for great or even well here. Decent is quite enough in those first months. 

No matter how much make up I am wearing, how well my hair is styled and how expensive the dress is, it is the underwear that gives me the ultimate confidence. Brand-new lacy bra — although invisible to everyone, but me — has a power to straighten my shoulders, open my chest, lift my chin and even make me a bit taller somehow. 

It’s always the little things hidden away under layers of clothes: a naughty bra under a thick sweater or fresh pedicure in winter. You know no-one else knows it’s there, but you do know. And that’s enough. 

So off I went one winter day to a lingerie shop that I spotted on my walks around the Old Town. It was one of those high end shops where assistants have a measuring tape hanging around their neck, so you know your boobs are in good hands. 

In the dressing room, I took off my sweater and awkwardly tried to pull my maternity top so it covers as much area as possible. The assistant seemed nonchalant about my poor bra choices as she was taking the measurements. 

— Your size is 75J.

— J? As in… A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I… J?

— Yes.

— You don’t mean G, by any chance? It’s J?

— Yes.

Maybe in German alphabet J is not so far from A, I thought. Maybe her English is not good and she really means G. Before this moment the largest bra size I’ve heard of was G. Apparently, there’s also H, I and J. Are there K, L and M? What about X, Y, Z? Where does it stop? 

The bra she brought a minute later fit me perfectly. I asked her to cut off the label so I don’t have to put my Barbie-sized top ever again. I left the shop feeling all kinds of feelings. Feeling good as my boobs were well-supported, comfortable and, most importantly, visibly higher. Feeling confused as to how they could jump from cup D to cup J in one year. But it must be said, that I still didn’t quite believe J meant J. Until I had to take a picture. 

Soon after the discovery of my bra size I signed up for a three-week course to learn how to do face massage. I am fully aware of how it sounds and still think it was a good investment. Before the start of the course, I had to take pictures in order to track progress. The photos were supposed to be taken at daylight, with no makeup, and hair pulled up. As for the outfit — a bra or a swimsuit top were ideal choices. I wore my new maternity bra.

My husband took several photos of me: front and profile view. And it is at the moment when I looked at myself on those photos that I truly realized how I’ve changed. Looking back at me from those photos was a woman who gave birth and breastfed her child for several months. Her breasts were large. J-size kinda large. 

I see my boobs every day. I just need to look down or in the mirror. But I never really saw them as they were before taking that photo.

“My boobs are not a young girl’s boobs anymore”, I told my husband. “My boobs are not a young girl’s boobs.”

So much sadness was in that realization. I never wanted to turn back time and live through my twenties again as good as they were. My every year is better than the previous one. And even this stupid year is still better than ever because it is the first year I get to spend with my little boy. 

But seeing the metamorphosis in my appearance, perhaps, for the first time in my life realizing that my looks are going to change and this is just the beginning, was saddening. It takes time to come to terms with this realization.

I am not a young girl anymore, I am woman and a mother. My breasts are neither perky, nor do they fit in the palm of a hand nicely. But they are soft and cozy. My breasts give food and comfort to my baby. Is there anything more beautiful than a body that can nourish another life?

Ok, Emily Ratajkowski’s breasts are pretty stunning. But mine are up there too, among the many versatile pairs of small, large, pointy, asymmetrical, round, teardrop, perky beautiful boobies.