My boobs (breasts if you’d like to be more formal) and I had a shaky start. I was 10 and my Aunt Floss, who was not subtle, said, “She has a couple of bee stings, suppose she’s developing”. I pricked up my ears and regarded my hand-knitted sweater, then I felt a blush start; I was mortified. My mother had a magnificent prow-like bosom, and measured about 44F cup, which is big. The unwanted attention was not making me feel good. I wondered if I’d be like my mother.
It was a long time before I even had anything to put in a bra, but a delightful cultured aunt on my dad’s side took me to a little haberdashery and bought me the prettiest bra ever, it was blue and lacy and had flowers. By then I was 13 and knew I would never emulate my mother and her generous figure.
It was the time of the sweater girl, tight sweaters and circle stitched bras, pointed bosoms, and cleavage on the films. There was an actress called Sabrina, and of course Diana Dors was also well known. I realised I was more the Audrey Hepburn size and would never be known for my dangerous curves. I made up for it in the hip department, as I had a very small waist, I measured 23 and my hips were 39. Now I think the waist is 39 (or whatever horrendous figure that is in centimetres)! My husband, when I met him, was more a leg man anyway, I had the legs then. Still have them now, but just more of them.
Pregnancy was a mind-blowing experience in so many ways. The horrible sickness was a shock, but once that was over I revelled in my new found curves; I had a bust that stood proud and had increased to double its size. I was also very lucky as I didn’t have a huge baby bump, so I felt pretty good when I regarded my new figure. This of course was short-lived as the tummy eventually caught up and around eight months I was looking very much as if I might be about to produce.
Then the next phase in my story of mammaries; I attempted to feed my new baby, and it was a struggle. The new experience was hard to deal with. I was a new bride in New Zealand, no family, no support system and my husband obviously had to work. No parental leave in those days. A rather glum nurse came to visit, and I kept doing the wrong thing according to her. But I persisted. Then I got to know my body, and was delighted to realise it actually worked. I had moved into a brand new house with the new baby. Our house was completed the same week, so as our daughter arrived, my husband moved in while I recovered.
I look back and remember those winter days, when the weak sun streamed in and I listened to the radio. There was a woman called Aunt Daisy on NZ radio then, a delightfully manic old lady who I learned so much about cooking from. “Just let the water smile, not laugh,” she would say, “Let it boil gently, then put the fruit in”. I also used the stories to time Kerry’s feeds. One section of ‘Portia Faces Life’ as I fed my baby with one side, then change to the other side for ‘The Hospital’ serial. I became calmer and somehow managed to feed her for six months. My breasts had done the right thing; I also fed the other two children but for very short spell. I felt I owed them that start and although I didn’t keep it up they had a few weeks or so, which we are told might make a difference to the immune system.
The funniest and most telling moment for me was when I actually had to borrow my mother’s huge bra. I had my third child when I returned to England. My son, Ross, was a big baby, nine pounds nine ounces, and my body seemed to be trying to deal with that. My breasts became huge, from tiny little B cup to a swollen painful F cup. So life went full circle for a while I was like my mother. It didn’t last, but I am quite happy with my small bosom. At least there is less to travel south. I can run without hitting myself in the eye and I can still see my feet.
On a serious note, I am 79 now and have had three friends who had breast cancer. Two survived. I still have a mammogram every two years and will do so until I am at least 80. Our bosom can be our friend, just make sure you are aware of any changes in yours.