I was looking at your first picture and thought to myself, "That is definitely tighter than 3a"...But then I read what you wrote and scrolled down and your curls did look very much like 3a. I had the damage and did the big chop...And mine as well did look more curly and less a puffy fried hair...stuff. It looks like my curl pattern almost.
You may find as your hair grows in and as you progress with CG that it becomes curlier like it used to be, so it may just give the illusion of being 3a. Or, like me, you may find that your hair texture has permanently changed from when you were younger. Puberty made my straight hair a 3a and my brother's straight hair into very tight 3b hair! His hair also turned very thick. It was the oddest thing. One of my high school friends also had curly hair when she was little and it became super straight as she got older.