Let’s go back a little over three years. Picture this … a new mom frazzled and out to eat. A stranger approaches and the following conversation happens … “How old is your baby? A couple weeks?” I pause and respond: “No, he’s actually 3 months.” Random person … “Really? He is SO small and skinny. Is he eating enough, was he a preemie? I just can’t get over how little he is.”
Yep. That happened all the time with my son.
I always stood there just sort of shocked and speechless. Why are you commenting on his size? What if he did have a medical condition? What if he was a preemie? I certainly do not go up to people asking them how much they weigh or how old they are. Of course at night I’d come up with lots of witty responses back.
Yes, he is “smaller,” and he’s never been at the top of the percentile, but someone has to be on the top of the chart and some are on the bottom. I can’t even begin to tell you how often we heard comments on his size. I own that I’m sensitive, and particularly sensitive to this topic!
What these strangers (sometimes not strangers) didn’t know is that he struggled with weight gain in the beginning. He lost more than 10% of his birth weight so we supplemented, did SNS (supplemental nursing system), met with lactation consultants and our pediatrician. I was a regular at a breastfeeding support group (a godsend) to establish nursing and get him gaining. I neurotically tracked nursing sessions and every wet and dirty diaper. It was exhausting and draining.
But, we got there and got through that hurdle and were able to breastfeed for 14 months. It was a struggle those first few weeks, but then he was gaining perfectly. I was thrilled of course, but that extremely rocky and emotional start led me to be very insecure about his weight and my supply. Oddly enough, I struggled with a very fast letdown but my kid didn’t show that! #champagneproblems
I questioned my supply constantly since he wasn’t a roly-poly babe, and it seemed that everyone commented on his size (or so it felt like that). But he was absolutely perfect. He met all of his milestones on time and we, as well as our pediatrician, were thrilled; he followed HIS curve. Even at age 3. he is far from being at the top of the charts, but again following his curve and gaining, developing and growing perfectly!
I mean, how taboo would it be if I asked someone what their BMI is, how much they weigh, how old they are and what size dress they wear? When I would replay conversations in my head, I always wanted to respond with those questions. And the snarky side of me always wanted to say, “Well, what is your excuse?” Maybe I should start asking that.
I found myself defending him like all moms would. I’d even go as far as sharing, “when I pump and my husband gives him a bottle, he never takes the 4 ounces, he always will take 3 ounces or maybe 3.5 ounces.” Now I wonder why I wasted my breath on that. He is who he is and he knew how much he wanted! Why is it that so many people have an opinion on my kid’s size? Or criticize it?
Fast forward to last fall, as I was in line at CVS after leaving my daughters 2-month appointment. I was feeling great about her weight and not as stressed/frazzled as I did my son’s first year thanks to people constantly telling me how small he was. Our pediatrician and I talked about how I just have long and lean babies. A woman approached me and said, “Awww she is so beautiful.” And then it came again. “How many days old is she? She is so tiny.” I just don’t get it. Not every baby has rolls on rolls, and my babies certainly don’t! She is following HER curve (which happens to be the same as her brothers) and meeting milestones.
I am sure peoples comments are not meant to be hurtful. Perhaps they are trying to strike a conversation, connect or they simply haven’t seen a baby in a long time. People forget how little babies can be. All babies are adorable, with or without rolls. And as adults, don’t we come in all shapes and sizes, so naturally babies will, too!
Can we please just not comment one each other’s sizes? NO matter how old. You have no idea what a mama might be feeling or experiencing. Just leave it at “What a beautiful baby!” And then let the mama gloat on about their perfect child.