Almost a year ago, (that’s so hard to believe!) I gave birth to a BIG baby. A more than nine pounds, more than 21 inches long, huge bundle of joy. Nate and I had been expecting a big guy, but this surprised us and our doctors. Lying in the hospital with my sweet little guy, I wouldn’t have expected that we’d have 9 months of weight checks because of his size.
My Big Baby
When a big baby is born (in a hospital, at least), they do a heel prick every few hours to be sure that blood sugar is okay. This broke my heart for newborn Baby E. When he was only a few hours old, nurses came in to prick his heel and weigh him. “Hmmm,” the nurse said as she weighed him. “He lost almost a half pound already. Maybe he was weighed wrong.” Baby E didn’t have a lot of wet diapers, so it wasn’t all water weight. He ate really well, too. A nurse told us another story where a baby weighed in a 7-pounds at birth, but was actually less than 6 pounds. The scale wasn’t calibrated. I was sad that I didn’t actually know how much my baby weighed at birth, but he was healthy so I was thankful!
By the time we left the hospital, Baby E weighed almost a pound less than his “birth weight.” I was told that he probably had been closer to 8 pounds, 9 ounces at birth, so his weight loss was likely a few ounces. As a breastfeeding veteran, I knew he was doing fine. But our doctor wasn’t happy. Suddenly, my big baby had been marked with “failure to thrive.”
Over the next week, two nurses came to our house to weigh Baby E. Each time, he had gained weight, but grew taller, too. This kept his BMI low. When we went to the doctors to have him weighed at about two weeks old, he weighed over nine pounds. This still wasn’t good enough.
Throughout the next few months, E continued to eat like a champ and grow like crazy. He remained tall and lean. He wore 3-6 month clothes by 2 months old. By 6 months, he weighed 16 pounds, but it still wasn’t measuring up to the weight charts.
When E started eating solids at 6 months, our doctor started to feel better about his weight. I was told to mix avocado into his apple sauce to bulk him up. E started sleeping through the night, so I felt pressured to feed him more during the day.
Finally, by 9 months, E’s BMI made it to an acceptable place. He was in the 100th percentile for height, and about the 35th percentile for weight. His BMI finally registered as an actual percentage. We were dismissed from monthly weight checks.
Anyone who met E in those 9 months said, “What a big guy!” He looked well-fed and well-loved: very much loved. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was somehow failing my baby. Loved ones and friends said that I shouldn’t worry. But I did.
I wish I had realized this:weight charts are a baby’s first introduction to comparison. They’re made up of averages of other babies’ weights. Even though my gut and people I trusted (some of them nurses!) told me that my baby was healthy, I succumbed to comparison.
I’m glad I realized that when Baby E was still so young. I don’t want to compare my babies to others. Other people don’t determine their value.
I’m done asking questions like, “How much does your baby weigh?”
“How much does he eat?”
Done with questions not related to weight like, “How does he sleep at night?”
I’m done asking, “Does she walk yet?”
I’ll stop saying things like, “When H was a baby, she did this instead.”
In a world that loves to see how we measure up against others, I’m not going to do that to my baby anymore.