It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that children come in all shapes and sizes. And even though I’ve had the good fortune to parent three sweet, healthy little babies, having a child who is a bit different from the rest of the world has its hard moments.
There are billions of ways for a child to be different…but this post is specifically about size – truly an insignificant thing on which to dwell, I realize.
When you are the sole person in charge of growing and nourishing your young ones, there’s a lot of pressure. What you feed them is keeping them alive and thriving, or not. I wanted my ample supply of breast milk to make each of my babies blossom. I wanted my home-pureed fruits and veggies to fuel them and create baby rolls. Okay, I’ll just say it. I wanted a fat baby. Every mama/dada just wants to provide for their baby.
If I’m being truly honest, I guess I would have been satisfied with an average-sized baby. But God absolutely BLESSED me with perfectly healthy tiny humans. My babies were born average, at 7 lbs, 7.5 lbs and just under 8 lbs. They grew each year; they just didn’t grow fast. And it seemed that everywhere I looked, all the other babies grew fast.
So many times I’ve taken my child (all three of them) to the pediatrician’s office for his/her regularly scheduled well visit. I have eagerly placed their adorable, soft bodies on the baby scale and awaited its results. In those earliest days of being a mom, I was so smitten with my children that I never recognized how very tiny they were. My eyes were focused on the number. What glorious number would it display?! Surely this baby or that baby has gained 2 whole pounds since our last visit, I thought. Anticipation got the best of me. Each and every time, my babies (all three of them) had barely gained weight. They were gaining, but their percentiles on the growth chart crept downward over time.
Within their first year of life, each baby would begin at 50th or 60th percentile on the weight spectrum and would end at 2nd percentile. That means that my children weigh more than only 2 out of 100 babies, and weighed less than 98 out of 100 babies.
When I type it out, it doesn’t actually seem like that big of a deal.
But as it played out in the real world (not just a statistic on a growth chart), bigger babies were everywhere. In fact, I never once met a baby smaller than one of my own babies (of similar age). I never sat my 8-month-old down next to another 8-month-old and they matched. My baby was always the runt. My fear was that other parents thought I wasn’t doing enough for my child.
My children were never “diagnosed” as failure to thrive. I recognize that the problem of being small isn’t an actual problem. My babies still showed adequate growth and development. I had so much to be grateful for in my smart, healthy, happy, good-sleeping babies.
But still that didn’t keep me from feeling a stab of guilt, or something, every time a stranger asked how old my baby was. Or jealousy every time friends and relatives shared photos of their little ones’ baby rolls.
My youngest child, Cameron, just celebrated 19 months this week. She still hasn’t reached 19 pounds. She still wears 12 months clothing. She’s just so durn itty bitty. Like, teensy tiny, light as a feather, could probably still be swaddled if I tried.
I’m absolutely certain that each of us parents wishes we did something better, whatever that something may be. So many times that something is just out of our control. Though I long for a chunky baby, I do try to focus on what makes my tiny baby unique and amazing. I pray that each and every parent can join me in celebrating what we have.