If you are a reader of my blog, than you know my pet name for my gorgeous baby daughter, Tiny. She got that nickname when I brought her home and looked into her little eyes and studied her perfect little hands and feet and marveled at the fact that this precious little doll was a tiny human. MY tiny human. At the time, she was a robust 9 lb little butterball, the picture of a healthy little baby.
Then she got sick, and she went into the hospital, and rather than tell you all of the horrible experiences we had there, I will skip all the negativity and say that her weight took a drastic nose dive. She got taller, but she just stopped gaining…
As time progressed, though I noticed that all my mommy friends were posting pictures of their babies growing. My facebook feed was full of photos of round faced little cherubs with pink chubby cheeks and chunky legs. But my tiny was still… tiny….
At first I wasn’t too alarmed: I mean babies all have their own way of doing things right? Some crawl at 4 months. some don’t crawl until a year or even more! Tiny was just smaller than the other babies. She was still getting taller, she just wasn’t putting on weight. No big deal right? After all, her blood work looked good when we came home from the birth center.
Then came the comments:
She’s so little! Wow, she’s 6 months old? I thought she was a lot younger. Do you feed her? She’s so tiny Tiny TINY!!!!!
And suddenly, Tiny being tiny started to be a bad thing. It was no longer a cute name we had for our daughter, it became a reminder of the fact that she was smaller than the other babies her age. It became a source of extreme worry for me as her mother…
The way I saw it, if THAT many people were concerned, that surely there was cause for concern right? I mean people don’t just SAY these things do they? Part of me thought there was some truth to the whole thing, but part of me thought that maybe people were overreacting. I scoured the internet for answers; There were lots of similar stories but none exactly the same as mine.
She WAS hitting all the milestones…She WAS smiling and cooing and laughing. She WAS and IS a happy baby. I decided I was happy with that.
Then something awful happened: I received a phone call from a family member who told me that she wasn’t happy with the way my daughter’s pictures looked on Facebook. She said she looked too skinny and accused me of not feeding her! Not feeding her? I had done extensive research that said a baby’s main source of nutrients for the first year is breast milk or formula and that solids at that point are just kind of an added bonus. Mr. Wright and I had decided to feed Tiny these foods sparingly; to let her try them but not to mash them up and feed them to her like a smoothie. This method of food training is called Baby Led Weaning. (weaning from the British term meaning “to add complimentary foods” not to slowly replace) This FAMILY member, went so far as to tell me that I was messing up my child- further still that she thought me an unfit mother.
I hung up the phone absolutely dumbfounded. How could this person, who knew me so well, accuse me of starving my baby? Why was this happening to me? Why was this happening to us? I sat there on the couch and cried for a long time.
Then, when I was done feeling sorry for myself, I was angry. I was angry because I KNOW that I take very good care of Tiny. I KNOW that I make all the choices I do in her best interest. The person who doesn’t know.. is the family member who is 1000 miles away in Boston, trying to tell me how to parent my child.
I made an appointment with Tiny’s pediatrician and we talked about the issues. She spits up a lot, she isn’t gaining. We tried a few different things: we tried a few formulas, we tried pumped milk, we tried adding foods, and still no real gain.. Then he wanted me to stop nursing her and just do the bottle and that didn’t really help,so after all of those options were exhausted Dr. R decided to put her on medicine for acid reflux. I started weighing her twice a day and trying to feed her more, more solids, a few extra ounces of formula or breast milk, snacks in between. I became obsessed with her putting on the pounds and slowly watched them melt off of me. Every time I weighed her, I had to weigh myself with her and then alone and subtract the difference. She was gaining ounces, but I was slowly disappearing.
I also was told to chart her food intake. She had to eat every three hours but not before then. Vegetables three times a day but not within an hour of milk, and plenty of snacks, but not ones that would make her go the bathroom. She had to consume at least 6oz each feeding. I did this diligently for 2 weeks until her follow up appointment.
The result? Tiny is still Tiny. She is a happy healthy TINY little baby. She loves to snuggle and play and has started to say fun ,magical music -to -our -ears sounding words like Mama, and Dada. But yeah, at 8 months old she is still Tiny. As for that family member? I forgave her, but I am very careful now about what I say to her regarding Tiny’s progress.
We still get people who ask how old she is, and look absolutely taken aback when I tell them she is 4 months away from being 1. I still cringe every time I hear someone tell me how little she is, but I remember that I know this baby better than anyone else. I am her Mommy and I should have listened to my instincts Her weight is steadily increasing and that is all that really matters in the long run. As for the naysayers who tell me I need to feed her more fat or plumb her up, I just smile and yes them to death. I realize this is just the beginning of a long line of worries this mom is going to have about her baby girl. We go for a weight check tomorrow and I am not going to let myself worry anymore.. not about this anyway!