Please stop telling me my baby is fat…

ViviandMommyAugust2017

 

I will say it again, because I have been quiet about this for too long. That ends now.

Please stop telling me my baby is fat.

Please stop saying she is chunky or chubby or roly poly or “look at the little fat rolls” or or saying things to comment on her body size and shape.

So, I have thought long and hard about this post. I realize people do NOT have malicious intent when they say these mindless things and they can’t know how painful each comment is because I don’t tell them, I just smile and say nothing.

Dying inside, because they can’t possibly know that our little girl has had rapid weight gain since she was born, and no matter what we do, she keeps gaining too much weight. Our pediatricatian has had us cut back her formula and add solid foods in hopes that there would be more empty calories which would cause her to lose weight. After a few months of this, she has now sent us to an endocrinologist to try to find out what’s going on and to hopefully get some answers. We had to get her blood drawn last Wednesday and are awaiting results.

Maybe it’s nothing, maybe she is just large for her age (she was 11 pounds 8 ounces when she was born) and after she starts walking the pounds will come right off. Maybe she is producing too much growth hormone and we will have to give her medicine for it.

I don’t know. I do know I don’t want to have to explain to you why I burst into tears or fall quiet when you call my child chubby.

It certainly could have something to do with the fact that I was called chubby or fat most of my life, and it’s only now at 40 years old I have come to terms with the fact that I am the shape that I am and it is beautiful.

I desperately want to avoid that for her. I want her to be healthy and happy and love herself just as she is. The lesson I hope to impart to her is that it is a good idea to eat well and exercise and to eat a cookie or candy bar here and there, everything in moderation.

That’s how I approach my eating and health and what I hope to teach her. I am likely getting way ahead of myself here, since the her in question is 10 months old today and not even talking yet, but you have to think about these things when you are a parent. They are always watching you, and as the saying goes, “More is caught than taught, so that is why when she was born, I agreed to no longer say mean things about my body and do all I could to love my whole self and no longer think of myself as “fat” but rather curvaceous, voluptuous, and lush.

I want to be CRYSTAL clear here.  This does not preclude me from working on my body in the hope that I can build healthy habits that I can pass on to my daughter someday.

In order to do that, I have to “begin as I mean to continue” so that means I have to form the habit myself so that is why I swim. It makes me feel good, is low impact on my knees and back. I also get a “kickstart” to my day that caffeine can’t come close to touching.

Back to my point, please don’t call my child (or any child for that matter) chubby or chunky — instead maybe comment on her smile or how smart she seems or her hair or her outfit. I would imagine the parents with children who are “skinny” get tired of hearing those comments too, “feed that kid a sandwich!” “Doesn’t mommy feed you? (actually overheard at the store, the woman’s reacton was to start nursing so well played to her) so think before you say something about the size and shape of a child you see. I know, it seems harmless and you really aren’t trying to hurt my feelings or upset me, but unfortunately that doesn’t lessen the impact of your words.

This article referenced from Huffington Post actually spells it out pretty well-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-koppelkam/body-image_b_3678534.html

One of my favourite passages is this one-

“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one:

Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.”

 

Think About It.

8/3/2017 Update- Thank you ALL for your prayers, comments and well wishes! We heard back from the doctor- no issues with her hormone production, we have a follow up with the pediatrician next week to get a weight check and find out if we are on track.

Why Do You Post? To inspire joy or jealousy?

viv6
Dear Readers,
“She doesn’t have to smile..” I say this whenever anyone takes a picture of my child, mostly when I am holding her. I often have to remind myself of this when I take pictures of her.
She smiles a lot, which doesn’t require documentation, it’s nice when I get a picture where she happens to be smiling, AND I am learning to really put that camera down and live “in the moment” with her. Get on the floor and roll around with her instead of trying to take that perfect picture or get the perfect angle, because guess what, that isn’t life.. That’s a highlight reel of me showing you the best of my life so you start to compare your life to mine.
As I have said over and over again on this blog, I do my best to be authentic with you so I am telling you what’s true for me this week.
Monday was a very hard day for us, even more so for Vivienne since she got her 6 month vaccinations and in this visit our truly wonderful pediatrician told us we were feeding her too much food.
Ouch.
This is a hard thing to hear. So you mean after all the trouble I had with breastfeeding where I worried that I wasn’t feeding her enough, now I finally get that working ( going strong on 4 months now) and now you tell me I am OVERFEEDING her? Come on!!!
I got very upset and irrational because well, I started to compare her to other kids her size/age (forgetting she was 11 pounds when she first arrived!!!)  and say to myself, “We should have known…. what is wrong with us?” and other really unhelpful synaptic leaps. Over the last week, I have taken some time to really think about it, my first feeling was guilt. I said to myself, “We have been overfeeding her, it’s our fault, we suck as parents. Yep, that’s it, you are done, you have already screwed up your child.
I am not saying it was rational, I am saying it was my first reaction. Then after I sat with it awhile and we talked it out with the doctor, we made a new plan to feed her less, and logic started to take over and these thoughts came through-
1. We are new at this (and this is the hard part)– we are going to make mistakes.
2. How could we possibly know we were overfeeding her – Hello- it’s not like she can say “Mommy, I am full, please take away the food”?
And then, acceptance, – So we now know it’s a problem, what are we going to do about it?

At the end of the day, all that you and I can do is our best, every day to be as true to ourselves as possible and try really hard to not get caught up in the comparison game and start using other people as a measuring stick to what our child is doing or not doing in their life journey.

It’s never been more necessary to live a more realized and authentic life. I ran across a great interview with Simon Sinek discussing how dependent we are on our phones to wake, to notify us, to message us, to stimulate us and it’s all a vicious cycle because as soon as I take my perfect picture, I post my perfect picture and tag my perfect picture and then wait to see how many likes, loves, and comments (oh the comments) I get because each one is validation that my life is perfect and that everyone wants to be like me. Hold on, we have some falsehoods going on there.

First. I am not perfect.

Second. My life is not perfect

Third. My marriage is not perfect.

Fourth. My child is certainly not perfect.

Which begs the question, Why are we doing this?

What good does it do for me to post the “perfect picture” never mind that it took about 15 shots to get the right angle and the right expression to show you how perfect my life or my baby is which she is not.

Subscribing to this idea is what drives us nuts and the comparison game is senseless because there is NO finish line in this race.

I am saying it here and now, I am done with that kind of competition. Observe this very real, very unperfect picture. She is eating the dress and not even looking at the camera.

It’s hard because I want to take pictures of my baby, or myself or my shoes or my feet and get that perfect angle but it’s exhausting to try to hold yourself to that kind of standard and so I am done with the competition and the games. It’s going to be a progression of things.. like maybe I will reach for the phone to take her picture, but then put it back down again and really “be” with her. Or maybe, I will pick up the phone and take a picture but not try to get her to smile and just snap the picture when something strikes me as memorable. Progress is the goal, not perfection

I am the best mother that I can be for Vivienne, I am perfect in the sense that I am her flawed, complex and learning-how-to-do-this-all-important-job-of-motherhood one roller coaster day at a time. She is a happy baby, and she doesn’t have to smile in all her pictures to prove it.

Before you post your next picture – stop and think about it…and ask yourself- “Why am I posting this picture?” Is my goal to inspire joy or jealousy?

Think About It.

 

 

Dear Parents, Can we agree to stop judging each other?

Dear Readers,

I have to be totally honest about this. Before I had my daughter, I really didn’t care about breastfeeding, but I took the class and went through the motions with the plastic baby and took copious notes in class and thought to myself, I am not going to to get worried about this because I really don’t know what is going to happen, it’s different for everyone, and right now I am just freaking out about the fact that with every childbirthing class, this whole idea of A LIFE YOU ARE BRINGING INTO THE WORLD IS REALLY NOT JUST AN IDEA BUT A PERSON WHO WILL CRY AND SLEEP AND EAT IS ACTUALLY going to be here and soon!!!!

So I told myself, it’s a natural thing, but I don’t know if she will or won’t so I am not going to worry about it, because until she is here, we don’t know how things will go.

So I reiterate, I didn’t care about breastfeeding. That is until they told me just hours after she was born that we had to supplement with formula because my milk had not fully come in yet. So less than 24 hours as a mom, and I already sucked at it. Totally irrational? yes. How I felt? yes.

So I sat in the hospital bed and tired and sleepy and miserable. I started to cry because the most “natural” thing in the world, wasn’t happening. She was losing weight so it was pretty urgent for us to supplement, I kept telling myself it was ridiculous to be so upset about something that just 24 hours ago I hadn’t cared about at all.

It is maddening and frustrating to have such mercurial mood swings but hey, that is hormones for you. So we supplemented that first night, and I used the nipple shield and kept trying. The lactation consultants I had were pushy and in a hurry and not ONE of them told me it was normal to struggle, they were very matter of fact about how we had to keep trying and even though I was exhausted and so frustrated I wanted to scream, I kept trying because I felt guilty for not being able to nurse my child.

She was fussy and hated it, and never fully latched and the nipple shields (helps to shape your breast to make it easier for the baby to eat) helped a little, but it hurt and it was not fun for either of us so I started to pump (for those that don’t know, this is a machine that simulates what your baby would do and gathers milk from you so you can feed a baby through a bottle but still give them your milk)  and made the decision, okay, she is still getting my milk and nursing is just so frustrating for us both, I am going to just pump, I mean it’s not going to hurt anything if I do that so I made the decision to stop trying to nurse.  I called my mom to talk to her about it, and she said, “Who is her Mom?” I said, “Me” and she said, “right.. so when her life is hard or there is something that is challenging are you going to let her give up?” I said, “No”.. there was a long silence on the line, and I realized what my Mom was saying was that I needed to keep trying so I did.

So we got home from the hospital and tried every position and it still wasn’t clicking. Occasionally there would be a glimmer of hope and we would have a good session (I went back and looked at the “milk logs” and I celebrated when she nursed continuously for 7 minutes or more, and then we would have one of those sessions where she was fussy and wouldn’t feed. Then a good session, then a bad one.. So it was still hard, it still hurt, and it sure didn’t feel like a “bonding experience”. We kept going, and about 20 days after she was born, my milk supply started to lessen so when I pumped, I wasn’t getting as much, of course I started to worry, which is actually a factor in milk reduction, so let me get this straight, worry about not enough milk can cause you to produce less milk? Are you kidding me?!

It’s not bad enough the milk isn’t here, now that I am worried about it, it actually makes it worse not better? Come on, give me a break!! So I reached out to my friends and fellow mothers and asked them what they did and how they coped. Several of them were kind enough to say, ‘It’s not you, it’s really freaking hard!” “I gave up after the first day, it was pissing her off, and pissing me off and it just wasn’t worth it”- ” I couldn’t nurse, and I have always felt bad about it” , “It took a while but we finally found our groove” -“Keep trying, it’s super hard and frustrating and painful and know that WHATEVER you decide is right for you and your family” so I persisted, though very frustrated and really ready to give up.

Thankfully, we have a great pediatrician who suggested we get a lactation consultant, I had not considered that because it reminded me of the ones we had in the hospital who were so off-putting and I HATED to admit that I NEEDED help. Why? Why? Why? Why do we have such high expectations for ourselves and have so much pride that we can’t say, “I don’t know what I am doing, please give me advice!” or you know, admit you need help and call a professional? – I am lucky enough to have some very kind friends (You know who you are) who put up with my constant texts and phone calls in those early days- So what made me finally give up and admit I needed help? My daughter.

October 30, 2016 11:47 p.m. She is inconsolable, wailing and will not stop crying, no matter what I do, she will not stop crying, I fed her (botched attempts at nursing (AGAIN) and changed her and walked her up and down the floor, I have rocked her and I have done everything under the sun to try to calm her down and she just will not settle. I put her down in the crib and walked away because I could not take it any more. Funny thing, when I put her down and walked away, she fell asleep…I passed out on the air mattress we had in her room from sheer relief. When I woke up the next day (well-rested and clear-headed for the first time in many days), I was going to call a lactation consultant, i didn’t care what it cost but I was going to get some help and if they couldn’t help, I was going to give up on breastfeeding once and for all because it was so heartbreaking for me to fail repeatedly at something so basic.

To Jeremy’s credit, when I mentioned it, he was extremely supportive and said, let’s make sure I am here so I can get some tips on how to help you because it was clear to him how much this meant to me. So I had to wait a few days for the consultant to come see me, but when she did, My God, so much relief! She weighed Vivienne before I attempted to feed her, and then weighed her after so we could gauge how much she was getting in each feeding, She took pictures of the proper positioning, she showed me exactly what to do and why what I had been doing was not working. All the while restoring my sanity by saying things like, “It’s normal to struggle.” – “It’s not innately a skill” – She sat with me for 4 hours and with every passing minute I was reassured that this could work and I could do this basic thing of feeding my child. I am not going to say that it got better overnight because it did NOT, It took a solid three weeks of trying all the different positions and instructions and then finally, finally GOD, FINALLY, we got a great latch and then another and then another, and then it was like we had always been doing this nursing thing.

Time is also an amazing thing, today marks 4 months of consistent nursing and a mix of formula for our child and she is thriving, healthy and happy. vivmombreastfeeding

I rarely post personal things, and to me, this is intimate and personal, but if my experience can help even ONE new mom feel better, it’s worth me being vulnerable about my experience.

I was inspired by something I saw online depicting how breastfeeding is hard and that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, despite what movies and television try to tell you. It goes into some detail about how many mothers can’t nurse and how many supplement with formula and how much judgment they get from society, other mothers, not to mention the judgment we put on ourselves. So please, let’s all agree to stop judging each other and let’s go one further, let’s encourage each other to not judge ourselves.

If you breastfeed exclusively, that’s awesome. If you feed your baby with formula, equally great, I am not here to judge, or say one way is better than another. Only YOU can decide what works for you and YOUR child. I am here to support your right to parent in whatever way YOU see fit.I made my choice and I am happy with it.

What you do for your family and your body is YOUR choice.

Think about it…