When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2015, I had no reason to think everything would not go normally for us. Every test and ultrasound came back with flying colors, I was active five to six times a week throughout my entire pregnancy, and I ate a clean and healthy diet (with the exception of mass quantities of potato chips in the first trimester, ya feel me?). She was growing at a steady rate and met every metric. Then, at 36 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension and spent the next 4 weeks praying she would cook a little longer and taking every step I could take to keep my blood pressure low. I was eventually induced on her due date due to preeclampsia, but after 20+ hours of labor, she was here and she was perfect. Normal. A word I would soon come to loathe.
When E was about 3 weeks old, we went to the pediatrician for a first-time-mom-freakout only to find that her baby acne was in fact regular baby acne, but during the routine vitals, we found she had not gained any weight since birth. Not an ounce. We started what felt like a downward spiral of visits to lactation consultants, chiropractors, craniosacral therapists, physical therapy, speech therapy, and weekly weigh-ins at the pediatrician. I spent my days feeding and then pumping to keep my milk supply high, and my late, lonely nights were filled with waking a sleeping baby to feed and weigh her. The scale haunted me with its news and it seemed like no matter what we did, her weight only crept slowly, always disappointing the doctors. No one could tell me why my daughter didn’t want to eat much and couldn’t gain weight like other children. The only feedback I ever received was something like, “It’s just not normal. Have you tried feeding her mac-n-cheese?”
Screw you and your mac-n-cheese because yes, I have tried everything: every food, every method, every high chair, every table, every specialist, every book, every tincture, every essential oil, everything. I have spent thousands of dollars on anything I think may work for even one meal. I have researched and sought advice and prayed. I have developed mantras to tell E for the moment the stranger in Target asks how old she is and follows with “you need to feed that baby” or “oh she’s SO tiny”.
When your child doesn’t feed well, it eats you from the inside. The constant weight issue is a parasite to my thoughts each and every day and it’s flat out exhausting.
Baby girl is 16 months old now, and we still don’t have any answers. We have seen gastroenterologists and endocrinologists. We have done countless blood work and testing only to have everything come back “normal”. She has spent her entire life desperately aiming to be on the weight chart at all, much less at the percentage doctors want for her, and she still eats like a bird. Our journey continues, but, just this past month, after I began seeing a counselor to talk through all of this, we have decided we are done. We’re done caring that she, quite literally, doesn’t measure up. We’re done doing tests to try to find a problem that is not there. We’re done asking God to make her any other way than he already made her. My baby is happy, she develops like every other child, she is funny, she is active, and she is perfect. She may be out of the box, but I love her just the way God created her to be.
Reader, I end with a word of caution. Your words can slice through a struggling mama’s heart. A flippant comment about a stranger’s baby, be it size or something else, can destroy her. There is so much power in what we say. Can we commit to encouraging each other in passing? Because what I need those strangers in Target to say to me is “I see you. You’re doing great”.