Daily Archives: 21 May, 2012

Like Mother, Unlike Daughter

My daughter was born at 5 lbs, 13 oz.  She was little and we didn’t expect it, as both my partner and I had been average-to-above-average weight as babies.  She was so little newborn clothes hung off of her until she was about 1 month old.  She was gorgeous, but I did worry about her size at the time.  Someone that small seemed even more vulnerable.

So I fed her every three hours, sometimes every two hours, and on really difficult days, every hour.  I myself started to shed weight quickly, so quickly in fact I fit into jeans I had when I was using eating disordered behaviors.  I thought I had a thyroid problem, as I ate nonstop and gained nothing.  I recently was informed by my PCP that it was probably the 700-1000 extra calories I was using up to feed my daughter daily.  Whatever it was, it messed with my mind.

Immediately I started to get the external validation.  “You look amazing!  How did you do it?  You seriously had a baby one week ago?  You look better now that you’re a mother!”  (Everything short of, hey, you’re a bitch.)  I know that these comments were well-meaning and honestly, they felt great and got me through work days when I had no sleep the night before.  But my old thoughts began to creep in.  “Once you stop breastfeeding, you’ll be invisible and worthless again…”  And the voice has gotten louder now that I’ve gained a much-needed 10 pounds.  It’s gotten louder, but it hasn’t won.  I really don’t think it ever will again.

(People are *obsessed* with appearance.  I just had to get that out.  Never has been more evident.)

Anyway, flash forward to my daughter’s 4 month check up.  Looking at her that day, you would never have guessed it was the same baby.  Round cheeks replace an angular face.  Beautiful plump legs instead of her tiny “chicken legs” we joked about when she was born.  She had no problem eating and gaining weight.  It was so freeing to see an unbridled appetite.

“You can stop worrying about helping her to gain weight now.”  My daughter’s pediatrician delivered this statement with a wary tone and a furrowed brow after her weigh-in.  “In fact, she has a little belly.”

I am assuming he meant the second part in a cutesy way, but a part of me thinks he was worried.

I know, I know, obesity is an epidemic, a serious one, and that’s probably what he’s worried about.  But don’t you all get it??  It’s the hyperfocus on it that makes the problem worse.  If you are repeatedly on a kid about losing weight and shaming him with merely a tone, he’s going to emotionally eat more.  If you tell a kid, “Don’t eat donuts!”  The kid is going to eat donuts.  If you introduce a variety of foods to your child, and teach him to respect his appetite, his weight will balance out where it’s supposed to after puberty.  Like mine would have, if I didn’t intercept it with anorexia.  Both my partner and I were overweight kids who grew up to be slim teenagers.

I just didn’t think the obsession started at 4 months old.

Have you all noticed that the more media focuses on the obesity epidemic, the worse it becomes?  Back in the dark ages, when people ate meat and potatoes, how big was the obesity epidemic then?  Yes, money and lots of other things play into it, but I sincerely believe mind obsession (especially for people with addictive personalities) plays a huge part in it.  And it’s no coinki-dink that substance abuse is on the rise either.  We live in an empty society today.

Babies aren’t supposed to be perfect.  Rather, they are perfect because they’re chubby and loud and have big tempers and listen to their cues better than us adults could ever dream of doing.  If you respond to their cues, even if the cue is a big appetite, they will grow up to be happy and healthy, physically and emotionally.  If you don’t, they will fear their appetite, their voice, and their presence.  And you all know that’s the last thing I want for my child.

Poor doctor, he doesn’t know what he ran into.