Recently I discovered that a lot of what you think about as a mom involves bigness. I’m not talking about that “big” nap we all wish we could get in, or that “big” smile we see on our baby’s face that other people say is “just gas.” I’m talking about the alpha and the omega of “big”s for a new mom: a “big” baby. See, while in this land of the free, where bigness is generally looked down upon and made to feel worse than smallness (though it happens to be the biggest country in the world, of course), us moms know that bigness is something to be longed for and coveted when it comes to our new babies. We all want a chubby or pudgy baby to cuddle with all day, to be sure. But bigness isn’t the problem with our lives as new moms. The problem is “big-ocity.”
Clearly I am reaching a new realm of gibberish here, but hear me out. See, it’s awesome that we want our babies to have that extra padding, but a problem arises when someone else seems to want that as well, from the second our baby cries his first cry to the moment he walks into kindergarten, and sometimes beyond. That person is the person behind all important things, of course. That person is the man. And once the man tries to play a role in our child’s bigness, it becomes something which is tampered with by the outside world. It becomes “big-ocity.”
The man wants our babies to be big and the man is not someone you can fight with on this. See, the man is the nurse who is waiting with bated breath in the delivery room as your baby comes out (not to love on him, but to take him right out of your arms and place him on a cold metal scale); the man is the pediatrician who comes to your recovery room the next morning and tells you that your baby is already losing that weight you were so proud of, and asks, “Are you planning to continue breastfeeding?” with that painfully expectant stare; the man is the doctor who weighs your baby again before you leave and, with a sigh suggests, “Maybe you should supplement with formula,” or, if you are using formula, asks, “Are you sure you are feeding every two to three hours?” as if you can’t tell time. The man is able to make you, as a new mother, feel like complete dirt. We love the man. The man is always welcome. LOL NOT.
Granted, we all knew “big-ocity” was important. We all took the parenting class that told us (or heard from our parent-friends) that there would be pressure for our new baby to get back to his or her birth rate as soon as possible. We were ready for the “big-ocity” conversation to occur. What we had not prepared for was the continuation of everything that is good and beautiful in the world depending on our baby gaining weight. And, since that was entirely our jobs as parents to facilitate, we were not prepared for the feeling that we hadn’t done enough.
Moms who feed their babies formulas have this battle just the same as moms who choose to breastfeed. Both groups are learning how to sustain their child’s life and being told by the man that their efforts are not good enough. THE MAN’S MESSAGE SUCKS ACROSS THE BOARD.
My personal journey inspired me to do whatever I could to breastfeed my son. I knew I wanted to try it as soon as I knew I was pregnant, and I am so glad I did. And when I took a breastfeeding class and learned a great deal about it through my doulas, I knew that I was not alone in the effort to make breastfeeding my son a reality. Furthermore, when my son came and somehow, God Bless him, knew exactly how to help me perform that task, I was even more sure this was our path. Many will say I was #blessed in that my circumstances aligned with my original desires. I was and am incredibly grateful that breastfeeding worked out for us. Beyond this, I was very blessed that my son did get back to his birth rate before it was time to face the man again. It was a hard road for a spell there, though, let me tell ya.
But, being a breastfeeding mother puts a whole new spin on the issue of “big”-ocity.” Not only does the breastfeeding mother feel the sting of her efforts not being enough, but she feels the immense mental suffering of her entire self not being enough. Forgetting all of what she knows about breastfeeding (that it is nearly impossible to pick up correctly on the first try, that it is based on supply-and-demand, and thus can change at any given time, and that it requires quite a bit of good old fashioned work), she only sees the facts. And the facts say that she needs more than herself to take care of her child. Harsh facts at that.
And though I am blessed extravagantly in this area, as my son already doesn’t fit into his 3-month clothes at only 7 weeks (again, God Bless him, and more specifically, got bless his father who gave him those big genes), I know mothers who have been told that the situation of their baby’s lack of “big-ocity” was a desperate one, which is not something anyone should have to hear. And now, in my own small world, I am realizing that the testing of “big-ocity” continues long past that first week. Breastfeeding is incredibly unpredictable, and everything about it (how often it needs to happen, how much needs to be offered for the baby, etc.) can change without notice. Thus, the question of a baby’s “big-ocity” doesn’t really ever completely go away. I’m not worried that my son is going to lose a ton of weight suddenly, but I do wish it wasn’t something everyone and their brother wanted me to constantly be thinking about.
And okay, I get it. If a baby is severely malnourished, a doctor should be urging his or her parents to get thee to the tanking-up station! I’m all for doctors saying what needs to be said. What I am not even slightly for is doctors trying to make women who have just experienced hours of pain in an effort to deliver the most precious of cargoes into this world feel bad about anything at all. That deserves a slap right in the face if you ask me.