The Chart Versus the Child

My son was 3 lbs, 13 oz at birth. He was born at 35 weeks gestation. He was the average size of a 30 week old pre-term baby because I had a lovely trifecta of pregnancy complications: a very poor functioning placenta, pre-eclampsia and subsequent intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). In terms of Infant Growth Charts and Percentiles, our teeny little guy did not even register on a chart, let alone fall within anything resembling a "normal" growth percentile.

AND HE NEVER HAS!

To this day, at 4 years, 9 months old, and 33 pounds, he is still below the 5th percentile on any growth chart. He has always had his very own growth curve that hovers somewhere near the 3rd percentile.

In those early weeks and months of his life I stressed A LOT about his growth. I was at the public health unit weekly, having him weighed and measured and plotted on the very bottom of those very stress-inducing, mother- fuc...frightening charts.

He was an exclusively breastfed kid and for the most part, I lucked out with the nurses and doctors that I had contact with. Not once was I told that I should be supplementing him with formula, although I was told on more than one occasion to nurse him and then give him some pumped breastmilk to "top him up". Sometimes I did, most times I did not.

"Hey, who you calling teeny?"

And not only was he a teeny, tiny preemie, he is also the kid of an 5'9" Asian man and a 5' 3" Caucasian woman. His paternal grandmother is barely 5' tall and he has the metabolism of a Eurasion Pygmy Shrew. Genetically, he was never destined to be a really big guy or gain a huge amount of 'baby fat'!! And this is kind of my point here.

What all mamas (and daddies too) need to realize is that generally, your new baby check-ups at the Public Health Unit are done with a check list in hand.

Weigh baby -Check

Measure baby's length and head circumference - Check

Plot on Standard Infant Growth Charts - Check

Discuss baby's feeding/nutrition (whether breastfeeding or formula feeding) - Check

  • Offer up suggestions/advice if , according to above chart, baby is NOT gaining weight properly.

Get Mama to fill out or answer post-partum depression questionnaire - Check

Discuss vaccinations required and give said vaccines - Check

  • FYI - You have the right to ask for any kind of vaccine schedule you want for your child, whether that choice is none at all, or as we did, a delayed one (max 1-2 at a time).

Hand you pamphlet with age appropriate Baby Milestones - Check

Now, I am not knocking the public health nurses. They see A LOT of mamas and babies and have a lot to do in the short time they have with them. What I am saying is that these health care practitioners, and a lot of doctors too, need to look beyond the numbers on the charts and the checklists and really SEE their patients and the parents and babies before them.

Dr. Jay Gordon wrote an excellent post about this last year that sums up the issue of looking at the charts versus looking at the baby. You can read the full article here. In it he makes the point that,

"...if someone were to ask you what weight a 33-year-old man should be, you would laugh. The range of possibilities varies according to height, bone structure, ethnicity and many other factors. Yet babies are expected to fit onto charts distributed throughout the country with no regard to genetics, feeding choice or almost anything else."

I personally think that as new moms, the more charts and spreadsheets and schedules and logs that you have for your baby, the more exponentially you will drive yourself batty! While yes, it is important to track a few things in the beginning to ensure everything is trucking along nicely (I am mainly talking pees and poops here), for the most part, if we follow our instincts, listen to our babies and respond to their cues and needs (feed me, hold me, change me, love me), then they will be just fine. And if for some reason they are not, then trust me (and trust yourself), your Mama Bear instincts will kick in and you will seek and get the help that is needed.

People come in all different shapes and sizes and colors. And babies, well, they are people too (the best kind really)! Trying to fit them all onto a nice perfect curve is simply NOT going to work. And maybe, just maybe, this kind of 'chart versus child' outlook marks the beginning of our crazy North American obsession and misconception of what the ideal body should look like.

Like Dr. Gordon says, "Look at the Baby, not the scale."

Good advice for everyone really, baby or not!

Natasha~

(This post was inspired by a lovely mama that I met today at Cafe O'Play, who has the cutest and teeniest and completely healthy and beautiful 10 month old baby girl! Thank you.) 

 

 

Mama Metamorphosis

My kids are 4.5 years old and 2.5 years old. Both are my babies, but please DO NOT, under any circumstances, say that to them these days. C remembers being a baby and the things he used to do (nurse, sleep in the crib, be in a baby carrier) and they toys he used to play with, but he is firmly a BIG BOY now and is even concerned that his clothing size is the right number for him!!  L is just realizing that she is a "big girl" and she justifies all that she does now. "Mama, big girls nurse too. Mama, big girls go uppy in carriers too. Mama, I not a baby, I a BIG GIRL!!"

And I have just realized that although they will always be MY babies, they really are NOT little babies anymore and therefore...

....I can not be the 'baby' mama anymore.

It is time for me to grow up and graduate out of the baby stage and transition to this new (and rather scary) phase of parenthood.

For those you who have been following along with my posts you will know that a few months ago, Natural Urban Dad and I were in talks about having another child. Suffice it to say that we have come to a collective agreement and what is going to work for all of us is the status quo. Two kids, two adults, two hands....you do the math. It is what works for us and is what is going to keep us a strong family unit.

And all along the way, in all our talks and negotiations, the theme that kept recurring was one of all of us growing up. Our kids are growing up and contrary to what you would think this would mean, ie, more independence, less reliance on us for everyday tasks, etc., what I have noticed is that they actually NEED us even more right now and in a completely different way than before.

Take my son. He is a sensitive, inquisitive, smart cookie with a quirky personality (he gets that from me I guess ;)). He also seems to have the sharpest hearing in the history of four year-olds and if he hears something he does not quite understand, he will ask you about it and not quite asking until he gets it! This is a totally awesome occurrence. Except when you are not prepared for it.

Yesterday, as we were driving to my niece's 12th birthday party, C pipes up from the back seat of the car.

"Mama, is HATE a bad word?"

Me: "Uhm....... well......, what do you mean?"

"Hate. What does it mean?"

Me: looking over at Natural Urban Dad and mouthing, "Do you want to answer this?" and him staring off into space like he can't hear either of us.

So, as I rolled my eyes at the NUD at my side, I told C this, "Hate is a mean word that some people use when they really, really, REALLY do not like something. It is a word that can hurt people's feelings and one that is not very nice to use."

That seemed to satisfy him for the moment, but it is just one example of the many questions and thoughts that he is processing these days and often needs our help to sort out. Today we had a fun time over breakfast discussing what our emotions are and making the appropriate faces to go with them. Our conversations with C really have gone to a new level as of late and it is awesome and extremely scary at the same time!

And L at two and a half,  has suddenly become the "WHY" kid. Why Mama? Why you put make-up on? Why that lady have crutches? Why we going to swimming? Why? Why? Why? I love that she wants to know EVERYTHING, but OY, some days it is exhausting! And for some reason I just keep answering her multitude of questions and that just makes her ask why even more.....

My kids are also very sensitive with regards to their time with me lately and the whole work-life-parenting-and-being-an entrepreneur-thing is requiring some extra special juggling skills these days! I am working on it, but it is not easy. It is not easy to be saying over and over, "Mommy just has to send one more email and then we can go build your Lego castle/play outside/have a tea party/etc....". And for some reason, "Do you want to come and help Mommy work (ie, pack up orders) does not have the same appeal as it used too!

They just need more from me now on an emotional level and in a way that for some reason I was not fully prepared for. I am sure there are books out there that tell you all about this stage of parenthood (I swear I have a copy of Playful Parenting around here somewhere!), I just have not read them yet!

So, here I go.  Out of my cocoon of babyhood and into the great butterfly unknown of parenting my NOT-babies-anymore babies!!

My babies on the BIG KID swings!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks :)

Natasha~

 

One more for the road.

The other day I spontaneously started crying in my car on the way home from picking up my oldest from preschool. Why you ask?

Because I have recently come to the realization that I may actually want to have another child.

If you had asked me a year ago if I wanted more kids, I would have said, "No Way Jose! We are done. My next 'babies' are going to be the stunning and perky boobie kind that I get from a plastic surgeon!" And not only that, but my husband has always only wanted two children and we have one of each, so we are good. Right?

Wrong. Here I am, seriously LONGING for another child in our lives. I swear it is to the point that I can literally feel my ovaries popping out eggs every time I am near a baby or a pregnant woman. And in my line of work, that is quite often.

So I've been gingerly trying to bring up the topic with my husband for the past few weeks to gauge his receptiveness to this whole idea. I have dropped little hints every now and then about babies and being pregnant again and of course, being the man that he is, he has remained totally oblivious. So the other night I just said it outright to him.

"Honey, I think I want to have another kid."

And his response was, "WHAT? Are you serious? I thought we were done!!"

It was pretty much what I expected him to say. And then we had a long conversation about what that would mean for us and why he doesn't think it is the best idea. I listened to him and I know that all of his reasons for NOT having another child are good ones and make total sense.

  • We will be OUTNUMBERED! A scary thought in and of itself.
  • I have to go off of my Rheumatoid Arthritis meds and I have a history of high risk pregnancy.
  • I will be a 40 year old woman in 9 months and the risks of having a child with Down's Syndrome goes up rather exponentially at that age (1/75).
  • Where would we put the kid?? We are building a three bedroom house (I told him this one doesn't really fly-the kids can share rooms!)
  • He was just starting to look forward to 'getting me back'. I know this sounds terrible, but I see where he is coming from. I have been nursing for 4 years, we have been co-sleeping for most of that time as well, and we have not taken a couples only holiday since our first son was conceived in 2006.

He also said something to me that made me really think. He told me that I need to realize that motherhood is not just about being pregnant and breastfeeding and babywearing and all the "baby" stuff. Our kids need me in a different way now and I need to be able to grow-up as a mother, just as much as they are growing up and into little people. (Damn him and his logical, I am making too much sense, brain!)

And when he asked me WHY I felt the need to have another child, all I really had for him was that I just did. I can't explain it rationally, and no, it really does not make a whole lot of sense, but I just FEEL like I am not done yet. And I did not have these feelings a year ago, or even six months ago, but something has changed and it is a deep down gut feeling that we are supposed to do this.

We have not come to a decision just yet. I have asked him that we keep the discussion open and on the table. And he has agreed to that. He really is a good man.

All I can say is that right now I feel like sparklers are shooting out of my pelvic region a la Katy Perry in her Fireworks video every time I am anywhere remotely close to a baby or pregnant mama.

Just stand back a bit....

Natasha~