Diary of a Skinny Baby’s Mom

V is 17 weeks old and weighs 8 pounds 10 oz. Yeah. We have what is called a failure to thrive. We don’t even break the 0 percentile.

We moved up to 26 calorie formula this week. Normal baby formula is 20 calories. She is just not an eater. Never has been even pre-pacemaker, with pacemaker and post pacemaker.

The doctor  said that some babies are just petite and that might be what we are working with on top of the three surgeries, the chronic neonatal steroid exposure,  and a slow heart rate. I must admit, I had a moment  when I wondered if she was really my child.or if she had been switched at birth. Of course I know this is silliness. I saw her kinda when they brought her around the sheet before they ran off to the NICU with her. Terry saw her and all the gruesome goriness that was her debut. She has heart block like the baby in the ultrasounds. She looks just like my Dad. But trouble gaining weight? Well she definitely didn’t get it from me. I wish she had. I don’t think she got it from her Dad either.

Her paternal grandfather was only twelve pounds when he was a year old. And my mother’s side of the family are skinny folk. So she may have really gotten it honest. My Mom used to drink weight gain so that she wouldn’t blow away. To the day she died her knees were wider than her thighs. I called her Chicken Legs. Yep. Really. My Mom and I got along that way. My grandmother weighed 99 pounds after seven children. My beloved cousin, you skinny red headed freak you, is still no more than a size 5 after three kids. I haven’t been a size 5 since roughly kindergarten. My thigh might have been. Maybe my upper arm. But not the whole of me.  I reckon I never will be again.

When V is a teenager or a twenty-something skinny thing living in a society that values the starved and hungry look she probably won’t mind if she got the skinny gene. But as a parent of a skinny baby, I face a different kind of societal weight bias.

People expect little porkers, fat rolls, quadruple chins. They expect the kid’s face to be so fat they can barely see because even their eyelids are chubby. I’m surprised they don’t ask the little darlings to oink for them.

When we tell people how old V is, they look at us funny. Sometimes they look us up and down as if to say are you eating the baby’s food too? Some disapprovingly tell you your child is too small. Yes, this has happened. And I wasn’t going to tip her but Terry made me anyway.

They purse lips, raise eyebrows, gasp, and put their hands to their hearts. They say things like Oh! Oh My!  What’s wrong with her? You know you should get her on a schedule. But she looks so alert. And my favorite, my baby was bigger than that when he/she was born. Really? Your baby was bigger than mine is now when it was born. That’s great. Are we really whipping out our babies and comparing size? I thought only guys did that.

They act like there is no possibility that you have spent hours of your life begging the kid to eat. They act like you aren’t waking them up in the middle of the night  instead of thanking God they are sleeping through it like a normal parent so the munchkin doesn’t miss a feeding.

If your baby isn’t fat as a piglet, both you and the baby are looked at as somehow deficient. Why do I say this? Because my hobby since birth has been to watch and figure out what people are really communicating  with their actions when they aren’t saying anything or are saying something else. Then I went and got a Masters in it to make it official

Pretty much the only person who has enthusiastically jumped right in was my grandmother. She got all nostalgic about my aunt who was a three pound preemie . She wasn’t afraid of tiny at all. Snatched her right up. Smiled and mooned over the tininess. And I think V knew. Because she smiled and mooned back instantly. Everyone else has had at least some little bit of hesitation or caution.

Folks who have had preemie babies or babies with health issues completely get it. They say things like, so she was about six weeks early when you tell them V’s age. We are comrades in arms. They give you back a little of that parenting confidence that has slowly been chinked away by the porky baby believers. They understand the baby has been too busy surVng to worry about growing. But folks who haven’t dealt with it before, they can have the most offensive reactions.

Then V smiles… and nobody thinks there is anything wrong with her regardless of her size. But they still give Terry and I the stink eye. The evil stink eye I say.

Here I am trying desperately to loose weight. And there she is trying desperately to gain. Yet again a time I would swap places with her in a heart beat. Too thin when your young and too fat when you are old and everyone has an opinion. A girl just can’t win.

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