In my last post regarding motherhood, I wrote, “I’ve even surprised myself at how natural it’s been for me to step into this new role.”
Well, as the saying goes, pride cometh before the fall.
Suddenly, it seemed that I was questioning myself at every turn. The biggest cause for doubt was when there were a few months that Judah stopped gaining the recommended amount of weight. As much as I tried to play it cool, this was very troubling.
I struggled to sort through what the doctor was telling me, what the baby blogs were telling me, what other mom friends were telling me, and what my mama gut was telling me. Yes, I know all babies are different. Yes, I have plenty of milk supply. No, I don’t want to supplement using formula. Yes, I do see that Judah is steadily decreasing in the chart’s percentiles.
To add to it, I was also fighting the cultural pressures around me. More than a handful of times, women would straight-forward tell me how skinny my baby was. Tssking, they would judge me for the size of my child, chiding me for not feeding him enough, accusing me of ill-mothering simply because my baby wasn’t fat. Unfortunately, since Judah’s doctor was cut of the same cloth, I didn’t feel like I could trust her word, not sure if what she was telling me was because of her bias or because of science. As it was, there were already several other health topics we could not disagree more on.
While I never want to compare Judah with other babies, I also know there is an extent of which comparing is healthy in order to gage where “normal” should be. It was indeed concerning that he was not gaining as much weight as the universal baby charts averaged.
I immediately blamed myself for his slow growth. My previously calm, prayerful state of mind quickly switched gears and began to over-analyze the way I had been nursing Judah, searching for a solution.
Had I been too relaxed with the amount of time he nursed for?
Was it wrong to put him on a feeding schedule to try to get some structure in my life?
Should I not have taken him to work with me?
Were his surroundings too stressful for him to not nurse long enough?
Was he sweating too much from the summer heat?
I scrutinized the food I had been eating, questioning the amount of “good fats” I’d been consuming. Was I too worried about losing the baby weight myself that I hadn’t been eating enough? As it was, I was hungry all the time and felt like I was relentlessly snacking either on almonds or oat muffins.
I even consulted with a lactation consultant, getting ideas for different techniques or methods I could try with Judah. However, a lot of what she told me I had already tried and nothing had been changing.
Needless to say, this season was altogether mind consuming. I controlled as much as I could, but in the end, it was actually when we went on vacation that Judah began to gain healthy weight again.
I’m tempted to read into this and shame myself for the amount of worry, stress, and energy that I put into “fixing” Judah, wondering how much of that Judah was able to sense which could have contributed to his slow weight gain even more… The truth is, I will never know if Judah’s growth was a reflection of my mothering style or not.
But what I can know to be true is simply how thankful I am now.
Thankful that it was when we were around family and friends, taking a break from life, slowing down, and being cared for and loved, that Judah, too, felt loved. Thankful that his little body finally started to show signs of plumping up and that his Mama could take a deep breath in and out, realizing that he was going to be okay.
While Judah will probably never be the baby with chunky thighs or stomach rolls, what matters is that he’s healthy. And although he’s in the “below 5%” group on the baby charts, at least he is on the charts now.
As a new mama, I know that this is not going to be the only roller-coaster Judah’s going to take me on. But what this up-and-down ride of emotions has taught me is that while I will indeed search the heavens for all the answers, sometimes the best thing my baby needs is simply for me to breath, slow down, and give him all my love.