Posted by PClaud, 01/11/2012, 02:42 PM
When my three year old was born I did not know anything about parenthood. I thought I was lucky to have a sister in law (SIL), to share the experience with, as her little girl was born only 1 month apart from my Hannah.
My SIL actively discouraged me from joining a mother's group, suggesting it was just a forum for judgement as she had previously had a bad experience pregnant at the age of 20 when she found herself in a posh group of mums from the north shore.
Taking her advice, I didn't join one, and therefore had little opportunity to track my daughters progress through discussing what was normal with other mums. Maybe I did miss the potential downside of judgement, but I feel I definitely missed a greater opportunity to gain confidence from learning about shared experiences.
As Hannah grew up I roughly monitored her progress. She has always been extremely tall for her age and therefore never really chubby. When she got a bad chest infection at 7 months and lost a lot of weight, I remember feeling so happy that she had a little extra in case she had gotten sick and gained a bit of insight as to why babies often look so rotund.
In the meantime around the coffee table I heard my SIL nattering to her friends about one of their in laws whose son was apparently extremely overweight for his age (about 1). From what they were saying the boy was most likely overfed and the mother was terrible for not understanding this. I remember agreeing in my head that that must be the reason. I probably joined in the condemnation of this unknown mother.
Fast forward two years from that conversation and the boy has become a greyhound. When I see or hear of him I feel so guilty about ever thinking the mother was doing something wrong. I have just had my second child. A boy, Oscar, who has the largest most kissable cheeks on the planet and happiest demeanor. I consider him my reward for surviving three years with my fiercely independant and unstoppable daughter who exhausts me even though I adore and admire her.
When Oscar was born he didn't feed well and would stay on the boob for hours. In a matter of weeks he was diagnosed with an upper lip tie that was preventing him from feeding easily and giving him a small blister on the lip. We got it snipped and life for the both of us got a lot better. At about 4-5 months Oscar probably got slightly above average in the weight scale whereas he was only about 50% in the height for age chart.
At the time I did not care at all about this as I had been visiting one new mother friend of mine whose baby was so underweight at 8 weeks I thought I was visiting a newborn. I had never felt so frightened seeing the small child and I remember rushing home to smother kisses all over my plump large cheeked munchkin. I was worried for my friend but she had mentioned the baby was being monitored and was putting on weight albeit slowly. I didn't say anything at all because of course she was a dear friend and I just knew she was doing her best and their would be no benefit in worrying her any more than she already was.
In contrast another friend had been having an equally difficult time as her beautiful 9 month old was particularly large and she had felt pressured to go to the paediatrician to ensure everything was okay. As soon as they had sat down they were told to take their first world problems elsewhere as the Doctor has really sick children to see. Amazingly supportive as those comments were I know my friend has continued to worry and doubt whether she should be controlling her little ones calorie intake as she fit into size 3 outfits before her first birthday. All I know is her daughter had a very healthy appetite, ate healthy food and has a particularly tall father. Why my friend continued to receive criticism about her daughters weight even as I have noticed the girl losing a lot of the baby fat, is something I cannot answer.
My sister in law has been making remarks recently about Oscar's size. Every time I see her she will look at him and say something like "How is the little monster/isn't he huge..."
I find it really gets to me and I especially struggle to understand how she can say this when she herself has been getting a hard time from our Mother in Law (MIL) for how underweight her own daughter appears. Offended my SIL took her daughter to the Doctor then complained to the whole family about the judgement she received.
Why has my SIL decided to make so many remarks about Oscar when she should understand how awful it feels to be judged as an over/under feeder of your child? Why has she not learnt from a number of friends whose children seemed overweight as babies and then slimmed down when they started running around? When will the judgement by people like her, end? Should I say something? I know she will just deny it.
Most importantly for me, having today come back from the Doctor who has said Oscar is perfectly in the median of both the height and weight scales, when will I learn to trust in myself as a mother, doing the best job as I can, and stop listening to remarks by my SIL? One thing I have promised myself is that next time I'm surrounded by such mindless and malicious commentary, I will stand up for those being judged. We all love our children and do our best to ensure they are healthy and happy. That is all that matters.