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Size Doesn’t Matter

Sorry, ladies. It's not that kind of post.

(If that's what you're looking for, check out this post or anything from MMC's Sex Week series. You're welcome!)

No, the size I'm referring to is the size of my children, specifically during the baby and toddler years.

I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent, educated individual, but it has taken me a long time to realize--to really understand--that babies come in all sizes and that's okay.

Even though all three of my children were born at an average weight--between just under 7 pounds to a little over 8--my side of the family is full of corn-fed Midwestern offensive linemen and heavyweight wrestlers, so I was fully expecting a roly-poly chubby baby. That is far from what I got, however.

Despite this typical birth weight, my first baby's growth was slooow. And I was freaked. As a new mom who was trying to exclusively breastfeed, I was constantly worried about weight gain. Every ounce was a triumph, but anything less than that was devastating. It may sound like I am being overdramatic, but I really and truly did have so many emotions tied up in the numbers on the scale.

newborn baby being weighed at birth to measure their size

We went to the doctor's office for weight checks every week (because with my first, I had time for such things) and met regularly with a lactation consultant. I was taking supplements to increase my supply, and at one point doing a "triple feed" of nursing, pumping, and bottle feeding what I had pumped.

I was exhausted and stressed...and it didn't seem to be working. Baby was tiny. Every time I saw a chubby baby, I felt jealous, and I cringed every time someone remarked on how small my daughter was.

mom showing off the size of her baby's feet

But guess what? She was still meeting all of her developmental milestones and was even ahead of the timeline on many. I think that her size made it easier for her to move and be active...which kept her super-charged metabolism going.

Finally at some point, I just accepted the fact that my daughter was petite, that she was precisely the size she was meant to be. In retrospect, I am fairly confident this revelation coincided with the regulation of my hormones, as my husband had come to this realization some months before, using the rational side of his brain to understand what the percentile chart really means.

Fast-forward several years to Baby #2. She, too, was born at an average weight, and she, too, stayed tiny. But I was ready for it. So, she was little. Big deal. I embraced the benefits of small babies: their clothes last longer, they don't grow out of their car seats as fast, and they're easier to carry. And if I had a nickel for every time someone remarked that they'd never seen a baby so small walking around (she did walk early, trying to keep up with her sister), I'd have had a pretty healthy start to her college fund.

tiny baby bootie and toes

But now, here we are, knee-deep in toddler land with Baby #3. Unlike his sisters, this guy is anything but petite. My husband describes him as a "big hunk of boy." I assumed we made small babies around here, so I'm not quite sure what to do with this future football player.

chunky baby tummy

I'm not worried about growth curves and weight gain this time around; instead, I'm worried that we won't get this kid potty trained before he grows out of all the diapers.

Honestly, it's a little disorienting. Like so many other aspects of parenthood, just when you get used to something, things change to keep you on your toes. I mean, the silver lining is that even though I'm not able to enjoy the ease of babywearing like I used to, I get an amazing bicep workout whenever I carry this kid around. So there's that.

But now that we are on the opposite end of the spectrum, I wonder what it will be like when people assume our son is older than he is rather than the other way around like with our daughters. I remember having a conversation years ago about this very topic with a friend whose son was bigger than most kids his age. She lamented the reactions her son received at the playground from other kids and their parents when he was acting his age, not his size. Sure, he may look four, but he's only two.

Will I go back to feeling defensive or responsible for my child's size? Or will I continue to be accepting and laid-back about it? Hopefully the latter because on an intellectual level, I recognize that beyond promoting a healthy lifestyle, there is not much I can do regarding the size of my children.

One thing I do know is that when our son towers over another child at the park or at the zoo, I won't make a comment about size. Because I know it doesn't matter.

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