Hi, I’m Sophie and I’ve birthed a 10lb 10oz baby. A war story I’m now incredibly proud of, but that hasn’t always been the case…
As a nation we’re obsessed with weight – how fat someone is, how thin someone is – how much weight we’re gaining, how much weight we’re not losing. It sometimes seems as though our lives revolve around numbers on scales, on clothes labels, and in our food.
But what happens when we take our perceptions of what a ‘perfect’ weight should be and put that on a new born baby? Or their exhausted, emotional, hormonal, and completely overwhelmed mother? Think about it (we’re all guilty of it), one of the first questions most people will ask about a newborn is, “What do they weigh?”. Unless you have blood stained latex gloves on, or a ridiculously in-depth knowledge of the female genitalia, then what does it matter? As long as mother and baby are well, who gives a hoot about how many, or few, chub rolls the kid has? Busy-body Brenda down the road, that’s who!
This topic hits quite a raw nerve with me, having had a baby that tipped the heavier end of the scales… Looking back on it, as a brand spanking, new mother – the negative comments I received about the size of my baby made me feel as though I’d done something wrong, and that people were judging me and my child because of his weight.
To set the scene, my not so little bundle of joy entered the world 12 days after his due date. How no one knew I was having a larger than average baby was beyond me. By 30 weeks I was incredibly Shamu like in appearance – black and white maternity outfits were an absolute no no. By one week over, my midwife was guesstimating I had roughly an 8lb’er in the oven – even though I’d been having repetitive nightmares for weeks about birthing a 13lb ginger cat. Odd, I know. Labour was eventually induced, and after a day or so of heavy drug taking and assault of NHS staff – it ended in an emergency section under a general anaesthetic. Turns out I should have checked my pelvic dimensions before deciding to breed with a 6ft-odd, stocky, hulk of a man (he’s bribed me to say that). In a way, it might have been a hidden blessing that Jack didn’t come out the way natured intended – otherwise I might still be sitting on a pile cushion to this very day…
Once out of recovery, I was eventually presented with my beautiful boy – all 10lb 10oz of him. To me he was tiny, because he was a new born baby for goodness sake – of course he was little! I didn’t really think twice about his weight at the time, I was just happy we were all alive and he wasn’t a 13lb ginger cat. However, it didn’t take long for the first of the comments to start…I was on the ward for all of 10 minutes before someone popped their head round my curtain to have a look at the ‘big baby’. The next comment, 10 minutes after, “Bloody hell love, what did you eat when you were pregnant?” – from a medical professional, I kid you not. They didn’t stop there – one midwife even expressed she might put her back out lifting him from the cot, while another told me she thought he looked like a three-month old… Now, I’m not an overly sensitive flower – but with raging hormones and a pretty traumatic 48 hours in the bag, it was beginning to get to me.
My ‘bouncing’ baby’s weight also sparked a BBC local radio phone in about the rise of ‘bigguns’ being born in today’s age. I mean FFS – really? Slow news day, obviously. That was the final straw however, a complete emotional breakdown ensued…coinciding with the well documented three-day postpartum sob – so that could have been the real reason. Either way, I was officially upset.
Once home, the wave of visitors swarmed round and a fair few of them, good intentionally may I add, took no time at all to congratulate me on my ‘whopper’ – to which I just wanted to scream, ‘He’s a baby, NOT A FUCKING BURGER KING SPECIALITY!!!’ Who wants to be congratulated on that?! Being a first-timer, it seriously made me doubt myself – had I done something wrong in pregnancy? Eaten the wrong things (all of which came back up for 16 gruesome months)? Too many Mars ice cream bars at bedtime (so, so, good). I was beginning to feel like his weight was overshadowing his actual birth – I was ‘that’ girl, the horror story people terrified their pregnant friends with.
It took me a fair while to gain a bit of perspective on the whole weight situation. I didn’t have gestational diabetes, I didn’t gorge myself with cream cakes – he just came from large stock (all my husband, may I add). Yes, he was a big baby – but more importantly he was 100% healthy, happy, and an absolute dream boat. Those big baby genes eventually paid dividends too – producing a nice big tummy to take on board a shit load of milk at bedtime, meaning he slept through the night solidly from 12 weeks. What a guy. Now he’s a strapping young lad, strong as an ox (apart from his currently broken arm), and luckily doesn’t resemble the Honey Monster in any way, shape or form.
Retrospectively I was possibly being a little over sensitive to the matter – I was hormonal, overwhelmed and completely inexperienced at motherhood…But at the time, it made me feel really shitty, and like I was a failure at a job I’d only just started. So what’s the moral of the story here? I think it’s that sometimes we all just need a bit of love, moral support and a pat on the back – especially mums, and new mums even more so. Maybe just air with a side of caution and have a double think before commenting on the size of a baby… big, or small – you may not mean any ill intent whatsoever, but it might just ruffle the feathers of a very tired and tested mum who’s holding their shit together by a very small thread – we’re sensitive souls, after all!