Monday, September 2, 2013

Comparing Apples and Oranges...or, Why I Am Still Avoiding Pinterest

Making comparisons is how I make sense of the world. I'm sure it annoys Jon to no end that when he is describing some technical aspect of his job--or anything, really--I immediately compare the situation to something I know and understand...usually the plotline of an episode of Friends.

I know this about myself, yet I also know that it is so easy to drive oneself crazy by comparing. I do not want to fall into that "Mom Trap" of comparing myself or my child to the creativity of other moms or the incredible talents of other children. Therefore, prior to her arrival, I vowed that I would not get all worked up about when Elsa started hitting developmental milestones in relation to other kids. She will roll over/crawl/walk/talk when she is good and ready to do those things, despite what any book or website says or any other child does. I'm pretty sure she has enough stubbornness coming from both sides to ensure that.

So far, I'm doing well at avoiding these comparisons. Elsa is doing some things she's "supposed" to be doing and others she's not, and we're just fine with the fact that she apparently missed several days of "Baby School" that would have informed her of her developmental timeline.

However, I cannot help myself when it comes to comparing baby weights. Every time I see a baby, I mentally try to figure out how old that child is and how much s/he weighs, comparing both to Miss Elsa's current status. Elsa is on the petite side, causing me constant worry about her physical growth.

I am well aware that if I weren't worried about this, I would most certainly be worried about something else, but for the time being, a lot of my energy is expended thinking about pounds and ounces. Our pediatrician is concerned (albeit not alarmed), prompting several weight checks, but the thing that gets under my skin the most are the comments from random strangers.

I'm sure they're all well-meaning folks, but I do not need to see the surprised look on their faces when I tell them how old my daughter is, to which they reply, "She's so tiny!" The worst is when people ask if Elsa was premature. No, actually, she was a week late and at an average birth weight, thank you very much. Sometimes people should just not talk. It's amazing how one little comment can totally dampen my mood (or brighten my mood, such as when someone remarks how big she's getting).

A wise friend said that there are really only three things one should say to a person with a baby:
1. Congratulations!
2. What a beautiful baby!
3. You are so lucky!

I agree. That's all I really want to hear anyway, from strangers at least.

Surely one of the reasons I am so sensitive about Elsa's size is the hormones that continue to course through my body; I'm pretty sure I'd be sensitive about anything. But the main reason is that I am the one solely responsible for her nutrition, considering her slow growth as a failure on my part to provide what she needs. That might be a bit over-dramatic, but that is how I feel (see earlier comment about hormones).

So, we're working on the whole feeding thing, trying to be as productive and efficient as possible. I'm confident that we're making progress, although I still hold my breath a little every time I put her on a scale. Fortunately, Elsa is doing really well. If she were sickly or unhappy, it would be easier to take more drastic measures to bulk her up, but she's so active and alert...which might be part of the weight gain conundrum. She is able to move around so easily because she's so small (weight-wise--she's actually quite tall)...and all of that moving around burns up calories and keeps her small. Quite the vicious cycle.

Despite this post (or as a result of it?), I'm actually relaxing a bit about the whole weight thing and agreeing with Jon when he's says that she's perfectly Elsa-sized. In fact, I've begun to see the benefits of a petite baby. I know that baby cuteness is skewed toward chunkiness, but I know I'm not alone when in my observation that Elsa is pretty darn cute. Other benefits of our "banana-shaped" baby include, but are not limited to, the following:

*She is not growing out of clothes as quickly (although she is getting too long for several outfits).
*She will be able to use her car seat and other miscellaneous (ridiculously expensive) baby gear items longer.
*She is easier to carry, putting less strain on my tired muscles.
*She is more entertaining to watch now that she is so active.

I guess the whole point of it all is that every baby is unique and grows at his/her own pace. Hard to remember when the world is full of adorable, pudgy babies who follow the growth curve, but important to recognize nonetheless.