She looked at me, looked at Ella, and then her mouth dropped open. She grinned widely.
"See!" I exclaimed. "I told you I'd have a big baby!"
You see, I spent a lot of time toward the end of my pregnancy harassing my midwives with the question, "How big is she going to be?"
It's not that I cared, at all, really. I just wanted to have a safe, smooth, non-medicated vaginal delivery.
I did not want to be one of those mothers that ate my way to a 10-pound baby I then couldn't push out. (Not that it's impossible. I have friends who have had home-births with 10-pound babies. Women are amazing. But I was a first-time mama, and, though I believed like heck in natural childbirth, I was still emotional and scared.)
Part of the problem was, I knew I was already a bit pre-disposed to growing bigger babies. I was almost 9 pounds when I was born. My mother and my grandmother had big babies. And my husband wasn't exactly tiny, either.
So I wanted to hedge my bets and try to at least control what I could.
Bless my midwives. The comforted me with statements of, "She's really only going to be about 7 pounds, Britt."
And they were right. Seven pounds and a half ounce later, she was born.
Thank the good Lord.
And, then, after a very brief dip down into the high 6-pound range, she was back up and soaring over her birth weight.
At one-week post-partum, she weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces. At four weeks post-partum, she weighed nine pounds. At 6 weeks post-partum, she was 3 pounds heavier than her birth weight. And a week later, she was over 11 pounds.
She was a fast grower. She actually mirrored my growth as an infant to a tee.
And I was so thankful.
Any breast-feeding mom will tell you, it's much easier to walk into a pediatrician's office if your breast-fed baby is in the top 50th-percentile on the growth charts.
You don't get pressure to supplement. You don't get pressure to start solids early. You don't get phrases like "failure to thrive" or "can't make enough milk to feed your baby" thrown in your face.
You aren't forced to listen to fear tactics and out-dated concepts that stand in direct contradiction to what new research, the World Health Organization, and other sources you've read have told you.
You don't get stuck in one of the infamous "booby" traps present in American culture, which leave only 15 percent of women who intended to breast-feed their infant still doing so at 3 months of age. (A problem that has only been occurring in the last 10 years in our country, alone. But that's a different topic for a different day.)
Anyway, yeah, it's so much easier to have a "big" baby.
It's easier to have the nurse go, "Man, she's off the charts for weight." It's easier to endure other doctors coming over and going, "Whoa! Look at the size of that one!" It's easier to walk out in confidence, knowing that you are doing your body has managed to keep your baby alive and thriving.
Until, all of sudden, it isn't.
Until you walk into a play-group and someone goes, "My toddler has the same pants. She's probably wearing them in the same size as yours, too," and then busts into a fit of laughter.
Or until you're discreetly nursing your babe, and someone asks you, "Isn't she a little old for that?"
Or until a woman at church refuses to believe you when you tell her that she's just eating breast-milk, and she's really only nursing every three or four hours.
Until you get the looks. The stares. The points.
The exaggerated guffaws and straining noises people give off - jokingly, of course - when trying to pick up your baby.
The gaping mouths people give you when they ask you "What does she weigh?" and you answer, "Almost 22 pounds."
In the beginning, it didn't bother me. But now? Honestly, now, it does.
Yesterday, I got asked three times how old Ella was, and then, when I answered, "Almost 8 months," all three women immediately all said, "Oh my gawd! And what does she weigh?"
And it wasn't in a nice way, either.
Then there are the people who say "Well, she's just a big girl, then. She's going to be a big girl."
The women who point and whisper at the grocery store.
Or the random anonymous commenter on my blog who posted, "Your baby is too chubby and not that cute."
I have a long fuse, my friends. I do not lose my temper quickly.
But I'll warn you, over the last few weeks, my fuse has been about to snap.
I've started to bite my tongue, for fear I'll snap back with, "And what do you weigh, ma'am? Isn't that a little much for a woman of your age?"
And I've started to feel the urge to jump in with a, "You're a big girl, too. But you don't see me telling you that."
And, for the first time in three years, I deleted a comment on my blog from said anonymous commenter.
That is a huge deal for me, too. Because I am such an extremist about freedom of speech that, even the most outlandish, rude, and off-based comments I receive, I don't delete.
But the fact of the matter is, my daughter doesn't need to see that.
When she's 5, 10, or 15 - whenever she happens to stumble upon my blog - I do not want her reading comments telling her she's too chubby.
Because she's not.
Furthermore, she won't be.
I weighed almost 30 pounds at a year old. Thirty pounds. I was a big baby.
I've never been a tiny girl, but after that first year of my life, I'd say I'm distinctly average.
I am, and always have been, average height and weight for my age.
I am not a "big" girl now. Or growing up, really.
But, yes, I was a big baby. Huge, even, by some standards. Both of my brothers were the same way.
Now, my niece and nephews are the same, too. My husband's sisters all have big, breast-fed babies. They had (or have) rolls on their thighs and soft little bellies and sweet, chubby cheeks. They were, and are, freaking adorable.
And so is Ella.
I love my "big" baby. I think she's the cutest thing I have ever seen. She is healthy and happy and, yes, she is off the charts for her weight. But that's perfectly fine with me. I like it, in fact.
I come from a family where bigger babies are the norm, so I find them precious and cuddly and stinking cute-cute-cute.
Furthermore, I have never worried about Ella's size, at all. I assumed that, in my family, we grow big babies.
Plus, she's a baby.
A baby, people.
Since when did we get so concerned about size in our current society that we're putting our fears of obesity on a baby?
But that's the looks I get all the time.
Sneers. Glares. Backward glances. Mostly from other women. Many mothers, I'd say.
They openly stare. So much so that a grandmotherly type came up and patted my hands a few weeks back at the gym and said, "Don't you worry. She's perfect and beautiful and growing exactly how she's supposed to be."
I didn't know this woman from Adam. We'd never talked before. But she could see what the other people were glowering at. She could hear what other women were asking me.
Yes, it's easier to have a big baby.
Until it isn't.
***The biggest concern I honestly have when it comes to this is Ella.
You can throw any crap you want at me. Call me ugly. Call me rude. Call me sexually depraved for nursing my child in public.
I don't care.
But do not call my child fat.
I was reminded constantly and teased a lot about how big of a baby I was as I grew up. And you know what? It was embarrassing. I remember being ashamed as a child when relatives would talk about it.
Furthermore, leaving comments on the blog or Facebook about how giant she is? Well, she's likely going to read those some day.
Even if it's done as a joke or out of love, she's going to see the words "chubby" and "fat" and "big," and she's going to feel self-conscious.
As adults, when we talk about children, we are actively speaking into their lives.
That can be a good thing. We can say, "My, he's so spunky and curious."
Spunky and curious are admirable traits.
Or we can use words that will wound later in life.
We can make jokes or laugh or call them names we think of as playful.
But those words leave imprints. Especially in today's world, where children will see, read, and hear what their early lives were like, thanks to social networking.
If we wouldn't say it to an adult, why would we think it's OK to say it to a child?
***The fact of the matter is, I've never understood why people feel the need to walk up to me and tell me to "be careful of her weight."
Biologically, as an exclusively breast-fed baby, she can't eat too much. Our pediatrician - who is an amazing doctor who fully supports and pushes a breast-feeding relationship so much so that she doesn't recommend almost any other guideline I've heard quoted from other docs about when to start solids and when a mother needs to supplement - has reassured me so many times that her growth doesn't have much to do with eating at all, but is based mostly on genetics at this point in her life.
If she was 10 years old and had rolls for days? Then her doctor and I would be faced with a different discussion.
But as an infant? It's not a concern. It never has been.
So why do strangers care?
When I see tiny babies or thin babies, I never inquire, "Are they eating enough?"
It's none of my darn business. Plus, when I see a petite little one, I don't even think, "Man, she's so little!"
Instead, I think, "How cute!"
Because babies - all babies - are cute. Yes, I like my big baby. But every baby is different and special and precious and not beholden to any stupid, standardized growth chart.
He or she is a child, and for that reason, I think they're pretty darn adorable.
So why do people look at my baby and see her size as something unattractive? What's wrong with someone who thinks like that?
Worse yet, what's wrong with someone who talks like that?
I am a trainer. When I talk about weight with adults, I am very reticent and sensitive and careful how I phrase things.
No one has a right to tell anyone they are too big. I never call a client "fat," even if she's struggling with a obesity. I never call her "fat," even if we are specifically working on her losing weight to help her health and lifestyle. I never call her "fat," even she uses that word to describe herself.
But people call my perfectly happy baby "fat" all the time.
Yes, she's a child. But she can, and will, hear you.
What will you say, then?
***I was introduced to the blog Tribal Wife by my good friend Melissa yesterday. She inspired me to blog about this - it's been stewing for a while, I'll admit, but I didn't want to go there - after she talked about people calling her baby "big."
***Happy Tuesday, everyone.