My Tiny Two Year Old
I’m five feet tall and my husband is maybe 5’7”. When I was pregnant, we joked with our friends and family that our child was never going to be in the back row in school photos.
You’d think we would have been prepared for it.
When my daughter was born, she weighed 6 pounds & 9 ounces. She was perfect. When it came time to dress her for the first time, we realized that the newborn clothes we had purchased were way too big. Even the one outfit we accidently shrunk the week before I gave birth. My husband quickly headed out to buy some smaller clothes, which ended up being size preemie. Even then, we didn’t really think too much about it, we were busy falling in love.
We felt crushed
When the public health nurse came to pay us a visit a few days after we got home from the hospital, our daughter had lost a few ounces, which we were told is normal. We were still riding an emotional high from our new addition, but it all came to an end (temporarily) rather quickly. The nurse immediately expressed concern that our baby was too small. While I was at the hospital, nurses there told me the breastfeeding was going really well, and now it wasn’t. The public health nurse suggested we use formula in addition to the breastfeeding. I felt awful. Inadequate. Like I had failed as a mother. After the nurse left, I broke down. I worried about my little baby’s health. We tried formula, but gave it up after a few days when pumping showed that I was finally producing enough milk.
A few days later, she was back to her birth weight.
Still, I became a bit obsessed with her size – I wanted to make sure she was growing. I took her to what were called Well Baby Drop In clinics (now called Baby Express) put on by the City of Ottawa, where you can have your baby weighed and talk to a nurse about anything that’s on your mind.
Among the babies there, my daughter was generally the smallest one for her age. As the weeks passed, it seems we started meeting younger babies who were bigger than her.
The worrying continued.
At every check-up, our family doctor would show us where she is on the growth chart, which was generally less the 10th percentile. She said our baby is growing at her own pace – the key point being she was growing. Happy and healthy were the words our doctor used. We have since adopted that phrase as our own now. Our doctor said we could feed her anything as long as it wasn’t junk, because she can use the calories. (So when she asks for spoonfuls of peanut butter, we don’t have a problemJ). We asked our doctor if she was worried. She said no. We actually ask our doctor that every time we see her. Every time, she says no. That definitely put us more at ease.
I asked about how we can tell if she is eating enough. The doctor reassured us that she is not going to starve herself. She will eat when she is hungry.
You know ‘the look’. Strangers are particularly good at it. The ‘What are these parents doing?’/’I’m totally judging you’/‘Should I call Child Services?’ look. You might get it if your baby is crying at the grocery store, or if you’re seen bribing your child with a chocolate chip cookie. We get it a lot, but it comes right after we get asked about her age and weight. My husband jokes that we should lie to people about her age, just so we can stop getting ‘the look’.
She recently turned 2 and weighs about 19 pounds. Yes, there are babies half her age who are bigger than she is. Yes, some of her clothes are meant for 12 month olds. And yes, that means she is still rear-facing in the car.
She is growing at her own pace. She walks and talks like other 2 year olds, she just is smaller than most. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Keep Calm and Parent On,
Vanessa, a prairie girl at heart, is a proud mom who is happy to be raising a family here in the Nation’s Capital. She works as a reporter for CTV and is always trying to find a way to balance her professional life with her family life.