What’s Wrong with Fat Babies?

My husband and I make fat babies. Or maybe I just make fatty milk. Or perhaps it’s both. My two children came into the world right around 9 pounds. And at two weeks, where the doctor wants to see them regain to their birth weight, mine were over 10 pounds. By four months my daughter was 21.5 pounds. My babies just happen to be born large and gain quickly.

big baby

And throughout their whole first year of life, I thought it was adorable. I loved their chubby legs and fat cheeks. I felt like I could pat myself on the back for a job well done. (Mom Job #1: Feed baby. Check!)

But after my daughter hit one year, I started getting some negative comments. The pediatrician warned me to not give her whole milk and suggested low fat cheese since she was obese. A stranger at the park asked me what I was feeding her (and not in a kind, curious way). Others commented on how tight her pants looked on her tummy.

As a mother, I had a difficult time not being offended. I breastfed my baby and she gained most of the chub in her first year. Was I supposed to not feed on demand? Put my four month old on a diet? Make her work out?

And I can’t help but think that no one ever commented on my son’s weight at this age. There wasn’t an “obese” diagnosis at one year from the pediatrician. No one asked me what I was feeding him. No one used him as an example of what they didn’t want their baby to look like.

Are we really so obsessed with the female body image that I have to have discussions about my baby girl’s weight? I can get over the comments from the pediatrician. It is, after all, her job. But from everyone else? Really?

She is getting more and more slender every day, yet she still doesn’t fall into the “normal” BMI range. But she isn’t over eating, or sitting around all day watching TV, or letting herself go. She is just a typical, beautiful two year old. Who happens to have more baby fat than other kids to lose.

So stop talking about my daughter’s weight. She is just a child. A sweet, innocent child.  It breaks my heart that anyone cares enough about a toddler’s weight to comment on it.

The next time you want to judge me—or her—for her size, please remember that we are all unique. People come in all shapes and sizes, even when they are babies. Let her be the size and shape that she is before she (all too soon!) thinks that she isn’t good enough, or thin enough, to be what she wants to be.

Why I Write About the Unpleasant Parts of Motherhood

I recently read a blog post written by a mother who said she was disheartened by all the women who are writing about how motherhood isn’t always great. And that for her, she truly did love being a mom. She really enjoyed spending time with her kids.

When I read her blog post, I felt like a terrible mother. And I also felt that she misunderstood why women write about the less pleasant moments of motherhood. It’s not because they wish they didn’t have kids. And it’s not because they don’t enjoy spending time with their children or that the time spent with their kids isn’t important. I have other reasons to write about the less pleasant parts of motherhood, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

When I had my first baby, my mom came and helped for a few days and my husband stayed home from work with me for the first three weeks. But I’ve never been someone who enjoyed being alone frequently, so once my mom left and my husband went back to work, I felt incredibly isolated.

When my husband left for work each morning, it felt like the rest of the world left with him. I would take walks around my neighborhood and hardly see another person.  Most of my friends with small children didn’t live in the area, and friends without children had careers. I was exhausted and usually needed a shower, so I felt uncomfortable going somewhere like the mall or even the grocery store. And since I was a new mom who was getting used to nursing for the first time, I was terrified of needing to nurse my baby in public.

So I stayed home. Just me and my baby, nearly every day. My baby was fussy and I worked really hard to keep him content (which meant I constantly walked around or nursed him, day and night), so I was always exhausted. And even though I was with a tiny person all the time, I had never felt so alone.

Those first few months of motherhood was one of the toughest periods of my life. I talked with friends who seemed like they had it together and motherhood was a breeze. I saw upbeat posts on Facebook from other young moms and I thought to myself, “Something is wrong with me. Why don’t I have it together like those women?”

And now, five years later, I think that is why I feel so strongly that mothers need to share the times when it’s tough. When it’s not perfect. When it’s not something that they enjoy. It’s not because I want to complain all the time or take my life for granted. I realize that having children is a beautiful thing. They are amazing little people who have changed me and my life for the better. Overall, I love being a mother.

But I don’t love it all the time. I can’t cherish every second. Because I’m human. Sometimes I lose my patience, just want to be alone, or feel overwhelmed. I used to feel guilty about it. But now I know it doesn’t make me less of a mother and it certainly doesn’t mean I love my kids any less. And just because someone out there has it worse than me does not mean that my personal difficult times have any less of an impact on me.

I write about the hard parts of being a mother because another struggling new mother might find it comforting to know that she isn’t alone. Because it can be really lonely. And it’s even lonelier when you think that you are the only one who doesn’t love it all the time. I don’t want other moms to feel like I did. I don’t want them to feel guilty and think that they aren’t a good mother. I want them to know that no one has that perfect life. Everyone struggles. It’s just that not everyone shares their struggle.

Tips for Introducing an Older Child to a New Baby


When I was pregnant with my second baby, I felt horribly guilty that I was having a another child. I was worried that my first would resent his baby sister and he would feel neglected and unloved. But when the time actually came, my sweet little boy was an amazing big brother and made a *fairly* flawless transition to the role of older sibling. While each child is different and will handle things their own way, these are the techniques I used to help my first-born adjust to having a sister:

Prep, prep, prep

There is a lot of advice about not talking to your little one about your pregnancy. Apparently it’s too long of a process and they can’t conceptualize it or something like that. Well, I didn’t really care. I decided that my child needed to know why he couldn’t kick me in the stomach, so we told him I had a baby in my belly. Yes, that meant his preschool teacher found out I was pregnant from my son, but I think it was a good thing to start preparing him early. We could talk about what babies do (cry, eat, sleep) and how awesome it is to be a “big boy.” We bought an awesome book (“I’m a Big Brother”) that we would read periodically to remind him about what was going to happen when we had a baby there, too.

Make introductions at the hospital (or wherever you choose to birth) while you aren’t holding or feeding the baby

We opted to have our son come to the hospital to see the baby. Since this was the first time he had been apart from me for more than a day, it was important that I was able to greet him without anyone else interfering (i.e., the baby). So I wanted the baby to be in the bassinet when he came to my room. I asked my parents to warn me when they were coming in case the baby was nursing. And instead of being cranky that someone else had my attention, the first thing he asked me was where I had put the baby. And by doing that, HE was the one to hold the baby the first time he met her (obviously with my help).

Make the first visit extra special

We also had a gift for him at the hospital so it would feel like a celebratory day for him. Meeting a new sibling might not seem fun, so I wanted there to be another reason for him to be excited in case the first meeting went poorly. You don’t have to get a gift, but come up with something that excites your kid. Just in case. They likely won’t think a new baby is nearly as exciting as you do.

Remember that the older child knows you aren’t paying attention to them

If your baby is sleeping peacefully (or is awake and peaceful!), devote some time to the older kid. The infant doesn’t know that you’re ignoring them, but your older child does. They used to be the center of your world, and now they have to share that. So while it is important to bond with the new baby, it’s also important to not forget that your older child needs a lot from you too. It can be tempting to spend all your time with the baby, but trust me, your older child will know you are ignoring them for their sibling. Be sure to make time to hang out with them, too. (Even better if it can happen without the baby sometimes.)

I’m sure there are many techniques you can use to help your little one adjust, but if you are pregnant with your second and are feeling anxious like I was, these might help!

Good luck!

Boys Are Made of Sugar and Spice, Too

What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails
That’s what little boys are made of

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of

My son, all gussied up.

My son, all gussied up.

When I had my first baby, my aunt gave me a bag of dress-up clothing for my son to play with when he was older. She said in her experience, her boys had appreciated having pretty dress-up clothing that they could play with. At the time, my baby was only a month old, so I had no idea what it would be like when my son grew up. But over the past five years, I have heard that conversation over and over as I interact with my son and see him want many things that most people consider “girly.”

I have spent countless hours doing my son’s nails, helping him into high-heeled shoes, putting barrettes or other hair accessories in his hair, modifying my clothing so it fits him, showing him my make-up, and putting jewelry on him. Some of these things he wanted when he was young and was simply interested in what I was doing. Other things he wanted when his little sister asked for it. And sometimes, I think he asked for them because it’s nice to have someone pay attention to you. Children simply don’t care that society makes certain things for girls and certain things for boys.

And beyond all of those “girly” things, I can see that my little boy needs a lot of physical affection. It’s easy to cuddle with a quiet little girl who sits in your lap on her own and gives you a hug. My son runs everywhere and hardly stops for anything, yet he needs as much physical affection as his little sister. When he was two years old, he switched to a new teacher at daycare, and he would come home and ask me to hug him. All he wanted was to sit with my arms around him and it broke my heart. I could clearly see that he wasn’t getting enough physical affection during the day. Even now I have to grab him as he runs by to give him a hug. Or take the time to rub his back if he happens to be sitting still. Or simply sit with him on my lap when I get the chance. And almost every time he smiles at me and says something like “Can I sit on your lap again? Will you keep rubbing my back?”

So while I firmly believe that we should let our high-spirited boys be boys, I also think we shouldn’t assume that their high energy means they don’t need as much affection from the people around them. My approach is to let my son play with whatever he wants, and try to always remember that he needs affection, but won’t ask for it.

I think little boys are made of sugar and spice just as much as little girls. Perhaps they just hide it under their frogs and snails.

To the Parent of the Kid Who Eats Everything

Clearly not my child. Image courtesy of Linda Åslund: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lindaaslund/2384114564/in/album-72157623473925493/

Clearly not my child.
Image courtesy of Linda Åslund

I’m sure you think you are helping. That you give me advice with the best of intentions. But frankly, I kind of hate you right now.
And I think you should know that your parenting skills alone are not the reason your kid eats anything. Everyone is different, and some people have more issues with eating than others.
Maybe your kid did go through a relatively picky phase at one time (like that time they refused to eat kale or quinoa for a couple weeks). Or perhaps they don’t eat every single item you offer them all the time. And you came up with a great way to get your child back on track.
But you know nothing about my child and how food has been an issue since he 3 months old. How he refused to take a bottle for the nine hours I was at work and simply switched his feeding times from day to night, forcing me to offer solids earlier than I wanted in an attempt to get more than 45 minutes of uninterrupted sleep at night. Or how even the tiniest chunks would make him gag and throw up his entire meal, even as an infant. How at 10 months he started refusing nearly every solid food, despite me offering things over and over again. How trying to get him to eat his first cake at his first birthday made him cry. How as a new parent I desperately tried any method of enticing him to eat more foods, only to see them all fail. And feel like I was failing him as a mother.
So don’t tell me now that I didn’t offer chunky food early enough, didn’t try hard enough, or just needed to do one thing or the other. I did. I tried harder than you can imagine. But he is a person. He has his own preferences. And he chooses to fight me with food at every step.
He is five years old and the variety of food he eats is still a major problem. But your obvious judgment isn’t helpful. And neither is your “advice.” Just be happy that your kid eats more than most and keep any comments about my parenting to yourself.
The Parent of a Picky Eater

Why I’m Not Sad That My Kids are Growing Up

My wonderful, growing children

My wonderful, growing children

 I’m always a little puzzled when people complain about their children growing up or bemoan the fact that their baby is no longer a baby. Frankly, I’m happy that my kids are getting older. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely loved certain things about the baby years and I can look back on those times with nostalgia. But I’m pretty happy that my children didn’t stay babies forever…
It was precious to hold my infants while they were sleeping. They made adorable faces and grinned at me when they woke up. It also forced me to sit down and really focus on the baby for a bit. To fall in love with them just a little bit more.
But I also hated waking up in the middle of the night when one of those sweet babies decided he wanted me to hold him all night. Upright. And walking around. For months. I rejoiced when I finally got more than 45 consecutive minutes of sleep at night. For my second baby, I grew to hate that she only wanted to take her naps with me in the Ergo. I loved that Ergo and in the beginning it was indispensable when I needed to also take care of my three year old. But it meant that my second child didn’t nap on her own until she was over a year, which eventually made it harder to take care of her older brother.
I also fondly remember nursing those babies. It was a different kind of bond that I formed with them, and it was special. I felt like every ounce they gained was just because of me and I was proud of it. It was wonderful to be able to comfort them through nursing. I can’t imagine not having that in my arsenal of things to try when my babies were fussy and I wasn’t sure what was wrong.
But since I was breastfeeding, I was the only one who got up at night (and I got up a lot). Plus I spent 1.5 hours each day at work pumping. And my milk had a lot of lipase, so I had to scald all the milk I pumped every night after the baby went to bed, or the milk would end up tasting like a sour towel. I also had a baby who refused the bottle and decided to nurse all night instead. And for the first two months of my daughter’s life, I had some awful open wounds on my nipples that made me want to cry every time she nursed. And then there was the time I had mastitis and spent several days in bed, vomiting and feverish, with a throbbing, aching breast. And the time I had thrush and had to grit my teeth to get through each nursing or pumping session.
I think with each age there will be something to love and something to wish away. I can’t stop them growing older, so bemoaning the fact that they are getting older just prevents me from enjoying who they are right now. I might not have a tiny baby to nurse and cuddle, but I have a creative five year old with an incredible imagination, who is so sweet to his little sister and asks hilarious questions. And I have a very affectionate two year old who is learning to communicate more and more each day and says the funniest things.
At this very moment, it is the only time they will be exactly who they are now. So it’s not sad that they are growing up. It’s a gift to see them grow each day. And I intend to enjoy it.

A Day at Home Without Kids: Mom versus Dad

7:30 am

Mom: Wow, it’s just me here. I guess I should take this opportunity to clean a bit.

Dad: Whoa, it’s just me here. I can play all the M-rated video games I want!

8:30 am

Mom: Well, I cleaned a bunch. Maybe I should run a few errands, those are easier without the kids.

Dad: *Eyes glued to the TV screen*

10:00 am

Mom: Hmm, my errands are done. This house is quiet. Do I read a book? Maybe watch some HGTV? Do laundry?

Dad: *Eyes glued to the TV screen*

11:30 am

Mom: I’m hungry. I’ll find something to eat that my kids don’t like.

Dad: I’m hungry, but I’m so engrossed in my game that I already forgot that I’m hungry. I’ll eat later.

1:30 pm

Mom: This is actually kind of boring. Did I spend this much time by myself before kids? I’ll fold some laundry.

Dad: This is awesome. I haven’t had this much time on my own in months!

3:00 pm

Mom: Maybe I should pick up the kids early…I feel bad that I’ve been home all day and they are at daycare.

Dad: Hmm, maybe I can pick up the kids late today and finish this level…

Dad does do things like this. Maybe he needs more personal time to physically recover.

Dad does do things like this. Maybe he needs more personal time to physically recover.

Nature versus Nurture

When I had my first baby, I had some pretty romantic views of early parenting. I imagined snuggling his soft, warm little body as he slept peacefully. Or playing on the floor together. Or walking in the mall with him happily strapped into the stroller.

At no time did I imagine walking up and down my hallway, with tears running down my cheeks, desperately trying to get him to sleep. I also didn’t realize that he wouldn’t ever want to play on the floor and instead would want to be bounced 24 hours per day. I never dreamed that he would hate the stroller.

I also never imagined feeling so utterly and completely like a failure. It was so much more difficult than I had ever imagined. It’s quite likely that I spent as much time crying as he did.

For the first three years of his life, I assumed that I had somehow spoiled him and created a demanding baby. I thought perhaps I was doing something wrong. I would talk with other moms when they had their baby and they would look at me blankly when I said how hard it still was for me after a year. Or they would say only that the first few weeks were tough, but then they got the hang of it. I would stand there, silently wondering what was wrong with me, because I still didn’t have the hang of it, and my kid was a toddler! Equally disheartening was seeing parents with their calm child in tow, smugly looking at me and my crazy boy. And judging me. Clearly, judging me.


Jumping on the furniture is one of those battles I chose to let go!

But then, I had another baby. A baby who slept well on her own. Who would have been perfectly content to have me snuggle her while she peacefully slept, or not. One who loved having toys rattled for her while she cooed on the floor, or (*gasp*) she would entertain herself! Besides showing me how easy some babies could be, she showed me that I was not the person who had made her older brother who he was. He was simply who he was; not someone that I created out of my inexperienced parenting.

For all those people out there who weren’t blessed with a difficult baby, stop acting like it’s your amazing parenting skills that made your child compliant and well-behaved. Stop looking at me with that look that implies that if YOU were their parent, they wouldn’t behave like that. All those techniques that so easily worked for you won’t necessarily work with my kid. I guarantee that I have worked longer, harder, and more tirelessly than any of you to get us to where we are now (people only judge me every once in a while at this point).

I’ve been a parent for five years, and I still sometimes find myself at a loss for how to be a good parent to my kids. I still cry in frustration at times. But now that I see the stark differences between my own two children, I can remind myself that everything is not my fault. People are who they are. Sure, I can guide how they grow and nurture them to be good and kind people, but I didn’t create their temperaments. They were born with those, and that is outside of any parent’s control.
So, if you are the parent of an easy child, please be thankful, not judgmental. And if you have a child who challenges you at every step, try to ignore all those people who assume you are doing something wrong. I try to ignore it, and just wait for the age when all those difficult traits become assets.

Nothing Left to Give

Recently I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about motherhood. She is staying home with her two young children and sounded exhausted. And like she could use a day (or week) off. Even though I work part time, I could still empathize with how she was feeling. I admitted to her that for a good chunk of last year, I hated being home alone with my children. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to pieces and always have…but at that point, I just didn’t love that job.

A photo my son took of me, crying and nursing a baby on the floor of the airport.

A photo my son took of me, crying and nursing a baby on the floor of the airport.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I was just in a funk, needed more sleep, a few nights out, or if my kids were at stages that just grated on my every nerve, but I dreaded my days at home. I woke in the morning and immediately started counting the minutes until my husband would abandon me.

Granted, he abandoned me in our lovely home to go make some money to pay for said home, but still. He was escaping to the world of adults. Adults who, for the most part, make it through the day without tantrums or needing help wiping their butts. The fact that it was my choice to be home with our kids didn’t factor into my feelings when he left. Irrationally, I was upset that he was going to work and I was at home.

I’m sure there are people who just don’t understand. (Or at least they seem to not understand based on the things they say on social media, in their blogs, or in real life.) I guess they really love being home with their kids all the time and can appreciate every stage.

Well, hats off to those moms that apparently enjoy even the most awful of days. But that person isn’t me. Or my friend. She was just glad that I admitted to her that sometimes I hated my mom job, because she was feeling the same way and didn’t think she could say it. But there are times I think we are the only two people in the world who feel that way.

I simply don’t understand why it is such a horrible thing to admit that you don’t always love being around your children. I can love someone and still not want them to hang off of me for every waking second of the day. I have given birth to two very clingy children. They constantly push their father away and hang off of me. My two year old presses her face to mine to get as much surface area touching as possible. Adorable, yes…and also irritating at certain times. Like when I need to pee.

Yesterday my husband came home with our two children and I went outside to greet them. Immediately they both started wailing over some minor thing (like being forced to return a toy to the rightful owner and the other for getting their toy taken away) while also hanging off my legs. Both of them. I stood outside my house, unable to walk inside, while my children threw their tantrums and my neighbors looked at me askance.

But why do I have to look at that situation with rose-colored glasses and tell everyone how adorable it is that they love me SO much? Why can’t I say how irritating it is when my children act like my only purpose is to dote on their every wish and command? Why do I have to approach every challenging situation with my children with a positive attitude? I’m sorry, but some things are awful and no amount of spin will change my feelings on it.

When my first was about 6 months old, my mom told me that sometimes as a mother, “You just don’t have anything left to give.” At the time I was horrified. How could I not put the needs of my child ahead of my own for everything? Now, a few years later, I see her point. Am I a good mother when my children repeatedly wake me in the middle of the night? Heck, no. I’m crabby and short-tempered the following day. Teaching them to sleep through the night was one of the best things I did for our family. Am I good mother when I don’t take time for myself? Definitely not. I start resenting the time I spend with my family instead of appreciating it.

So, if you at times hate being a mom, that’s okay. We all know you love your kids. There is so much pressure to be an amazing mother that it leaves us with nothing left for ourselves. And it’s okay to reclaim something for yourself, you aren’t a superhuman. Sometimes, you just don’t have anything left to give.

My Not So Intentional Gender Role

Training him young.

Training him young!

I chose to marry a man who was not a traditionalist. He didn’t expect me to stay home with our kids. He had grown up with a mother who worked at various points in his life and a father who worked from home, so if anything, you would think he would take on some of the traditionally female gender roles in our family.

And later when I was pregnant with our second child, we discussed that it would be easier for our family if I was home with the kids, but he didn’t ask me to do that. He wanted that to be my decision.

But last year when Christmas Eve rolled around, I cooked in the kitchen, my mother-in-law played with the kids…and my husband sat and chatted with his dad while drinking a beer.

Even with the best of intentions, my husband and I still end up gravitating toward the traditional gender roles. Despite consciously thinking that it is an equal partnership and we should both do fifty percent of the household chores and childrearing, in reality, that doesn’t happen.

I’m not alone in this. I’ve talked with other moms who agree that if they are there, their spouse assumes they will be the one managing the kids. I’m not sure if it’s because we pay more attention to our children than their fathers, if we just jump up to help them right away without giving our spouses a chance, or whether it is really is something deeper related to gender roles. But it happens.

Just the other day, my two year old pointed at the vacuum and said, “Mommy’s!” I have to admit that I was pretty cranky. Obviously I’m the one doing most of the vacuuming if she thinks it’s mine. And later that day when she pointed at the remote control and said “Daddy’s!” I thought that it was time for a change.

Clearly I need to sit on the couch and play more video games. And probably drink beer while my husband cooks.