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Measuring a Woman’s Worth

Posted Mar 01 2013 11:00am

It seems like so much of the world tells us that we measure our value based on numbers on a scale or on the tag in our pants. I’ve struggled for a long time to break myself of the habit of determining my personal value based on the number on my scale.

Scale - You are More important than this number

Are there days that I still feel like I need to judge myself based on a weight or clothing size? Yes, but I’m getting better at arguing against that instinct.

But I’ve found a new way that weight can batter my self-confidence.

Baby scale cartoon

The weight on the scale at the pediatrician’s office when they weigh my daughter.

When she was first born and she didn’t really drop in weight, they praised me. “Oh, good job Mom! You’re feeding that baby so well!”

Then when you go to the doctor for your baby’s 6-month appointment (it was on Wednesday) and they tell you your baby is in the 5th percentile for weight, there’s a certain feeling of judgment that comes from statements like, “You need to feed her more!” and “She’s too small! How often are you feeding her?” When that starts, you immediately feel like a shitty parent. Well… at least I did.

Alex weighed in at 13 pounds, 6 ounces; this was not quite a full pound of weight gain in two months since her previous appointment. The doctor’s office told me that in addition to introducing solids, I have to feed her two additional times each day. I wanted to cry, I felt like I must be failing my child.

But after talking with my husband and my mother, I can’t help but wonder if maybe she’s just small. I mean, if she was starving, wouldn’t she let us know? She doesn’t look spindly, she looks healthy and has cute baby rolls on her legs. Plus if she had been to the doctor right after a feeding as opposed to right before a feeding, how would her weight change? I mean, she could have had 5-8 ounces of milk inside that cute little belly in that case. When you’re a baby, I would imagine that each ounce helps to make a difference on their charts. And maybe they were using the CDC growth charts … I’ve heard that those are more geared toward formula-fed babies and the WHO growth charts are a little more accurate for breastfed babies.

Let’s also consider that I was always at the bottom of the percentile charts as a kiddo. Considering she does share my genetic code, there’s a chance she takes after me, right?

It just bothered me that not only do women have their value judged by their own weight and appearance, but also on their children’s weight. So thanks doctor, for kind of ruining my day the other day and adding to what was already a stressful and anxiety-filled day. (I had to leave town for work and took the baby with me. It was my first time traveling with her on my own. It made me nervous.) I’ve been trying to feed the baby more, to follow the doctor’s instructions. The result has been my baby spitting up more and pooping more so far. I will take her back in 6 weeks (we have to go back for a weight check in 6 weeks instead of just waiting until 9-months for the next typical well-baby checkup) and see how things are going. Hopefully they’ll be satisfied with her progress and won’t make me feel chastised.

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