Things you realise when you have a ‘big-boned’ baby

Both of my babies missed the memo about being meant to lose weight in the first few days after birth.

Each put on 300g in the first week of their lives. It turned out they started as they meant to go on – they kept gaining weight apace through their first years.

Although they were both born small, I’ve had two babies of the sort of size that prompts strangers to stop in the supermarket and exclaim over how “bonny”, “extremely healthy” or “chubby-legged” they are.

This is all good news on the surface. A good coating of padding helps keep them warm and means I don’t have to fret too much if they get sick and start dropping a feed or two. The experience of the first tells me that by the time my daughter is a rampaging two-year-old, she too will be as lean as the next child.

But there are a few significant drawbacks to having an infant who goes through a Rubenesque stage.

My back

Imaging how your body might feel if you had to lug around a very large sack of potatoes for a day. Then do that every day for the next six months. Babies don’t really start to cling on and take any of their own weight as they are carried until they are into their second year. So if you have a big baby, you get strong fast. I’m currently carrying 12-ish kilograms of child much of the day – doing squats with my sack of potatoes as I try to get on to the floor to play with my son and lunges as I try to get back up again. My knees are in the worst shape they’ve been since I played netball as a teenager. But I’m destined to carry my child for longer than normal, even though it’s harder, because…

The later milestones

Bigger babies have too much body weight for their limbs to handle, so they tend to be later crawlers (or so I am told). That’s good news since my house is entirely un-childproofed at present and not really ready for a crawler but not so good for my tired arms.

Feeding

I read something that proclaimed that every bit of fat on a breastfed child had come straight from its mother. This doesn’t bear scientific scrutiny but it does sometimes feel as though every nutrient is being sucked out of each cell of my body. It takes work for those kids to get their gorgeous bodies – and it’s mostly mine.

The clothing

My baby has been in a size one since she was about six months old and I’m resisting moving to the next size up. There’s always an “is this going to fit” moment when I get a onesie out and try to clip it for the first time in a while.  I cover up increasingly gaping necklines with jumpers. But she’s still not really size one in length, yet. Any pants that fit around the middle tend to dangle off the bottom of her legs.

The comments

I’ve run out of ways to respond to the “she’s a big girl, isn’t she?” statements. Yep, yes, she is.

The well-meaning comments are fine. We can agree she’s super cute. But when people ask me if I’m worried that she’s bigger than her peers, it’s not that helpful. For the record, no, I am not. But my knees wouldn’t mind a break sometime.

 

Your 20-step guide to bedtime, by my three-year-old

Step one: Begin early. About 4pm, focus on appearing very tired. Give one-word answers to questions and gaze off into space at regular intervals.

Step two: About 5pm, start complaining. If your parents ask you to do anything – at all – there’s no need to comply. Simply say “I’m tired”. Or whine. That’s fine, too.

Step three: When your flustered parents give you dinner, stare at it forlornly. When one suggests you might be too tired to eat, nod imperceptibly. If someone asks if you think you could manage anything… at all… look up dolefully from under your eyebrows: “Maybe four crackers.”

Step four: Once you’ve got what you want, you can experience a dramatic surge in energy. Suggest your parents take you on in a running race.

Step five: When it’s bath time, propose a game of hide and seek. Before anyone has a chance to disagree, run away and hide. Alternatively, if anyone is trying to put a sibling to sleep, use the opportunity to share your singing or kapa haka skills with the rest of the family.

Step six: Practice your kickboxing on your parent/s as they carry you to the bath.

Step seven: Refuse to get out.

Step eight: Only brush your teeth if they let you stand on the bathroom vanity and eat the toothpaste.

Step nine: Negotiate three stories in bed.

Step 10: Remember that you didn’t have any water with your dinner. Shout “I’ll get it” and run out of the room before anyone can stop you.

Step 11: Return. By now your parents are so close to getting you into bed that there’s an extra sense of desperation in the air. Request a minute to look out the window at the planets.

Step 12: Even if it’s pouring, insist that you can see Venus.

Step 13: Ensure that everyone else in the house has also seen it.

Step 14: Finally lie down but commence a series of rolls back and forth across the bed so you get tangled in the sheet.

Step 15: Request your mother’s company once she’s helped you free.

Step 15: Ask her to make up a story in which you and your friend go on a long, convoluted bike ride that involves monsters, a river, the sun and jelly.

Step 17: Ask for a second glass of water.

Step 18: Then the toilet.

Step 19: Change your mind and request your father’s company. Extra points if you shout: “I don’t want you!!!” At your mother.

Step 20: Lie across your dad’s face for 32 minutes until he falls asleep through lack of oxygen. Go to sleep yourself.