I spent much of my adoloscence, young adult life and mid 20's actively struggling with an eating disorder. With poundage varying within a 25 lb radius of the weight I've maintained since being in recovery, I'd wax between over-eating, starving and over-exercising. The end result was that I lived a life of chaos as I ran away from life's problems at top speed and a steep incline on the gym's tredmill. In an attempt to make sense of my troubled life (from childhood on) I developed an unhealthy obsession with my weight. If the scale went up, I was a failure. If the scale went down, I wasn't as big of a shithead as I thought I was. I believed my weight was an appropriate barometer by which I could gauge my success.
As a mother, I have found I still adhere to this belief. Now, however, tipping the scales is the object of the game and the focal point of my obsession is my baby. My own body is let off the hook for awhile.
During her first visit to the pediatrician, Doctor Chan told me that she was still 3 ounces under birth weight. He gave me a goal to work towards. She needed to be at least 8 ounces heavier by the following week, which was when I was to bring her in to be weighed.
I left the doctor's office a wreck, worried that I had been slowly starving my baby. There I was, thinking everything was hunky dory, shoving my boob in her mouth and imagining she was getting stuffed. My inadequacy was more than I could handle, which was unnacceptable for my perfectionist brain. I vowed to remedy the situaton quickly and made it my sole mission to turn Darla into the fattest baby on the block.
Her bi-hourly feedings were amped up to hourly feedings. Darla was more than happy to oblige by eating whenever I offered food to her, so she quickly accepted the new feeding regiment.
By the following week, I was certain she had lost another pound. I showed up at the doctor's office twenty minutes early and nervously tapped the toe of my oxfords on the tile in the hallway.
All my worry was for nothing. When the nurse weighed her, she was up 19 ounces from the week before. My chest puffed up with pride. I began to acknowledge the rolls on her arms and thighs. I applauded myself. I had a thriving baby.
In the weeks that followed, I daily texted pictures to my family to show of a new chin she'd developed or the fat that puffed up on her wrists, which made it appear as if she were wearing a too-tight bracelet. There was something so primal about these acts. It's such a basic maternal instinct, spanning centuries, to fatten up your child in order to brave the wild. Although the invention of contained heating units and refrigeration has done away with the need to accumilate fat stores to survive sub zero weather, the tradition remains.
Yet, I have found that some women don't want to adhere to the seemingly natural inclination to fatten up one's offspring. Rather, they want their children to follow in the footsteps of heroin chic models and liposuctioned reality stars. They envision a future for their children in which they carry the torch of their mother's neurosis. Not me, I would never wish that ever tightening spiral of shame and self-loathing on my sweet Baby D.
In one mom support group, I heard a woman worrying over the rolls on her childs thighs. "I really hope I'm not over-feeding her."
In my book, there is no such thing. A baby can eat as much as she wants whenever she wants and it still isn't enough. When it comes to fat rolls, my mantra is "the more the merrier." As far as Darla's concerned, her body is a veritable gala of chunkiness.
I watched with pride (and sadness/melancholy) as Darla grew out of newborn clothes and into 0 to 3 month attire. I knew we were making progress.
This was all confirmed at our two month visit. I speculated, before walking in, that Darla weighed a little over 11 lbs. Needless to say, I was elated when she weighed in at 12 lbs 8oz. I was even more excited when I found out she was in the 90th percentile.
A perectionist at heart, I rejoiced at my stellar performance. But I can't leave well enough alone. A 90 is an A-, which I can't consider an A. I won't rest until Darla achieves that 100% or, in other words, she achieves an A+ in the weight division.