11 July 2011

The Sugar

When Emmaline was born she looked tiny, like a miniature version of the baby we had been expecting. Her clothes were all too big, partly because people told us she would grow out of newborn clothes so fast and so we hadn't really bought any but mostly because she was small.

Except she wasn't. She was dead center, 50th percentile, run of the mill average. She weighed what a baby should weigh. She was a little grumpy looking and her hands were blue, but that hardly seemed worth sending her back for a refund. No one gets an Apgar of 10 anyway and mostly we were happy that her heart rate, which had been 40 and entirely unacceptable, fixed itself quickly once she made it to the outside world.

Before she was born I got a bit of teasing from my mother-in-law about what I had in store. My husband was a big baby, so it stood to reason that he might produce big offspring. He was, in fact, such a big baby that in those pictures from his first weeks home where he is being gingerly held by his big brother, you often cannot really see his big brother all that well. That's because when a normal sized three-year-old holds a twelve pounder on his lap, there's not much lap left over.

But my husband was a lightweight compared with this baby, born recently and weighing sixteen pounds.

ABC News

And in light of the media coverage of the infant's birth, it's important to remember two things. First, JaMichael is not really a name. It's different, sure, maybe even unique what with being mom's and dad's names smooshed together, but there's a whole book about why this is just not a good idea. Second, a big baby is not always a healthy baby. Having extra sugar around from diabetes during a pregnancy makes the fetus think it's supposed to grow bigger because insulin-like growth factor is (as its name suggests) shaped sort of like insulin, but that's not ultimately a good thing.

So while we're reveling at how on earth it's possible to grow a sixteen pound baby in your belly, let's keep in mind some things that babies should be smaller than...just for perspective.

For instance, a newborn should be smaller than her uncle.

She should be smaller than a cat.

She should be smaller than stuffed lizards.

And smaller than her father's old textbooks.

She should be so small, in fact, that you can't help but want to protect her, despite the crying and frequent overnight feedings. You protect her until she becomes entirely grown up and insistent on wearing a certain pair of shoes that always make her trip and you can't protect her anymore.

Then you hide in the bathroom to cry on the pretense of looking for a Bandaid and remind yourself of when she was so small.

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