He was two pounds even at birth, add an ounce once all the tubes and wires were attached. He dropped down to 1 pound 11 ozs quickly, and took three weeks to get back to his birth weight. His weight was measured in grams, not ounces or pounds. We learned quickly how to convert to pounds, but that was pretty depressing. He’d gain two grams, and then lose five. His body was working so hard to do things it wasn’t prepared for yet. It drained all the energy he ate. There wasn’t enough left for him to grow on.
He did eventually grow. But as it is with micro-preemies, it takes them a good long while to catch up. When his baby sister was born, he still looked like a 9-month-old. We spent a lot of time explaining “corrected age.” He had multiple weight-checks every month. I obsessed about those weight checks, praying for gains each and every time. I was even excited for his monthly synagis shot appointments, because I knew it meant another weigh-in.
For a short while, once he “caught up,” he looked like every other kid. But then genetics (two thin parents, his dad extremely thin growing up) caught up with him. He maintained his own growth curve though, and he did grow, so we didn’t worry. But then he fell off his own curve….far off his own curve. For the last two years, we’ve had more frequent weight checks, most of them wrapped up in other appointments, but watched closely. I tried not to worry at all, knowing how small I was way back when, how much his dad weighed even at six feet tall, but it’s hard when it’s continually thrown in your face, how thin your child is, how much smaller he is than his peers. I can wrap my hand around his upper arm. We used to buy the slim jeans with the elastic bands to pull them as tight as possible. You can’t find those in adult sizes. We finally found slim-sized, super skinny jeans. The waist is usually still a bit too big.
Trust me when I say the child eats. He eats better than the other two combined. We’ve been given all the weight-gain tricks. He uses them all. He takes protein bars to school to eat in the morning and afternoon, along with his protein/carb/calorie-loaded lunch. We’ve had him on full milk for four years.
I took him for his well-child (well-teenager?) check this afternoon. He’s lost two pounds since the beginning of January. Again with the discussion of how to get more good calories into him. Again with the follow-up appointment in two months to once again check his weight. When told he’s training for a half marathon in June, the doctor had a suggestion for before and after run nutrition. Endocrinology, upon reviewing all his records and genetic predisposition didn’t want to see him, said it wasn’t necessary. For that, I’m grateful. We currently have enough follow-up appointments to last until May.
Every time he’s weighed, I hold me breath. It was the same in the NICU – weight was the first stat I would check on his chart every morning, just after looking at his monitors to see how he was breathing and what his heart rate was. Logically, I KNOW we can chalk this all up to genetics. I know it. But I can’t help but go back to that NICU time, can’t help but worry each time I see his pants falling off, the belt he’s tightened as far as it will go, the stick-like arms and legs as he runs beside me. And so we wait for the weight.