The End

While I’ve talked about the frequent weight checks for Big Man, I haven’t really talked about all  he’s been going through the last few years, and part of the reason for all those weight checks.

It wasn’t something entirely unexpected, but it was frustrating nonetheless.  Back in late-seventh, and eighth grade, nearly all his friends started their growth spurts. While Big Man didn’t stop growing, he didn’t spurt. Suddenly, most of his friends were significantly taller, while he stayed much the same height. My brother grew late. Spouse grew late. So did my BIL apparently, so we weren’t too worried. But then he fell far off his own growth curve….like REALLY far off his own growth curve. It was enough his pediatrician called in the troops – ordered blood work, and started all the referrals to any specialist applicable. We’ve spent the last 2+ years getting follow-up testing, blood work, bone age scans, visiting endocrinology a few times.

What it came down to is the fact he is just constitutionally delayed – by a bit over 2 years. That means his body is two years behind his chronological age. That’s kind of a big deal for a fourteen/fifteen/sixteen year old. He took it in stride initially, but then when even the “small” kids in his friend group grew taller than he, the struggle began. He never said much about it, but I knew it was hard for him. It was miserable for me to see the difference, to see my little big boy walking around, significantly shorter than most of his peers. I prayed continually for him to grow. Like when  he was in the NICU, we began to celebrate every ounce gained, every part of an inch grown. We watched for any sign he was entering his spurt. Days, weeks, months passed, and nothing.

He’s nearly seventeen. He’s grown almost three inches since January 1st. I really have to look up to him now. His voice has changed. His face looks different – more adult, more defined. He sleeps constantly. He eats when he isn’t asleep. He’s shot up three lines on the growth curve. His ADHD doctor now says he can’t even guess how tall Big Man will be (just a year ago, he was telling me Big Man would maybe end up at 5’9″ or so).

I can’t express my level of relief – moreso for him than anything. I don’t have to see that look on his face anymore. He’s catching up to his friends. We saw his pediatrician last week and she was surprised, but not really surprised. We’ve reached the end of this particular medical journey. He is fully in his growth spurt. Whew. We do have one more visit with endocrinology in September, just to dot that final i and cross that final t.

I’m once again reminded of his NICU days…..in the beginning, in the middle, and even towards the end, it seemed we would never see the day he would come home. The last few years, it seemed we would never reach the end of this delay, we wondered he would ever grow. This child has always done things in his own time, on his own terms. This shouldn’t have been any surprise to me at all, yet it was. But now this too will be put behind us, and I will look up at my getting-taller-every-day big boy, and be thankful.

“Are they twins?”

Once the Princess hit about two years old, we heard the question a lot, “Are they twins?”. She and Big Man weren’t that far apart in size. She talked early, he talked late. The fact he was still somewhat behind developmentally due to his prematurity, it wasn’t completely out of the scope if you didn’t know us, know them, and didn’t look or listen too closely, for them to appear to be twins. They are twelve months and nineteen days apart.

When we decided to late-start Big Man in kindergarten, a year after he could have started, we knew we would also late-start P just so they wouldn’t be in the same grade. That wouldn’t have been fair to him, and it wouldn’t hurt her at all to wait a year given a mid-October birthday. Then in just the natural order of things, he grew much taller than she. We weren’t asked any longer the twin question.

Now we’re here….she’s almost fifteen, he’s almost sixteen. She’s had her growth spurt, he has not. He is taller than she, but only by about a quarter-inch.  Earlier in the summer, we were randomly asked a couple of times on vacation if they were twins. Then, at registration at the high school the other day, they were asked three times. THREE TIMES!!! This in spite of the fact the cards they were handing over to be signed at each station were different colors for their respective grades. We laughed it off, but at the same time, it stung a little bit. It didn’t really bother P, but it seemed to be getting to Big Man, especially the third time.

I pray, every single day, his delayed puberty will kick in, and he will finally grow. I pray, and I pray, and I pray. I cringe when I see the questioning looks when they’re together. Life just isn’t fair sometimes, is it? I can sense his frustration, although he seems to really try to take it all in stride, and he has an amazing sense of humor, which does help. We just keep reminding him it will happen, and eventually he will tower over his sister. We may still occasionally get the question, but my guess is it will be much less of a big deal for him and for me.

Don’t Look Up – That Falling Shoe Will Knock Your Eye Out

I took Big Man for his 13 year old well-child checkup last Thursday afternoon. We were totally cruising through the appointment…ADHD under good control, asthma acting like we would expect, hearing checks out, heart and lungs good, typical and healthy 13 year old boy….when WHAM!!! Falling shoe. ARGH! I hate when that happens.

It seems Big Man isn’t so big. He’s never been too high up on the weight charts, but now it seems he’s fallen off his height growth curve. <insert choice word here> I think he’s tall, or at least average. He’s just two inches shy of my height. And when I see him with his friends, I never think, “Wow, they’re a lot taller than he.” But apparently, charts don’t lie. He’s dropped from the 35-40th percentile down to the low 20’s. And he lost a pound (a pound!!!) since his last visit in November. I reasoned he probably had jeans on at that last visit, and maybe a sweatshirt. This time, he was in shorts and a t-shirt. That could account for a pound, right? Regardless, we received the informational page with healthy weight gain food suggestions – which we’ve received probably 10 times before. And we have a referral for a bone age scan of his hand to see if his bones are younger than his chronological age. This might explain his slowed growth.

Then came the double-whammy. He has a mild curve in his spine. Seriously? A few years back, his pediatrician saw he had one shoulder a tiny bit higher than the other, and his hips were not completely in line. We were sent for x-rays. They came back negative for any curvature of the spine. Not so much now. The tool they  used at the pediatrician’s office showed a 5-6, whatever that means. The doctor explained it was mild, but since he hasn’t had his big growth spurt yet, she wants the orthopedic doctor to take a look at it. Apparently, the ortho at Children’s has a special, lower-radiation x-ray thingamajiggee that will do two views at once of the spine. Of course, after all the x-rays Big Man has had in his life, we’re all for lower radiation. (In an aside, we went to the orthodontist five days later and he had another head x-ray…I sighed inwardly) I have to call today and make the appointment with the orthopedic specialist.

I’m somewhat in denial. Honestly, hasn’t this child too been through enough? I get that he should be a ton worse off given his 3.5 month early start. But geez…now, just when we’re entering the teenage years and his growth has slowed considerably, he’s beyond thin into the scary-skinny stage, and now he has a curve in his spine. Awesome. Thanks a lot, falling shoes. I’m about done.