I had skinny babies. I’m not talking about when they were born, though none of them were big chunks at birth either. I mean, at around 3 or 4 months, their growth curve sort of levels out for a while. Some of them actually have straight lines on their growth curves; little Rachel even went backward; and Jackson just inched his way up in a very relaxed curve (and I use the word “curve” loosely).
I mentioned my 4th-born, Silas, the other day. He weighed 11 pounds from the time he was 5 months until the time he was 10 months. His was probably the most extreme because, for a while, he refused a bottle or food. We gave him an appetite stimulant; I tried herbs to increase milk production; I tried pumping to increase milk production; I took Reglan to increase milk production. Unlike his oldest sister, Lauren, and his brother, Caleb, Silas’ weight problems really did cause a failure to thrive. He began to lose muscle tone and as the pediatric gastroenterologist said, he was perfectly happy to starve.
Because my children had their own little unique growth curve, we didn’t worry too much about Silas when his curve turned into a straight line. And because I was with him every day, I didn’t notice the loss of muscle tone; it had happened so gradually. At 10 or 11 months, Silas saw the pediatric gastroenterologist, the same specialist my girls had seen for their growth issues. According to this doctor, some children are happy to starve and need a jump-start to stretch the stomach and sort of get them eating and growing.
He gave us a 3-week deadline. Either Silas gained an acceptable amount of weight in 3 weeks or he was being hospitalized and having a feeding tube inserted. We asked everyone we knew to pray — pray that he would actually eat food, pray that he would drink from a sippy cup, pray that he gained enough. And then I fed him. All day. Every day. At least, that’s how it felt.
I wanted to give him a fat-transplant; I was a willing donor, but that wasn’t possible. I wondered if my eating lots of hamburgers and french fries and cookies would somehow translate into weight gain for Silas since I was still nursing. That hadn’t worked so far, so I chucked that idea too. Instead, I nursed him for as long as he would nurse — usually a half-hour — every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. After he nursed, I fed him. After talking with the dietitian, I chose high-protein foods. We didn’t waste time with wimpy baby cereals. I fed him tiny Gerber jars of mashed beef and chicken, yogurt, and egg yolks. I think he even had some pudding and ice cream. Those chocolate-peanut butter milkshakes at Sonic helped me gain weight, maybe ice cream would work for Silas.
The combination of high-protein foods and God’s answers to our prayers was very successful. In that 3-week timeframe, Silas averaged a weight-gain of 2 ounces a day. The gastroenterologist was shocked! (I put a romper with horizontal stripes on him too, which made him look fatter.) The weight-gain was double what the doctor had expected. The jump-start had worked. From then on, Silas gained weight. Somewhere between 12 months and 17 months, he started to really chub-up, just like our other children had done. And now, he is a healthy, active 4 1/2 year-old who loves to dribble the soccer ball, turn flips on the trampoline, snuggle in bed with Momma, and climb trees.
We do not know why my children have been undernourished and slow to gain weight. The gastroenterologist believed it was a baby problem and not a breast-milk problem with each of them. We have an inkling it was genetic because my husband was also a skinny baby. Skinny enough to inspire total strangers to approach his mother and marvel, “I’ve never seen a skinny baby before.”
Most of my babies have also been late-bloomers in developmental milestones, just as their daddy also was. Some of that could be attributed to the undernourishment, but some of it could also be attributed to personality. My Rachel, who actually did have serious growth problems (remember — backwards on the chart) and low muscle tone and marked developmental delays, was highly motivated to move and just couldn’t make her muscles work for her. It’s been very different with my boys. With them, it hasn’t seemed so much “can’t” as “won’t” or “doesn’t want to.”
With three boys, the weight issues were not serious enough to warrant drastic intervention, like Silas needed, so we chose to wait it out. All three have very similar growth curve charts. At some point, the line shot up. They eventually got chubby thighs and their ankles got big enough to hold their socks on.
Have any of you had children with weight issues? Or developmental delays?