A Weight-y Subject

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.

skinny_silas.jpg Silas at 9 or 10 months old, weighing his standard 11 pounds.

silas_painted.jpg And 4 year-old Silas as a tiger, after his sister painted his face with water colors.

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?

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7 Comments

Filed under Family, motherhood

7 responses to “A Weight-y Subject

  1. Alison

    My son weighed 25 pounds at his 12 month checkup and 26 pounds at his 2 year checkup! He gained a whole pound in one year. He shot up like a weed though. By 2 1/2 I’d started giving him boost because he was simply not gaining weight. He got a bad stomach flu and got so skinny I could see his ribs and backbone when he was standing straight up in front of me. His head seemed 2 times too big for his body.
    He was a very picky eater so for about 6 months I gave up the ‘eat healthy or eat nothing’ bit and just fed him what he wanted when he wanted. Not really junk food but if he wanted pasta for breakfast lunch and dinner then that’s what he got! If he wanted yogurt for lunch I’d keep giving him containers until he stopped eating. Sometimes he’d eat 3 or 4 containers in a sitting! He finally started putting on weight and looking ‘normal’ again. He’s still skinny (his dad is tall and thin) but he’s up to 34 pounds at 3 1/2.
    I think as mom’s we have to learn to put aside OUR preconceived notions of what is ‘right’ and do what’s best for our kids. I just try to do the best I can. When I’m in doubt, especially when it goes against the prevailing notion of ‘right’, I shrug my shoulders, realize they will add it to the list of all the things I did wrong, and get on with parenting. Hopefully my right list will be longer than my wrong list!

  2. Nickole

    We’ve actually been on the flip side of the chart…I get raised eyebrows from the pediatrician as she asks, “Well, is there anything she won’t eat?”. One nurse, about to give my Avery a vaccination in the thigh, said, “Wow, what a target!” I used to be a real “numbers” girl, but now I just try to look at the big picture! πŸ˜‰

  3. Nope…David was in the 75-95th percentiles for height and weight through his first 18 months, then he started to slow down. I remember my OB/GYN remarking on how “solid” David was and how he reminded him of his own Daniel as a baby. Aidan is short, but has always been a bit chubbier (David never had leg-rolls, Aidan still has slight ones) πŸ™‚

    David LOVED seeing the pictures of Silas on your blog today–he pointed at my monitor and nearly shouted, “SILAS!!!”

  4. stuartdelony

    Oh may did we have a weight issue. James our first one, was always underweight for the first year of his life (and kind of still is).

    He just never liked to eat (and still doesn’t). I can completely understand how stressful it is. We tried feeding him everything and anything to bulk him up. Lots of prayer and fatty foods helped.

    I appreciate you story.

  5. Thanks, y’all, for sharing your stories.

    Nickole, you crack me up! Did the nurse actually comment on the size of the target?

    Aidan’s leg rolls have nothing on Jackson’s, Crystal. And Jack was, at one time, in like the 5th percentile.

    Stuart, the prayer and fatty foods worked for you too? We should market that technique.

    Alison, I’ve known of one other child who was chunky at one time, and then completely stopped gaining weight. The child I knew was like 20 pounds at 6 months and did not gain an ounce until after he’d turned 1. And I think 34 pounds at 3 1/2 is good.

  6. I wish I could remember how I found your blog so I could tell you who’s bragging about you and your writing, but I can’t!! I am loving reading what you write though!

    My first, who just turned 2 in January was diagnosed with failure to thrive and weighs only 21 pounds even now. Her newborn little brother is gaining on her rapidly. I took her FTT dx very personally for a while because I was doing everything I knew to do to keep her healthy and to keep her fed and nourished. She was taking up to twice the amount of food other babies her age were recommended to eat and was still dehydrated and losing weight. After being an awful, squeaky wheel, we finally had all the medical tests run and paid cash for a pediatric developmental specialist to see her. She was dx’d then with Sensory Integration/Processing Disorder and it was explained to us that her body was taking the brunt of her overworked nervous system and was shutting down as a result. After therapy and some communication break-throughs, she is doing better, in at least staying hydrated, but the weight is still an issue. I’ve really learned to not care too much (otherwise, I’d stress over every meal she did, or didn’t, eat.). She’s generally healthy, she’s happy and she’s hydrated. Someday, she’ll have babies and put on the weight, just like dear ol’ mom. πŸ™‚

  7. Oh boy, Jenn, have I ever! All of my kids are born normal weight (smallest 7.6 largest 8.9) and grow well until 6 mos. or so. Then they just plummet. They are so low they are off the charts. Then, they begin to finally grow. All except one girl, my 8 year old. She still only weighs 45 lbs. (I think.) (And she is the one who thinks she is fat!)

    For some of our kids, we learned that the issue was wheat. Once we eliminated that, it really helped.

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