Thursday, October 28, 2010

What is in a percentile?

From the moment a baby is born, their physical health and development is charted and compared against other babies of a similar age. In their first few moments of life they are weighed & measured and given an Apgar Score. Since the moment in the delivery room when I was told Rory's weight of 5lbs 8oz, I have obsessed about these comparisons. In fact, I truly believe the reason why I haven't been as successful as other breastfeeding moms is because I have been so stressed about my small baby and his charted weight gains.

When Rory was born, he was in the 5th percentile for weight. His blood sugar was so low in those first few moments of life, once he was weighed and wrapped and had his moments with us, he was taken to the I.C.U at Mount Sinai and immediately given a bottle of formula. We weren't given a choice to do it differently.

The 6 weeks that followed Rory's birth, we had to visit a lactation consultant and a doctor (separately) each week to have Rory weighed. I vividly remember sitting in the tiny office in the breastfeeding clinic at Mount Sinai while a nurse watched me breastfeed my son, and then they would weigh him and tell me in ounces how much he had eaten. I would leave with a piece of paper/a chart that I was to write down each time Rory breastfed, was supplemented with formula, I pumped (for how long and what breast) and the frequency of Rory's pees and poos and return it at my next visit. Those hospital visits were followed by separate visits to Rory's doctor at the time, to have him weighed and talk about feeding again. I will never forget the three consecutive visits where Rory's doctor looked at me and exclaimed "oh my goodness, he isn't gaining weight, or, OH NO, he has LOST weight!?". Only to then figure out her incompetent nurse had erased the electronic record from the previous visit. It was SO hard. Telling a mom that her baby is underweight is one of the worst things a doctor can say, then consistently implying that the same baby is underfed, starving or neglected, and to breastfeeding moms, that your body is not working properly, is devastating. I left every one of those appointments in tears.

And then Rory started to grow. He grew and he grew and he grew. It was like this child was determined to give every person that stressed him, Peter or I out about his tiny birth weight the middle finger.  At 2 months he had almost doubled his birth weight. He shot from the 5th percentile into the 25th percentile for weight. We were blown away and I slowly started to relax.

And then something weird happened. All of the sudden the comments about Rory's tininess turned into - "holy cow, he is so BIG!", or "he's twice the size of kids his age", or "what a big boy"?!!!   Honestly, can a baby get a break these days?  All that growing is so much work!!

So then you know what I did? I started to worry again. Am I feeding him too much, will he be obese when he is older? Is there something WRONG with his weight? Honest to God.

Today was Rory's 4 month old check up. For what it matters, Rory is in the 50th percentile for weight at 14.6lbs and the 90th percentile for height at 26.5 inches.

With that said, all I really cared about was when our pediatrician looked at me and said - "you have one very healthy, and happy baby".

We've come a long way in 4 months. There is lots I wish I knew then, that I know now... for all you girls pregnant for the first time though... a growing baby is a healthy baby no matter what the gain looks like. Hopefully like me, you will eventually have the confidence to listen less to what others have to say, and spend more time trusting yourself, and trusting your baby.  It all goes by so quick. Not a moment to waste.

Rory rockin' his tummy time at 4 months, and talking to Gramma who drove all the way down here just to take Rory for his needles. We love Gramma!

1 comment:

  1. Guess where I'm headed in this morning? To the doctors... to get weighed... because my children don't fit onto the lame growth charts.

    I stressed SOOO much about this and learned: we have small babies. Baby 1: 5 pounds 10 ounces, and Charlotte was a tad heavier but still under six. When Sawyer was one they made him go through TONS of testing and even inserted a catheter. I cried and cried. They came back to me and said, "He is EXTREMELY healthy. We are sorry we put him through all that." Yeah. And here it is again, my second not gaining the weight they want her too but I'm sooo much more calm and I'm going to do things MY way!

    P.S. Hi NEW friend!!! :)