All things grow with love. This saying is even posted in gardens. A saying simplifying the magic and beauty that is growing. In my case I’m talking about growing children. It’s a simple concept. You create them and raise them. The growing happens on its own. Kids GROW up without you noticing.
And yet growing takes a LARGE part of my thoughts daily for the first 10 years of her life.
My mind was trapped in the thought of why my daughter wouldn’t grow. I think she was born small at 6 pounds 5 ounces for above average height parents. This became especially easy to see once her sister arrived at 9 pounds 4 ounces. She continued to stay small always around the 5th percentile for height for her age and practically not on the chart for weight at every visit. She is my Elf….
There were some of the regular hiccups. Breastfeeding a small babe means special holds and we lost 10% of her body weight in the first days. A little jaundiced a few days in, and a visit to the lactation consultant and we were back on track. More pillows during feedings. And more frequent but smaller feeds. We fell into a good pattern of feed on demand. She just seemed to need more frequent feedings.
Every doctor appointment I secretly hoped they would suggest we look at her growth. But never once were they concerned. She was just small. We would talk about how she was petite and had sleeping trouble. All considered normal, maybe a touch of colic…I wasn’t getting any sleep so it was not what *I* thought to be normal. She wasn’t a big crawler…but some babies go straight to walking. She’s not really taking in big quantities of baby food…she will eat when she’s hungry, she won’t starve herself. She’s smart with probably 100 baby signs…and boundless energy. Attempting to climb everything she can get that little body up and over. Even before she is walking.
A real beauty. Tough cookie. I soak her in every day. I *thought* to myself, if it really is concerning surely someone will take notice….If only this were true. Over time I found out this would be up to me.
A birthday passes, year over year. We move, country mouse to city mouse. Sister is born. Whoa I DO make big babies. Little sister is SO different from Elf! She is HUGE in comparison. She EATS and can easily. She’s easier to sleep and comfort. Easier in temperament. No signs of colic. And she grows FAST. This all comes as a relief for the Mama of 2 babes.
Another birthday passes. More milestones are achieved. And at 3 years old Elf is getting ready to enter school in September. We got really lucky that year as we had what can only be described as one of the best teachers the world has to offer. Little sister and I pick up Elf after school every day. As Elf is integrating into school after school pick-ups are delayed by regular conversations with her teacher. It’s clear Elf is not like the other kids and it’s not just her size.
My first born babe…my going concern…Looking back now at her grade 2 picture is a perfect reminder of what was so concerning. It is also the picture I use to remind myself of the achievements we have under our belt. She is clearly the smallest of the bunch, so small they had to find a kindy chair to accommodate her tiny frame in the front row of her class picture. My Mama instinct continued to nag at me everyday.
Eventually we got to the bottom of the growth problem. It’s a rare Growth Hormone Deficiency/Pituitary Dwarfism. It took 10 years to get that answer!!! And so many tears it nearly drained me of all my energy and took a tonne of perseverance. At times I wanted to just give up on her and myself.
Fast forward to today and we have many answers. And a GREAT kid. Many doctors later we have 5 acronyms for what Elf lives with everyday. None of which are life threatening, all of which are manageable with treatment and strategy.
I’m here to share the journey we took to figuring out her complex case. It’s a journey; had I known in the beginning, I might never thought I had the strength to parent. Or that I could find the voice to get heard.
What it comes down to at the end of the day for the independent parent is raising my girls in a way that I can put my head on my pillow at night and sleep peacefully.
That is this mothers goal everyday.