by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
“This is all about control,” I thought to myself as I placed Sadie on the scale for the fourth time in a week. I’ve had enough therapy to recognize a few of my issues. We’d just put our little twin back on Periactin, a drug that increases her appetite, and I was waiting impatiently for her to break through the 21 pound mark where she’s been lingering for months. The black digital display blinked on and off four or five times before settling decisively on 22.4. “Yes!” I yelled from the living room as I may or may not have done a touchdown dance. “The Periactin is kicking ass!” I said even though I sort of took the weight gain as my own personal victory. I mean, sure, the Periactin did make her more interested in eating but I was the one presenting her with delicious meal after delicious meal. I was also the one who discovered that Trader Joe’s brand Greek yogurt boasts 17 grams of fat per one container –a fact that my pregnant sister-in-law wasn’t as enthused to find out after she told me she’d been eating a container a day for the added calcium.
Sadie’s follow-up with her endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital was less than a week away and I was on a mission to get her weight up as much as I could. At Sadie’s last visit, measurements were taken, growth charts were studied, blood tests and X-rays were performed all to see if there was something wrong with our little girl. But nothing could really be seen until the follow-up which had been scheduled for five months later.
I’d been working hard. I was doing my research to find foods that pack the biggest punch in calories for the smallest amount of food, I was hovering over Sadie when it seemed she was done with a meal convincing her to have just one more bite, I was buying avocados by the bagful and offering them as a bedtime snack. I deserved a little credit for her weight gain. Not a lot of credit, maybe just a small parade with a couple of floats and a marching band?
I know it’s not my fault that Sadie’s so small. I realize, intellectually, that it wasn’t my fault even when she was in my womb not getting the proper nutrients from my stupid failing placenta, not getting the optimal amount of oxygen from my too short umbilical cord. I get that there’s no way I could have prevented hearing those three words when she was four-months-old that carried such a sting: Failure to thrive. But I have some control now, don’t I? I have the ability to add an extra tablespoon of butter to her macaroni and cheese and Costco sells the giant boxes of Carnation Instant Breakfast so there’s no excuse for running out. Sure it gets exhausting to make her a Hebrew National Beef hotdog (14 grams of fat) only to find out she’s changed her mind about them in the last day and a half and is also not interested in the next four things I offer but will in fact be happy to scream for a lollipop for fifteen minutes. Exhausting yes, impossible no.
The day of her appointment arrived last week and my husband took the day off of work to take her there with me. The weigh-in was fraught with more tension than on The Biggest Loser only we’re hoping for the scale to move in the opposite direction. The nurse took Sadie’s blood pressure with a tiny little blood pressure cuff better suited for a doll than a toddler. I wondered if I could sneak in a quick peek at my pressure while we were at it since I was positive it was hitting a new high. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” I chanted under my breath before she stepped on the scale. Yes, I was resorting to stupid fucking clichés, I’m not proud. The weirdest part is I knew exactly how much she weighed. We own the damn scale. But I wanted them to see that she was 22 pounds. I wanted them to see that I got her over 22 pounds. “21 pounds” the nurse said cheerily.
Then she was measured and we waited until the doctor came in. Sadie played with a puzzle while we talked to Dr. Kim. “So, she’s grown about two centimeters in the last five months.”
“That doesn’t sound like much” I said, handing Sadie a puzzle piece that dropped on the floor.
“Well, it’s growth but we’re not seeing the acceleration that we’d like. Ninety percent of kids that are small for gestational age catch up in the first two years. The other ten percent usually will need growth hormones to catch up.” My mind raced ahead to the possibility. Needles, hormones, long term effects?, were we ready for this?
“This is not something we have to do anytime soon right?” my husband said just as I was about to green light the whole situation. I mean, here there was something we could do. We could fix this starting now, right?
“No, of course not. This would be the absolute soonest but there’s no rush at all. She looks wonderful. She’s healthy, her weight is fine and she is growing - just on her own little curve” Dr. Kim reassured.
“Then let’s revisit this when she’s three” Jon started gathering Sadie’s things.
And just like that, I felt relieved. I’ve never been in control of any of this. And, shockingly, it’s not about me. None of it is about me it’s about her and she’s fine. Short or tall, fat or thin, doesn’t matter, I’m not in charge. We’ll revisit this when she’s three.
“…the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.”
Also on Mommy Tracked from Stefanie about Sadie:
Sadie Weighs In 
Aint Nothin' But a G-tube 
A Weighty Matter