Thursday, October 23, 2008

My heart is so heavy over this...

Cole and Bella had their 4-yr old well-child check yesterday afternoon. As typical for a well-child exam, the nurse checked their weight, height, hearing and vision. That nurse gets an "A" for patience....for the life of her, she could not get Bella to follow instructions on the hearing test and Cole kept fooling around during the vision screening. But that nurse kept a smile on her face and kept encouraging them to focus.

The pediatrician, Dr M, came in shortly thereafter to examine the kids. He showed me a printout on Cole first, discussing the percentile's for Cole's growth. Currently, Cole is 37 pounds and 40.5 inches tall. For his height, he's in the 50th percentile and for weight, he's in the 50th percentile. His BMI is good for his height/weight at 16. There really was nothing much to discuss about Cole's growth. Dr M said Cole is exactly where he should be for his age and that I should expect him to become thinner over the next year as he grows taller.

Then we discussed Bella. Her weight is a serious issue. Even though our little peanut was only 3 pounds at birth, she has more than caught up in her weight and does have a little extra baby fat around the middle. To see her in pictures, she doesn't look like a typical overweight kid, not like the ones you may see on a talk show or in a magazine. Currently, her weight is 46 pounds (which was really shocking to me actually...I had no idea she weighed 46 pounds) and her height is 39 inches tall. For weight, she's in the 95th percentile and in height she's in the 50th percentile. When he showed me her growth chart since age 2, he pointed out that her weight has gone up significantly, especially in comparison's to Cole, which has pretty much stayed the same across the board.

Then he told me her BMI is almost 21....way over the 95th percentile. I wanted to cry....seriously, right there on the spot. I just looked at my baby girl who was happily playing with her twin in the corner of the exam room and I felt my chin quivering and tears were beginning to sting my eyes. All I could feel was did it get to be THIS bad without me noticing? What have I been doing wrong? Am I a total failure as a parent? All these thoughts were running through my head as we discussed this issue.

We talked about family history of obesity but there is none in our families. I told Dr M that I feel Bella eats a well-rounded healthy diet (though there are some areas we could do better in) and she gets plenty of exercise. She has 30 minutes of recess at preschool in the morning and then every afternoon, she's either playing at the daycare at the gym (they have a huge climbing structure which she loves) or we're at the park running around. She doesn't sit in front of the tv for hours, completely motionless, snacking on junk food.

First things first, he wants her to have some blood work done, including her thyroid. He said it could be a metabolic issue. If that's the case, it's an easy fix. But if that's not the case, we're looking at a problem that could follow her through childhood and into adulthood, which absolutely rips my heart into a million pieces. There are lots of things I know she'll encounter and have to deal with in her young life, like dealing with peer pressure, dating, her first broken heart...but I never expected her weight to be one of those things she'd be dealing with.

I asked for a referral to a nutrionist, which Dr M said was a very good idea. The nutrionist will follow Bella's weight and help us come up with a plan to get back on track. My biggest fear was that the nutrionist would put Bella on a on earth do you put a 4-yr old child on a diet? All I could think of then was the eating issues I had as a child. My mom had so much control over me and my food intake, even though I was never overweight as a child (actually quite the opposite as I was a skinny child). She controlled every little morsel I put in my mouth. She went overboard by never allowing us to eat sugar cereals, candy, junk school, I was always the child who had a sandwich and an apple in her lunchbox while the other kids had leftover pizza, ding-dongs and juice. I didn't even know what a twinkie tasted like until I left home for college. Seriously. During high school, I became bulimic....I would gorge on anything I could find outside our house. I worked at Burger King when I was 16 and I was constantly sneaking fries into the bathroom and scarfing them as quickly as I could, only to force myself to puke them within 15 minutes.

Now I'm not saying that eating healthy in my childhood was so horrible, but it was more about the control my mother had over every little thing I ate. I took back that control once I was out of the house and out from under her control. But I abused my body horribly trying to fight for control.

I never want Bella to have to deal with that. I never want to be the type of parent who makes her feel bad about herself. I don't want her to ever think there's anything "wrong" with her or that she's not beautiful. And I don't want this to be a lifelong problem for her. I want her to be healthy and feel good about herself and how she looks, especially in this day and age when all people seem to focus on is outer beauty and how skinny you are. Plus, I don't want her to have to be concerned with issues such as high cholesterol (which shockingly could be an issue already for her at such a young age, according to Dr M), high blood pressure and diabetes. my heart is feeling so heavy over this. I feel like I have contributed to this issue wearing blinders and just thinking "oh she just has a little bit of baby fat...she doesn't even look overweight". But the scale says a different story. Who knows, maybe she will hit a huge growth spurt and then we'll see a change. But in the meantime, we'll meet with the nutrionist and go from there.

Oh and then Dr M mentioned that Cole should have his herniated belly button looked at by a surgeon, since it has never popped back in. And we'll be going for a surgery consult for Bella for her arm, which Dr M noticed that she doesn't have quite the range of motion in her right arm, from the damage from the hemangioma, as she does in her left arm. So it may not even be an issue of cosmetic surgery at this point but more an issue of repairing muscle damage to her arm.

So the weight issue, along with discussing surgical procedures for my 2 babies, was enough to burden my heart for the rest of the day. Thank goodness, we had already done the "camel apples". No one ever said parenting was easy but no one ever explained how much your heart could hurt when your child has a problem. It's gut-wrenching and you wish so much that someone could give you a magic wand that you could wave and make it all go away. Now wouldn't that be nice?


Stacy said...

Oh Helene, my heart aches for you. It's a lot to hear all at once. Break it down to baby steps and maybe it won't be so overwhelming. Plus, kids are resilient. If you treat these surgeries as if they are no big deal, so will they. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Creative Junkie said...

omgosh ... there is so much I want to say here. My eldest is struggling with a similar issue as well. In fact, we're scheduled to have another series of blood tests - this will be the 3rd one. Nothing ever shows up on them (thyroid issues, etc.) and it's frustrating. Not that I want anything to be wrong, but at least if there was, then maybe we'd have a starting point. As it is, we can't fathom how the weight issue has progressed to this point.

It is so hard to walk that very very fine line - I don't want my daughter to have any eating disorders or body image issues and I try to emphasize the health component rather than the appearance component because ... well, because her health is so much more important than her appearance. But try telling that to a 14 year old girl. Sigh. It's so hard.

MAMA CEO said...

I am so sorry! My son when he just turned two had to have a hernia surgery but he is fine and they bounce back so quickly! Eating is a very sensitive issue anymore with all the stuff that is in our food nowadays. Hang in there...and like Stacy said, break it down to baby steps, one thing at a time...we're all praying for this situation.

Gemini Girl said...

Oh hun- I am so sorry you had a bad day. It's true- no one ever tells you how much your heart hurts when something is wron wiht your child.

Pls dont blame yourself for Bella's weight gain. You are NOT your mother, and I am sure if you truly felt that she had a problem you would have done something about it- but not to the extreme. Just go see a nutrirtionist, and she should be able to give you some tips.

My girls were also born at 3 pounds. They are now 11 months old and 23 pounds each. It bothers me that people say they are "big babies" bec to me, they will always be my small preemies.

Hajar said...

If the nutrtionist puts Bella on a diet, maybe you could 'join' her, and eat like she has to, so she won't feel like she's being singled out? It's probably just a matter of upping her fruit and veggie intake so she won't feel so hungry for carbs. Of course everyone needs some carbs, but most people eat more carbs than they need.
One of my boys has to be re-circumcised because it wasn't done correctly the first time, it tried to grow back down and got infected and the whole gamut. I want the DOCTOR who did it to be re-circumcised!

Rugger Mom said...

Yeek! That's so much to take in. We, of course, wish our children health and happiness and threats to either are devastating. That's why we fight fiercely for them.

The worst part of any diagnosis is not knowing, so once you have a plan of action, you'll feel a million times better. Wishing you luck!

Anonymous said...

Helene, wow what a difficult appointment. I know how hard it is when the doctors tell you something is wrong with your child. But you will do the best for your babies. Good luck to you.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I;m so sorry you are having to deal with all this. I hope you can get some answers

Lana said...

At 11 months, my daughter weighed in at a whopping 32 pounds. She was my little butterball. She will be 3 in November, and weighs...34 pounds. In 2 years she has gained two pounds but grown taller. Keep in mind that this is ONE doctor. Although easier said than done, try not to fret over Bella's weight until either test results come back, or until you get a second opinion, or both. ALL kids grow differently.

Joy said...

That's a lot to swallow in one day! I'm sending you big hugs and big prayers. If only we could heal and protect our babies. You are a fabulous mom, if anyone can handle this stuff it's you.

mrsbear said...

That's a lot to get hit with on a well visit. Of course you can't help but worry. I would be torn about it too. You're a good mom, and you're not going to make the same mistakes your mom did. Good luck sorting through it, sending you a bloggy hug.

Connie said...

I'm sorry to read about your children. As Moms we take everything to heart. Please take it easy on yourself. I'm new here, but it seems like your pediatrician is keeping a good eye on things.

I'll be praying that you'll take this one day at a time. (((HUGS)))

Paula Constable said...

You must keep reminding yourself that is nothing you did wrong. Use your experience with your mother to strengthen you. I agree with others who said not to make a big deal out of it with your daughter and if it is a change in eating habits, it could a change for the whole family.

It is hard to wait for the answers. Last year I saw my doctor for a concern and she mentioned the word cancer (very scary as I had just lost my mom to breast cancer 6 months prior). By the time I got out to my car, I was convinced that I had breast cancer. Thank God it turned out to be nothing, but what I learned was that they way one Dr. presents information and communicates with you plays a big role. I think you are very wise to talk to a nutritionist.

If there are changes that need to be made, it is a blessing that you able to be aware of them at this point. One day at a time, one step at a time. Prayers for you and your little one.

Woman in Training said...

I am so sorry, Helene! My latent hypothyroidism kicked into full gear during my pregnancy with Joe Joe. I've done some research and so many say they knew they had issues long before they showed up on any screen. You are doing nothing wrong, I'm sure this will work out just fine.

jayd said...

oh my gosh two sets of twins! you really have your hands full- i am going to be following along now with your blog to find out how your bella is doing. I am a twin to a boy- he was my best friend growing up and i love having a twin brother thanks for your comment in my blog i am glad to meet you!


Elizabeth Channel said...

Helene, this is just so much thrown at you at once! I will pray for you. Just take one issue at at time and don't try to deal with all of it at once. (At least that's what I tell myself to do...doesn't always work.)

If it makes you feel any better, at 4 Edward was in the 88th for bmi. We did all the tests, saw an endocrinologist, etc. We eliminated sweets and he backed down fairly quickly. (He's now back at 50th for weight, o% for height so we'll be starting growth hormone shots.)

Hang in there. Sorry for such a lousy day!

twinmama said...

Helene, behind on my blog reading, but I wanted to send you virtual "hugs" and let you know that I am thinking about you all. Bella is a BEAUTIFUL little girl & she always will be.

Doctors really make me crazy, honestly. They focus on a growth chart and don't consider the child. She could truly have baby fat and within a year be tall and lanky. Some kids grow out of it during puberty.

But I understand your anxiety about surgery and hard conversations with the doctor. Peanut has a hairy nevus that the doctor finally said a dermatologist needs to see, so we have that coming up and it scares me very much, too.

Hang in there!

Helene said...

Thank you for the comments!

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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