“So, I think what I’ll do is write here for ‘medical concerns’ ‘failure to thrive.’”
I tried not to react when my son’s pediatrician told me my now-eight-year-old son had grown only an inch in 12 months. I tried to hold it together when she said he hadn’t gained a single pound. I did my best to remain expressionless when she said he had no body mass index. None.
He is no longer on the percentile charts parents and physicians so frequently consult and rely upon. He weighs less than his four-year-old brother.
And now he is the holder of a “failure to thrive” diagnosis.
And I am his mother, whose job it is to ensure he thrives.
I know this is related to his medication, that the stimulant medication he takes to treat his ADHD suppresses the appetite and can lead to this.
We knew he was thin, could plainly see it along with the rest of the world; but we thought we had an overall handle on it: Syrup and butter on everything. Eat when you’re hungry. Eat as much as you want. Three helpings of mashed potatoes with sour cream? Of course. Nachos smothered in cheddar cheese? As if you have to ask.
But it wasn’t enough. According to his doctor, he’s not thriving. And while the long-term complications of this I equally understand and fear, there is something else I fear . . .
That I am not a good mother.
I mean, I know I am a good mother in many ways, and I probably should stop short of delineating all of that here because none of it really matters. I look at my child’s body and feel like a failure. We chose this medical path for him, and it truly has made such a significant difference in his life, in the way he sees himself, the way he engages with the world. He is without question more at peace emotionally.
But physically he is not thriving.
His body is not just slender; it’s emaciated. He is not growing. He does not look like an eight-year-old.
He is my eight-year-old, and nothing I can do is enough. Nothing I am doing feels right.
And I look at his beautiful face and feel as though I have it all.
So, I ask, then, why can’t he?