The Family

The Family
For Christmas 2010

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Four Words That Make You Think You're a Bad Parent

In spite of Nathan's recurring head issues, he was finally starting to gain weight!  Six months before, when we had brought Nathan home from the NICU, he weighed just over 16 pounds.  In the first 5 months home, he hadn't gained more than a pound and a half.  The lack of weight gain was primarily due to the fact that he was always sick and throwing up and spending so much time in the hospital.

Now, however, Nathan had finally started to gain weight.  As we neared the end of July, Nathan had reached an all-time high, weighing nearly 18 and 1/2 pounds!  Needless to say, both of us were really excited that he had finally started gaining significant amounts of weight.  For so long, Nathan had just seemed so...well...fragile for want of a better word.  He was just so thin and bony.  Sometimes, when picking him up, he almost felt somewhat breakable at times.  So as I mentioned, we were very, very pleased that he had finally started gaining weight.

Nathan's weight gain was likely due to three things.  First, the G-Tube.  It sure made feeding Nathan a lot easier and more convenient, and Nathan seemed to enjoy not having the tube going up his nose anymore.  Second, his pediatrician had had us raise the calorie content of his formula to a higher concentration.  And third, he hadn't been throwing up as much or been in the hospital in the month.  So all together, it was a working combination that had helped gain almost as much weight in one month as he had in the previous five.

Unfortunately, Nathan's pediatrician didn't share our same enthusiasm.  While he was pleased that Nathan had finally started to gain weight, he was still well, well underweight for his age.  This point was driven home to us during our weekly appointment.  As we were discussing Nathan's progress (or lack thereof in many areas), the pediatrician mentioned that Nathan was "malnourished." 

Now, when I heard the words "your child is malnourished" I just about fell over.  Never once did the thought ever cross my mind that Nathan was malnourished.  In my head, malnourished was something that described starving children in Africa, the kids I had seen in the 'Feed the Children' commercials growing up, not something to describe my own son. 

Never did I ever feel like a worse parent than I did at that moment when I found out that my own child was malnourished.  To try and soften the blow a little, I asked if we could say he was "undernourished" instead of "malnourished" because it seemed considerably less harsh.  The doctor consented since it would make me feel better, but it didn't change the fact that Nathan was well, well underweight.

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