Non Fat

Tuesday Afternoon.

We take Eli to the pediatrician for his nine month weight check. I am nervous. The weight checks always make me nervous. Mr. E tells me it will be fine, it’s always fine.

This time it is not fine. Eli’s weight has fallen in the percentiles, from 25% to 5%. This freaks them out. It freaks me out.

I try to be honest with Eli’s doctor but her questions about breastfeeding sound suspicious. I feel defensive. I don’t say that the internet tells me that pumping output isn’t a good indicator of supply. I don’t say what sounds funny on my blog: “Eli doesn’t sit and he doesn’t breastfeed because he thinks sitting and eating are for boring losers and he has better things to do.” I don’t have the balls to bring up the WHO weight charts. I don’t argue. I am sheepish. I feel like a bad advocate for my son.

Our doctor frowns and hems. She isn’t happy. She gives us two cans of formula and a photocopied sheet on foods for weight gain. She tells us to butter everything.

Eli gets a flu shot – he can’t get sick and lose any more weight, they say.

Mr. E and I stop at the store on the way home and overdraft our bank account buying raisin bread and Guinness and 4% yogurt and fish sticks and anything fattening we think Eli might eat or that might increase my milk supply.

I come home and eat two chocolate chip cookies, a package of chocolate covered donuts, and a slice of chocolate cake. I make peanut butter cookies and eat the dough, raw.

I call Mr. E’s mom and tell her I am starving her grandchild. She tells me that Mr. E looked just like Eli when he was little. I don’t tell her how scary it was in the doctor’s office, how serious they seemed.

Wednesday morning.

I feed Eli his oatmeal mixed with formula and I feel commonplace and small – for nine months I’ve said I just didn’t want to feed him formula – I’d breastfeed him as long as I had to, I just didn’t want to give him formula.

I wonder when I first failed – when I took a stand that made no sense, rooted in stubborness I should learn to live without, or when I took the can of formula and didn’t argue, or that morning when I fed it to my son for the first time?

I slather raisin bread with butter and feed it to Eli, bits at a time. I mash up half an avocado and cut up fish sticks and wave them in the air to cool them. I can’t help but notice that thickly buttered raisin bread is delicious. Fish sticks are delicious. I love avocado, even just plain, in fat chunks, scooped from a half.

I can see Eli growing fatter before my eyes. Maybe I am not a total failure of a mother, after all. I wonder if I’ve doomed him to a life of morbid obesity.

Eli starts to feel warm. Then warmer. I feed him his favorite food, infant Tylenol. He is hot to the touch, and then hotter.

He nurses nurses nurses (maybe I am not a failure! All this Guiness is working!), then sleeps. I try to relax in front of Project Runway and a slab of cake.

Screaming. Eli is hotter. More Tylenol.

Hotter still. More screaming. He is growing hoarse. He screams so intensely his arms shake. He throws up. I cannot put him down.

My arms are giving out from the holding. I start to panic.

Mr. E calls the emergency room. His voice shakes. They tell us to give Eli Motrin. We wonder why no one ever mentioned this before – we don’t have any Motrin. Mr. E drives to Walmart and further overdrafts our account buying children’s motrin. We don’t have a dosage spoon. We have nothing we should have. We feed him motrin from the infant tylenol dropper.

His fever breaks. He still doesn’t sleep. We are up all night.

Thursday morning.

We drag ourselves out of bed at 9 am.

I mix more oatmeal and formula. Butter more raisin bread.

I microwave my every morning breakfast of instant oatmeal and craisins. It sits and congeals while I try to cajole my son into eating something, anything, buttered whatever. He isn’t interested.

I return to my cold emulsified oatmeal, and I can’t do it this morning.

Instead I eat two slices of buttered raisin bread, in two bites.

Later, I step on the scale. I have gained five pounds.

(At least one of us is gaining weight.)

13 Responses

  1. I hope Baby Eli gets better soon!

  2. I also want to add that, when his fever broke at 3:30 am, he tried to get up and play with us. He’s enthusiastic, if nothing else…

  3. :praying for you guys: I’ll be sending good thoughts your way for good health.

  4. Oh sorry but I did have to laugh, cos I knew you woud gain weight and Eli Wouldn’t!!!!! Some kids are just slow to grow mate, of all the photos I have seen of Eli he looks damn fine to me! He’s just not a big baby… I agree about putting butter on/in things for Eli, even get some supplement carbohydrate power to add to his food too, it can help. Just don’t try feeding yourself more to fatten HIM up, cos it won’t work!!! Our Brylee has ALWAYS been in the bottom 5%, in fact she has gone below even that, off the chart and into negatives! She is just a tiny/fussy eater, but otherwise very healthy. One day she will be “tits on sticks” LOL ! Hang in there and try not to worry too much. Eli will be fine.

  5. When I took my little one to his 9 month appointment he went from the 50% to 20% in weight. I think it’s normal…they start really moving around a lot and they don’t gain as much.

    And I so feel you about bf’ing. My body gave up on my at 4 months and I was devistated.

    I hope there’s lots of weight gain, for Eli, not for you. 🙂

  6. I hope he (and you) are both okay soon. I’m thinking of you, sending you all the fatty thoughts I have (and I have a lot) for Eli. And all the thin/svelte/whispy thoughts for you (I have few though; very, very few).

    I’m rooting for you both. You’re as good as they come.

  7. Oh I had to laugh as I have exactly the same problem.
    You are doing a fantastic job.
    Weight is just the easiest indicator that they have and they get all serious because there is nothing else they can do. My daughter has extreme feeding issues and we spent a month going weekly to be weighed watching her weight drop and I was given those same serious looks but nothing else.
    Formula might help and it might not. At this point my older girl thinned out too. It is normal, they are starting to move around and eating is less fun.
    you are his mom. you know best. you know that, you just have to believe it.

  8. My kids also like cream cheese on raisin bread. Raisin bread is like one of the food groups at our house.

    Hoping the weight begins to distribute itself as it should (i.e. to your kid and not to your butt), and that he’s feeling better today.

  9. Boo-hiss to the numbers-driven of the medical communityi! Being in the 5th percentile of weight-for-height is not like being in the 5th percentile of likelihood to live. It bears watching, especially when it’s a drastic change for the child, but it’s not the end of the world. Real malnutrition is accompanied by symptoms like lethargy, and that does not define little Mr. Eli. If he’s an active, healthy child, it may indeed just be a genetic tendency to thinness–and wouldn’t that be nice! I’ve often wondered what the obesity epidemic would look like if doctors freaked as easily about a child in the *upper* percentiles of weight as they do about a child in the lower percentiles. If the child is in the 90th percentile, they beam and smile like crazy.
    Now as for you, Princess, I marvel daily at what a good mom you are. You are not starving your child–there’s food there for him if he wants it, and he knows it. Look at the pictures of him. There’s not a bone showing anywhere there shouldn’t be, no indications of marasmus or kwashiorkor. Step away from the butter, and I don’t mean this in a preachy way, but truly, relax!

  10. Oh, so this is what they mean when they say parenthood is hard.

  11. Awww, feel better to all of you! and it seems like you (and Eli, his dad, and grandma) all intuitively know what’s right, so go with that instead of a chart, even though I know that’s difficult… your baby looks gorgeous & healthy to all of us!

  12. Oh I can so sympathize with you!! I went throught the same thing with my oldest son. He is now ten years old and very tall and very skinny and he eats NONSTOP!!! Please try not to worry so much – you are doing great, trust your mom-gut. It will tell you if something is seriously wrong!

  13. Myles was in the 5th percentile for weight at his four month checkup. At the six month, he had fallen off the charts and I stood up to his doctor explaining that he’s a very active child and that neither I nor my husband were fat babies and that he eats when he’s hungry. Shame on your pediatrician for making you feel as if you’re doing anything wrong and for giving you formula when he knows your milk is better for Eli. And good for your mother in law for reassuring you that it’s more genetics than anything else.
    The growth stats are based on formula fed babies by the way and they are ALWAYS fatter than breastfed babies. Eli is healthy, he’s active, he’s hitting every developmental milestone. I know it’s impossible for you not to worry about this. I worry myself every time Myles doesn’t eat as much as I think he should and throw in the fact that he’s been slow to warm up to solids.
    We just had our first bout of sickness too, vomiting and wakefulness/not eating which ended up with us in the emergency room and me second guessing my decision to take him the whole way there. And the worst part of it was that I was actually relieved to find out he had an ear infection so I could stop questioning myself and my insticts.
    Motherhood is a crazy ride and I’m nowhere close to figuring out what I’m doing. I’m glad we’re in this together.

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