Yesterday was my son’s eleventh birthday. He asked me what I was going to do today and I responded, “I’m going to write a blog about you and how far you’ve come since you were born.” He smiled at me and said “that’s good; I know I’m a special person”…..that he is!! With all of his struggles and therapies since birth, he’s managed to maintain a warm and loving personality that everyone who meets him falls in love with him. I know this because every teacher or therapist he’s ever had tells me what a pleasure it is to work with him. For the purposes of this blog, I must begin at the beginning.
When I was pregnant, my son was always on the small end of the spectrum. My OB/GYN told me to gain weight because little babies have a lot of problems. I of course, had no idea what she meant, but gained 40 lbs in the hopes that it would add weight to him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way; he didn’t gain any weight the last three weeks of pregnancy. I was induced almost to the day of my due date….he was 5 lbs 4 oz. full term. Small for Gestational Age (SGA) was the label he was given; little did I know what complications came with that. His pediatrician wanted him on high calorie formula immediately to bump up his weight; however, didn’t understand how to suck. He had to be fed every hour small increments of formula. The nursery was full, so the nurses returned him to me so I could do it. I was exhausted; I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours!! After a few days he became stronger, although he still only ate small increments of food. He eventually went on to eat cereal and stage 2 baby foods.
By his first birthday, he had not reached stage 3 yet, so I mentioned it to his pediatrician. She referred me to a Speech Therapist who also specialized in feeding therapy. She came to the house and evaluated him. She said he had texture sensitivity and that I had to now make food he could eat while helping him overcome his texture problems. So off I went to the market every few days to buy food and blend it to the appropriate texture that he was comfortable with. As he became more comfortable with the texture, I would blend it less and less so that he could move on to solid foods. He was finally able to eat mac and cheese and spaghetti by his 2nd birthday. I thought “whew I’m glad that’s over with, I’m sure this next year will be easier”……boy was I wrong!!
Soon after his 2nd birthday, we realized there were many things our son could not do that he should’ve been able to do, which lead him to therapy 3 to 4 times a week. He saw a Speech/Feeding Therapist because I couldn’t get him to bite into hard foods nor was he speaking yet. He saw an Occupational Therapist for his fine motor and gross motor delays. The hardest part for my son and I was the feeding therapy I had to do at home with him. He had hit the terrible 2’s and he was very difficult to work with, I dreaded meal time. His speech therapist became my therapist because the feeding therapy at home put a strain on our relationship as mother and child. As hard as it was for both of us, it was worth going through it to get him to eat solid food. He continued extensive therapy until the age of 4. At that time, we also came to the conclusion that his private pre-school could not provide the placement that he truly needed.
Once he began the pre-school mix class at our public school, most of his therapy was done on campus. As time went on he not only required help developmentally, but also academically. By 2nd grade he cried doing homework every day. Thankfully, we were able to obtain a lot of extra help to prepare him for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Don’t get me wrong, he still struggles, but he’s been given strategies on how to navigate through his school work where he feels successful and not a failure all the time.
Last but not least, his growth problems. As I stated earlier; Small for Gestational Age. Because of his small size, he’s been under the watchful eye of one of the leading Pediatric Endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital since he was 4 years old. A small percentage of SGA babies don’t catch up and end up having growth problems. By age nine, he fell off the growth chart, so we decided to begin daily Human Growth Hormone shots. At first, I wasn’t sure how he would handle daily shots because he’s always hated receiving his yearly vaccines. Naturally, we began with a weekly reward system to ease him into his new daily activity. After some time had passed, a reward wasn’t necessary. In fact, when he began to grow; that was reward enough for him and still is. Even though he never complained about his small size to anyone……he loved the fact that he was growing taller and catching up to his friends! He’s always the first one to remind us to give him his shot, I guess his height bothered him more than he even realized.
Now to present day, as I look at my pre-teen now I think about all the therapies, doctors’ visits, interventions and etc. that he’s had to go through and one thing comes to mind; my baby truly has come a long way!!