Sunday, October 23, 2011

ZiZi's Story: Six Months to Twelve Months

Somewhere around six to nine months, my "curious" observations turned into concern. My daughter was a sweet, sweet little baby, but she did not progress as she should have given the context of our families' genetics.

Six to Nine Months
Given her older sister's progress, my progress as a baby, my husband's progress, and our four siblings' progress, in the six to nine month range ZiZi should have been sitting up, pulling up, crawling, and possibly walking. Her sister walked at the end of nine months. I walked at nine months, and my husband walked at ten months. Nobody in either family was a late walker. However, at her nine month checkup she was really only sitting up. She was not pulling up and she was not crawling and she seemed very far away from walking.

Besides her gross motor skill delays, nighttime was difficult. She wanted constant companionship and did not sleep as much as she should have been sleeping. She would sometimes be awake for a few hours in the middle of the night. She was also not growing nearly as well as she had when she was a young infant. The general feeling of panic I had during my pregnancy was back. At her nine month check-up she measured in the 10th percentile for height and the 5th percentile for weight. She had dropped another standard of deviation for both height and weight in a three month period. I was worried and again I mentioned it to the pediatrician. She reviewed the growth charts, the family history of height, and again told me things were probably fine. She talked about bell curves and how people expect younger siblings to be similar to their older siblings. I told her my opinion that ZiZi's genetic bell curve was not the same as the general public. I have three brothers all over six feet, one who is about 6'9". Nobody was a late walker. I was worried, but she talked me down from the ledge but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was really wrong with our daughter.

Nine to Twelve Months

Around eleven months ZiZi's torticollis was resolved using cranial sacral therapy. Also resolved, unexpectedly, via the cranial sacral therapy was her chronic constipation. There is a funny story that ends with ZiZi naked in a sink at a public library in Northern Virginia. This was the day after her cranial sacral therapy appointment but before I realized the constipation was no longer an issue so I had given her the usual prunes with her oatmeal.

However, even with these two issues fixed she was still growing very slowly and not gaining skills. At her one year checkup she was not pulling up, much less walking. She remained in the 10th percentile for height but had dropped below the 3rd percentile for weight. I, again, expressed concern so the doctor ran blood tests for celiac disease and lead poisoning. She also ordered an X-ray of her hip since she pronated a bit and one of Andrew's aunts had hip dysplasia. None of the testing provided any helpful information. The pediatrician thought we should wait until 15-18 months to see if she was walking and thought her height and weight issues were reasonable because my husband and I were not very tall.

I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was really, really wrong. I talked to some girlfriends one night and they told me about a federal program called Early Intervention that will assess a child who is not growing or hitting milestones like they should. I also called my best friend from college, a pediatrician in New York. I reviewed ZiZi's growth history with my friend and she said once a baby drops two standards of deviation in the growth chart (ZiZi had dropped four in height and 6 in weight) she considers it a sign that there is an underlying issue.

So I called our pediatrician and we had a very short conversation about my friend's concern about an underlying issue. Ultimately, I told her that either she could call Early Intervention or I would. She suggested I go ahead and have ZiZi evaluated but thought it was premature and we should wait until ZiZi was at least 15 or 18 months.

So at one year of age, my daughter showed a number of signs for "Failure to Thrive" but did not have an official FTT diagnosis. Early Intervention reviewed her case and signed her up immediately with a physical therapist. The intake case worker also suggested I should find a new pediatrician because when a mom is worried and when the child is falling off the growth charts it is, indeed, an issue.

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