Little One is growing and is now bigger than his mom (me).
I write this post as a tribute to him, to fulfill a commitment I made to myself several years ago, and at the risk of getting feedback or comments that are less than positive.
First the tribute – Little One is almost 16. He is now 5’4″ and has been measuring himself against me for four years almost on a daily basis. This has been frustrating, irritating, and humorous in equal doses. As of New Year’s day this year, he was exactly equal to me in height. As of Valentine’s Day this year, he passed me. We cheered, and celebrated, and rubbed him on his – now higher than mine – head.
Little One does not eat like other people. I know there are many people who will say they can relate because they have kids who don’t eat much or are picky eaters. This kid seems to be in a league of his own. The first few years of his life I found the only way I could get anything into him was to take him away from all stimuli so I often fed him alone in the backyard, or in a semi-dark room away from the family, or by placing him on my lap with a small baby blanket covering his face while I had fed him small bites.
One day we were starting to think he was doing better because the level of food was growing smaller on his plate. As I turned my head quickly, I saw he was handing his food to Big One and she was eating it for him. I don’t mean just the things he didn’t like, his whole meal. He did not want to eat any of the food groups or any snacks. This was not a case of a kid eating desserts and skipping meals.
This has been a daily struggle with Little One about food. His friends are used to sitting at the table waiting for him so they could go outside. If we didn’t ‘make’ him eat, he would literally go all day without food. He has seen a growth specialist since he was an infant and she was totally perplexed by the fact he did not have any health issues, is an active boy physically, and intellectually above average without taking in the amount of calories we would assume necessary for body and brain functions at these levels.
She helped us tremendously by writing prescriptions for food. This worked for Little One – “let’s check your prescription, you need to eat this many bites a day”. To this day, (almost 16 years old), we still have to prescribe the number of bites minimum before he can go to school, go to hockey, go out with friends.
I got a ham and cheese omelet (less than one egg) into Little One this morning just before I wrote this post.
Little One – you are a fabulous kid – a good son, brother, grandson, friend, worker, student, hockey player, and longboarder. You have a great sense of humor, an extremely curious intellect, and a compassionate heart. We would do anything for you. May you always remember that.
The commitment – Four years ago, we made a decision to put Little One on a regimen of Leuprolide (Lupron). Leuprolide overstimulates the body’s own production of certain hormones, which causes that production to shut down temporarily. It is used to treat men with prostate cancer. It has also (more recently) been used as a treatment for boys or girls to delay puberty. This is the treatment we used for Little One. It consisted of him receiving an injection once a month for 24 months starting at the age of 13. The purpose was to delay the start of his puberty so he would continue his “childhood growth” for two additional years, and then when we stopped the treatment he would enter puberty and start his growth spurt. During puberty, the growth spurt occurs and the growth plates close. When the growth plates close, this is when the child stops growing.
My commitment was that I would put something on the Internet about our experience. When we were making the decision, I searched the internet and found comments from families that helped me understand what they went through. We received great information from Little One’s doctor, but I really needed to think of this also from a mom’s view.
We did not make this decision lightly. In fact, my husband and I argued about this one topic more than almost anything else in 20 years. We wanted to do the best thing for Little One. But this was unchartered waters and we didn’t know anyone else who had gone through it. We knew this doctor for 13 years, and more importantly she knew Little One and cared for him and about him for those same 13 years. In the end, we decided to proceed.
The shots themselves are not nice. It is a time release capsule injected into the arm. Due to the size of the capsule, it is a wide needle and hurts very much. It takes a commitment. If you miss the shot by more than one day on your schedule, you basically have to stop the treatment as it needs to be in the system without pause to be effective.
Little One cried the first few months. We questioned our decision. We reminded ourselves why we had made the choice and we continued for the two-year schedule. Some months Little One told me I was mean.
We are past that now and Little One thanks me. We believe he got 2-4 extra inches of growth from the treatment. I think we made the right choice.
The risk – There will be people who judge us for treating Little One with this medication. We are not a family that takes medication lightly. As I said, this was one topic that caused a lot of turmoil in our house because we all wanted to do the right thing. I was careful who we told when we first started the treatment because everyone had an opinion and we needed to be sure we were making the right decision for us.
I am not a doctor. I am merely writing to provide a perspective from a mom who was there. If you are facing similar choices for your children, I offer two pieces of advice – 1) make sure you talk to a doctor you trust and you believe cares about your child and 2) be gentle with yourself. As moms, we make decisions every day that affect our children. We won’t always get it right, but we sure can do our best to try.
When I asked Little One today how he felt about being taller than his mom, he simply said “Amazing”.