“Growth disorder.” It was one item on a checklist of ailments that I was filling out at the dermatologist’s office, where I’d taken Liam so the doctor could inspect a mole on Liam’s back.
“Growth disorder,” on a list with asthma, leukemia, shingles, bleeding tendency (what on earth is that, I wonder? Don’t we all have a tendency to bleed?)…a list of problems long enough to fill the entire sheet of paper.
It’s the “disorder” that gets me, although I suppose, technically, that’s the correct term for why Liam is so short. Conventional medical wisdom dictates that preemies “catch up” in growth by their second or third year, but true to form, Liam flew in the face of convention. He stayed small, stayed off the growth chart, that ubiquitous measurement of “normal.” He stayed small to the tune of being always the smallest kid in his grade, so small that people ask him if he and Caleb (who is almost four years younger) are twins.
We’d debated for almost a year about whether or not to give Liam growth hormone. How do you say to your kid that you love him just the way he is, in all his ferocious tiny glory and then say, “but here’s a shot so that you can get bigger and look different?” My friend Patsy made the analogy to giving a kid braces: no one is going to die from bad teeth, but why not give your kid the advantage of a nice smile? Our endocrinologist said that Liam’s size wouldn’t be an issue…if we lived in Costa Rica. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to do with that information—plan to send Liam to college in Costa Rica so he can get a date?
In this country, unless you’re the short Clinton cabinet guy, being a man who barely scrapes five feet can be tough. And Liam has shown no interest in horses (or labor policy) so I’m thinking that jockey is no more an option than being Secretary of Labor. Continue Reading →