Mason is “FREE!”

Mason turned three years old this week. When you ask him how old he is, he yells, “I’m FREE!!!” Seems like just yesterday when he was hospitalized at just 12 days old. I still shudder when I remember that day. We are so very blessed that Mason is so healthy today!

A year ago, I wrote about my seemingly paranoid concern over Mason’s small stature. I kept saying he seemed too small to me. Other family members rolled their eyes, and said he looked just fine to them. They’re pretty accustomed to my paranoia with the kids’ health after all these years. In July of 2008, Mason was in the 50th percentile for height and the 25th for weight. I was concerned because he’d gradually slipped from the 90th percentile in both after birth, slowly downward over the months.

Seems my concerns were warranted after all. Four months later (November, 2008), he’d slipped from the 50th percentile for height to the 25th percentile. We took him back to the doctor again in March, 2009, and his weight had gone up a bit, but he’d slipped to the 5th percentile for height. Ack!! I panicked and, of course, told everyone in the house, “I told you so!!!”

The doc told us if Mason slipped below the 5th percentile, they would send him to specialists to try to determine if his slow growth was due to a genetic problem or an illness…or just his picky eating. In the meantime, Mason was referred to a nutritionist who, in my opinion, wasn’t the best advisor. She gave us an elaborate plan for Mason that included specific food groups and measured amounts for each meal and snack. Getting Mason to eat that stuff was, we knew, going to be impossible. He’s the pickiest eater we’ve ever met and force feeding a toddler just doesn’t work. There had to be a better way! Oh, and she also told me to wean him, which was ridiculous. She said he might be confusing the sucking instinct with chewing. I just about laughed out loud when she said that. He knew how to chew just fine. He just didn’t want to chew anything full of protein, calcium or vitamins. Why cut off a major source of his calorie and protein intake when he needed it the most? Also, children under stress eat less and have hindered growth. Weaning him would definitely stress him out. I was not willing to wean him, and considered her advice about that old-fashioned (she was in her 70’s)…and, frankly, bizarre.

Anyway, she basically explained that, in order for protein and calcium to contribute to growth, a body first needs enough calories to fuel itself. Only then will it use the calcium and protein to build muscle and bone. Richard and I decided that, if we could find ways to trick Mason into eating/drinking more calories, and considerably more protein, calcium, and fat, we could probably get a growth spurt going. I started adding a large dollop of olive oil to his juice. He never noticed. I also started giving him a sippy cup of protein-enriched chocolate milk before his nap and bedtime each night. We looked for snacks that had a higher protein count than others. Snacks with cheese, ground nuts (he chokes on whole ones) and peanut butter were great. For example, peanut butter crackers are better than regular crackers (even better than the toddler brands that are supposedly “better” for your child). Instead of just plain wheat bread, we found high protein wheat bread. I discovered high protein bagels and giant pretzels in the freezer section of our health food store. Richard cooks Mason protein-enriched veggie corn dogs.

Mason likes tortillas so we’d fry them in olive oil for more fat and calories. If he had corn on the cob, it would be swimming in butter. Macaroni and cheese was great with extra milk and butter…if we could get him to eat enough of it. We also didn’t limit his snacking. If he was hungry, we’d feed him. If he requested one of Mommy’s “special chocolate chip cookies” (loaded with extra eggs, butter and peanut butter!) at midnight, he got one. We learned long ago that refusing him a cookie now will not make him want to eat a green bean later. Ha ha. Far from it! No matter how hungry he is, he won’t eat something he doesn’t feel like eating.

Anyway, after all the research we did and all the effort that has gone into beefing up the calories, fat, protein and calcium in his meals and snacks, I’m happy to say that Mason is now in the 27th percentile for weight (29 lbs.) and back to the 25th percentile for height (36 inches). He grew an inch in just 3 months! Kids usually grow 2 inches a year so we are beyond thrilled! He even finally needs new shoes. (He’s been wearing the same pair for over a year!)

We’re ever so relieved and blessed that Mason’s slow growth was indeed due to his pickiness, and not a genetic problem or illness. He doesn’t need to go back to the doc for another six months now and we’re continuing to slip calories, fat, protein and calcium into every snack and meal. Right now, Ali’s making him a tortilla, fried in olive oil, and filled with cheese. Now, don’t worry. He’s getting plenty of fruit, too. Fruit was never a problem. Veggies? Well, we’re working on that. In the meantime, we give him that V8 fruit and vegetable juice that supposedly gives you a full serving per cup, and include a multi-vitamin and chewable calcium in his bedtime routine each night.

This week’s Maxism:

“Do they ever sell cars at garage sales?”

Hugs to all!


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