Optimistic or In Denial?

I brought Sadie (dis one) to her pediatrician today to see if my four-month-old preemie has gained any weight. Two weeks ago, she still only weighed seven pounds. Her weight is not something I think about everyday. My own weight comes to mind much more often to be honest. Since before she was born, all I heard was the positives. “Yes, she’ll be born very small but small babies are fighters! They’re so used to having to fight for nutrition in the womb that they develop more quickly” Or other positives like “her brain is being spared. Every ounce of nutrition is going to her brain and the rest of her will just be small for awhile.”

In the NICU, I was overwhelmed with the positives, “look how great she’s doing! She’s breathing room air. What a little spit fire. She’s going to fine.”

When I found out that I was going on partial bedrest because Sadie was too small at 29 weeks, I first worried but then took it with a grain of salt. Me, small baby? It’ll work out. I assumed when I went for my follow up visit that my baby would have grown. A lot. I’d heard from so many bloggers that that was the case with them. But at the follow up visit, she hadn’t grown and I was rushed to the hospital to to be admitted immediately. But every nurse said two pound babies do great! Don’t worry! We see this all the time and your baby could still grow!

Before I actually gave birth, while I was on bedrest in the hospital, I received so many emails with stories of people’s tiny babies who “you can’t even tell they were a preemie now!” I bought it all, soaked it in and didn’t worry too much. I needed to believe all of it because what’s the alternative? Assume they’ll be problems? Not me. I’ve always had a somewhat unshakable optimism – sometimes it can be downright annoying. But, it’s in my blood.

As you know, she didn’t grow. I gave birth to her a week and half later and she was two pounds. “But she’s breathing room air and it’s just a matter of time until you won’t even know she was a preemie” the nurses all said.

It’s four months later and she’s only 7 pounds 8 ounces. FOUR MONTHS LATER. My doctor is concerned. Not very concerned but he wishes she was growing more, faster. He says, “let’s wait and see but I want to do a complete blood count” just to rule out certain things. I really don’t want to know what those certain things are.

I remain optimistic but there’s a part of me that wonders if optimismism at a certain point is just denial. Do I accept that there could be a major problem? Or do I continue to assume that everything will be fine and being born at two pounds is not a big deal?

I don’t know anymore. But I guess I want to be prepared this time if there is going to be a problem. I don’t want to be made a fool of assuming everything’s okay,when it’s not.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on March 18, 2008 12:26 amUncategorized29 comments  


  1. Linda said,

    She is okay..she really is. Let them do the tests so that you can put your mind at ease.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 7:34 am

  2. heidi said,

    Are you bf-ing only? I hate to say this, but i did give my preemie formula, & it really helped put the weight on fast.
    i hope she’s ok….i’m sure she is.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 11:44 am

  3. erica said,

    In my experience, ruminating over whether it’s normal or whether there is an issue will drive you crazy. It won’t give you the answer. Just know whether it is or not you’ll find out, and you’ll all deal with it, and she’ll be fine and loved and beautiful as she is.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

  4. Jen said,

    No matter what, you are never a fool for wanting to believe the best. Even if the worst case comes true and there is something wrong I think you’re still doing what’s best by believing and and hoping for the best.

    My son was born premature (we don’t know how early he was born, he was adopted and his bio mom never even knew she was pregnant until she gave birth) and to this day he’s very very small. He’s seven and a half and people ask him all the time if he’s 4. But other than being very small there’s nothing “wrong” with him. I guess it’s just his destiny to be a very small person. I bet that will be the case with your Sadie. She’ll be small but otherwise perfect and healthy.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  5. iheartchocolate said,

    I am hoping with you, for the very best.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  6. Kyddryn said,

    Of course something COULD be wrong. And I COULD get run over by a beer wagon tomorrow.

    I think about the worst case, let my imagination run wild – then I think about how I’ll deal with it. Everything from house fires to robbery to car accidents to some sort of plague, I’ve thought about them. When I found out my son had a tiny birth defect, I thought about that, about all the worst cases – surgery, lack of function, deformity, shame, scarring…all the bad things. Then I thought about how to deal with them. And I stopped worrying, because you know what? You can’t control everything. All you can do is your best, and it will be enough.

    It’s perfectly acceptable to be optimistic, to be hopeful. It’s not delusional or anything – it’s human. Sadie will be her perfect self, growing at her own rate, in her own way. Heaven help you when she’s seventeen and this stubborn about living life on her terms!

    Oh, and? Bird didn’t need surgery, he won’t be deformed, scarred, shamed, or any of that. He is a perfectly healthy little Evil Genius.

    Shade and Sweetwater,

    | March 18, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  7. gmcountrymama said,

    Thinking of you hon. I hope everything turns out Okay.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

  8. Christine said,

    I’m the opposite (well, without my daily 50mg of Zoloft)…I catastrophize and worry and stress. It’s far better to be optimistic, because you’re almost always right. Plus, worrying doesn’t help anything, doesn’t change anything, doesn’t really prepare you to deal with the worst case scenario.

    Anyway, Said is fine. Your doc is just being thorough.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 3:55 pm

  9. Becky said,

    Neither of my kids are “normal,” (have you seen Alex’s hair???) and like you, I don’t worry about it until I have need to.

    I’m thinking weight gaining thoughts about dis one and telling the excess fat on my butt to take up residence on her.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

  10. Lil Mouse said,

    🙂 I was small but eventually I gained a bunch of weight. wish I could help otherwise. is she ready for ‘real food’ yet? maybe some cereal would help?

    | March 18, 2008 @ 4:12 pm

  11. Lynsey said,

    It’s so scary when it comes to things like this. Doctors can scare the bahevies out of you. Everyone always tells me it will always be ok, and to a certain extent it is, but I still feel the need to be prepared. I don’t go to the gym in a dress so why would I go to the doctor unprepared. *Hugs*


    | March 18, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

  12. Jenny said,

    I am not optimistic, generally. I prefer to be “realistic”. That is, I want to know the worst case scenario, all of the bad things it could be, so that I can be educated and wrap my head around what that might mean. Then I can say, Okay, I can handle that. Then, when it turns out to not be the worst, I am good. And if it is, I know I can deal with it.
    She will be fine, but don’t feel bad for the way in which you deal with the information.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

  13. Stefanie said,

    Hi Heidi, both babies have been on formula since they came home from the hospital. For one, I was hardly making any milk and two, they wanted her on special preemie formula to help her gain weight.

    And L’il Mouse, my doc says no cereal yet. Not until they know what’s causing the slow weight gain. Otherwise, screw cereal, I’d be giving her Krispy Kremes

    | March 18, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

  14. Denise Thomas said,

    Did someone say ‘beer wagon’?

    Stef, she’ll be ok. She will, because you and Jon are great parents and will do the best thing for whatever she needs.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

  15. Catwoman said,

    Sounds like she’s gained a ton of weight to me! She’s more than tripled her weight in three months! That’s pretty amazing to me!

    What the hell is with me and the exclamation marks today?

    I think your doctor’s just jealous that Sadie can fit in a Double Zero. No one gets on Eva Longoria for being tiny, they just put her on the cover of Maxim for it.

    I’m sure she’s fine. Just keep feeding her melted butter in her bottle and before long, we can nickname your twins Fat Ass 1 and Fat Ass 2.

    Of course the doctor should still do the test, just to prove that Sadie is fine and so he can make his paycheck and buy the new BMW convertible. The man’s gotta live, you know?

    | March 18, 2008 @ 7:03 pm

  16. Stefanie said,

    I know she’ll be okay deep down but then why am I so fucking depressed about it? I can’t shake it. Stop me before I start listening to depressing music again. I do have a shrink appointment in a half hour. So there’s that.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 7:06 pm

  17. My Wombinations said,

    I would say unless you know specifics about what issues you may be facing, optimism is not denial. You have every reason to be optimistic right now.

    What good would it do to sit around feeling awful? Would it help Sadie grow? So, I say stay optimistic until you can’t anymore. Hopefully it will never even come to that anyway.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  18. Amnesia said,

    The best thing I heard about my preemies (all four of my kids were early – 3 of them were 11 weeks early) was “don’t worry until you know what you are worrying about” So – I think it is best to not think about it until they have results back. It isn’t denial until they come back with issues and THEN you refuse to deal with them.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  19. Kelsey said,

    You will all be in my thoughts. I was on bed rest, mostly in the hospital, from 28 weeks. My little guy was born at nearly 32 weeks. He’s been doing great, but there is a part of the back of my brain that is just waiting for something to happen. I try very hard to ignore that part of my brain.

    I hope she is just off to a slow-ish start, but they discover that everything is just fine! Just think how reassured you’ll feel when they are able to start ruling things out. Grow baby grow!

    | March 18, 2008 @ 8:16 pm

  20. Miss Merry Sunshine said,

    I would say it’s normal to be depressed…wow don’t you feel sooo much better now? I get depressed all the time about my son and that is because it is out of my control. I can’t flip a switch and make it all better. I try I really do, just like you are for sure feeding Sadie, lol. It sucks when you feel like you are doing all the steps right and the answer doesn’t come out to what you think it should. Hopefully your head dr. can give you some support.

    | March 18, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

  21. Rabbadingy said,

    I think its a good thing the Dr. is running tests and then you’ll know what is going on, if anything and can address it then. You are doing the right thing- caring for and loving her 🙂

    | March 18, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

  22. Laural Dawn said,

    I have no advice. But, from my experience when doctors are really concerned they say so.
    I’d be worried too – but optimistically worried. Hang in there.

    | March 19, 2008 @ 12:02 am

  23. Cheryl Lage said,

    Catwoman (and others) has a very good point! Tripling her weight is pretty dang impressive.

    If it makes you feel better, our she-child was born not all that prematurely but smallish, 4lbs 14oz. She hadn’t even yet DOUBLED her weight at four months. She was just over 8 pounds. She rode that 3% weight curve for YEARS (except for one occasion where she dropped to the 1% and I entered the freaking out world in which you are dwelling now…)

    You love her, your doctor won’t take silly risks…by doing any/all tests you’ll God-willing get the reassurance that she is A-OK and just destined to be tiny.

    A good friend of ours just had to take her 5 year old son to the endocrinologist since the pediatrician just simply cannot believe he is “healthy” on the 2% curve. Guess what? He’s ACES. Each 100 kids will always have its 2-3 smallest.

    Stay optimistic. 🙂 We’re all rooting for you.

    | March 19, 2008 @ 12:14 am

  24. heather said,

    and don’t forget about the babies who are simply small. normal, just small. she’s growing and developing, that’s really what’s important. some babies are just small. of course the doctor is being thorough, which is what you want. looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    | March 19, 2008 @ 1:43 am

  25. CP said,

    I was less than 5 pounds at birth (although not a preemie) and managed to gain weight as an adult way too easily. It will all work out.

    I’m like you- I tend to be optimistic until proven otherwise. There is always a small part of my brain running worst case scenarios but I can usually keep it at bay.

    Let the doctor run his tests and, if and until the tests show anything, what can worry do? I’m sure beautiful dis one is growing at her own rate.

    | March 19, 2008 @ 4:04 am

  26. andi said,

    I guess all you can do at this point is wait – and hope. I don’t think it’s foolish to be optimistic – I hear so many stories of babies (preemie and full-term) whose weight is of concern to doctors. It seems like more often than not after a few years, they are just fine. You and your sweet girl are in my thoughts.

    | March 19, 2008 @ 6:01 am

  27. Trenches of Mommyhood said,

    Ooof. Thinking of you. Please keep us posted.
    Because, you know, me? This random internet stranger? I’ll be worrying! Seriously.

    | March 19, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  28. Backpacking Dad said,

    Are you really worried about being made a fool of?

    Does that mean “I’m worried about behaving in the way I would if I wasn’t concerned, because that behavior will cause me to do things that cannot be undone but which shouldn’t be done at all if my fears are borne out”? I can understand that, but I have a hard time imagining what actions you could take in an unworried state that would cause problems for you down the road if your child is really in danger.

    If by being made a fool of you just mean “I don’t want anyone, including myself, to feel justified in pointing at me and saying ‘She should have known better’ “, then I kind of doubt the validity of the worry. This is a worry about what people will think, and not a worry about the well-being of your child. This one you can let go without any guilt, I think.

    In either case, then, I think you can let go and focus on living closer to worry free; you are justified in living in the way that will do the least damage to YOU and your psyche now.

    I won’t say “everything will be fine”, because I don’t know you and we don’t have a relationship that shouldn’t be strained by too much bluntness. But I will say “You don’t have to feel like a fool, even if you are ultimately wrong. You are not in denial, not in any way that you should feel guilty about.”

    Cheers, and good luck. You are not in denial. You ought to remain optimistic.

    | March 19, 2008 @ 11:09 pm

  29. Diana said,

    I think, my dear sweet wonderful Stefanie….that your feelings of being optimistic or being in denial are 100% normal. We all have a range of emotions that change from minute to minute under stress. Anyone who can’t understand the myriad of your feelings doesn’t belong reading your blog. Because afterall, your blog is such an honest look at the reality of a person living a very full life and having mixed feelings about all stuff that goes with it… good, bad or indifferent. And anyone who can’t relate to having more than one feeling at a time is just not that in touch with themselves. And I know a good shrinky-dink to recommend.

    Does all that make sense, or am I just drunk? Anyway, I love ya!

    | March 20, 2008 @ 1:51 am

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