Vindicated

I’m feeling vindicated this evening.  

All the struggles we’ve had with L. and his weight…all the conversations and hoopla with his pediatrician…all the stress and worry and trying to stand up for our convictions and what we KNEW was right for our son and our family…I won’t say it’s all over, but I’ll say that we are in a very, very good place.

We went to the doctor’s office today for yet another developmental evaluation and weight check for L.  I’ve been sick to my stomach about it for weeks.  At the last appointment, we were told essentially that he was “the fat kid” (yes, in those words), and that we needed to make drastic changes in order to avoid a severe obesity problem.  The goal for today’s visit was that in the past 2 months, he would have grown a bit taller — but maintained his weight.  No gain.  That was what we were shooting for.

At the time, it seemed almost impossible.  We were doing so much, working so hard, to make sure that our kids had the best diets we could provide for them.  No processed foods, everything scratch-made, fewer and fewer refined flours or sugars, tons of fresh produce.  Salads and smoothies and whole-wheat everything dominated our kitchen.  And while one child, little P., thrived and grew skinny, skinny, skinny and strong….L. was just big.  How could I possibly get him not to gain weight over the course of 8+ weeks, when I didn’t really understand what was making him gain in the first place?

HE LOST ALMOST THREE POUNDS.

I’m staring at those words and still finding it hard to believe.  He grew a couple of inches, and he lost nearly three pounds, which for a kid who’s not quite five years old is pretty significant.  We’re talking about more than five percent of his body weight, gone in less than a summer, and we didn’t do a damned thing.

Okay, that’s not fully accurate.  We did do a FEW things.  But what really gets me about this is that we did not do ANY of the things the pediatrician wanted us to do.  She wanted us to cut out ALL sweets — and I mean ALL.  When I mentioned something about a cookie per week, the idea was soundly rejected.  We’ve not done that.  We’ve tried to help L. choose certain times during the week when he may have a treat, and limited those opportunities perhaps slightly more than before, but he’s had plenty of ice cream and frozen lemonade and other summery delights since that fateful appointment.

She wanted us to put him on skim milk, so he could save a couple of dozen calories per serving.  We did not.  I don’t personally believe that skim milk is a great choice, particularly for kids; many valuable nutrients, INCLUDING the fat itself, are conveyed more easily to the child’s body through higher-fat dairy.  We’re not whole milk drinkers, but 1% or 2% organic milk, I’m thoroughly convinced, is not the cause of childhood obesity.

She wanted us to start measuring his portions and making sure that he got only set amounts — basically, in my mind, restriction.  We did not do that, either.  We instead opted to start him with slightly smaller portions of everything and ask him to evaluate his hunger level before giving him more; but he’s gotten more whenever he’s really felt hungry.  The other morning, he woke up ravenous, ran around the house with his brother, and scarfed down two bowls of plain Cheerios before dashing outside to play.  I’m pretty sure the Cheerios are not making him fat.

She wanted us to eliminate the dried fruit from his lunches, because “it’s high in sugar and calories.”  Well, duh — it’s fruit.  We didn’t do that, either.  I have given it to him a bit less often, like 2-3 times a week rather than every day, but 1/4 cup of dried organic mango with his sandwich and applesauce is not a huge splurge, in my humble opinion as his mother. 

So…not one.  Not one of her recommendations did we actually take.  We took a stand, as his parents, and we drew a deep breath and examined our household and our habits.  We tweaked things here and there.  And while we were tweaking, our little boy suddenly matured.  And grew.  And lost weight.  And doesn’t know that we were thinking about his weight at all, which is EXACTLY how I want it.

We left him alone and fed him the way we think smart, healthy kids should be fed, and we let him run around and get lots of fresh air and exercise.  And today, I had the satisfaction of hearing his pediatrician say to me, “Whatever you are doing, it is clearly working.  He’ll be at an ideal body weight in no time.”  (By the way, I ran the BMI numbers myself later on — he’s about either a pound or an inch away from “ideal.”) 

I’ve got to say, having her look me in the eye and tell me “I am very, very pleased with everything about him right now — he looks great and has made tremendous progress with all of the things we’ve been watching” felt AMAZING.  For once, just once in the past year, I got to talk to her about how great my kid is.  We talked about his phenomenal literacy level and his great sense of humor and how proud we are that he’s learned to swim, even though for a child with his motor disability, swimming can be tough to master.  We talked about how he wants to start karate lessons and how he’s making real friends for maybe the first time in his life, and going to parties and playdates and having his very own birthday party in a couple of weeks with lots of other kids.  We talked about L.  Not his body shape or size, but L.  And the relief I felt was indescribable.

J. hasn’t said much about today — he’s not much for talking about these things anyway — but when he held L. in his arms just a little longer than usual, and kissed his hair an extra time, and said “Daddy is so, so proud of you,” I could tell he felt the same way I did.  Relieved, and happy, and renewed in my convictions — and proud of ALL of us.  I know there are probably years of being careful about L.’s weight and health ahead of us, but for today, I’m just focusing on the good news; which is that we didn’t back down, and we did what we felt was right, and it WORKED.  Better than we could have expected.

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16 Responses to Vindicated

  1. Susan says:

    We go through this ALL THE TIME (not about weight, but about our inherited hypercholesterolemia issue) — the doctors are always trying to get my kids (starting when they ere 5 and 7) on statins. I went with my gut and logic and decided to see what we could do in a year by revamping our already healthy diet and upping the exercise and such. The answer is: we’ve moved the earth and we still get our special treats. And it is a blessing in disguise in many ways, because we ditched a bunch of unhealthy crap in the process unrelated to the cholesterol issue (white flours and processed junk, to name 2). I am very proud of our household. They said it couldn’t be done and wanted Big Pharma to win yet again. For now, we’re good.

    • Wow. It sounds like you have a lot to be proud of! Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to make parenting decisions in the face of a medical complication that will constantly have you at odds with the prevailing medical wisdom. Good for you, and keep at it! Hope you’ll come back and read and comment again.

  2. Kim B. says:

    What happy news! It’s great to read this … thank you for keeping your readers updated. I still am not a huge fan of your pediatrician …

  3. Marissa says:

    I found your blog this morning and love it! What an inspiration as I start to think forward in teaching my son (only 11 weeks) how to make healthy choices. It seems scary that at some point I will have to send him to school to be influenced by candy packing kids! We have an unbelievable farmer’s market near our home every Saturday and we go each week to look at all the brilliant colors. Hopefully starting early will help!

    Congrats on your son’s success! I’m sure having a healthy mom like you will make the journey easier!

    • Oh, my goodness, it’s always so nice to have a new reader! Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please keep coming back! Congratulations on your new addition. It’s so important, I think, to have a game plan about how you’ll handle things like food before they get to eating solids, because then you’re less likely to be completely stumped by all the intricacies of trying to feed kids.
      Definitely, going to the amazing farmer’s market will help, and starting early also helps! Don’t sweat the candy packing kids, though — too much. 🙂 I figure if you are great at being a positive influence at home, then the stuff that happens when you’re not there doesn’t matter as much.

  4. I’m so happy for you! What an amazing validation of your parenting skills!

  5. Liz says:

    Brianne, of course he’s fine. You are an awesome mom who had the good sense to follow your own instincts. I remember my brother at that age — he has a similar body type — and he would fatten up a little, then grow a few inches and lose weight, then fatten up a little, and so on. And this was back in the days everyone ate white bread, fluffernutter, meat at every meal (because you would die without meat, of course) and canned vegetables. I too would like to know what the doctor said or will say when she finds out that her own notsobrilliant plan was not followed.
    Glad you’re feeling better about the whole thing!

    • Thanks, Liz. Refer to my comment to Christina to see what happened — it was pretty anticlimactic, actually. 🙂 But yes, I feel much better — not because he’s smaller, necessarily, but because I feel like I’m not CRAZY. Like just doing the sensible thing actually does work.

    • Uly says:

      I remember my brother at that age — he has a similar body type — and he would fatten up a little, then grow a few inches and lose weight, then fatten up a little, and so on.

      Many children do that. I always know when the older niece is going to shoot up because for a few beautiful weeks, her pants stop falling off her waist.

      • That’s so funny that you mention that — -this weekend a family member who hadn’t seen my son in a while said, “Oh, look, he’s finally growing into his clothes!” because he was so used to seeing L. with either pants that were too big and long to accommodate a little extra roundness before a growth spurt, or pants that were too short. Right now things actually fit him properly. It’s so nice!

  6. Terrific news, Bri. Now what I’d love to see is the post about your doctor’s reaction when you told her that you didn’t follow one lick of her (misguided) advice. You did tell her, right? Because that would be some lovely education about real kids eating real food.

    • HAHAHA I know, right? I did tell her, but in as nonconfrontational a way as possible. She asked if it had been “terribly difficult for L.” to make the changes she’d recommended, and I said, “Oh, actually, you know, we didn’t really change anything he eats. It’s hard to mess with a kid’s diet when they’re already eating broccoli and beets and homemade foods, so we just kind of tried to help him do a better job of being active and determining his portions. You know, all that sensory-type stuff I had mentioned to you before.” She sort of blinked and then said, “Well, sometimes you’ll find kids who do that — learn to self-regulate. It’s rare, but they can learn it. I guess he’ll be one of those, and maybe this is a pattern we’ll see with him.”

  7. Jamie says:

    Freaking rock it Mama!!! I love it! kudos on every part of this: standing by your son, moving through the healthcare system with intuition, everything. Not to sound condescending but I’m so proud of you and your family! I hope you send this out to many, many sources. It needs to be read by all.

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