My youngest son had a rough start to life in a brightly-lit operating theatre on a gloomy night in January. Now a bouncing, smiley eight months old, he has nonetheless had a number of minor health problems which have combined to make him feel pretty miserable and irritable. A urine infection several months ago meant long-term antibiotics and tests to check that his kidneys function as they should. Eczema and food allergies have severely restricted what he can eat, be bathed in, have his clothes laundered in, even whose skin he can touch. Chronic constipation – and I’m talking really chronic – has meant that he has been on suppositories for the last two months and dosed up with lactulose ‘softener’. He has not reached the ‘being able to sit unaided’ milestone. Despite a good start to weaning he now eats about two teaspoons of food a day in total.
To say I have been unhappy with his progress would be an understatement. At his seven month review with the doctor I expressed, not for the first time, how concerned I was and asked for Ben to be referred to a specialist but because he is already under the care of a urology paediatrician at the hospital he was not referred for other investigation. A ‘wait and see’ approach was considered to be the best course of action. But he continued to not eat, showing no appetite, and he continued to fail to put on weight.
After feeling like I was a neurotic first time mother for worrying about this – after all I’m a third-time mother, I’m an expert now right? – he was weighed again today and officially diagnosed as ‘failing to thrive’.
The paediatrician will be calling me tomorrow about the next steps to take to get Ben back on track. But I still feel like he is slipping through the net and I’m scared, really scared, for his long term outlook.