As I've written before, there is a considerable difference in size among our five-year-olds. And for the most part, I've attributed that size difference to genetics.
On both sides of our families, Charlie and I have nieces that are over six feet tall. So the fact that one of our daughters is off the growth charts, measuring just a smidge over 50 inches tall at five years old, is a fairly good indication that she'll be looking several of her tall and beautiful female cousins, square in the eye, within the next 10 years.
But even though we have some tall stock in our family, I've had worries about just how fast Carolyn is growing. She would often complain that her back and legs hurt. When her brother and sister would run across fields of green grass, she would sit on the ground and watch them. On those occasions when she did get out and run, her stride was awkward and it looked like she was in pain. Moreover, once every couple months, I'd notice that she would go through a particularly clumsy stage as her coordination was struggling to keep up with her rapidly increasing height.
I've taken my concerns up with her pediatrician several times over the past few years and he consistently attempts to reassure me that everything is fine. Especially since last year she received a clean bill of health from a pediatric orthopedist.
Still, my worries were there.
When I spoke to my mother and voiced my concerns, mom reminded me of a girl I went to school with. At the age of 14, she was 6'2". It wasn't until she was a teenager that she was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid and put on medication that would help stem her growth. The medicine definitely seemed to help - but because she towered by such a large margin over everyone else her age (both boys and girls), her self confidence was extremely shaken. To try and minimize her size, she'd walk with her shoulders hunched over and as a result, she started to suffer back problems.
A few months ago, I went back to our pediatrician and told him I wanted Carolyn's thyroid checked. Just to make sure that everything was OK and just to make sure that if there was an issue, we addressed it sooner than later. Our pediatrician gave us a referral to the lab and told us that to have the thyroid checked, all that was involved was a "simple" blood test.
However, there is no "simple" blood test when it comes to MY five-year-olds.
Because to take blood, they'd need to put a needle in her arm. And this might not seem like a big deal, unless you happen to have a five-year-old who doesn't respond very well to needles and a practically painless tuberculosis skin test took FOUR adults to hold her down.
Because I believe in being honest with our children, I told Carolyn, straight-up, that we would need to take her in to the doctor and they would be taking a small amount of blood from her arm. When she asked how that blood was going to come out and I told her a very teeny absolutely tiny needle, an immediate and hysterical fit ensued.
This wasn't a critical procedure, so time was not of the essence. And although I'd had plans to take her to the lab within the next few days of receiving the referral, we ultimately didn't go for several weeks. In large part because everyday, Elizabeth would ask, "Is today the day that Gracie gets a needle?" and another round of hysteria would commence.
I started to notice, however, that each successive round of hysteria was slightly less than the bout of hysteria prior, so I began to hold out hope that with time, the idea would sink, and the procedure would go off without a hitch.
In the midst of all that, I tested positive for ANA and a possible autoimmune disorder. Armed with that information, I scoured the internet for what the presence of positive ANA markers meant for me - and for those related to me. Most notably, my children.
It alarmed me when I saw that ANA is linked to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA. As I was reading about it, so many of Carolyn's symptoms came to mind. Particularly the stiffness, limping, pain, and unwillingness to move. And although I can't find the reference now, when I was first looking in to JRA, I stumbled upon an article that suggested there might be a link between a significantly accelerated (or significantly decelerated) growth rate and the onset of JRA.
Once I read that, the very next day, I asked my big and strong husband if he would take Carolyn to the lab for her blood test. The results would (hopefully) rule out both JRA and any issues with her thyroid. But we wouldn't tell her where she was going - because we wanted to spare her from any unnecessary stress until the last possible moment. So while the other three children stayed home with me, my strapping man took Carolyn on an outing. And let me tell you, she was positively tickled to be going somewhere one-on-one with her daddy.
But according to Charlie, once they pulled in to the doctor's office parking lot, Carolyn stopped her happy chattering and very seriously asked, "What are we doing HERE?" Before my husband could answer, Carolyn started to thrash about in her seat and scream, "ARGH! ARGH! I'M GOING TO GET A NEEDLE!! A NEEDLE!! A NEEDLE!! THERE'S GOING TO BE BLOOD, ISN'T THERE?!! ARGH! ARGH! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"
My husband parked the car and waited 10 minutes for Carolyn to calm down. He very carefully explained to her that it would be a FAST procedure. It would hurt for not even a second. It would be over with before she knew it and after, they would go pick out a special present for her. Several more minutes and much coaxing later, my daughter tentatively climbed out of the car and began walking towards the building, while gripping my husband's hand.
She made it about 20 feet before she collapsed on to the ground screaming.
Charlie scooped her up and realized that they just had to DO THIS. So he carried his screaming, nearly 60 pound daughter in to the building ... because I suspected that would happen, that's why HE went and not ME. According to his testimony, everyone, and he means EVERYONE, turned around to see what was happening. He said there were at least 60 people waiting for doctor's appointments, prescriptions or completing their registrations - and they were all staring at him and the little girl who was flipping out in his arms.
Who was this man?
Who was this child?
What in the world was happening and why was she screaming and thrashing about in such a terrible state?
Should someone call the authorities?!
Moderately embarrassed and sweating profusely, Charlie made his way to the lab and checked in. As luck would have it, they promptly took him back and the phlebotomist was a young man. A young, strong man. Who called upon another young strong male phlebotomist to come in and assist. Between my husband - and two other men - they were just barely able to hold down one five-year-old well enough to inject an itty bitty needle in to an itty bitty vein and draw the blood necessary for the test.
Charlie said it was the most amazing thing he'd ever witnessed and he still doesn't know how they got that needle in to her arm, since it was flapping around like a fish out of water despite their best efforts to hold it still.
But once the needle was pulled out, Carolyn IMMEDIATELY stopped screaming. She flipped her hair out of her eyes, sniffled her cute little nose and then smiled broadly as if nothing had happened. While the phlebotomists stood in awe at the rapid transformation from spit furious child to delightful angel, she launched in to a discussion about how that didn't hurt AT ALL, her mother had recently had blood drawn from HER ARM, she might get a puppy soon, kindergarten starts this year and her FAVORITE color is yellow.
Then, spotting the stickers and lollipop a nurse had brought in as an offering during her conniption fit, she brightly added, "Oh goodie! Princess stickers and grape lollipops are my favorite! I LOVE princess stickers and grape lollipops!!"
Tee Hee! Tee Hee!
The blood results came back less than a week later.
Much to my incredible relief, everything checked out perfectly fine.
And my fears are once again abated.
(At least for now.)
During our recent trip to Legoland, we realized that Carolyn is tall enough so that she can go on almost any ride - including the rollercoasters - by herself. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and William who are at least four inches shorter than their sister, are very frustrated that they have to take turns riding with either their father or I, while Carolyn is able to go on the ride EACH TIME.
The fact that Carolyn can go on rides by herself that her siblings cannot...
That makes her stand up even a little taller, still.