Sunday, April 18, 2010

because worrying is what i do best

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.

Tee Hee!


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.


  1. wonderfully written story!

  2. We do have some 6 foot tall female cousins on Mom's side (their non-related to us father was really tall too), and Mom is 5'11". Every one of us 8 kids was off the growth charts growing up. But, except for one brother, we all topped out early. I pretty much stopped growing at 13 and ended up at 5'9"; another sister 5'10". And the one who had most towered over her classmates in kindergarten and grade school did not grow an inch past 6th grade, ending up at 5'7". The other sister is 5'8".
    All a long-winded way of saying just because she is really tall now, does not mean she will always be extraordinarily tall. Please try to join Carolyn in her happiness that she can go on the rides by herself. :-)

  3. Oh, she is just too awesome for words!

    I don't know what happened to my kid. I'm just about 5'7" and she's right up to my shoulders. FREAKY. (P.S. five foot seven is NOT tall here)

    OK, as for JRA, my son had it...(they say he "grew out of it" but who can trust these IHS hospitals!?) and I swear the medication was MUCH worse than the actual discomfort. UGH.

    You need to STOP WORRYING. You're going to give yourself high blood pressure and FORCE yourself into an anxiety attack and then you'll have another thing to worry about. Sheesh.

    Just go camping or soemthing. Or, come to Alaska! I'll be here with a glass (or a jelly jar) of wine, and clothes that will fit Carolyn, she and Kaisa can have a tall-fest, while everyone else runs around beneath them! hehe.

  4. Glad that her blood test came out okay. Sounds like quite a procedure that Charlie had to go through to get her there. Do the others also carry on like that for a trip to the Doctor's office? Good luck!

  5. I'm glad you had her checked. It is always better to be safe. My doctor looked at me like I was crazy the day I told her to test my then 13yo for Type 1 Diabetes, but I was right. With regard to the pain she sometimes has, I have read that children who grow particularly fast can experience growing pains.

  6. Why do the anonymous comments on this post annoy me so badly? And better yet, why did I publish and respond to them?

    To Anon 1: I do "join" Carolyn in her "happiness" that she can go on rides by herself. Did I indicate anywhere in my post that I did not? I'm beyond words THRILLED that my daughter is healthy and TALL. As one of the shortest in my family, I would LOVE to have what I believe will be her beautiful TALL genes. The x-rays and bloodwork were to insure that she is OK. Because all indications from her behavior and soreness, up until this point, have suggested OTHERWISE.

    To Anon 2: Do all the kids carry on like that when they go to the doctor's office? Well, in this case she wasn't going to the doctor's office, she was going to the LAB TO GET A NEEDLE. And yes, actually, all of my five-year-olds scream like their hair is on fire when they have to get a SHOT. It's really funny how little kids are that way!

    End Rant.

    Reaching for Midol.

    Going for walk.

  7. My DD is about the same size as Carolyn (or she was when she was she's 6, and she's even bigger). She's almost as big as one of my 9 1/2 year olds and they weigh the same. The amazing thing is that despite the fact that she is off the charts big, she is smaller than I was at the same age. I have my baby book that my mom kept to prove it. I'm 5'8" tall, which is not really huge. I'm glad everything else checked out though.

  8. I think sometimes the "Anonymous" posts are because people don't have a G-Mail account. Glad the tests came back fine -always good to follow your Mom intuitions. I felt I needed to respond as a 6' 1" tall woman (in stocking feet) -yeah, dances were tough growing up etc., growing pains were frequent etc., no high heels for me, but let me assure Carolyn and you that height (and fitness) is POWER! I LOVE being tall. I also feel it is important to celebrate her individuality to help start building strong self confidence it will take to be "the tallest girl" in the class -some days will be better than others...

  9. I am glad that you had her checked.

    I hated being tall. I was teased in school and called "daddy long legs" all the time. Now I love it!

    I used to be so proud of my five year olds when they were at the doctor's office because they were so well-behaved; however, the pre-kindergarten immunizations did them in. There is no convincing them that the doctor's office is a good place to go anymore, which is a shame. There is such drama that is it unbelievable, and quite frankly I am not sure what to do from here on out.

  10. I just found your blog, and can completely relate. I'm six feet tall and grew so fast through elementary and middle school. About the growing pains, my back and legs hurt all the time, even as a little kid. My body was growing so fast that my muscles couldn't support my frame very well. My mom put me in indoor swimming when I was about 7 and it helped keep me strong enough, particularly in my back, to support my frame stand up straight. I kept swimming through middle school, and it was the best thing for me. My parents also rubbed my back every night before I went to sleep, and that helped the pain a lot.

    I can understand your concerns, and my experience as a kid wasn't always easy, but I can tell you that all of those kids that gave me a hard time in middle school ended up voting me as having the "best body" on the superlatives list by the time we graduated. I loved having those long legs, and I ended up getting more attention from the boys than those snarky girls that had made fun of me! I don't have a daughter yet (maybe the one that's on the way?), but I have already thought about what I'll do to help her through her childhood if she's tall like me. It's not easy, and kids can be cruel, but in the end the tall girls get the last laugh. ;-)

  11. LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!! Sarah can go on the rides without Gregory or Amanda. I am laughing so hard. She just hit 48 inches and the other two are 45.


  12. Hi Jen ~
    I'll admit, I'm a lurker but had to let you know when I saw the pics of Carolyn, I'm amazed at how much she and my Brenna look alike. Your Mom was right! Even Cameron, my 14 year old, looked at Carolyn's pics today and said, "Oh crap!" As in, can there be another Brenna on the planet? Too much to take! Wow, genes are strong. I only wished Brenna got the height gene like Carolyn instead of the "junk in the trunk" gene like her mother!

    XO Kathy

  13. My daughter is also TALL, slender and tall. She is the tallest girl in her 6th grade class. I am always encouraging her to stand up straight. At almost 12, she is as tall as me. One of her brothers is an inch taller, the other about 3 inches shorter. What's funny is the shortest one USED to be the tallest and biggest one for many years, until around 4th grade. I guess my point is that they each have their own growth rates. Like you - I worry too much too. But beiong tall is a good thing (or som I'm told - lol)

  14. I read everything you write, but rarely post, and am usually anonymous but I'm a good one I swear! I LOVE your posts. So funny, so honest, so insightful. THANK YOU!

  15. Funny how we all read things and get a different vibe. While I was reading how Carolyn gets to go on the "tall" rides, I was thinking your point was "yippee!!! We and Carolyn see a bright side to being so tall for her age."

    My son was eight when he had his tonsils out and his pre-surgical labs were a nightmare. I was shocked at how he reacted to the thought of the needles. I actually sent the personnel out of the room, calmed him down and started over, then it was fine. So, yeah, I'd say most kids react "that way" when needles are involved.

    Something that worked for us when our daughter had to have blood work at age 6: we bought the present beforehand and wrapped it all fancy and took it to the lab with us. "When it's all over you get to open this lovely present." It distracted her and kept her from being as upset as she was for her pre-kindergarten shots, for which four nurses and myself were needed to restrain her. This was also after the tonsilectomy lab work. Live and learn.

    I'm glad Carolyn's labs all came back fine. She's just going to be a beautfiul, tall, graceful woman. Something this 5'2" shorty thinks is pretty neat.

  16. HW: You're exactly right ... I am SO pumped Carolyn can go on rides by herself.

    Do you have any idea how long it would take for Charlie and I to stand in line before getting on a ride, with ONE child at a time?? Keep in mind that the other one of us usually had to hang back with Henry because it wasn't like we could take a two-year-old on a roller coaster or the spinning teacups.

    The fact that Carolyn can now ride by herself, speeds things up EXPONENTIALLY. I just keep thinking that once all the kids are >48 inches, we'll be able to hit so many more rides than we currently do. If we didn't go to these amusement parks MID WEEK in the off season, I doubt we'd be able to get in more than three good rides per day. Those lines can be enormous!!

  17. Hi,
    I'm Anon 1 and in no way meant my comment to offend you, I changed the wording from "stop worrying" to join Carolyn in her happiness because you seemed in your post like it was causing you a lot of concern, and I thought join in happiness would be more neutral wording - guess I picked wrong! I am sorry if it came across as judgemental, that really was not the intent, least of all making you feel like you need to take a Midol! So sorry!

    Oh, btw, none of us really got the hang of things like gymnastics that the normal to small for age kids could do with such grace, so I can definitely relate to the sitting on the sidelines. But, a few of us did pretty well at things later on where height was an advantage like crew. Really, sorry to have caused consternation.

  18. In Ontario, Canada, in order to switch out of a 6-point carseat into a booster seat you have to be 40 inches tall. My 6 year old niece is 34 inches tall. My sister-in-law is doing everything that you're doing only for the opposite reasons.

    Carolyn is a beautiful girl and her tall genes are something I definitely envy. Have fun on the roller coasters this summer!

  19. Anon1: I'm sorry that I was so hypersensitive. Some days are just like that for me and you caught me on one!

  20. I love your writing. Lisa was always taller than Marg, almost as tall as george when she was ten, and I worried about him. I always told her how she could be a model or what ever. She did throw her weight around sometimes however, Carolyn is so normal, I remember my kids screamin for days before going to the doctor, it took three people to get an exray from Alex, and I do remember you too when you fell from the horse. She is beautiful.