Premature Birth: At Odds With the Standard Growth Chart

Today’s post comes from Linda, our Operations Coordinator! Like many of us, her preemie journey included issues around growth and weight gain so we’re happy to share her story in her own words.


I thought our prematurity journey ended with our NICU stay.  Boy was I mistaken!

I thought that since my daughters were big and strong enough to come home and survive on their own without wires and feeding tubes and heat lamps that it would be smooth sailing…I couldn’t have been more wrong, or more naive. In a way, I feel our journey just began after our departure from the NICU.  My one daughter was barely 5 pounds and my other not even when we came home.  

I remember our first appointment with the pediatrician and being so excited to see where my girls would land on the growth chart.  Turns out, they weren’t even on it – they were on a corrected chart and even though they were a month old, the chart characterized them as negative 4 weeks old and they didn’t even make it on that chart either.  Thus, began our constant uphill battle with weight gain.  

When my third daughter came around I thought I would finally make that chart.  Due to placenta previa, I was forced to deliver at 36 weeks to a 4 pound, 12 ouncer who thankfully could stay with me and didn’t require any NICU time but the uphill battle of weight gain ensued and she also was negative 4 weeks on that growth chart.  I don’t know why I let that growth chart rule my life but the anxiety and the hold it had over me was unbearable.  

My twins are now 4.5 and my other daughter 3 and I am still at odds with that growth chart.  My youngest FINALLY made it on the chart for height in August at her last physical and I couldn’t have been prouder!  

But what does all my rambling about a growth chart have to do with anything really?  Well I felt like I was missing out on typical milestones – this was just the beginning of what I felt was missing out, but with time learned that my daughters would make their own milestones and I would be just as proud – if not prouder of them than if they made them “on time.”  They did make them “on time.”  ON THEIR TIME.

So, what if I didn’t get to complete the Year of Firsts calendar that I bought for them – it ended up becoming more of the Second Year of Firsts calendar in our house but that was OK.  I was finally able to come to terms with my fictitious view of normal and accept and embrace the real normal and I couldn’t be more blessed, thankful or prouder that my girls are exactly where they are today – three happy, healthy, petite, little crazy people!     

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