Not how most moms describe their brand new infants, but as a panicked mother to a child with a head who’s head circumference is a bit on the small side, it’s words like this that are coming to my mind. If her head doesn’t catch up, what will the kids call her? Will she be teased with names like Pin Head? Will she be called a circus freak? Will kids make fun of her with names like Conehead?
We took Grace, like good parents do, for her one month check up a month ago. As with all kids, they plot their growth on growth charts – pink and white for girls, blue and white for boys. Usually, it’s a pretty big thrill for a mom to see the doctor pull out the chart, plot the new height and weight measurements that the nurse has just taken, and feel that swell or pride that you, like any ape on the planet, have fed your child enough to encourage growth.
Then there is the head circumference. I have never paid that much attention to this measurement, and I don’t recall anyone every saying it was a big deal. Apparently, however, if your head doesn’t grow, neither does your brain. And if your brain doesn’t grow, you may be mentally retarded. You may have a lower than normal IQ. You could have seizures and convulsions and become hyperactive. You could experience limb paralysis. You could end up making less than minimum wage stuffing envelopes from home just so you can be a productive member of society. These are the things I learned while researching on the web something called MICROCEPHALY – the condition where your head is too small.
So last month, Grace’s head measurement put her in the 10th percentile. That means 10 percent of babies her age have smaller heads, and the rest of them have larger heads. But that number is still normal. The doctor told me if she fell below the 10th percentile, that could be reason to be concerned and we would discuss it at the two month appointment if it was necessary.
Yesterday was the two month appointment. We had a bunch of stuff to talk about. She still has a bit of scab in her belly button. She has cradle cap that spreads down behind her ears and over her eyebrows. She turns her head to one side too often. Then he plotted her measurements. She weighed 11 pounds, 8.9 ounces, which on his chart put her right about the 50th percentile. She is 22.75 inches long, which on his chart put her right about the 50th percentile. So far, so good, so normal. Then he got that head circumference measurement. Grace’s head was 37 centimeters around. That, on his chart, put her at the 5th percentile. Recalling our conversation from last month, I ask him what our plan is. He tells me not to worry until the 4 month check up in August. The measurements are not always accurate, he tells me, and we should get at least one more before we panic.
Like I haven’t been panicking for the last month, worrying we would not be above the 10th percentile.
I leave, but I am in a frantic state. When I get Jim, he makes it his mission to get in touch with the doctor’s office and see what we can do. So we went back today to see another doctor in the practice – but not without an argument. The doctor today measured her head at 38.2 cms, and that puts her at the 9th percentile. Not totally out of the woods, but better than yesterday. We also get to come back in a month instead of two months, and we found out that she has an impressive soft spot.
So ends another day in the life of a mom. Well, not ends really, because I’m sure there will be a 2 AM feeding…