What’s Up With Percentiles?


Elliana was born a few weeks early as a result of IUGR and low amniotic fluid. She has always been tiny, but lucky for us (because I have always been very aware of her formula intake) she has continued to trend up on the growth charts.


However, the other day (Jan. 18th) was her 9-month check-up and as I lay in bed that morning before she woke up, I had this odd feeling that things would be a little bit different this time around. Her formula intake had dwindled and her intense interest in solids became minimal.


I guess you could call it a mother's instinct because sure enough as she lay there naked and screaming on the scale (she really hates that thing) a whopping 14 lbs 12 oz stared back at me. She had lost almost a pound since we weighed her last in late December and was in the 4th percentile for her weight. She hadn't been in that low of a range since she was a newborn.


At the moment it was like a wave of defeat washed over me. I immediately felt like it was my fault. What had I done wrong? What could I do better? How could she have lost so much weight? Is there something bigger going on?

The doctor was not overly concerned and recommended some changes, but in reality, none of that made me feel any better. I also tried to remind myself of the pediatricians and pediatric dietitians I follow that talk about how BMI and percentiles are not the only important pieces of the puzzle.


I almost wish we were not constantly shown the growth charts and that their BMI and percentiles were not printed and present everywhere because sometimes I feel like they just slap me in the face.


But as I sit and reflect on this experience I continue to wonder why we as moms automatically find the need to blame ourselves the moment something goes wrong? Is it because we have this intense need to fix things or always feel in control? Is it because we have to blame something or someone and we can't blame our little ones so the easiest target is ourselves? I wish I knew the answer to this question.


I would be lying if I told you that I just automatically decided one day to stop blaming myself for things and it actually worked....because it doesn't. But what has helped me is reminding myself I can't do it all - as much as I want to, I can't control everything, but I am trying my best and for Ellie, my best will always be good enough!

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