Failure. That’s all I read. It’s all I saw. It was the only thing I could focus on.
I’m sure the doctor said it at some point during the appointment, but it wasn’t until it was right there staring at me in black and white that it clicked . . . “failure to thrive.” I was officially failing my daughter.
A couple of years down the road, I now realize how irrational and far from the truth that was, but at the time, it was all I could focus on. I wish more than anything that they had a better, easier term for it. Because all I saw was that word.
The word that meant I was failing this tiny little person who depended on me to make everything okay. The word that meant our daughter was failing after she fought so hard to get here. The word that meant I was failing at the one job I swore I could do well—being a mom.
It didn’t make sense. I did everything right. And then some. I read everything the doctors gave us. And then some. I spent those few little windows I had for sleep researching. Diving deep into mom support groups filled with more information than my mushy mom brain could handle.
We tried all the formulas. Watched our daughter suffer every time we tried a new one that didn’t work. We adjusted eating positions. Changed our feeding schedules. Fed less amounts more frequently even if it meant we felt like we were constantly in a feeding, spit up, try again cycle.
We went to the specialists. We took all the tests. We did it all by the book. Anything that was even the smallest recommendation we took into serious consideration and went forward with it most of the time. We did all we physically could. It just wasn’t happening.
The hardest part is, I was so hyper-focused on that diagnosis. So knee-deep in that spiral of guilt and fear and failure that I couldn’t see what was directly in front of me.
I was too overwhelmed by this cloud of failure that I couldn’t see my daughter was the exact opposite of that. She was happy. She was laughing and smiling and learning about the world around her. She was growing and doing something new every day. She was, in fact, thriving.
She wasn’t gaining weight fast enough. At least not fast enough for the percentile chart that still haunts us to this day. But she was eating, and as she grew, she was not hesitant to try anything new. She wasn’t in pain, and she wasn’t losing weight. She passed all the tests. She was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing. Not what every other baby her age was doing. Not what every textbook or chart said she was supposed to be doing. She was doing what was best for her and her little body—growing into it and herself as slowly as she needed to.
My daughter has always followed her own path. Always did things in her own way and own time. I see that now. I saw it then too, I just let that phrase “failure to thrive” overshadow it. But there was one thing right about it . . . thrive. She was thriving. She is thriving. She always will be.