i've always liked the word thrive. to me thrive means living life well. flourishing. so the phrase failure to thrive packs a punch to my heart. ari has been small since day one. when they laid him on my chest a few seconds after entering the world i could tell he was small. all 6 lbs 8oz of him felt like nothing. it wasn't until he was four months old that his smallness became a concern. he had biweekly weigh ins and a number on a scale that wasn't going up fast enough. he has had his blood taken more times than his dad has in his whole life. i have put his poop in containers a half a dozen times. we have gone to the doctor a lot.

there is not a day that goes by that i don't think about his growth. five months of worrying has taken its toll. i have a lot of mom anxiety. i have cried in the shower worrying about him. i even brought my old stomach pains back. it doesn't take long to come across the phrase "failure to thrive" when you're trying to figure out why your baby won't gain weight. i knew ari qualified for failure to thrive but my pediatrician never used the phrase. on his way home from work last week, david picked up a referral form to have ari tested over at the stanford children's hospital. he handed me the paper and i came across the referral reason code. failure to thrive. it stung.

there is a chart that tells me he's not medically thriving. i get that. he is in the 0.23, not 23rd, percentile for his weight. i didn't know they even handed out numbers below the 1st percentile. i have come to loathe the chart that plots his growth and compares him to other babies. but there is a bruise on his forehead that reminds me that he is thriving. he is always on the move, exploring new parts of our house. he tries to pull himself up on a new piece of furniture every day. anything in his reach gets pulled onto the floor. he excitedly crawls after a dog that dislikes him. he is happy and flashes his smile at anyone who makes eye contact with him. he likes the sound of his voice and loudly lets you know when he's unhappy. he gets frustrated and angry and balls up his fists in protest. he is stubborn and strong and doesn't give in when you want him to take a bottle.

he is my little boy and i love him and worry about him. but i know he's going to be okay because he is thriving.


  1. LOVE this!! Even though Ari is small, I have never felt that he was "failure to thrive." To me, he is healthy and strong! He has loving parents who nurture him and want the best for him! I have seen "failure to thrive" (at least in adults) and its not Ari. He will catch-up one day, until then, he will just be a small "normal" child!! Natalie, you are a great mom!!

  2. We are not our diagnoses. Ari thrives because his parents make sure he does so. He is a happy, bright, sweet boy who is active beyond his months would imply. You'll get to the bottom of this, and you'll be stronger for it (even if it's not a lesson any of you need to learn). Sending hugs and kisses from my coast to yours! Xoxoxo