This morning I am procrastinating a rather unpleasant task. I have to take Anya to the clinic to have some blood drawn so they can test it for iron content and some other things. As far as I (and anyone else) can tell, she is perfectly healthy, but at her wellness check-up a couple days ago, the doctor noted that she had slipped considerably on the growth charts. Up until her 18-month check-up in June, she was solidly in the 75th percentile for height and weight, but now she is down in the 25th percentile. That's a significant change, enough to concern the doctor (who isn't naturally alarmist), so she is going to do another weight check in a couple of months and wants me to see a nutritionist in the meantime.

Anya eats plenty. The child almost never misses a meal, and she has several snacks throughout the day. She is picky like a typical two-year-old, but not as picky as her older brother (who, incidentally, also dropped in the growth charts around this age and we had to take him to a nutritionist, too, which didn't really do any good). Her diet is pretty well balanced except for one thing: the child will. not. drink. milk. She doesn't like it. I have quit offering it to her because when she does actually try it, she makes a face and spits it out. She has a little milk on her oatmeal every morning and she loves cheese. Sometimes she'll eat a whole bowlful for a snack and nothing else with no gastrointestinal consequences to speak of, so I think the reason she doesn't drink milk is that she simply doesn't like it. I figured it wasn't a big deal because she still breastfeeds pretty often and besides, plenty of children out there are lactose-intolerant and can't drink milk, and they do okay, right? In any case, the doctor informed me that young children are supposed to have so many glasses of milk per day, so it's supposed to be a significant portion of their caloric intake, plus they need the Vitamin D (especially this time of year when true sunshine feels like a distant memory), so even though Anya has a healthy appetite, she may be missing out on calories because she doesn't drink milk.

I was supposed to stop at the lab on the way out of that appointment to have her blood drawn to test for anemia and some other things, but Anya threw such a fit getting her coat on that I totally flaked and just took the kids home. So now I have to drag her back there just to get stuck with a needle, and I am dreading it. No one likes to have their blood drawn, but that's not the real issue for me. The real issue is that I feel like I have failed her somehow by not offering her milk early enough or often enough and now her growth will be stunted and it's ALL MY FAULT. That looks totally ridiculous in writing but it's completely rational in my head. I am also dreading the as-yet-unscheduled appointment with the nutritionist, who will in all likelihood be the same nice blond lady I met with when Daniel wouldn't eat anything but graham crackers and baby food, and she will give me all kinds of advice that won't work and go on about calories and vitamins and having a routine (like I don't know that).

It's the most random stuff that undermines one's confidence as a parent. I look at Anya and I know, I am certain, that she is fine. She jabbers on constantly, carefully puts her words together in little sentences ("Mama get it! No! ME do it! Stop it, Dan'l!"), and she likes to run around the house naked and has plenty of energy (she skips her naps more often than not, sadly) and she can drink out of a regular cup and eat with a spoon and build block towers and pull on her own pants (sometimes backwards but if you try and correct her BOY do you pay for it) and do all those things normal two-year-olds are supposed to do. Except drink milk.

ETA: Thanks for the wonderful comments, everyone! To answer a quick question that abcgirl asked: no, I haven't tried chocolate milk. I'm not really so opposed to trying it except that if Anya gets chocolate milk, Daniel will want it, too, and then I'll have to work on both of them not drinking too much sugar with it. That said, we had a quick impromptu sledding excursion today (pictures coming in a future post, I'm sure) and both kids had some hot cocoa afterwards. For Anya, this is progress.


Jessi said…
Brynna drinks too much, Anya drinks too little. If only we could even that out. I totally get the milkfat argument, but it looks like she could get that elsewhere. I just don't get forcing kids to eat/drink things that they don't like. I hated milk as a kid, hate milk now, am certainly not underweight.
Motherhood has this inherent guilt-factor built into it, and it sucks big time. I used to beat myself up about Jamie's food allergies. "Oh, if only I hadn't let my mom sneak him bits of Little Debbie snack cakes when he was a baby. If only I hadn't eaten so much peanut butter when I was pregant and then still when I was nursing. If only I hadn't given him those peanut butter and crackers when he was one...." At some point you realize that the guilt is doing nothing but sapping your energy and making it harder to do what has to be done.

So, I'll tell you what I've been told time and again. You know your child better than anyone else. Your doctor nor the nutritionist live with her on a daily basis. They don't see what she eats and what she does. All they see is little numbers on a chart during a 15 minute check-up after months of not seeing her. If you think she's fine, then she is - especially when you factor in that Daniel did the same thing. So, do what the doctor says to humor him/her so far as the blood test goes. But I wouldn't schedule with the nutritionist until AFTER you get the results of the blood work back. That's just my humble opinion.
Pam said…
You are such a great mom! I bet anything that Anya is in great health! In my humble opinion it doesn't make sense to compare one person to everybody else. I have heard this about Asian children (I think from my friend Yuhri), that they are never in the right percentile, and that can be accounted for by genetic differences. Why should every child grow at exactly the same rate? You make excellent points about how smart and spunky she is - and YOU are her MOM! You spend all day with her and YOU know best how she's doing. That's just how I see it.
abcgirl said…
at the risk of being the non-mom leaving unwelcome advice... have you tried chocolate milk? :)
katie said…
imo, it's no big deal that she doesn't like milk. even if she needs the calcium, she's eating cheese. also, you probably know this already, but milk impedes the absorption of iron. vitamin c, on the other hand, helps iron to be absorbed.

2 of my 3 kids have been anemic, so we've been through this! hang in there.
Mamma Sarah said…
Hi there. Ran across your blog randomly. I totally understand the milk thing. We're a bit different here cause my kids are allergic to all dairy, but drink a ton of "alternative milks". Maybe try something along those lines. Just food for thought. Best wishes and I'm sure everything will turn out just fine.
Steph said…
I wish someone would point out to these doctors who are so convinced that kids "need milk" that over half of the freaking world is lactose-intolerant. I know Anya isn't, but still, really, that whole argument just reeks of the American Dairy Counsel. (Sorry, a little conspiracy theorist thing there.)

Anya just takes after our generation of Graber women, that's all. I got dragged in for all the tests for being low on the charts too. My Indian babysitter would tell my folks, "She's fine, she's just small." So is Anya. :)
How did Anya do with getting her blood drawn?
Becca said…
CJ is lactose intolerant. Lactose-free milk is expensive. I had to find alternatives for him that got him the amount of fat he needed and could bolster the lactose-free milk I got for him.

Does Anya like yogurt? You can find whole milk yogurt and give that to her. String cheese is good, as is cream cheese. And there's always butter. He's 5 and weighs 40 pounds, so I don't have any worries for him weight wise. For vitamin D, there's always powdered milk that can be added to hot cocoa without problems, or mixed with the aforementioned yogurt and cream cheese.

When CJ was transitioning off formula and we found he was lactose intolerant and couldn't handle milk, I made him smoothies with cream cheese, yogurt, vanilla, powdered milk and a bit of water. Much better than the Pediasure the doc recommended. Barring that, the only way he'll really drink milk is from the dregs of his Honey Nut Cheerios, so I try to give him extra.

Not sure how any of this will work for you or Anya, but there are ways for making sure she's getting the right fats and vitamins without drinking 2-3 glasses of milk.

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