Last week, we had an appointment with a doctor who we were initially referred to for a reason that I’m sure will be the impetus for many jokes at E’s expense in years to come – the size of his head. Apparently, my tiny, too-small-for-premie-clothes baby, upon deciding to grow, put a little more effort in when it came to the size of his head than the rest of him, and many months ago, this had the public health nurse worried. From the outset it wasn’t something that had me very worried, it’s a trait of my brother’s which we laugh about (in good fun, no harm meant), but when the professionals are mentioning things like fluid on the brain and growth at a rapid state before “…but I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about”, it does get the heart racing a little bit. And not just because he’s a Precious First Born with a hypochondriac Mama. I swear.
Initially, when I looked into it a little more, their issue with his head size had me worried – Dr Google, old reliable of the hypochondriac – informed me that it was common with children on the autism spectrum, of which there is a family history, and also mentioned horrific things like hydrocephalus. Common sense was telling me they would have spotted hydrocephalus in the womb – I certainly couldn’t say he wasn’t scanned enough, what with my frequent flyer points in the maternity hospital, so this was something I was relatively confident about (let’s not mention the fact that three of those scans they told me he was a girl – the less said about that the better). The family history of Aspergers Syndrome did have me worried though, so it was with trepidation that I agreed to be referred to a doctor about all of this. My own GP had mentioned nothing about his head size, and upon saying it to her at our next appointment stated she hadn’t noticed anything, but it was now a note in the PHN system so onward we trekked into the medical abyss.
It became clear quickly that these appointments were simply escalated developmental checks, with added head measurements to boot. Lots of box ticking, his development being tracked a bit more rigorously than it would have been. At the end of the first appointment, I was asked to measure mine and himself’s head circumference and have those figures for the next appointment, as to judge E’s against – much like his height not being a big deal thanks to his quite short Mammy, if we had massive heads then this would be less of an anomaly. Sure enough, next appointment came around and I was thrilled to be heading home to inform Himself that he had a massive head, statistically speaking (less thrilled to know that I was the same, can mock my brother a whole lot less now).
Still, they wanted to keep an eye on him. Upon my mentioning the family link with the autism spectrum, they declared that they thought for the moment he was fine but that they’d keep close watch, understanding that I wanted to be sure that if there was anything to worry about that it was caught early and a plan put in place to make sure everything possible was done for my child. I’ve definitely become a whole lot more Momma Bear when it comes to these things than I have about anything ever before – he’s my kid, it’s my job to fight his corner, even when there isn’t a corner to fight for. I felt reassured by their assurances and that he seemed to be thriving – and then the head size grew again. Within a short enough space of time, his head size had grown over two centiles and was now continuing to grow, just not at that rate. There weren’t any tests to do, just a lot of waiting and seeing.
Last week was the end of the waiting and seeing. It seems that his growth has plateaued and while his head is on the big side (96th percentile, whereas the rest of him is distinctly average or slightly smaller than average), he’s ticking all of the boxes developmentally and is turning into a proper little man, walking, running, talking and giving attitude. It’s good to be able to cross those worries off my list – I don’t think as a mother I’ll ever cross off every worry about my child, that’s part and parcel of the job, but at least now I can get to worrying about where I’m sending my big brained (yes, I’m going to take the line my brother uses to assume the big head is to house big brains) child to school, and as to whether or not he’s eating enough veg like other parents do on a daily basis. We’ll just need to buy hats in the next size up, and it’ll be grand.
Ah, normality. The kid is alright.