Raising a Preemie: My Son’s Current Predicament


This is my son Conner.  He's my firstborn, and a chip off the old blockhead.

This is my son Conner. He’s my firstborn, and a chip off the old blockhead.

Yesterday my wife and I took my son Conner to an endocrinologist to discuss the fact that his bone growth is two years behind what it should be.  This is all due to the fact that my son was born at 24 weeks, weighed 1 lb. 8 oz., and was 12 inches long.  The doctor explained to us that Conner’s bone growth was 2 years behind, and that at age 12 (almost 13) we could place him in a crowd of 9 year olds and he would blend right in.

Conner suffers psychologically for this, as he is attending 6th grade (middle school) and has his share of bullies, but because of his size people say things to him that (to them) are not intended to hurt, but their words are like barbs.  For example, when Conner visited my high school class, some girls in the class said things like “he’s so cute” and “awww”, which in his mind sounded like someone calling him a baby or tiny.

The doctor told us that he had several options for Conner.  The first is a testosterone pill that would help him grow twice as fast as normal for a year and get him caught up to the other children in his grade.  This medicine is not covered by our insurance because it is so rarely used, and is $199 for 50 pills…way out of our price range.  We found out that for rare pills like this one, pharmacists have to buy a bottle of 100 and then hope they sell all of them before they expire.  Often the pills are not all purchased by customers, and then have to be thrown out because they have expired.  Because of this, the pharmacist has to mark up the price of the pill to cover the loss of the expired pills.  If one could find a pharmacist who owns his or her own pharmacy, one could make a deal with the pharmacist since the customer would be buying this pill for a year and would not waste any pills.

The second option is for Conner to take a shot every day for a year.  This medication is cheaper, but when I tell Conner about taking a shot every day his eyes get as big as goose eggs.  I don’t know how diabetic children go through the injections every day, but the decision to do the hormone therapy was Conner’s and he wants to take the pills “even if I have to mow lawns, dad” as he says.

The third option is to do nothing, but since he is dealing with growth retardation because of his premature birth, he will never be as tall as he would be if he were not born so early, and he wouldn’t hit puberty until probably age 15 or 16, thereby putting many obstacles on his social development.

We are people of faith, so we are simply trusting that this money will make an appearance or something will be worked out with a local pharmacist.  I also received a 2.1% tax increase this January (thanks Washington).  I have a college degree and a full time job, and my wife also has a full time job, and last night I discovered (simply out of curiosity) that we qualify for $80 a month in food stamps.  It is a sad commentary on our society that teachers, the people who train all other professions in their formative years, make so little that they qualify for government assistance.

I know this will work out.  It always has with Conner’s issues.  I am again trusting that the pieces of the puzzle will go together, and I’ll be right there to encourage my son to help us fit those pieces together even if we have to use a hammer to do so.

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5 thoughts on “Raising a Preemie: My Son’s Current Predicament

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. Conner sounds like a great kid.

    A couple of thoughts were triggered by your post:

    1. A boy in my middle school was about half the size of everyone else for similar reasons. Then he started getting work in TV commercials because he could play younger people yet was mature enough to memorize his lines and behave on set. By high school he was appearing in TV movies and films and had a pretty good run as a child actor. I’m not suggesting Conner should go into acting, but just that sometimes setbacks can turn out to have unpredictable benefits.

    2. My Dad was born premature, and he is rather on the small side. In his life, he became an ordained minister as well as classical pianist, raised 4 kids, and owned a business for several years. He’s going to be 83 in a few months and still actively writes music, plays organ at several churches, and entertains people in nursing homes (many of whom are younger than him).

    I just hope Conner doesn’t feel that having a smaller stature makes him less valuable as a person (Of course, he gets a lot of support and encouragement from the people who love him). Who knows what great things he will do?

  2. You’ve got a strong kid there. Can’t imagine what it must be like to be in his shoes. I, too, am a person of faith, and this may not mean much coming from a stranger, but if there’s anything I believe, it’s that we go through the trials we do for a reason, because they grow us into the people we are meant to become. Hope your son knows that the big guy must have some plans in store for his future :)

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