A pediatrician first recognized my failure to thrive, as he called it, when I was seven months old. An average-sized baby at birth, born by C-section to my petite mother, I had started to gain only ounces between monthly visits. Conspicuous smallness runs in my family. My mother is barely 4’11”. My grandfather (5’8″) says we are descended from a Russian clan, the Zichs, none of whom were over five feet tall. But I was emerging as a frontrunner in the shortness contest. At three years old I was 23 pounds; four, 26; five, 28. Most toddlers gain about three to five pounds per year and grow two to three inches. I was growing less than two inches and gaining less than two pounds per year. While my classmates’ torsos stretched and their legs thinned, I never made it onto the government growth charts. I was not too much bigger than an average terrier.

Published: Sep 14, 2011
Length: 10 minutes (2,731 words)
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