Why I’m a Shorty (the true story)

Most people I meet assume I’m still a child based on my lilliputian size.

At my peak height, I was 5 feet 1 and 1/2 inches tall, but with a back injury, mild osteopenia (early bone loss), dehydration and hair that’s been flat-ironed, I lose inches and must agree that I’m close to the size of a 5th grader.

My children and nieces passed me in height by age 10, and nobody ever lets me forget it. During every family get-together, my statuesque older sister of 5 feet 2 inches, would line her children up beside me to compare heights as if it were a significant feat to bypass the smallest one in the family, the one stunted at birth.

I say they should try comparing themselves to their Uncle Joel who is of Dutch descent and raised in California on genetically modified, antibiotic and testosterone-laden, high-fructose corn-syrup-containing, gluten-filled, trans-fat foods that produce humans who are “big-boned” and off-the-charts from birth and beyond. Now that would be more of a feat, wouldn’t it?

According to Mama, I started life three months too early and was only three pounds at birth. It was the 70s in the Philippines. There were no 16 weeks ultrasounds, amniocentesis, nor NICU, so, how did I survive without overwhelming complications or lifelong, disabling medical problems? Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)? Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)? Respiratory distress? Apnea? Intra-ventricular hemorrhage (IVH)? Hyper-bilirubinemia? (Preemie problems explained by KC Pediatrics)

What they did have in this setting was a priest giving final blessings (I received mine, and it must have worked!), prayers from family, and a group of very talented physicians (obviously). Supposedly, I went home in a few weeks, carried on a pillow so I wouldn’t fall through Mama’s arms.

Well, Mama insists that her version of my birth story is the truth as she remembers it.

There was no car seat. No car seat check. No seat belt. No O2 check. No lactation consultation. No newborn screening tests. No apnea monitor. No home visits.
I have delivered my fair share of babies while doing OB rotation in medical school, residency, and early in practice, and each time I am in the Labor & Delivery/Newborn, I question the truth of my birth story.

(Current newborn criteria to meet prior to discharge).

Did I mention that Mama gave birth to my much older sister merely 9 months before she gave birth to me?

I ask you- What medically-educated, sane woman does that?
Here are two possible scenarios-

  • If she didn’t know she was pregnant

Remember. This was the 70s. In the Philippines. There was no contraception. There was no pre-conception planning. And most importantly, Mama is a psychiatrist, and psychiatrists do not know obstetrics.

I’m sure when Mama and Papa went to the hospital that birth night, they were in for a surprise when the abdominal pain was actually a 3-pound bundle of joy, not a kidney stone!

  • If she knew she was pregnant:

My older, gluttonous sister, who was 6 months old during my vital in-utero growing phase, was nursing all the nutrients out of our Mama to grow that extra 1/2 inch. Her fierce appetite led to my malnutrition in-utero. (laymen: starvation inside the uterus)

Either way, I was doomed to be a petite little thing from birth, and now you know why.

Christine Nedeau

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top