When I first found out I was pregnant, images of Hollywood pregnancies, seven-pound babies and flawless labor and delivery filled my mind. I think all women enter into pregnancy with a long list of preconceived notions, but those preconceptions are often replaced with realities fairly quickly. I remember the first time I knew my idea of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting was flawed – my first ultrasound. My fetus did not fit on the screen of the ultrasound monitor and so went the rest of my life.
The Ultrasound Measurement
I happened to overhear the ultrasound tech ask a fellow tech if it mattered that the circle that was supposed to fit around the fetal stomach was too small. The tech said to just stretch the circle as far as it would go. My baby weighted a normal seven pounds according to that ultrasound, but I knew something was wrong. I talked with my midwife about the conversation and I was immediately taken to an obstetrician’s office where the new, more advanced ultrasound reported a fetal weight of 10.5 pounds at 36 weeks gestation. We were having a baby – very soon.
The Growth Chart
Baby number one never fit the growth chart. She always weighed and measured in the 99th percentile. When baby number two came along, she weighed nearly the exact amount as baby number one. She was also consistently in the 99th percentile. Babies number three and four were twins, but they two measured in the 99th percentile at birth and consistently after birth. The growth chart worked, but just barely.
Online Growth Charts
The real trouble with growth charts is the online charts that estimate how tall your children will be when they stop growing. Based upon heights and weights of my children at age three, all the girls will be 5’7.” Well, there is a little problem with that. My oldest is already 5’9.5” and her younger sister is 5’11.” My youngest daughter may stop at 5’7,” but I seriously doubt it. My son, on the other hand, is nearly 5’ tall at nine years old, so the online growth charts have him topping out at 6’7” – not too bad.
Growth charts are based on infant, children, teen and adult averages. Online calculators take parent height and weight into consideration, but there are flaws that clearly limit these calculators.