Lain & Lisby: Weight and Speed

Lain TrumanSo today was Lain’s wellcheck: the periodic visits just to make sure that everything is progressing as it should. Everything came out aces, but only after some real turbulence. Though Clancy is usually the one that takes Lain in for these visits – because it provides me 90-120 minutes of uninterrupted peace and it gives her the opportunity to show the baby off to coworkers – I had to do it this time because she was in the L&D waiting to deliver somebody else’s little sprite.

We were seeing Dr. Gannon, who is the tax-sensitive, part-time physician I have referred to a couple of times who delivered Lain. But first was the nurse (I say “nurse” but it might have been a medical assistant). We weighed Lain and that’s when the trouble started. She was 13.4 pounds, which is significantly lighter than the last time we had her weighed in Umatilla. I immediately expressed some concern about this – anticipating how Clancy would respond after I informed her – but my concerns were hand-waved away. Clancy texted me asking about how the measurements came out while I was waiting for Dr. G.

I was foolishly hoping I would get this past her so that she would avoid freaking out while she was over in L&D and could do nothing about it. So I just threw a whole bunch of numbers at her: Head to rump measurement, height, head circumference, and weight.

“13.4?!?!” I hadn’t succeeded. This was followed by a couple other very, very anxious texts. She was not happy when, in Umatilla, she hadn’t gained any weight over the previous visit. Losing weight was a big deal. And if even I was concerned, she would be doubly so.

When Dr. Gannon entered, he very briefly glanced over the measurements and then we started talking about other development milestones (Is she responding to your tone of voice? Has she displayed curiosity?). All good, but then I brought up the weight again. He looked closer and immediately came to the conclusion that Clancy and I had: something was wrong. Not just that our baby wasn’t growing like she should, but that the measurement had to be off. Had to be! She’d slimmed up a little bit, but she’d also grown taller. Losing over a pound? Couldn’t be.

And, fortunately, wasn’t. I asked that she be weighed again, this time with the assistance of Clancy’s former MA, and it came out at 15 pounds, which is almost exactly where she should be according to the growth curve.

So, after some panic, it turns out that we are not starving our child.


It’s actually quite interesting to me how much dogs can understand our language. I mean, it’s tone of voice mostly, but still.

The other day I was out with Lisby and there was a rabbit in the yard. There are often rabbits in the yard. Lisby has very strong opinions about rabbits and what should be done with them. Unfortunately, since our yard isn’t fenced in, this poses a danger. I’m trying to teach her that it’s okay to chase the rabbit, but that she can’t leave the yard. This would be our compromise (the hard line didn’t, at all).

Anyway, so there was the dog looking at the rabbit, for whatever reason not bursting after it this time. I told her to stay. I told her to stay. I wanted to give myself the illusion of control here. She obeyed. Then I said, quite calmly, “Okay, Lisby, go get the rabbit.”

She was suddenly a white blur (seriously, that dog is a rocket). The rabbit, not knowing the rules, would run back and forth across the yard rather than across the street. But, to Lisby’s credit, when I told her to stop as she was about to leave the yard with the rabbit, she stopped.

Out behind our house is a shed for the parks department. I have learned that Lisby can, with some effort, fit under the shed.

There was a rabbit in there. And Lisby has very strong opinions about rabbits.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. Lain: Great picture. But how can they be off by 10%? 35 years ago, at the ag field lab where I worked in the summers, we weighed a ton-and-a-half of soil to within a couple of ounces. This is not rocket science.

    Lisby: There are normal strong doggy opinions about rabbits, and then there are beagle opinions. We used to have a beagle who had strong opinions. Once she got into full voice chasing a rabbit, there was no way she could hear us, so commands were worthless. The breed description for beagles who are “field” champions says that the ends of those floppy ears should be frayed, as a result of being torn while the beagle forces her way through the underbrush in pursuit.

    • “But how can they be off by 10%?”
      I would guess it’s not within normal measurement uncertainty, but rather the result of something going wrong (and not being noticed) during the measuring.

      • true, but that’s definitely something they could have (maybe should have?) rechecked.

      • I can think of multiple approaches to the wriggling problem, none of which require stopping the baby from moving. In this age of dirt-cheap microcontrollers and inexpensive pressure sensors, an ounce ought to be a fairly large error in a scale designed to weigh a baby. Of course, that doesn’t stop things like transcription errors once the humans get involved.

        • It wasn’t a transcription error. Clancy thought that Dr. Gannon was playing a joke on her. But I was there, so I know that it did come up at 13.4 and that it wasn’t a practical joke.

          My guess is that there was a user error. Maybe they didn’t zero out the scale or something. Or maybe the scale is finicky – Clancy immediately wanted them to do it again, so the possibility of error was something that had occurred to her. But both Clancy nor Gannon were kind of dumbfounded.

  2. When our second child was born, her weight was listed as 5 lbs 16 oz.

      • Also, fwiw this same kid took about 6 years to go above the 5 th percentile in weight and remains a thin but quite healthy and athletic kid who is now pushing the 75th percentile in height.

        • Are there still pronounced regional differences in the weight and height standards? I spent most of my childhood in northwestern Iowa and was always at about the normal height (and somewhat underweight) by the chart, but was the runt in my school class. That part of Iowa was settled by Danes and Swedes and such, and it showed — yes, the children were all above average (at least so far as height went).

          • When dealing with averages, it makes perfect sense to have regional variations as well.

          • Don’t forget the Dutch. There’s a bunch of them (including some relatives of mine) up around the Sioux Center area. We’re like the White Masai or something.

          • Yes the Dutch are tall. I sadly did not inherit that gene.

          • How could I have forgotten the Dutch? I vaguely recall freezing my posterior when I was in junior high, marching in the Orange City Tulip Festival parade in the snow.

  3. I could take one look at that picture and tell you the measurement was wrong.

    Anytime there is a discrepancy between your eyes and the scale, the first order of business is always double-checking the latter.

    • The ability we have to know these things from just looking fascinates me. I can tell what size a knitting needle is just from looking at it; small rods measured in mm. My son says he’s worked with machinists who could tell when something was off by a mm, also. With experience, our ‘educated guess’ ability can be extremely accurate.

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