When I was pregnant, I read several books and articles that teach soon-to-be parents how to find the perfect pediatrician for their sweet one. Several even included a list of questions that you should ask a potential pediatrician to judge whether or not she/he will be a good fit. It was my intention to take the advice and “shop” for the best doctor for my little bug. However, between the chaos of buying a house, moving, and being flat out scared to take on this very grown-up task, I waited towards the end of my pregnancy to truly start the doctor hunt. Don’t get me wrong, I asked around for recommendations and made a plan to see doctors who received multiple praises. But I only got as far as stopping by one office to arrange an interview slot. Two days later, my baby was born. In fairness to me, Bug came 3.5 weeks early and surprised us all, but I definitely should’ve started the process sooner. As I was hitting the transition phase of labor (the last, most intense phase), the nurse asked me for our pediatrician’s name. I ashamedly admitted that I hadn’t decided on one and gave her the only name that came to mind.
Soon-to-be-parents: DON’T put off finding a pediatrician.
Initially,we lucked out. The pediatrician is a sweet, grandfatherly man and a DO rather than MD, which we prefer (I don’t like western medicine being shoved down our throats if there’s a more natural route that can be taken first). He was gentle and good with Bug. For the first 9 months of Bug’s life, he was a great doctor to have….his office was not. Unfortunately, the DO’s office was a family practice–not geared specifically for pediatrics. Therefore, access to a doctor when a question arises is difficult. First I’d call the receptionist, who was always rude, and leave a message for a nurse to call me. HOURS later (one time my call wasn’t returned until the next day–I had called at opening), a nurse would call me back. However, these nurses never gave me medical advice right then. They acted as an additional secretary who would relay the question to the doctor and then would communicate his suggestions to me. That’s right; I had to wait for a SECOND phone call, usually another hour later, just to get the medical advice for which I had called. Like most parents, especially new parents, sitting around all day waiting for a phone call while my baby was sick just didn’t fly. In fact, it made me sick…so we switched practices. This time, we moved to a pediatric specific practice. Who knew that service would get worse?
We tried another male doctor, recommended by a friend (though she did warn me that he is under-educated about breastfeeding, an important area to me). I could see why my friend liked this doctor. He was also warm and grandfatherly…but then he called my child SLOW. In discussing his development, he casually threw out the statement, “he’s a little bit slow but that’s okay…” What kind of sick jerk of a doctor casually tells a new parent that her child is “slow”?! Unprofessional. Rude. And, world, my child is not slow. Yes, he has not crawled yet in the traditional sense, but he scoots around, rolls, pulls up, and, with help, WALKS! EVERYWHERE. That’s all we do most days. And he babbles and understands words. He initiates peek-a-boo play. He is developmentally normal. He just doesn’t crawl. (Can you tell that I’m really sick of getting shocked faces from folks when they hear that Bug doesn’t crawl? If you spend two minutes interacting with him, you’ll see he’s just where he needs to be).
Additionally, this doctor patronizes me about our choice to spread out Bug’s vaccinations. We’re not limiting which ones he receives; we’re just spacing them out. He manipulated us into giving him THREE vaccines at once, by telling us he’d only give one shot (one stick). Rather than asking us why we’ve chosen to space them out, he and his nurse talk not-so-quietly outside the door about our ignorance. I was written off as I tried to explain the history of high fevers in my family and how my brother spiked a fever so high after an immunization that the doctors thought he’d be brain damaged. He had to re-learn how to walk and talk. Heaven forbid I try to avoid the same trauma for my sweet one.
The list goes on as to why this new doctor is a horrible fit (we’ve met two additional doctors in the practice–one was an arrogant ex-frat boy and the other catheterized my baby (TWICE) to get a urine sample just ten minutes after he peed all over the table and then was surprised when she couldn’t get a sample) so we’re back to seeking out a new pediatrician. This time, before we go through all the mess of having medical files moved, I’m arranging a meet-and-greet. I’m taking those interview questions and I’m going to make sure that the doctor and I are on the same page before subjecting my sweet one to anymore idiocy.
Soon-to-be-parents, take the time to set up interview slots with potential doctors. Bring an actual list of questions. If you can’t come up with your own (being brand new to parenthood, it can be hard to know what to ask), Google some. Make sure you find a good fit before your darling arrives.
Readers, thank you for bearing with my tirade. I’ve been very angry and have lost sleep over how my sweetie has been treated. If you get in the business of CHILDREN and making people feel better, you need to actually make sure your patients FEEL BETTER.