I really do like our Pediatrician. She’s clearly on top of her medical training. She has a booming practice and still manages to stay timely with her appointments. Her staff is friendly and knowledgeable. And perhaps most importantly she takes time at every one of our wellness appointments to talk with us.
This leaves me feeling semi-clueless and perhaps just a tad like a bad parent.
We had a wellness appointment on Friday. About a week prior to the appointment, we received a “baby skills assessment form for ages 0-7 months and 30 days.” The form contained a variety of skills you were to practice with your baby and mark whether he could perform the skills “Yes, Sometimes, or Not Yet.”
I was pretty proud of Mac. He doesn’t really seem highly motivated to sit up unassisted and he certainly doesn’t pull himself up to a standing position yet. But who the hell is in any hurry to have that happen? We all know when kids become mobile they make an immediate beeline for the toilet, trash, and cat litter.
She looks at our skills assessment. Then just to make sure I didn’t exaggerate anything the little Einstein was up to, she gave him a sorta’ pop quiz. He performed ok considering he was stripped down to a diaper, just had a thermometer stuck in a rather uncomfortable place, and was half crying due to the over-all unpleasantness of the circumstances.
Satisfied she settled at her desk to perform what I call “The Interrogation Phase” of the wellness visit. It always starts out the same. “What is he eating these days,” she asks.
I offer the brand of formula, the assorted fruits and veggies, the oatmeal. . .”Any table food,” she asks eyeing me suspiciously.
“Well a few Cheerios and some fruit but we mostly eat beans and salads and fish,” I say starting to sweat slightly.
“Which he can’t have yet,” she quips. “Meatballs. He can have meatballs or meatloaf.”
I don’t bother reminding her we don’t eat meat. Although I can practically feel my Husband silently willing the Doctor to demand I start making meatloaf and meatballs for his own selfish purposes.
Moving on the next loaded question: “How’s he sleeping?”
“Fine” I say, shifting my eyes down and to the left. This isn’t actually a lie. He does sleep fine. I just know she’s not going to like the manner in which I’m getting him to sleep for 8, 10, 12 hours a night. Move on, move on. . .
But the Doctor has a good tactic when she senses bullshit. She keeps silent. This practically forces the other party to offer up something more just to avoid the awkward pause in conversation.
Silence. . .Silence. . .Sweating. . .
My Husband cracks first. “Well, he goes to bed about 9 or 10 and then he gets up about 4:30, needs a diaper and a bottle and then sleeps until about 7 or 8 or even 9.”
The Doctor pounces. “What do you mean he’s feeding in the middle of the night?! He’s too big to be feeding at night. He’s too big to be needing a diaper change. Children half his age are sleeping through the night wet. You are creating poor sleep habits.” BAM.
I pause and inhale. I’m trying to choose my words carefully. I don’t want to enter into a parenting debate with her. She’s trained to find an ear infection. She’s not a sleep expert.
“Well, how do you get him to sleep,” she demands. I give him a bottle and either walk with him or snuggle him until he’s asleep. Bad parent. Bad parent.
“Oh, we read some stories and have a bottle and sometimes I walk with him in the baby wrap or we jostle him on our knee until he’s asleep.” I say it casually, but my face is red.
“He’s not still sleeping all bundled up is he,” she asks in an exasperated tone, clearly having miss heard or misunderstood my comment about the baby wrap.
“Of course not” I say.
The questions come faster now.
“Well how much does he eat during the day?”
“It depends,” I mutter.
“Well, who takes care of him all day,” she demands.
“Deni does,” my Husband interjects. I can’t tell if he’s saying this because he’s proud or because he’s attempting to shift all of her wrath to me.
“You do,” she exclaims with raised eyebrows.
Yes. I do. And he can’t stand yet. And he eats at night and I don’t really know how many ounces of formula he eats a day. Maybe he should be in day care? I’m clearly screwing this up.
“You need to put him in his crib so he can fall asleep there,” she says.
“Well he’s going to cry. A lot. . .maybe to the point of puking,” I tell her.
“Then you need to clean it up and put him back in the crib,” she says.
This is going exactly where I didn’t want it to go.
Poor Chris tries to be helpful again. “It’s just that we read some books and we liked the attachment method of parenting for us.” Even he sounds unsure at this point.
She exercises tremendous restraint but I can tell she wants to laugh us out of the office. “Well, at least you aren’t trying to tell me your baby is thirsty at 4 AM,” she practically snorts.
I want to argue with her. I want to tell her it’s really none of her business what we do at 4AM so long as the baby is healthy and happy and not in physical or emotional danger. Instead, I sit there silently looking at my flip-flops.
“I have four of my own children,” she says. “He’s working you. Put him in the crib and let him cry.”
I agree to try it. But I haven’t yet.
And probably won’t.
And so help me God, if my Husband can’t keep his mouth shut, he’s not coming to the next appointment.