On Wednesday, Little Dude had his 6 month appointment at the pediatrician’s office. This was our fourth well check since his birth and though I love the clinic and staff and rather like the woman, I found myself questioning whether I should stay with her or find another. Not that I think she’s a bad doctor, only that perhaps I may be happier with her if some small things were different. Perhaps an example would help make my point.
Yesterday’s appointment looked like this and is a good example of what typically happens:
We arrive at the clinic on time and register with the receptionist who smiles at my son and greets him telling him how handsome he is.
A nurse comes to fetch us and after exchanging civilities, asks me to undress my son so that she can weigh him. She comments on the cloth diaper and shows him a stuffed animal as he is seated on the scale. I then put the diaper back on and then my son length and head circumference are measured upon which time I am prompted to wrap him up in a blanket and go back into the waiting room.
We are then called in to the pediatrician’s office. I am greeted with a warm smile and again we exchange civilities before getting down to business: “Hello, how are you doing?”, she asks. “Oh we are doing pretty well, aren’t we Charles? Except, we’ve been having some trouble with nighttime sleep this past week”, I answer. “Good, good”, she answers while she looks through my son’s health booklet. “I see you’re still breastfeeding”, she adds “do you have enough milk?”, she asks. “Absolutely”, I answer. After all, we get a plentifully wet diaper each time he nurses. She nods. “And how are solids going?”, she asks. “We haven’t started yet. We were actually going to start today at lunchtime”, I answer. “Oh”, she replies as she looks back down upon her growth chart, “well that’s good, he just barely gained the acceptable amount of weight since his last appointment”, she adds. I was floored. Did she not understand that my son had been exclusively breastfed for six months. Does her chart take into consideration that at the same age, most babies have already started solids around here? I think not. Doesn’t she know that typically, in breastfed babies who went through a rapid weight gain in the first months (as was the case with my son) that the weight gain slows down after a few months?
She gets up and gestures towards the examination table. As I rise to bring my son there, she looks back down upon her file: “how’s his eczema?, she asks”. “Oh, it has cleared up”, I reply. Once my son is seated upon the table, she examines him (or tries to) as he attempts to grab everything to put it in his mouth – stethoscope, tongue depressor, that thing you use to check the ears – and so begins my monologue to my son, explaining what is happening and why. She puts him on his back and presses his tummy, stretches and folds his legs, removes his diaper to check if everything is OK there. “Everything looks good,” she says, “come back in three months”.
That was it. In and out in five minutes.
As I was driving back home I couldn’t help but wonder. Shouldn’t she at least be asking if he’s able to roll over? Shouldn’t she be inquiring as to how we’re introducing solids? Shouldn’t she be talking to him, at least a bit, as she’s examining him? Shouldn’t she be taking into account that he had not had anything other than breast milk for 6 months before telling me that her standardized growth chart indicated that he’d just barely gained enough weight?
I don’t know, perhaps I am being overcritical. I know that I’m doing a good job as a mom. I know that I shouldn’t worry about the fact that his weight gain has slowed down (he gained 2.25kg between 2 weeks and 2 months, 1.43kg between 2 months and 4 months and .79kg between 4 and 6 months); my son is content after feedings and showing no signs of being undernourished. I also concluded that our difficult week was due to a growth spurt/wonder week/ 3-2 nap transition.
What do you think? What are your experiences with pediatricians? What makes a good pediatrician?