Back on June 3rd, Lucy had her very first doctors appointment. In fact, it was the first time she had ever been in a doctor’s office including incubation time. As I mentioned when talking about our home birth, my wife and I had talked very early on about going the natural route assuming everything went as these things are supposed to. Because of that, instead of going to doctors every month, we went and saw our midwives in their very timely and comfortable house/office. After being so immersed in the world of natural and homeopathic medicine, getting back into the world of the traditional American medical system took some getting used to.
Before Lucy was born, my wife did a lot of research about doctors in the area. We narrowed it down to a few and then went through and interviewed the one we liked the best. The doctor we focused on had gotten great reviews online and also happened to be about two whole minutes from our place and about 10-15 from the town we hope to move to (glorious Cornwall). I called the office and the woman I talked to was very nice and said we could come in and talk to the doctor that day. I think the missus was about 6 or 7 months pregnant at the time. My wife and I went in and actually got a really good vibe from the doc and the practice. It’s pretty big which means there are enough exam rooms to take the sick kids so they’re not all sitting out in the waiting room recycling germs. She was also on the same wavelength with us when it came to vaccines, over-prescribing, breastfeeding and home birth among other things, so we were sold.
Fast forward to June 3rd. By this point Lucy is just over a month old. When we interviewed the doctor she said that we should call the day after our daughter was born. I guess this is standard for docs because they want to make sure the babies are all good. However, part of our plan with the midwives involved medical care for mom and baby for a month or two after the birth. They advised us to hold off for a month, hence the distance between birth and visit. The midwives gave us the go-ahead to see the doctors, so the next day my wife called, explained our situation and they had us come in later that day.
We hadn’t expected to be called in so quickly, but with my wife still on maternity leave and my schedule being pretty flexible we were able to make it. The waiting room was fine. They have tablet computers you fill paperwork out on which was kind of a bummer because we had actually filled out hard copies and had to do it again while Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel played (not as bad of a movie as I thought it might be). We didn’t have to wait long and wound up in a room with an under the sea theme.
A very nice nurse came in and did the basic stuff like weighing and measuring Lucy. We waited a few moments and then the doctor came in. But this was not the doctor we had met with, it was another one. She seemed nice enough at first, but when she opened Lucy’s diaper to check her out and seemed stunned by the fact that she was wearing cloth diapers, we started feeling a little funny about her. She was also a bit young, not Doogie Howser young, but you get my drift. The doc also automatically wrote a prescription for vitamins, but didn’t really explain herself well, something about breastfed babies not getting enough vitamins which sounds ridiculous considering we’ve learned mother’s milk is built specifically for the child and can even include antibodies for sickness the kid is exposed to if they’re at day care or something. She wasn’t bad or mean or judgmental or anything along those lines, but we weren’t thrilled about her possibly being Lucy’s doctor. We still haven’t gotten the prescription filled.
I should note that my wife and I don’t claim to know more than doctors who went to school for a really long time and (hopefully) passed with flying colors. Since we never saw this doc’s credentials, I actually have no idea how qualified she was or how long she’s been practicing. However, from the research we’ve done and the conversations we’ve had, I’ve gotten the impression that doctors and their offices are so intensely paranoid about covering their asses, that they write prescriptions for maladies that don’t necesarrily require them–just like the vitamins for our baby who has shown absolutely no signs of vitamin deficiency. We do believe in vaccines and all that, which leads back to our doctor’s appointment as Lucy got her first shot.
She was freaking out from being naked and THEN had to get a shot. When she got it, I held her in my lap. I had a twofold sense of fear and terror. First, I knew that our daughter was about to feel her second or third real shock of pain (she had to get her heel pricked for a blood thing by the midwives and I’m guessing birth is a little tough). Holding her down while someone poked her and her having no idea what was about to happen was not easy for this poppa. At the same time, I had a strange regression to my own childhood when my fear of needles was at its highest. I used to literally hide behind exam tables to avoid shots which actually worked a time or two. I got over it when I started getting allergy shots in high school and into college, but at that moment, holding my daughter as imminent pain crept up on her, I felt the fear she will probably feel in the future in myself. I wanted to run away. I wanted to hide behind the exam table. I didn’t want to get shot myself, possibly on accident. I did not want to be there. Neither did my screaming baby. A few moments later, it was all over and oddly enough the shot seemed to distract her from whatever had been making her cry before that.
I learned a lot about fatherhood that day. You can’t always protect your child and even the things you do do to protect your child can be painful and misunderstood. You can’t always keep them away from pain. Part of parenting involves betraying your child in one way or another. Their trust in you–especially this young–is so implicit and complete. It’s something that you earn by feeding them on a regular basis and cleaning their poop and making them smile. And then you’ve got to take that trust, get them in a room decorated like the prom from Back To The Future and let someone hurt them. It’s good for them in the long run, but you can’t explain that to a month old baby.
And I can’t explain it to a two month old baby when I have to do it again later today. I’m not looking forward to taking her to the doctor. Thankfully, my wife will be working from home that day and can accompany us. I know I have to be strong, but damn, that’s not easy. Especially when those big blue eyes of hers start filling up with tears. I gotta stay strong, though, that’s what dad’s do.