I have been seeing the same pediatrician since ruth was born. Don’t get me wrong, I love this lady, in the terms of “nice older doctor lady”. We have never really been on much the same page when it has come to what she has advocated for in terms of parenting choices and the things that I have felt simply compelled to do for various reasons. I used to be content to smile and nod through appointments and prepare myself for feeling a bit lacking afterwards. It is just one of those things, is what I used to think/tell myself. She works in the medical system. She’s been there for years and years. She’s an older person, has conservative views on child-rearing and health concerns. But lately, I’m finding it harder to just smile and nod, have gone toe to toe with her on a few issues, and it’s clear. We no longer politely agree to disagree, but seem to be gladiators poised on opposing sides of every single parenting/child health issue out there.
I recently took Miles in for his “two week” well baby check up. “You’re coming in late for the two week check up,” the doc said, in a not-so-mildly disapproving tone, “make sure that you make the next appointment before you leave so that you get in,” she scolded (yeah, I’m thirty two, getting talked to like I’m an imbecile and don’t know how to make an appointment properly). Little did she know that this was a half-hearted effort on my part to avoid the appointment all together. This is my third baby, after all. He is growing just fine, sleeping and eating well. I have no concerns. I reason, no need to bring a healthy baby to a germ-infested doctor’s office if there’s no need, right?
That’s the first thing we wouldn’t agree on. See, pediatricians, they have this growth chart that they like to fart around with. It takes the measurements of your baby’s head, length and weight and puts them in dot form on this chart with these lines that show “normal” growth rates and ranges for babies. Oh, they love this chart. The chart knows all. Because, though I can plainly see with my eyes that my baby is growing well, you can’t assume anything until we see where that little dot falls on this chart.
Then we really started getting into it. “Are you giving the baby vitamin drops?” she asked, an anticipatory tone in her voice. “No.” I said. “Why not?” she asked incredulously. “I dunno,” I said (yeah, good answer, me. way to think on your feet). Here we go, I thought, how many times do I have to hear this spiel? “Because you are breastfeeding, you need to be giving the vitamin drops because the breast milk doesn’t contain the proper vitamins that baby needs.” This lady has never been shown to be a great proponent of breastfeeding. And especially not breastfeeding that’s NOT on a schedule (gasp!) This is where I, in the past, would normally have just smiled and nodded but this time around, decided to play a bit of devil’s advocate. “I hope you’re not saying that formula feeding is superior to breast feeding?” Oh that pissed her off. “I didn’t say anything about formula feeding. You put those words into my mouth. I only say you need to be giving the vitamin drops. I said nothing about formula. You know rickets? It’s caused by a vitamin D deficiency in babies. I see parents in here with babies that are just starting to walk and the parents did not give the vitamin drops and the babies have a funny gait.” Now, at this I had to pull the bullshit card. “Are you saying you’re seeing an INCREASE in rickets?” She hesitated. “No, not an increase, but we do see the rare case. And we know it can be avoided by giving the vitamin drops.” “But what about people that lived for tens of thousands of years in the past without vitamin drops? Did they all have rickets?” With this, she got a smug look on her face, the one that comes from going to medical school in the modern age and having the overzealous confidence that we now know EVERYTHING and that people in the past knew NOTHING. She interrupted me, “I don’t know anything about the past. I only know what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for children TODAY.” “Well, they are always changing their minds about things aren’t they? And the American Academy of Pediatrics hasn’t actually been around that long, have they?” She was really riled up now, “Well, since the forties or thirties. So, seventy years?” “Yeah,” I replied, “that’s not a very long time, is it? Besides, doesn’t vitamin D pass from my breast milk to the baby? Because I actually have a really good Vitamin D level every time they check my blood.” She said no. I made a mental note to look into this. Things were tense. I decided to make a general statement that would smooth over the whole thing. “I guess I’m just a bit conservative when it comes to modern practices.” If there’s anything I’ve learned from childbirth, it’s respect for the ancient wisdom of the body and the ways that modern medicine fucks it up.
We moved on but it was just more of the same. Everything that came up, we disagreed on. Baby-wearing? Causes heat rash. Here, let me prescribe you some yeast ointment for a potential yeast rash in the neck folds. No tummy time? Tsk, tsk. Co-sleeping?! She didn’t even bother to comment, just look at me with disapproval. No circumcision? Make sure that you’re cleaning all the skin folds because clearly the penis has evolved to be faulty and needs human correction. Make sure when breast feeding, you’re not just letting the baby sit on the breast. Feed the baby and then remove it from the breast, because you don’t want them to get used to just sucking for comfort. He has an unusually deep butt dimple? Let’s schedule an ultrasound just to be sure there’s no spinal cord involvement.
She would be a deep interventionist, where I am becoming more and more hands off in every way (“Hey, my baby’s body. I know you evolved over thousands of years to function well and be a self-contained system, but let me just bombard you right off the bat with antibiotics, injections, chemicals and testing of all sorts. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s ok, and they have a pretty good track record (not).)
I left feeling angry, not only because I had to put up with so much passive aggressive and straightforward disapproval from my kids doctor but also because I ended up waiting a total of TWO HOURS. In a dirty waiting room, full of who knows what germs, with my six-week-old.
“We need a new doctor,” greg said after I told him about the trip. “Or just to not go to these dumb well-baby appointments. Our baby’s not sick. Why are we taking him to the doctor?” I rebutted.
Anyone out there have an awesome and progressive pediatrician? Or a shaman or medicine man/woman we can see? Someone who believes in a holistic approach to health? Low intervention level? A healthy mistrust and skepticism about modern practices? Anyone? I’m super serious. If you do, private message me their info. My pediatrician and I are separating.