This task was Something New. I'd asked a few friends for recommendations and collected a list of pediatrician's names when I pregnant with Eliza, but then I put it on the "to do after the semester ends" list. We never got to that list.
For the Deuce, finding a doctor was on the unwritten, unmentioned, "to do if we get past 34 weeks" list. (It felt like such a big if.) And then we were past 34 weeks, but I was still putting in hours at work and not feeling at all certain we were going to bring home a baby. And then we were at 36 weeks and I figured if we did bring home a baby, we really ought to have a doctor for him/her, so I asked our doula and my OB for recommendations and did some googling. And then it was 37 weeks and I started calling for interview appointments. I wanted David to go with me, so those appointments had to be on a Friday. And that is how we ended up interviewing pediatricians at 38 weeks and 5 days.
We talked to three different doctors, and, honestly, I really liked all three of them.
One doctor was a woman who is actually a family pracitioner. She has a solo practice not too terribly far from our house. I liked the idea of the Deuce going to a female, African-American doctor. I liked that the whole family could see the same doctor, and that it would be her every time. I liked that her brother is her receptionist. I liked that she wore a cute maxi dress. She is very supportive of holistic medicine, including chiropractors and acupuncture, and she was really nice and not much older than me. I wanted to be her friend (and decided that I will probably use her as my own primary care doctor, even if the Deuce goes elsewhere).
Another doctor we spoke with was a middle-aged, balding, super cheerful pediatrician whose practice is very close to our house and practically next door to our favorite custard joint (win-win!). He is the only doctor we talked to who still makes hospital visits to see newborns (or at least someone from his practice does). As David said when we left, you could tell that he just really likes kids. He was enthusiastic and really, really nice. His office was painted very cheerfully so that the reception desk looked like a tiki hut, which I found amusing. I liked him a lot, and I loved the location.
But the doctor that we ultimately chose is a little farther away, with an office located next door to a major hospital and medical school. He is also middle-aged, high-energy, with kind of a forceful personality--fast-talking, sort of East coast, if you know what I mean. His office was not as cute as the one near our house, he is part of a larger practice, and he doesn't make hospital visits. But I knew without a doubt that he would be our pediatrician because he was the only one who really talked with us about Eliza.
We told each of our doctors about our previous loss in response to questions about family health history, and they were all kind and compassionate about their responses (family practitioners and pediatricians clearly have better people skills than certain specialists). Each of them asked a few questions about what happened (answer: we don't know). But the difference was that this guy openly acknowledged and discussed the way being Eliza's parents will affect the way we parent the Deuce.
He was incredibly kind and reassuring about it. He reminded us how rare it is for a healthy couple to have an unexplained loss (something I definitely lose sight of, since I've now come in contact with so many people who have had a stillborn baby, it starts to feel like it happens all the time). He also understood that it will undoubtedly make us hyperconcerned and worried about this new baby, but he wanted to reassure us even at this visit that the vast majority of babies grow up perfectly healthy (some of them in spite of their parents). I felt confident that our baby would be in good hands with him--that he wouldn't let us overreact to minor issues but would also respect our concerns. He asked pertinent questions, expressed genuine sympathy, took notes in our file, and asked us more questions about ourselves, our jobs, etc. I felt like he truly respected us and our grief, and the way it will inevitably influence the way we parent, without making it seem at all negative.
He's obviously good at reading people, because he sized me up pretty quickly (my spiral notebook and typed up list of questions could have had something to do with it). He actually said to me, "You know, parenting is not something you can study for like you studied for your PhD." But he didn't say it in a condescending or patronizing way--it was like he was telling me to give myself a break, to keep in mind that I don't have to work so hard at this. I felt a sense of relief after we talked with him, like I could trust him the way I trust my OB--I don't have to second guess or Google or use my university's database system to read medical journal articles. I can just let the medical doctors do their jobs. And he seemed to intuitively understand and respect the fact that part of his job, especially because of what we've been through with the loss of Eliza, will be to assuage our greatest fears with this baby.
It helped, of course, that we're on the same page with vaccines and antibiotics, that he has a six-year-old daughter, that he knows (and has much admiration for) my OB (who recommended this guy to me in the first place), and that he's affiliated with the leading children's hospital in our area.
But I really knew he'd be the Deuce's doctor because he was the only one who really acknowledged how much the Deuce's big sister matters, too, what an influence she still has on our life, and how important both of our babies are. I didn't expect that from the Deuce's pediatrician, but I realize now that it's exactly what I needed.