Saturday, June 23, 2012

How We Chose a Pediatrician

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.


  1. That is so awesome. I'm glad you found him.

    I feel that way too, like; "Some people have live babies?! Every time they're pregnant?! Weird."

    We chose our doctor because his office is the only pediatrician's office there is, not in our county, but in the next one over. There aren't any in ours. Rural living is great fun.

  2. Brooke, that's so great. Sounds very similar to our ped hunt.

    Continuing to say lots of prayers for the Deuce's safe arrival.

  3. I'm glad you (finally!) have a pediatrician. I thought we were bad doing interviews at 35 weeks!

    Our pediatrician was definitely not great about asking about what happened with my previous pregnancy/responding, though we did tell him. (I mean, he didn't respond inappropriately or horribly but I could definitely tell that kids/babies dying were out of his range of normal-which is definitely a good thing- and he didn't exactly know how to respond.) It turns out that save for our midnight ER adventure because Lucas was crying hysterically, I'm not as paranoid as I thought and very rarely even call them. (Though I am still considering switching over the hospital thing because that's a much bigger deal to me now than I thought it was/would be.) We also only interviewed one because I just didn't have the energy for it and he was good about the things important to me.

    Anyway, glad you found someone you love, and fingers crossed that this is your last weekend without Deuce here!

  4. That is so wonderful. Of course we already have a pediatrician but when I saw him for kai's stomach ache complaints after the car accident a nd death of camille. I told him about our daughters death and he was very quiet and closed his eyes. I finally asked him if he was alright and he said he was just feeling the saddness of our loss. He ended up saying Kai's symptoms were due to stress but he was very kind. This is how we ended up making a meditation area in our home. Anyway... The pediatric office is a little run down and farther for us to drive, but I feel supported with decisions I make and love how calm and how much time they take with us.
    I'm glad your new doctor is also kind. It makes such a difference to know that your whole family is understood, not just the child who is seeking medical care.

  5. We did our ped hunt one week before my induction and part of the reason I loved the guy we picked was that sadly, he too lost a child and got our fears. And I really did like every appointment and his common sense approach. My ONLY beef was just recently at Finn's one year appointment (our last appointment with him before moving) he said "before you know it, you'll be ready for baby #2" ..... Sigh.

    So glad you had some really great options and a great pick!

  6. We actually never interviewed pediatricians -- I figured if we didn't like the one we picked (via many glowing recommendations) that we would just change down the road. We've ended up being very happy. It's nice to start that relationship feeling confident! I'm really surprised that only one of them makes hospital visits -- that seems pretty standard over here in KC.

    Can't wait to hear about your first pediatrician visit with The Deuce! (I'm assuming that this will be the standard check-up after being discharged from the hospital -- not that I'm looking forward to any illnesses or injuries! Not at all! Healthy visits only!)

  7. We sort of do things differently here. We don't see a paediatrician as a matter of course, only if your child was really sick. We see maternal and child health nurses and you don't get to pick them, and you can see some really crappy ones! I'm glad you got to pick and that you found someone you are really comfortable with. I think we would have appreciated this with Angus and Juliet, as it so often feels as if health professionals just don't get it and if the professionals don't get it, then what hope is there for the rest of the population.
    Ok, next post has to be the big one! Come on baby!!

  8. So glad you found a great pediatrician. It feels good to have someone you are comfortable with. Mason's doctor is great and also knows about Aiden. He is completely ok with my frantic e-mails, phone calls, and last minute appointments. Love him!

  9. Glad you found a good one. We love our pediatrician who does make hospital visits and as a result has seen my boobs more than once. It's really important to love your baby's doctor because you'll see him all the time for a couple years!

  10. She matters.

    She'll always matter and I'm glad your doctor acknowledged and respected and did not shy away from that. I'm so happy to hear you found someone great.

  11. Perfect.
    We had an intro appointment when I was 6 months with Margaret. We loved him and he is still our doctor for Mason.
    However, it was a slightly awkward transition. He has always been nice and understanding, but I could not understand months later how his office did not even send a CARD or something. Is it because her file didn't have a name? Because he never met her? I know the office was notified.
    What do pediatric offices do when a child dies? For crying out loud our vet sends out condolence cards. This is truly my only complaint and starting over somewhere else would have felt like we were giving up the best place we had so lovingly chosen for our daughter and I am glad to have it for our son.
    Brooke you are reminding me there is so much that is different when bringing home a live baby. The visit from the pediatric practice while we were in the hospital, the cheerful nurses, the lactation consultants...I am tearing up right now with wanting that for you and remembering how emotional it was to see the other side while still feeling like an imposter in the world of live babies.

  12. Hi this is good information about Pediatrician.

  13. Hi this is good information about Pediatrician.

  14. Things work a little differently here in the great white north. I was told the first visit with my OB (who was referred to me by my GP) that she could check the baby right after delivery, and then my GP would be doing all the other visits after that - he also works in pediatrics. I felt as if I didn't have any choices. I know now that with a subsequent pregnancy that turns into a live baby I will be switching my GP. He hasn't been very gentle after our loss... and when I have follow up questions - he insists I do not "dwell" and try to move forward. "there's no reason why your next pregnancy wont result in a live birth." I still scratch my head, and think, "is he effing off his rocker?? doesn't he know who he's talking to???" "doesn't he know there was 'no' reason why this one should have too - but didn't!?!" ah, doctors - cant stand 'em these days.

    I'm glad you're happy with your pick - and I know you'll be great with the Deuce.
    39 weeks now - I'll be anxiously waiting to meet the bundle you bring home :)

  15. I'm glad you found him. It sounds like just what you'll need. I know that I was deeply grateful that our GP (also Dot's pediatrician) knew our history and understood that it meant I might be calling the office a lot and asking a lot of questions.

    Thinking of you and hoping the Deuce makes an appearance soon!