Pediatricians: Know It All or Know-It-Alls?

Personally, I hate taking O to her well check visits at her pediatricians’. While I like her doctor-she’s never rushed, always listens-I can’t get over the fact that she’s a doctor and I’m increasingly convinced they are put on this Earth to scare the crap out of us.

For those of you who have yet to experience a child’s well check visit, let me fill you in:

Step one- a nurse comes and strips your baby down to her diaper and measures her head circumference, her height and then takes her diaper off to put her on the scale.

Step two- the same nurse asks a bunch of “yes” or “no” questions such as, “Is she grabbing for things?” To which I never respond with “yes” or “no” but rather something like, “um, yeah, sometimes. I can tell she wants to, she just may not be getting it yet, blah blah blah.” Which I’m sure the nurse just loves.

Step three- diaper’s back on. O’s doctor comes in and asks if we have any questions or concerns to which we usually take a few minutes to talk about her spitting up (“totally normal.”)

Step four- Doctor pokes and prods the baby. She listens to her heart, looks in her eyes and ears, messes with her hips and flips her on her belly.

Step five- remember those measurements the nurse took back in step one? Well, now the doc puts these numbers on a chart that compares them with 99 other babies born on her birthday.

I know, she can’t even talk yet and she’s already being compared to her peers.

On O’s four-month well check, the doctor told us that her head circumference was in the 100th percentile. Not only were 99 other babies born on the same day equipped with smaller heads, but the baby that fell at 99 didn’t even hold a candle to my child.

I reacted to this news as I imagine I would for her first A+. Essentially, she was the valedictorian of bigheaded babies.

However, before I had time to order her plaque, my doctor opened her mouth to say, “I’m not concerned, yet.

Excuse me? Yet? Can you give me a timeline of when you might start to worry?

According to her, a big head could mean a number of things: all of which Google confirmed in one of the most horrifying hours on the Internet I’ve ever experienced.

My problem lies with the fact that Oakley doesn’t have any of the symptoms related to those diseases that cause a big head. She just has a big head. The only terrible thing that comes from it is she can’t fit into most hats. The horror!

So, why did her doctor say that? Why did my nephew’s doctor tell his mom he might be too skinny resulting in her giving up breast feeding two days later? Or why did O’s physical therapist tell me it’s not typical for a baby’s hands to shake when grabbing for something? (It’s very typical, by the way.)

In all of these cases, including the case of little bighead, there were no signs, symptoms or reasons for concern. So, why, for the sake of my sanity and all mothers’ out there, did they even bother to mention it?

The fact is, every mom I know is already concerned about the smallest things imaginable. We don’t need the extra stress. To add to the confusion, I have told my pediatrician that I believe O has acid reflux every single time we have a well check. The doc looks at my daughter’s arm and leg rolls and says, “No, babies with reflux are typically much skinnier.” Typically.

Great. So, these doctors see my baby for half an hour every two months and they know her better than I do. They’re certain we need to “keep an eye out” for her shaky hands and big head but because they aren’t home with me to witness her constant hiccupping and spitting up; I’m wrong.

I give the go-ahead to all of O’s vaccines, I told my entire family to get the flu shot on the recommendation of our pediatrician and I rub O’s nose every night to unblock her tear duct which is what her doctor told me to do.

I don’t feed her rice cereal, although I was told to. I never got the whooping cough vaccine despite the suggestion. And, I’m not going to worry about her head: it’s perfect.

Where is the line? What makes mothers respect some advice given by their child’s pediatrician and not others? Is it solely fear-based, do we trust the Internet too much or are we just at the mercy of anyone who withstands school for eight years?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is that step six of a well check visit involves that same damn nurse, three to five needles and a screaming baby.

So, shake away my pumpkin head, shake away.

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Look at that noggin.

Don’t forget to make O famous!

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