So my skinny little girl is officially my too-skinny little girl. At least according to Dr. S at Thalia’s last well visit.
(When did check-ups become called well visits anyway? It sounds like the PC police got a hold of this one accidentally on a break from yelling at people who still say stewardess.)
I’ve mentioned my pediatric practice in the past as a team of docs somewhat lacking in bedside manner. I think of them as DWA – Doctors With Attitude. Instead of good cop/bad cop they’re more like condescending cop/more condescending cop. Only they’re not cops, they’re doctors. And doctors are supposed to be nice and smiley and hold your hand and say “there, there” then give your children lollipops when they’re done. That doctor from Little House on the Prairie? That’s who I want. Although I’d settle for Doc on the Love Boat. Heck, I’d take Doc Severenson. If only my insurance covered him.
Instead I’ve got pediatricians who, while perfectly competent, like to start each session with some comment designed to make me feel far inferior to their masterful medicine-practicing selves.
“Well that’s an interesting breastfeeding position,” Dr S once said as she walked in on me nursing Sage in a position that I suppose deviated from the handbook.
Or another favorite from Sage’s first visit: “That’s quite a yellow baby you’ve got there. You didn’t notice?” No, we didn’t notice, terrible parents that we are. Terrible, unobservant, neglectful parents. She rushed my 5 day-old daughter out to look at her in the sunlight before admitting, without apology, that it was the light in the examining room that was discolored and not my daughter.
Got the picture?
So when she scrutinized the horizontal line on the weight chart and informed me that Thalia hadn’t gained a pound in six months, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she did so with an accusatory, “What’s going on here?” Never mind that it might be a little upsetting to hear that my daughter is wasting away into nothingness with my profound neglect of her nutritional needs.
The retorts come to me later, as they always do. (Wait, so you mean we’re supposed to be feeding her all this time? Damn.) Instead, I murmured something like She doesn’t like to eat I mean eat a lot, it’s not like she doesn’t eat ever…she likes peas and she likes ice cream, but wait I didn’t mean she only eats peas and ice cream because she likes rice especially with peas and WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT?
You see, I have no bravado where the DWA are concerned. They just look at me with their fancy med school eyes and I melt into a quivering little puddle of ums and ers. It’s only here that I can come back and sound all indignant and sarcastic. But in the moment? I’m like a schoolgirl being scolded while quietly looking down at my shoes.
You would have thought that I were the first patient ever to sit in front of Dr. S saying that I had a picky two-year old. That no, I couldn’t mix ground beef into her mac n cheese because she will not eat mac n cheese in the first place, and if there was some way sneak meat into Dora cereal, then maybe we could talk strategy.
Each of my responses (No, she doesn’t like fishsticks. No, she doesn’t like French toast.) was met with disbelief. Sometimes eye rolling. But she continued making suggestions in that bored monotone of hers until finally shrugging me off and moving onto a hopefully more exciting patient in the next room. With any luck it was a kid with the Plague.
I was told to come back in three months for a weight check.
In my heart I know Thalia’s fine. She’s active, she’s energetic, she’s healthy. Nate was a string bean of a child growing up, and I didn’t top 95 pounds until I got to college and discovered the all-carb-and-alcohol diet. Surely it’s Thalia’s genetic destiny to show off her rib cage under stretchy tank tops and wear pants that fit lengthwise, but that slip down to her knees as soon as she takes a step.
“Let’s keep an eye on her.”
I think my emotions about discovering my daughter is something short of a specimen of biological perfection are compounded by feeling like the mom who, two kids later, still doesn’t know what she’s doing–and the doctor knows it. Like I’m the parent who’s feeding my kids nothing but Count Chocula and Kit Kat bars, then washing it down with Red Bull. Like I’m not the parent who sits in front of my daughter’s high chair, begging her to finish that measly little quarter of a peanut butter sandwich every day.
All I wanted–needed–was for the doctor to say “She’s healthy in every way, but you should start giving her an egg a day.” Or “Wow, she’s speaking in full sentences! Now just try to get some more protein into her.” But nope. That’s not what I got.
Not even close.
No parent ever wants to hear “let’s keep an eye on her,” not from any doctor, and not for any reason. Even one that you know in your heart is not really a major issue. (Even if you can come back to your blog later and get all passive-aggressive about it.) Is it so hard for some doctors to remember this fact when they’re delivering the news?
I just remembered something called to mind by Melizzard‘s comment. When my mother was worried about my brother’s low weight as a kid, the pediatrician said something that calmed her down immensely: I’ve yet to lose a Jewish kid to starvation.