We've spent a lot of time with Pediatrician Man this week, thanks the the virus I like to call "Maybe those obsessive pacifier-washers are on to something" and I've had a lot of time to reflect on how these visits have changed over the last five years. To summarize:
When the pediatrician comes in you are calmly nursing the baby. You provide the doctor with a handwritten chart of the baby's temperature over the last thirty-six hours, annotated with notes on diaper consistency, fussiness, and ear tugging. You listen to the doctor's advice with rapt attention, then follow it to at "t" after you get home.
When the pediatrician comes in, the toddler is playing on the floor with toys you brought. A box of raisins is half spilled onto the exam room floor. You are nursing the baby still, but also singing "Wheels on the Bus" with an edge to your voice that betrays how little sleep you've been getting, how much coffee you had, and your innate sense that the toddler is about to lose it. You give the doctor a verbal rundown of the last forty-eight hours, mixing up the temperatures between the children and wondering aloud if it was the toddler or the baby that threw up in the night?
When the pediatrician comes in you are crouching on the floor sternly threatening to take away the post doctor's office donut if he doesn't stop slamming the middle's fingers in the cabinet door. As you stand up to greet the doctor you belatedly tug the hem of your shirt back down to cover your stomach then notice the unhooked top of your nursing bra poking out of the neckline of your tank top.
When the doctor asks you what's been going on you stare at him blankly for several moments before retrieving the patient from underneath the examining table, where he has been happily chewing on a tongue depressor the toddler stole from the dispenser on the wall.
The doctor asks how long he's had the fever and you say "Well, let's see, we missed playgroup last week and that was Tuesday, so that's, what, ten days?" You smile to hide your horror at yourself for letting it go on for that long. The doctor looks very concerned. Then you remember that it was a different kid's fever that caused the missed playgroup, but which one was it?
"OH YES," you exclaim, "The baby's fever started Saturday evening, that's why he couldn't go to the nursery at church Sunday."
The doctor's exam takes three times as long as normal because the middle kid is crawling back and forth on the table, ripping handfuls of paper off and throwing them. Flustered, you shriek "DONUT!" and the behavior stops instantaneously. The doctor stifles a giggle.
"Has he been pulling at his ears?" You honestly don't know because the baby spends so much time crawling around the house half-supervised. The doctor diagnoses him with an ear infection and gets up to leave the room. You hastily pull the oldest's pants off and ask the doctor if he could just check this one thing on his leg really fast before he goes. You resist the urge to also ask him if he could recheck the middle's ears as long as were there and figure you'll do it at the end of the week when you're back for whatever the kids picked up in the waiting room.
*Based on actual events. I am so proud.