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Mommy Truths: January 2009

Mommy Truths

The Hard Learned Lessons and Eye Opening Realities of Raising Young Kids

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finding the Right Pediatrician

This morning we changed pediatric practices. I've changed pediatricians four times since my first child was born, but this time we changed practices. The truth is, I didn't know what to look for when Son was born and as I sampled Dr's in the large practice, I moved around a bit. Two men, two women.

Our first pediatrician, Dr. M, seemed nice, well educated and was referred by a couple friends, but she only worked part-time so we frequently saw other doctors when my kids were sick. And then there was the episode when she said no, she didn't need to see my 6 week old for the noisy breathing I described over the phone (we're talking flock of seagulls here). When we later learned he had laryngomalicia, which led to learning he had mild acid reflux and explained the trouble he'd had breastfeeding, I switched doctors.

I'll spare you the details of my next two pediatricians at the practice but say that the third was excellent and explained her diagnoses well each time we went. However, we frequently waited an hour to see her. That's one hour with two toddlers in a hectic, germ filled waiting area then exam room when one or both are sick. Last summer, when Son was very ill, I announced to the nurse that I was taking my children down to the car and she could call me when the Dr. was finally free.

Thus began my search for a new pediatrician. I considered a male doctor in the practice (recommended by a new friend) but after growing up with a male pediatrician myself and dreading physical exams, I was committed to finding a female Dr. for Daughter.

That's when I started to hear more and more about a little practice in town with two female doctors who had excellent education and great reputations. They made house calls! You could make an appt for the annual flu shot (no more waiting in line out the door for the yearly cattle calls at my old practice).

Well, I met the doctors today and my kids played happily in their quiet waiting area. They have books, toys, a kitchen, a train set. They spend time getting to know you and I know that both doctors will have a relationship with my children and be better partners for me in managing their health and well being.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't just take the first recommendations you hear or go to the most talked about practice in town. Research everything that's available and visit it. This is hard when you're pregnant and working full-time. But if I'd known before I had kids how much time we'd spend at the pediatrician's office after they're born, I would have spent much more time finding the right doctor for us.

2. You don't know what you don't know. So, as you interact more with a doctor or practice, don't hesitate to consider a change. This is also daunting when you have started to build a relationship with a doctor and are managing daily life with young kids. But, looking back, kids are most sick before they reach age five since they're getting exposed to all the germs. I could have used the right doctor and practice earlier.

Are you happy with your pediatrician? How did you find the right one? Share your Mommy Truth.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Turning Five

Over the weekend, Husband and I set up this "big"week for Son: On Tuesday, Barack Obama becomes President and on Thursday, you turn five! He was very excited and somehow (being four) managed to combine the two, believing that when Barack Obama becomes President, he'll be five.

Well, we managed to separate the two events yesterday, what with the general hoopla and excitement over the inauguration (hard word to say when you're four). I made my little speech over dinner, setting up our viewing of the (Tivo'd) ceremony.

"You know how you have a teacher who leads your class? And makes decisions about what to do and keeps you safe? Well, that's like the President of our country. He's going to lead all the people in our country - over 300 million!! - from California to Colorado and Florida and Connecticut (I tried to name every state they'd visited.)

"And Israel!" Two-year old Daughter piped up.

"No, dear. Israel has it's own president." (Whole other matter there.)

They became very enamored with the idea of the oath taking - one hand in air, the other on the "book" as they called it.

"Bible," I asserted.

We fast forwarded through the entrances of important people, the kids and I snuggled up and alert on the sofa, waiting for the moment.

"When does he put his hand up?!" they asked repeatedly.

We finally found the brief, stumbling moment and had to pause the TV and take a hard look at blurred pixels to find the book.

After that, they were pretty much gone - back to the usual jabbing, poking and whatnot.

But this morning, Son declared that he was off to Africa on vacation, then to visit President Obama and go to the cafeteria. Then he he'd go to the lighthouse.

"The what?"

"The lighthouse!"

"Oh, you mean the White House, honey. They call it that because it's big and white and blah, blah, blah...."

Well, at least he'll keep busy as he turns five. Big times.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Investigating Things That Go Bump in the Daytime

The buzzing started shortly after breakfast. Ice storm, no school, too many pancakes. Kids played with play do, I circled the house, searching for the mysterious buzz. Not upstairs. Not downstairs.

Finally, I turned off the radio, "Shhhhhhhhhhh!"

Kids and I walked towards big television in living room. It seemed to be emanating from above, behind, below.


I put my ear next to the flat screen, against the speakers, down in the cabinet. Turned the cable box off and on.


"Okay, down to the playroom," I herded the children downstairs so I could focus on finding the source of the noise.

Husband called just then. Yes, no school. Lights have flickered on and off but we still have power. And, there's a strange noise buzzing from near the stereo equipment.

"Could it be dangerous?" I ask.

"Well, you can move the speaker and see if that's it." Done. Nope.

"Try unplugging the Sonos system." Done. Nope.

He's so calm in his cozy office while I play neurotic housewife, keeping him on the phone to walk through this investigation with me.

"Okay, it seems to be coming from the floor. Could it be wires underneath? It's not dangerous, is it?"

"Probably not."

"Wait, it seems louder over here by the end table. I'm next to the couch."

(Picture me on hands and knees. Ears to everything.)

"It's getting really loud. WAIT A MINUTE!"

I bring my head up to view mini pink Barbie computer sitting on top of end table, emanating a loud, really loud, buzzing sound. Pop open the case, turn power to off and voila, sound is gone.

"It was Daughter's Barbie computer." Okay, bye.

I thank God that the $14.95 impulse purchase for two year old for Christmas didn't cost me a $200 visit from the electrician.

Then again, it wasn't too long ago a repairman found Son's colossal mistake.

In November we returned home from a week in SF over Thanksgiving to find our backyard and garage flooded. After learning from neighbors that it hadn't rained much, we thought the underground well-pump must have broken. A well engineer/fixer guy was called.

He circled the house and looked at me. "Your well is fine. Your garden hose has been on full blast." That would be for ten days. Ten days! A dim, fuzzy memory creeps into my brain. The warmish day before we left for SF, Son is outside, asking to turn on the hose.

"No, it's winter," I reply. "We don't use the hose at this time of year." Guess he did. Must have been while I raked those remaining leaves. And we never saw it since we went inside shortly afterwards and left for the airport in darkness the next morning.

Fortunately, there's a strange CT state clause that allows home insurance to pay claims on water damage for human accidents like these. "Yup," the adjuster said. "There was a kid upstate who turned on a fire hydrant and the water ran all the way down the street and into a driveway and flooded a home's basement. Ruined everything." Okay then.

"How old is your son?"


"Oh, I see."

Strange household noises or floods? Check with the kids first.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Building vs. Planting

For Christmas, Youngest Brother gave me a sweet little book of Paulo Coelho's quotations titled, Life. One of the excerpts jumped out at me as being very applicable to raising children:

In his or her life, each person can take one of two attitudes:
to build or to plant.
Builders may take years over their tasks,
but one day they will finish what they are doing.
Then they will stop, hemmed in by their own walls.
Life becomes meaningless once the building is finished.
Those who plant suffer the storms
and the seasons and barely rest.
Unlike a building, a garden never stops growing.
And by its constant demands
on the gardener's attentions,
it makes of the gardener's life a great adventure. -- Brida

I realized upon reading this that there is a constant temptation to "build" my children into the beings I want them to be: well-mannered, well-behaved, smart, creative, independent (but no talking back!), silly (put your PJs on now!), curious (well, honey, that's just the way it is) and yes, adventurous people.

But the truth is, their development is not in my control. No matter how often I think I can control their outcome, it is simply not up to me. It's challenging to sit back and wait for a seed to sprout, to passively witness how it takes shape in its own way, in its own time.

My responsibility is to guide and teach my kids. But they will grow as they choose and are able. I'll suffer the storms and barely rest. But the adventure all along the way is mine - and theirs - to experience.