25 August 2010

Pediatric fun

caoilinnBlogging will be light for the foreseeable future around here, what with the new baby (thanks to all for the congratulations). I just got off the phone with the pediatrician's office making the first appointment for the little one.

That put me in mind of a story from long ago, about eight years ago, when our first son was born. We had chosen a pediatrician in advance, someone I knew from the hospital. She was the head of the hospitalists and I liked her a lot. So when the baby was a few days old we went in for our first appointment.

When the doctor came into the room I could tell that she didn't recognize me, which is not too surprising given that I was out of context, not wearing my doctor costume, and, honestly, most of our interactions had been over the phone at two AM. She introduced herself to me and then directed most of her attention towards my wife, since as a new mommy my wife was certain to have a lot of questions.

My wife and the doctor hit it off away and within a few minutes they were chatting like old friends. I was content to sit in the corner and play with the baby in my role as Dopey Dad. They had lots to talk about: sleeping issues, breastfeeding, reflux, weight gain, number of dirty/wet diapers, colic, vaccinations, and more. Every so often the doctor would turn to me and ask if I had any questions, which I thought was nice, that she made the deliberate effort to include me in the conversation.

I couldn't resist, however, the opportunity to have a little fun. So, when prompted, I said, "I'm a little concerned that he's going to get dehydrated, being so little and with the breast milk slow to come in. How much water should we be giving him?"

The doctor's eyes got wide for a moment, and she turned her attention fully onto me. She spoke kindly but firmly: "Water is very dangerous for a little baby. You should not give him any water at all. Nothing but breast milk or formula. Do you understand that?" I mumbled an apologetic acknowledgement and the discussion turned back to my wife.

Shortly thereafter, they were discussing supplementing breast milk with formula, and I chimed in, "That reminds me, doc, settle this argument for us. Should we be giving him 2% milk or skim?"  She stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me searchingly. Somehow I managed to keep a straight face. Certain now that she was dealing with a dangerous idiot, she spoke slowly and clearly, "This is important. No cow's milk at all. Nothing should pass his lips but breast milk or formula. No water. No cow's milk. They are not safe for him. Got it?"

Abashed, I agreed with her and went back to playing with the baby. The doctor carried on her discussion with my wife, casting an occasional suspicious glance my way. Eventually they turned their attention to the umbilical stump, which was getting weepy. My wife wondered whether she should clean it with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. The doctor reassured her that soap and water would be OK, though hydrogen peroxide wouldn't be a bad choice if she felt compelled.

"I don't think we have any peroxide," I ventured. "Would acetone be OK instead?" There was a stunned silence. "What?" I added defensively, "They're both solvents."

Finally my long-suffering wife couldn't take it any longer and started cracking up.  "Doctor," she said, "do you realize who he is?"

She looked at me then, really looked at me for the first time. Suddenly recognition dawned on her face. "Oh you..." she sputtered with rage for a moment, then simply hit me upside the head with the chart she held in her hand.

Can't say I didn't deserve it.


  1. My wife and I tortured the L&D nurse a little with kid #2. The nurse asked my wife (in my presence, which is a no-no, of course) if she (my wife) had any issues of violence in her home or workplace. My wife looked at me and I growled "You KNOW how you're supposed to answer that." I thought the nurse was going to faint.

    A few minutes later, the same nurse asked my wife if she was planning a natural childbirth. My wife replied "If you open the window a little, that's about as much nature as I want. Feel free to page anesthesia for my epidural whenever you want."

    Congratulations on your addition :-)

  2. Beautiful baby! Congratulations!

  3. LOLOL you have to have fun once in a while, right??

    Congrats on the new addition to your family!

  4. I must admit, us regular folk like to hear a good story about doctors pulling jokes on other doctors--none of us will ever dare.

    And congratulations!

  5. I am happy for your family and you!

    And remember: if the paediatrician's available appointment times are inconvenient, you can always take the kid to the ER. "He's been coughing for half an hour already, and I think he might have a fever tomorrow, doctor!" :-)

  6. awesome. congrats of course. at the hospital where we gave birth to our first, the nurses did NOT appreciate my little joke about the shaken baby syndrome video-"oh, is this the video where they teach us how to shake the baby?" heh, heh, hum. coff. um. nevermind.
    the best part was that the guy that shook his kid and killed him in the video had the same first name as me. awesome. dood's still doing time in jail not 30 miles from me.


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