Monday, September 04, 2006

A Pediatric Physicians Impact on a Young Mother

Shinga recently asked readers on her blog,, how a member of the medical community has helped them or their loved one without pulling out a prescription pad.

This is probably not what she had in mind when she asked, but I would like to tell you how my kids’ pediatrician helped me when my first was born.

I was barely 16 when my 1st child was born. I took her religiously to her peds doc on his suggested schedule. Needless to say, I was not in very good shape myself emotionally. Married to an abuser at 15 and no support system since my pregnancy had embarrassed my family so much.

My OB, the first time I went to him with my pregnancy, was not very nice at all. His first comment to me was, "I don't know why you girls this it is okay to get knocked up at this age", and then he made me lay back while he roughly examined me. I felt he was punishing me for my 'loose ways' and if he had only known he would have understood I had already been punished enough.

This same doctor delivered my first baby and that was before epidurals were popular in our area. I had asked for a spinal block and while he was giving it I jumped a little when the needle first stuck me and he slapped my hip and yelled at me to be still. I know it was important to be still, but I didn't mean to jump and looking back, that was so ugly for him to treat a young frightened mother so horribly. That was also before husbands could go in with wives and I was all alone. My husband was made to wait in the labor room. We had no one with us. My mom had asked we not wake her up if I went in the middle of the night. This was, after all, not a grandchild she could be proud of.

My kids’ pediatrician was always so encouraging. So sweet to me. He always brought up issues I worried about and was too embarrassed or ashamed to bring up myself, such as her constant crying (colic?) And how to deal with that without losing my mind. We lived out in a cow pasture, 5 miles from the closest pay phone and no neighbors. I was 15 miles from any relatives, had no car and my husband was gone everyday from 7am until whenever he decided to come home at night after work, so it was just me and my little daughter.

Our doc never failed to tell me I was doing a great job with her. He almost always would have the nurse play these little audio tapes for me and looking back as I grew up over the years (we went to him until my kids were in their late teens and towered over the other little patients) I saw that he didn't have to treat all his moms this way, but he knew I was young and he took the extra time with me.

He didn't know it at the time, but he was the only encouragement I ever had. Ever!

Later, when my youngest was about 10 or so, and I was a good bit more mature and 'grown up', I wrote him a long letter and baked he and his wife a cake and took it to their home. He was not home, but I was able to tell his wife what he had meant to me during those scary, immature years when I was a child with a child.

To this moment, I cry when I think about what it might have been like without him. My babies are now 29 and 24. We grew up together. They have 5 babies between them. My kids are good parents as are their spouses. I am very proud of the way they have turned out in spite of having a child for a mother for part of their lives.

I know it is extremely frustrating for doc to see kids coming in with kids, and I know it must have been for mine too, but he didn't let it show. He did everything he could to encourage me to be the best mom I could be. I thank him for that.


Sid Schwab said...

Very nice post. Hope your pediatrician is still around to read it. But he already knows, from when you took him the cake. The OB.... another story. It's so easy to categorize and assume things about people like he did. Too many do.

Shinga said...

This is a tribute to a very special doctor who obviously had a tremendous impact on your life.

What were the audio-tapes that the nurse played for you?

Regards - Shinga

Surgeon in my dreams said...

Singa...the tapes, or at least the ones I remember, talked about how it is normal for some babies to cry a lot and why they did and what parents could do to attempt to comfort the baby.

They also talked about what was normal at different stages of growth. I remember they were very plain and very easy to understand and answered a lot of questions I didn't even know I had.

Artemis said...

What a great tribute to someone who obviously means a lot to's always nice to know that some of our efforts will pay off, even so many years later.

Hope you're feeling better :)


Liana said...

What a beautiful post. I almost cried when you wrote about how awful that OB was to you.