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5 Ways Not To Hate Your Life at the Pediatrician's Office

In international news this week, which includes Lady Gaga’s infamous meat purse, my baby boy turned three years old. Wait, was the meat purse last week? Haven’t been at the gym and am behind on my tabloids. 

Not only is Drew three — which sounds ancient and wizened — but Madeline was TWO MONTHS OLD on the very same day. So in a mere 24 hours, I went from having a TWO-AND-A-HALF YEAR OLD and a SEVEN-WEEK OLD to a THREE-YEAR OLD and a TWO-MONTH OLD. Makes a big difference when you put it that way.

Drew’s party is Saturday so I do not yet have blog fodder for that piece of toddler Americana, but never fear: his 3-year-old checkup was today. 

So in the spirit of my recent post about how to weather your first trip back to the ol’ gyno after delivering your baby (shudder, recoil), I thought I would provide THE FIVE WAYS NOT TO HATE YOUR LIFE AT THE PEDIATRICIAN’S OFFICE. This is not a list of ways to obtain better healthcare for your offspring. This is to make sure that actually happens because YOU WON’T BE MISERABLE WHILE DOING IT.

(And I will try my best not to talk about breasts. It will be hard, but I’ve been working on self-control this week, except when it comes to making myself go to the gym.)

1.    GET YOUR HAIR DID. OK, not really. Well, sort of. What I mean is, don’t fall out of bed like a drooling lout and drive your unbrushed teeth over to Fort Worth Pediatrics. Pediatricians like to schedule well-child visits in the early morning before the sickies come and infest the place with tuberculosis. I appreciate this, but that means all us well-child parents have to muster the work ethic and intraveinous coffee drip to be there at 8:30 a.m. And some of us just don’t make the cut. (We’re the ones who in college showed up to our 8 a.m. class in pajama pants. Weren’t we adorable?)

I’m sure people who do this, who show up stinky and wearing old date party t-shirts,   congratulate themselves that “hey, at least I made it and that should be enough,” because, no, YOU didn’t make it at all. The unwashed, greasy echo of you, maybe. But not the confident, right-minded you. Remember, the doctor is only human. And so are you. If you feel good about yourself and the way you look, you will be in a better frame of mind to ask the doctor all those important questions. And he (or she!) will be more obliged to look you in the eye and not be distracted by the crust of drool still streaking its way down your chin.

But I don’t have to tell you this. I’m sure you’re very put together, cosmopolitan and own a hairless cat with a teensy diamond tiara.

2.    YOU’RE SKIN AND BONES. Say it with me, everybody: “Eat something!” Particularly if you are breastfeeding (and so ends my breast-less writing streak), you need some calories in your system. You might not feel hungry so early in the morning — and in a fit of martyrdom you will swear you don’t have time anyway — but if you’re anything like me, once you put that first hot bite of scrambled eggs in your mouth, your jaw unhinges like an anaconda and it’s all you can do to shovel, I repeat, SHOVEL as much edible content down the cavern as possible. Don’t skip this step. Those sugarless lollipops at the welcome desk will only serve to mock you later. Surrender, Dorothy.

3.    FEED ME, SEYMOUR. This one is obvious. I don’t need to tell you because you’re not a dummy. Feed the kid(s) before the appointment. This presents more of a challenge if you’re like me and have a toddler and a breastfeeding infant. You’ve got to time your infant’s early morning feeding so you will not be caught using your trusty old Hooter Hider in the waiting room (Sorry! Breast reference! On a roll now!) while your toddler roams willy-nilly. Better yet, bring a bottle, but only if it doesn’t stress you out to use up some more-precious-than-silver pumped milk. This is about NOT HATING LIFE, remember! Other must-have: snack-sized goldfish or other cracker for your toddler that you will not be tempted to mindlessly ingest. (Don’t forget about that boatload of scrambled eggs you just shoveled, sister. Your little old size 4’s are waiting for you in your closet but they are gentlemen and won’t encroach upon the territory your baby fat has claimed.)

4.    YOU’RE NO PRIZE. I had to explain to Drew this week that no, Oscar the Grouch is not “poopin’ in der”, that he actually, in fact, LIVES in his trashcan. It’s his home. Not his neck-high port-o-potty. This confused him. Something else that confused him this week was when I told him my supply of tampons were not a hidden stash of candy. Surely you jest, his look said. But one thing that doesn’t confuse Drew is stickers. Stickers. The gold standard of toddler currency. I sure wish I knew about the stickers my doctor had on-hand as “prizes”; this could have done me a world of good when Drew was refusing to step on the scale. So if you can, familiarize yourself with the “prize” options at the doctor’s office. Know specifics. They’ve got stickers? Great. What kind? Dinosaurs? This way, you can ask detailed, distracting questions of your toddler when all other subject matter has left your brain just as he screams upon seeing the syringe. If you feel you must bring your own tools of bribery, great; but using the doctor’s brings him in as your ally. After all, old Doctor So-and-So might not know what “getting your pink binky at Micky Dinky” means, but you can both engage your toddler in a discussion of the teleological implications of the Mickey Mouse sticker vs. lame Blues Clues. And your kid might just settle down long enough to get flu-mist-ified.

5.    INFOMANIAC. In last week’s post, I listed four things I really don’t understand in this world, and #5 would also make that list. Why do they make you re-fill-out all that new patient information at the yearly checkup? Why? Is this just MY doctor? Have they lost my old paperwork? No, I’m sure the page with my address on it doesn’t self-destruct after a year. (Uh-oh, I think I’m starting to HATE LIFE again…)

This exercise in futility wouldn’t be SUCH a headache except for having to remember soul-eating information like your husband’s social security and driver’s license numbers and work address. Who remembers that stuff? No one, that’s who. And if you don’t know your hubby’s SSN, you sure as hades ain’t recalling your child’s. This will make you feel like a bad parent, but don’t worry, I think people who remember their kid’s SSN need to get a life, maybe backpack through Europe. So if you have the presence of mind beforehand, write all that snooze-fest information down the night before and put it in your — wait for it — MEAT PURSE so you won’t leave home without it.

OK, that’s it for now. Are you feeling better already? Good! Now go forth and conquer.