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December 13, 2013

HWS18MOT: pediatrician

In this episode of How We Survived 18 Month of Twins, I'm going to talk about our pediatrician.

I cannot stress the importance of choosing the right pediatrician for you and your child (the doctor him/herself as well as the office).

The hubs ran a summer overnight camp for many years (and now runs the center where the camp takes place) and I worked at that camp for 6 years. During that time, we got to know one of the local pediatric offices because they were our Physician of Record. I think we were really lucky in this matter because we knew the doctor, we knew the staff, and they were familiar with us as well.

I know that can't happen for everyone, so here are some things that have been particularly helpful and great with our pediatrician (in no particular order):

#1: Get to know your pediatrician.

Call ahead of time and ask questions of the pediatric (or family care) offices in your area.  Obviously, make sure that your health insurance is accepted there.  Even though both parties (the office and us) were familiar with each other, they offered me an orientation to tour the office and get to know the staff, nurses, and doctors.  I was unable to do so because I was on bed rest, but it was so important to me that this was offered.  The office should welcome you with open arms.  I asked questions about twins and nursing and beginning baby stuff and I was able to talk to nurses who worked there who had had twins.  This resource was priceless.

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#2:  Speak up

Our pediatrician's office has multiple doctors, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, and nurses.  I like that.  I have no problem having my kids seen by someone other than their primary pediatrician for things like ear infections and colds.  The times when I DO want them to be seen by their primary pediatrician (ie. physicals, check-ups, progress stuff) I speak up and tell the scheduler that I will wait to be seen by our Doctor and not by someone else.  The first time I had to do this was when the boys were first born.  The first two days, we had gotten a fantastic report by one of the doctors in our pediatric office (we'll call that doctor Dr. Marc).  Dr. Marc said that the boys were great and that they'd be discharged before I was.  The boys were born at 4.5 lbs at 35.5 weeks.  They were small and I was trying to nurse.  In the end, Dr. Marc was wrong.  And, way wrong.  The boys ended up losing too much weight and had to stay in the hospital for 9 days.  And, when we heard the news that they weren't doing great, we were so confused because we had been told by Dr. Marc that they were great.  Eventually I told our primary doctor (we'll call her Dr. Trip) that I was disappointed with Dr. Marc's bedside manner and false sense of hope and that I only felt comfortable with her writing discharge orders.  At the time, I didn't realize that both doctors were part of the same practice, but I was, and am, still proud of my first mama bear moment of: "don't nobody mess with my kids, or overlook them, or tell me a lie that they're healthy when they're almost on death's door!"

Ok, so I'm sure that Dr. Marc was being genuine when he gave us the report about the boys' fantastic health.  I just wish he had framed it in a different way like another pediatrician (the one who was on-call when their sugars and temperatures dropped to a scary level) did: "You're twins are healthy for 4.5 lb, 35.5 weekers.  That doesn't mean that you're out of woods, yet.  They are still premature.  You have to make sure they are eating, and eating well, without expending too much energy.  They are small and need special attention."

If I had been told that, I want to believe that I wouldn't have been so devastated when all that scary stuff happened (that, and the raging hormones that were running through and out of my body didn't help).

Anyway, back to the point (there was one, I swear)...speak up.  It couldn't be more important than when speaking with your child's doctor.

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#3 Advice line

The thing that I can say I've used THE MOST when talking about the pediatrician's office is the advice line.  They have a nurse, every day, that is there to only answer questions.  You call, leave a message, and they call you back. That, alone, has saved me hundreds of dollars in co-pays (hundreds, you ask?  Really?  YES, REALLY.  Co-pay times 2, because, no, I don't get a discount for twins).  I remember a few weeks after the boys were home that I was so proud of myself that I HADN'T called the advice line that week.

I've had the advice nurse come out to my car to look at diaper rash.  I've even had a nurse stay on the line with me while I was in Wal-mart looking for the right type/dosage of medication.  If I just needed a little re-assurance that I wasn't going to kill my kids from not knowing how to care for them, they were there...and could usually tell a story of their own.  They are always willing to offer a little sympathy (which, let's be honest, is sometimes all we need when everyone's been up all night long with the stomach bug). They are fantastic.  I really don't think I could have made it without them.  Seriously.

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#4 Hours

This is a big one too.  Our pediatrician's office is open every week day from 8:30 to 5:30 AND Saturday mornings AND evening clinic hours during the school year.  This has been a life savor so many times.  It's Friday evening and I pick the boys up from daycare and they both have pink eye?  Saturday office hours!  It's been 6 days of awful sleep and we can't figure out what's wrong and it's Saturday morning?  Saturday office hours!  The boys have been sick for months and I've missed more work than I'd like to admit and it looks like they might have ear infections AGAIN?  Saturday office hours!

Do you catch my drift?

#5 Re-evaluate

I think this is super important.  At some point, and I hope not, our needs as a family might change.  Or, maybe, the staff at the doctor's office rolls over to not as helpful, not as sympathetic staff.  I don't think there's anything wrong with re-evaluating your situation and looking for a new pediatrician if that's what you need to do.  People change and people's needs change, there's nothing wrong with either of those things happening.  We just need to be able to adjust.

I have to say...if we didn't have our pediatrician, we would NOT have survived the boys' first 18 months.

Enjoy your weekend!  It's a cold one here.  This Christmas is going to be VERY different from last year.  We're excited!

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