On Mommying as a Doctor or Mommy Doctoring

It’s not too hard to figure why I might have spent this week contemplating how I handle being a doctor and being a mom when the boys get sick. Fortunately I don’t panic at the sight of blood and am thankful I don’t suffer from sympathetic vomiting, but I certainly don’t like it when the little guys aren’t well.

Naturally, I don’t want any of them to be in pain. I’m quite shocked at the Little Guy’s tolerance of pain. I mean, a split lip should have kept him roaring (or at least whimpering), yet he barely complained. It seems he’s knocked over so many times by older brothers whizzing by that he hardly acknowledges routine bumps and scratches. Yet, I don’t want to see any of them three get hurt and would love to be able to protect them from all the possible injuries and diseases I have learned about and seen in other children over the years.

A few reflections:

  • I am a better pediatrician after becoming a mom. I am much more sympathetic to the seemingly minor worries of a mother knowing that I would have been thinking the same thing. I am also much better about telling moms not to worry – they all get potty-trained before they leave for college and a high percentage of them stop sucking their thumbs by then too.
  • Being a prescribing physician comes in very handy at “inconvenient” times. When the 18-month-old springs an ear infection while in the middle of a week at the beach, I can just call in the antibiotic.  When the daycare requires a “note from the doctor” to be able to give the kid Tylenol, I can write that!
  • Sometimes, however, too much knowledge is a bad thing. I remember the moment I was buckling Super Tall Guy into his carseat when he was probably close to two. I noticed little red dots on his face….petechiae…..and immediately thought of all the likely cancers that he had!  I was ready to rush him to the Emergency Room. My brain was thinking through all the tests and procedures they were going to have to do for him. This is where it helps to work with other pediatricians and be friends with pediatricians – I called a friend and she kept me from heading to the ED by reminding me that petechiae on the face is likely the result of straining or coughing very hard. I’ve decided that my perspective in Mommy Doctoring is that it’s “either nothing….or its death.” There’s no in-between….either brush it off….or do the CT, MRI and CPR now!
  • I’m really good at dosing over the counter medications. When it reads “under two years of age, consult a physician….”…. I can handle that.
  • I’m really (really) bad at remembering to give my kids the full course of antibiotics (which is why it’s spectacular that Mr. Ornery is reminding me to give him his!!). This inability to “do what the doctor says” has made me try to never ever write a prescription that requires a parent to remember to give a kid medicine 3 or 4 times a day. Who has time for those battles and bribes throughout the day for 10 days?!?
  • I try hard not to be the “doctor” when I take my kids in, but to be the “Mommy” and be treated as the Mommy. Though I might have been really close and staring very intently for the Little Guy’s set of stitches and making the poor resident pediatrician nervous, I was just interested. And sometimes I give my “doc” identity away by accidentally slipping in medical jargon, like “wow, that’s from 12 to 3 o’clock” when looking at Mr. Ornery’s corneal abrasion under the fluorescent light. But to me, it’s important that my boys see me as “Mom” and have me there to comfort them during any “scary” moments rather than be the one treating them (and I certainly have no desire to be the one inflicting any pain on them!).
  • Sudden kid illnesses can really mess up your schedule….and if it happens on a day when I’m at my “doctor job,” it means all the patients now have an open morning and have to find another time to schedule their appointments.
  • If my boys are going to expect me to stay home with them, they better be sick-sick….on the couch, can’t move kind of sick. If their fever has broken and they’re bouncing off the couches, they’re going to grandma’s!!
  • And though I have built up a tremendous immune system during my years in doctoring, it is nothing when stricken by the repetitive onslaught of germs from my three. I’m feeling the tickle of the throat tonight….sigh. There’s really no choice when you have 3 snotty noses which are not adequately cleared by 7-, 4- and 2-year olds and require me to run after them with tissues!
  • Overall, I am thankful to be a doctor. I generally know when to call, who to call, and what to call it (or not).  But more so, I am thankful to be a mom (as long as they don’t do anything too crazy!).

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