Prowling for a Pediatrician

A good pediatrician is hard to find. Wait–let me to rephrase that: An open-minded, measured, respectful and empowering pediatrician is hard to find.

My son was born in the hospital at which I worked at that time, and I was incredibly fortunate to work in an environment that gave me direct insight into the community-based pediatrics scene. Over time I was able to winnow the catalog of available pediatricians to those I suspected could fill my apparently very tall order, and I was fortunate again when I was able to get into my first-choice pediatrician’s office.  Later I would realize just how lucky I truly was.

She was warm and gentle towards my baby. She was supportive of breastfeeding, and as I struggled discouragingly with a nipple shield, she offered bolstering words. She encouraged babywearing. She spoke to my husband and me in respectful and empathetic tones, always conveying a vibe of appreciation for our concerns.  She was patient with my many questions, provided answers based on recent research, and articulated these answers in a way that didn’t undermine me or my parenting preferences.

We didn’t always agree. When I came to her with a copy of Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book in hand and posed questions about vaccines, she didn’t overreact or patronize. She did respectfully articulate her perspective on specific vaccines and her objections to some of Dr. Sears’ assertions. She many not have whole-heartedly agreed with my approach, but she was receptive to exploring my expectations with me. Together we constructed a staggered and delayed immunization schedule.

Within the year my husband’s new employment moved us out of state to a small community, and I had limited leads on pediatrician candidates. My first choice pediatrician in the new town was no longer accepting new patients, and I was instead shuffled into the patient list of one of her partners. I  cannot overstate what a very poor fit this turned out to be.

Our new pediatrician admonished me for night nursing. She explicitly (and erroneously) instructed me to discontinue this practice because it promoted tooth decay. She asked if my son was sleeping through the night in his crib, and when I told her that he had never slept through the night, her eyebrows hiked in an overt expression of surprise. I didn’t bother sharing about our bedsharing experience.

When I tried to discuss my preference to delay the chicken pox vaccine, she immediately launched into a fear-mongering tale about a child who endured a lengthy hospitalization due to chicken pox. There was no discussion, only belittling and bullying. I could have articulated thoughtful, measured intelligent explanations for all of my parenting preferences, but it felt pointless. I left the office in tears.

My husband recently accepted a new position within his company, necessitating another move to a new, bigger, more diverse city. With relief, I am on the prowl for a pediatrician again. I was stoked to find an Attachment Parenting group in my new hometown, and I’ve inquired there about pediatrician suggestions. I am hopeful that we’ll find one who, at the very least, respects the way attached families roll, and at the absolute best, embraces and celebrates it as much as I do.

What has been your pediatrician experience? How did you find your pediatrician? How have you handled disagreement with your pediatrician?

Rhianna lives in St. Louis with her equally adorable husband and 16 month old son. This past holiday she sent their former pediatrician a holiday card and scribbled in a post script that their latest pediatrician seriously sucked in comparison. She nominates Dr. James McKenna to be the new McDreamy.


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