I am neurotic about many things, but most of all, I am neurotic about my kids’ health.
I blame my grandmother, Sadie.
She was a typical Jewish grandmother; a sniffle was analyzed for signs of origin:
“Geeeerrrrri!” she would exclaim, feeling my seven-year old forehead for fever, while examining my throat glands for signs of strep, her other two hands simultaneously tucking me into bed and putting some soup on to boil.
Is it no wonder I hover over my own kids’ (totally normal) bronchial colds (what if it’s pneumonia?), stomach flus (what if she never stops throwing up) and bumps and bruises (why is it turning that color?)?
Strangely, for all my hovering, I simply lucked into my pediatrician. I somehow missed the prominently placed “Interview the Pediatrician” chapter in What to Expect. I had randomly selected a name from some long insurance list months before the birth, so when a tiny, college student looking girl in jeans and a sweater appeared in my hospital room the day after my daughter was born claiming to be my pediatrician, I had no idea I had justwon the Pediatric Lottery.
Kind Dr. W. was there that day – almost nine years ago – to calmly inform us that my baby had jaundice and would need to be “under the lights” for a few days; she stayed with us, perched on an uncomfortable chair, for over an hour, going over the options (Should we take home a light kit? When would I nurse? What were the advantages of keeping the baby in the hospital a few extra days?)
She never once made us (me) feel like the crazy, neurotic parents we were (are).
Since that day, Dr. W. has eased my two children through all the (thankfully) ordinary childhood illnesses – with extraordinary gentleness and compassion (for all of us). She listens to their hearts and lungs like she is listening to a concerto, carefully and with great interest. She laughs at their jokes and stories like she is at a cocktail party and they are the evening’s most charming guests.
This week, however, Dr. W. transcended extraordinary.
Both kids had been in for check-ups last week; my daughter had some wax in her ear, which Dr. W. tried to remove. Tears were shed; Dr. W stopped immediately. All was fine. Stickers and shots were distributed to those who wanted/needed them. Thoughtful questions were asked. It was a normal, Dr. W. visit.
Yesterday, a small silver envelope addressed to my daughter arrived: inside were additional stickers and a note from Dr. W. letting my daughter know that she was sorry for any pain during the wax removal; how much she appreciated that my girl still smiled at her afterward; how she had been thinking about her and hoping she was feeling better now.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? All the planning, the hand wringing, the worrying that we do as parents, hoping that if we make the right choices for our kids they will be OK, it still catches me by surprise that so much comes down to just plain luck.
And that we’ve been so very lucky.
Today, I remind myself that as parents, mostly, we are powerless; we can only love our children, listen to them well and hope for the best. Along with a pediatrician that has a heart the size of a semi to care for us all.