We, like most parents, took great care in choosing a pediatrician. We wanted someone who was qualified and caring. We wanted someone who had raised children providing real-life experience to set beside ample formal education to diagnose our kids. We found that doctor, but even so, found it necessary to question her judgment. I must caution all parents, no matter how qualified your doctor is, question everything. No one is incapable of error.
An honest mistake
Our third child started off a big boy-a whooping 9.47 lbs and 21 inches. As we charted his growth, however, he began to grow taller and taller without gaining sufficient weight. We watched it until he was four months old to verify that he wasn’t just adjusting to life outside the womb or he wouldn’t get really tall and then fatten up before growing tall again like some babies do, but by four months his height had stayed up in the 88th percentile for his age group, while his weight had dwindled to the 9th percentile, leaving his height-to-weight ration in a scary .33 percentile. Our pediatrician wanted to start doing tests. She wanted urine-which was fine-but she also wanted blood. The type of tests needed would require an actual blood draw, not the little heel poke they often do on newborns for things like jaundice. I was unsettled by that idea, mainly because I’ve had some very bad bruising and soreness from torn veins during blood draws, and baby veins are so very small. I also didn’t like that our pediatrician failed to express just what she was looking for. After doing my own research I realized she likely didn’t exactly know. I also realized she was jumping the gun. We hadn’t even tried supplementing our then exclusively breastfed baby. Yes, he ate constantly. Yes, we’d confirmed my supply was ample. Yes, he was having regular wet and dirty diapers, and no, he wasn’t spitting his food up, but why hadn’t she considered that he simply needed more nutrition than my breast milk could offer?
We decided to go against her recommendation for blood tests until after we had tried supplementing our baby with cereal bottles. There was some resistance, even some guilt trips about how we could be putting our baby at risk for becoming malnourished. We stood out ground though, and our baby gained two pounds in a week after we started the cereal bottles. He didn’t need blood tests. We were right.
In most cases, your pediatrician is likely going to provide you with sound advice and answers, however, never feel like you should accept his or her opinion as gospel simply because he or she is a “doctor.” Even doctors can be wrong. Do your research. Question every test and every diagnosis. Keep your children’s health in your hands, where it belongs.
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