Thursday, February 01, 2007
Mommy Wars at the Doctor's Office
On Monday, the lowercase had his 15 month well-baby visit. Because our pediatrician now considers him a "normal" child, his visits are on the rotation with nurse practitioners seeing him every other time.
The NP came in and looked over the information the RN had gathered -- developmental questions, questions about our parenting and his environment, and his height, weight and head circumference.
I asked her if I should be worried that his weight has fallen from it's high of 13th percentile (at 9 months) to the 4th percentile. She looked at me as if I had sprouted a second head. "He's still gaining weight," she snapped. Ok then. He's 15 months old and he weighs 20 lb 3 oz, up about 1/2 lb from 12 months. Which would lead me to believe the percentiles mean nothing -- except that if they truly meant nothing we wouldn't even discuss them or look at the growth curve at every freaking appointment.
He has gained only 1/2 inch in height since his 12 month checkup. He is now 30.5" tall. This dropped him from the 60th percentile curve down to the 33rd percentile. Again I asked if this was a problem. The lovely NP told me that I should expect my son to be short because I am (extremely so...I'm not 5'1 yet and at 6 months before my 30th birthday, I really don't think I'm going to grow much more). I pointed out to her that while I am quite petite my husband is 6'4 and built like a linebacker. To which she did some crazy calculation to tell me what she thought my son's adult height would be. Good to know, but I was just concerned about the fact that, you know, he appears to be losing ground compared to his peers.
She did mark on the chart in the concerns category "slowed growth rate." After lecturing me about the fact that he will only gain about 3 lbs in total between 1 and 2 and that I shouldn't be concerned. Forgetting the fact that we are still playing catch-up from his premature birth.
After that, she asked me how much milk he drinks and what kind (roughly 24 oz/day, whole cows milk).
"I assume this is all from a cup?"
"For the most part. He does drink from a bottle at bed time and if he's really sleepy and fussy before some naps."
"You need to stop that. NOW."
"Um....ok." (Thinking whatever, bitch.)
"And how does he sleep...does he sleep through the night?"
"Do you put him in his bed awake?"
"No. He cries too much so I hold him until he falls asleep and then put him down." (Obviously I saw where this was heading and didn't mention that we're co-sleeping at the moment and neither Mr. W nor I see any real need to change that right now)
"You need to ignore him. Just let him cry."
"I can't do that. He cries until he makes himself physically sick. It's awful."
"When he throws up from crying, just go in, pick him up, clean him and his bed quickly and quietly, and put him back in it. You just have to do it until he learns."
"Um...ok." (Right. That'll happen.)
She closed the appointment by saying, "Ok, so you're going to stop giving him bottles, you're going to put him in his bed the minute he appears drowsy and you're going to ignore him."
I told my friend (who uses the same doctor) about this appointment and she agreed with the nurse and all but told me that I'm being too protective/coddling him.
I'm not saying that CIO is wrong (wrong for me, yes, but whatever -- you do with your kid what you will)...I'm not saying that a less joined-at-the-hip child-rearing technique wouldn't work well...But here are my immediate examples of both.
My mom breast-fed me until I was somewhere close to 3 years old (at bedtime and naps only at that point). My parents divorced when I was 2. Mom converted our second floor to an apartment and rented it. The 3 of us lived in the 1 bedroom on the first floor and all slept in one bed. Every night, she read to us, held me close against her and rubbed my brother's head until he fell asleep.
We are both extremely connected to our mom. We each speak to her at least once a day (my brother lives in the same town, I live 10 hours away). We consider her to be one of our best friends and closest confidantes. She knows what is going on in our lives -- including the things we know she would disapprove of. We hide nothing from her. We value her opinion but we don't let it rule the decisions that we make.
On the other hand...Mr. W and his younger sister were bottle fed (I am not saying it is bad...my brother was bottle fed). His mom let them cry until they learned to sleep on their own. They were put in their playpens frequently during the day so she could get things done. Obviously, she read to them and played with them, but not to the same extent -- they were left to amuse themselves more from a younger age. When they went out, the kids were in their strollers until they were old enough to walk and were not held and carried. They never took naps cuddled with their parents -- always in their own beds or playpens. (For the record, the MIL also tells us that we should be doing all of these things because our child is too "clingy" and he'll "never learn" if we always hold him -- not sure what it is that he'll "never learn")
Thirty years later...neither Mr. W nor his sister like their mother much. They don't want to visit her. They talk badly about her to each other (and everyone else). Mr. W has already said that when the time comes he will "see to it she's put in the finest nursing home that HER money can buy."
And then I look at the difference in parenting styles and I have to say that based on my study (sample size: 2 families) my more AP style of parenting is definitely the right way. Obviously there are other family dynamics involved in each and my husband turned out ok (his sister however...well...she's a mess. Her life is...well, that's a whole other blog and not one that I feel at liberty to discuss). But he measures his success as a parent in how much better/how differently he handles things than his own parents did.
Yet the NP and the entire pediatric group think that I'm wrong. That I'm doing my child a disservice. That I need to change how I do things and do them "right."
It's bad when even medical professionals focus on this instead of the fact that I am raising a bright, happy, well-adjusted child who is extremely healthy despite his prematurity.
I honestly think that in this country, we have become too focused on what the "experts" say and we've let that change our instincts. Why is co-sleeping wrong? In tribal societies, they obviously do not have cribs -- where do those infants/toddlers sleep? I don't know it to be fact, but I'd say it's a safe bet they sleep fairly close to their parents. Co-sleeping seems pretty natural to me.
Why is it "better" to put your child in a stroller? What's wrong with carrying the child? How many societies did it before (Asian women working in agriculture, the Native American "papoose")? Why is it "spoiling" your child to carry them?
And why should a doctor care how a child goes to sleep and how he drinks his milk if he's healthy? How is the way we do things going to "make it harder to break the habit" as he gets older? As I see it, when he's bigger and in his own bed, which he will naturally begin to want, what's wrong with a mother sitting beside him, rubbing his head and cuddling him until he goes to sleep? What's wrong with him taking comfort from drinking from a bottle/using a binky at bed and naps? Again...these are things that I feel he will naturally leave behind as he grows and no longer needs them. It comes down to a difference in parenting philosophy. And neither my mother-in-law nor the NP are going to change mine.
View Comments (14) ]
[ E-mail this Post ]