I live in fear of the well-baby visit. For the un-initiated (or those of you who may have forgotten - like I had..) this is a series of trips to the Pediatrician that are designed to make you feel: a) like you actually pay rent and live out back of the Pediatric office and b) like a neglectful parent. The well-baby visit consists of a series of trick questions; if you get the questions wrong, or don't know the answer, they take your child away. I remember a specific well-baby visit over 11 years ago when Annie was a baby. The conversation went like this:
Pediatrician: "Does she stack blocks?"
Me: (to myself) -- "Blocks? I'm supposed to give her blocks?"
Do you see what I mean? It's kind of like that question, "Have you stopped beating your dog?" If you say "No" then you're in trouble because you're still beating the dog. If you say "Yes" then you're in trouble because you admittedly HAD BEEN beating the dog. So you're either admitting that your baby is somehow deficient, because she doesn't stack blocks, or you're a neglectful liar who never even gave her baby the benefit of blocks in the first place.
At Emma Clare's last well-baby visit, the conversation went something like this:
Intake nurse: (notice that now the Pediatricians have given the more mundane, yet still tricky, duties, to someone else): "Does she coo?"
Me: "Yes. Absolutely"
Nurse: "Does she squeal?"
Me (trying to discern the subtle difference between coo and squeal): "Um... maybe."
Nurse: "Does she laugh?"
Me (now thoroughly confused -- what is the difference between a squeal and a laugh and how can it possibly even matter?): I am silent, but have sort of a grimace/shrug/chuckle kind of thing going on. I refuse to answer the question directly on the grounds that they might think that I am utterly neglectful -- I don't even watch and/or listen to my own child???
They also expect me to answer questions like, "How many wet diapers does she have a day?" This is CLEARLY a trick question designed to ascertain how many times a day I actually get around to changing the baby's diapers. I give them a broad estimate -- somewhere between 1 and 100 wet diapers per day.
At the second well-baby visit, the intake nurse told me that the baby's head circumference had apparently not changed at all in two week's time. She said this with a note of concern in her voice. When I nervously asked if that was cause for worry, she reassuringly (not) said, "We'll have to ask the doctor." Great. Then she said, to the baby, "You do have brains in there don't you?" That is not a joke - that's really what she said.
My next visit is not for another month and a half, which gives me time to read up on the milestones that Emma Clare will be expected to have reached. This is important information to be armed with in case I need to lie. I actually have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who confessed to me that she regularly lied to the pediatrician about these milestones, preferring deceit over the condescending looks she might get when having to confess that no, her baby does not cuddle dolls, or no, in fact she does not make all the animal noises. This is not bad strategy.
In other random news:
1. Tonight, an acquaintance came up to me and said, "Well, this must be your new little GUY!" (Note that Emma Clare was dressed in pink pants and a pink striped shirt. See blog post #1)
2. Emma Clare had portraits done yesterday morning. The photographer asked me if I'd like to have her photographed while she was nursing. Now, call me crazy, but even though several doctors, nurses, midwives, medical students who I didn't know, and hospital cafeteria personnel have all seen almost every part of my body, I still don't want a large 8x10 of my breast, matted, framed, and hanging on the wall. Or even a very small photo in my wallet. It just isn't necessary. And at the risk of having my mother call me and say "But it's a beautiful thing..." I just want to make it clear that I do consider it a beautiful thing, but then so is the act of DELIVERING a baby and I sure don't want a photo of that on my wall.
3. I would like to think that I've done some important things in my life: making the high school cheerleading squad, finishing college, teaching elementary school, giving birth, etc. However, this week I feel like I just discovered another element on the periodic table, or the vaccine for the common cold. I found the perfect night-time cloth diapering system. Really, this feels to me like Nobel prize-worthy stuff. At the risk of boring you with the particulars (Happy Hempy fitted diaper, SuperDo insert, Dancing Bear Bottoms Night Weight Fleece Soaker) let me just say that in the cloth diapering world, this is the Holy Grail. The combinations that mothers try when attempting to come up with this magic formula are truly dizzying. Makes the creation of the atom bomb look like the assembly of Mr. Potato Head.
Thus endeth my revelations for this week. Tomorrow, Emma Clare is taking part in a developmental research study at Cornell University. They are (no kidding) going to be studying her reactions to a rubber duck. Stay tuned.