Finding a New Pediatrician AND Making My Peace with Vaccinations

A lingering heat rash on Cienna’s back finally made me call and set up an appointment with her new pediatrician – chosen from a long list of doctors that accept our insurance with nothing but a name and address to go on. The office told me they had no room for another month… so we scheduled the appointment… and waited for a month. Strike one.

I meant to take that time to research other doctors by talking to friends who are more familiar with our new area but with my hubby gone, lesson plans due, and an 18-month-old to chase after, this pregnant mama never got around to it. By the time I took her in today the rash was long gone but I decided it was still worth the trip so we could interview this doctor and decide if he/she would be right for our upcoming little one too.

I’d really like to say that it went well… but I can’t do that.

After walking into a large waiting room with a TV that was too loud and no toys or anything interesting for kids, we were directed down a hallway to the our room, accompanied by a giant… I mean HUGE… silverfish that crossed our path halfway down the hall. We watched as two nurses freaked out, pointing, and a third nurse casually stepped on it and kept walking. Cienna was extremely interested in this bug laying there on the ground dying, but that was a major strike two for me.

The room had no toys or interesting things for C to look at aside from three Mickey Mouse stickers that were peeling off the wall and a metal handle that had halfway detached from it’s cabinet, making it a very sharp and very interesting object. It was perfect for spinning in circles and scraping paint off the wall.

The RN was nice, obviously still loving kids and interested in the career she has been studying so long for. But when the doctor walked in he didn’t shake my hand or greet Cienna or say anything other than “Hi, my name is doctor M—S. We’re going to give Cienna two shots today…” Ugh, strike three. I knew she was due for shots. Because of the move and change in insurance policies she is technically “behind” in her vaccination schedule. But geez… at least look us in the eye, smile, say something to make us feel welcome before launching in to the whole ‘shots’ topic.

I’m a bit of a “granola mom” when it comes to things like co-sleeping, organic and homemade baby foods, breast feeding, and drug free natural births. At one point I was also completely against vaccinations but after much thought I decided that I’m not comfortable NOT getting my kids vaccinated, knowing that they will be traveling to Sierra Leone, a developing country, at some point in the first few years of their lives. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking them into an environment where many of these diseases still exist without protecting their fragile systems first.

It took me a while to get to this point, however. I read articles, talked to friends who had chosen not to vaccinate and friends who had, and I tried to find a pediatrician who would at least discuss the topic with me. Many of the doctors I spoke with were adamant about vaccinations and weren’t very good at even discussing alternative option. It made me feel extremely lost and confused, and Cienna’s very first doctor made me feel like I was a bad parent for even wanting to discuss our options (a whole other story I’ll tell you about later… very traumatizing for a first time mom… I left the office in tears and never went back).

Here’s the thing, as much as I feel like it’s important for my kids to be vaccinated, I also feel like giving 6 vaccinations at one time to a 2-month old is a lot for such a little body to handle. I am more comfortable having my kids on an alternative schedule – meaning that we space out the shots a bit, allowing their little bodies more time to process each vaccine. Plus, if they have a reaction, we are more likely to be able to identify the vaccine that caused it.

While in California we eventually found an amazing doctor who we connected with immediately and who was open to having a dialogue with me about vaccines and the choices that parents sometimes make for their kids. I wish we could have packed him up in our luggage and brought him to the East Coast with us… but he’s got kids and blah blah blah. We never could have pulled that off.

We absolutely loved that guy and now that we are about to have two kids it’s really important that we find someone who shares our views. The doctor we met today made me flash back to our early days with Cienna when I felt vulnerable and afraid to ask questions, and that is not okay.

I want my kids to have a relationship with their doctor so it’s not such a scary visit. I want them to be like “YAY! We get to see Dr. So-and-So today!” Or at the very least, “YAY! We get to go play with the toys at the doctor’s office today!” But we’re not going to get that at this place.

So, Cienna had her shots today. The nurses were very gentle. She cried for a minute, ate a few goldfish, got a lollipop, and was perfectly content. In fact, she cried more getting her height measured than she did getting her shots.

Oh well. I guess I’ll start by asking local friends for recommendations and cross my fingers that their beloved doctors take our insurance. I’m not going to settle for less than what my kids deserve, which is THE BEST, of course.

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