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Friday, March 5, 2010

Independence Day: A Funny Story

At least I think it's funny. This is yet another post on American ideas of independence.

When my son was born, our pediatrician was named Dr. Winter. We didn't pick her; she was picked by the HMO. Allegorically, however, her name was perfect. She was a cold and wintry soul. Here is a summary of some of those regular visits you have with newborns.

Dr. Winter (with questionnaire on clipboard): What formula are you using?
FS: None. I am nursing.
Dr. Winter: But what is your supplemental formula?
FS: None. I am home all day with him.
DR. Winter: SIGH and EYE ROLL. Obviously, the questionnaire does not have a space for "none." She writes something.

Dr. Winter: Where is the baby sleeping?
FS: In a bassinet next to the bed.
Dr. Winter: Does he have his own room?
FS: There is another room, but he stays in our room because he wakes up a zillion times every night.
Dr. Winter: He should sleep in his room.
FS: But it's so hard to drag myself in there!
Dr. Winter: You need to encourage his independence!
FS: But he's only three months old!

Dr. Winter: Is the baby in his own room yet?
FS: No.
Dr. Winter: see above

Dr. Winter: Is the baby in his own room?
FS: (Long pause) Yes.

As an infrequent liar, my face turned red.

Dr. Winter: Every night?

No wonder I loved the work of Penelope Leach, the great (English) friend to Moms and Dads everywhere. And thanks, dear sister-in-law. I remember--as you might not--that you gave me the book as a baby gift.

And what has this to do with frugality? Well, formulas is expensive. Also, frugality requires that you--at least now and again--go against received wisdom, like ideas about infants and independence.


Lucy Marmalade said...

HAHAHA. I laughed out loud at this anecdote. Looks like Frugal Son managed to be independent after all, despite not having his own room during a time he can't even remember...

Vicky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Funny about Money said...

Well, that was a fiasco...sorry about the deletion.

Too many pediatricians shouldn't be allowed near babies, just as too many teachers shouldn't be allowed near small children.

Our first pediatrician was a walking horror show. The worst of his several errors of monstrous arrogance landed my son in the emergency room, squirming in a writhing fit brought on by a medication the jerk prescribed. Because he had given the stuff to us as free samples (he had a drawerful of it!), I never saw the manufacturer's label. When I finally made the connection between the mysterious syndrome and the med, I looked it up in the PDR and found lo! the manufacturer's warnings described exactly what we were seeing.

He poo-pooed this discovery and, incredibly, handed us another fistful of the same stuff with instructions to dump it down the baby's throat.

This was the same clown who told me to give the kid a jigger of wine to get him to sleep!

simple in France said...

You know, I was watching a great TV show in France the other day with a really striking philosopher (isn't it great that in France your job title can be philosopher?) who was talking about her studies of the 'maternal instinct' over the decades--and how she thought the maternal instinct was simply a construct AND that what's considered to be good parenting changes from night to day every ten years. And she pointed out that the 'experts' reversed their decisions about things like breastfeeding and where babies and children should sleep with giving conflicting advice with 'the very same voice of authority.'

Shelley said...

I didn't know babies could be switched back and forth from breast to bottle, but as a non-mom, there will be a ton that I don't know. Mom loved her paediatrician; there's a picture somewhere of Dr Eva holding me in the hospital. Dr Eva told Mom that I would have to fit in with her life (she was 38 when I was born), not the other way around, which Mom found a huge relief.

Bill, though not a mom admittedly, always recommends a baby have their own room because they make so much noise and wake you up. Presumably one doesn't have to respond to every single whimper, but again, I've no idea about such things.

Having worked with young trainee doctors and watched them transform into egotistical gods and goddesses once they become consultants (who of course now know everything you do and more), I'm pretty skeptical about professional advice. I double check things a lot, probably their worst nightmare .

Duchesse said...

I adored Penelope Leach. She had such a big heart, was so reassuring. And told stories about herself screaming at her children ("the famous child expert, red in the face"). One of the great things I got from her was the idea of making your child's bed inviting, with fresh, pretty bedding sheets, so it would be a welcoming place.

She knew the pleasure of a toddler being given a big red apple and suggested sometimes we play with them until THEY want to stop.

What a treasure. And yes, lie to your doctor. The wise ones know we do it.

SLF said...

I agree with Lucy M.; obviously independent enough to survive two years at boarding school and a year abroad in France :)

--Frugal Son

Frugal Scholar said...

@Lucy--And, of course, you shared a room for many years...

@Funny--Your son is much older than mine--or enough older that things were much worse for him. This is bringing to mind all the terrible doctor stories I have--including the one where dear Miss Lucy Marmalade almost died.

@simple--So true--so much is a "cultural construct" as we learn in college. Even now, French advice and American advice to pregnant women are very different! So much for science.

@Shelley--the doc was talking about using a supplemental bottle. Babie are very flexible. Now that I think of it, I have never liked a single doctor that I have consulted. Sad.

@Duchesse--i still have the Leach book. She was so understanding. Ha--Dr Winter wasn't "wise"--she did know I lied though.

@SLF--Did you know the story?