Ok, the title is harsh. Do I mean it? Not really. Not most days. Not that I'll admit on my Facebook page. But when you find someone who is always calm, hangs on your every word, and strokes your child's hair while they're vomiting, you've pretty much found Prince Charming. My Prince C. is actually Dr. C., and here's why.
1. He can stop my children from crying.
This is a miracle that should qualify for the canonization of saints. I've used vacuum cleaners, industrial stove fans and hair dryers (always five feet away and never on the hot setting, of course) to calm my babies, but somehow our pediatrician has a special touch. My husband and I would walk in the doctor's office during the newborn phase with tired eyes and sour faces, and we'd almost get giddy when our baby would start bawling in front of Dr. C. "Look," we'd say. "She really is inconsolable -- she must have colic." Thirty seconds later -- after gently placing the baby on his lap and tapping her back rhythmically -- Dr. C. would just nod and say "you might want to try something like this." You could hear a pin drop. We took mental, and actual, notes about his technique and tried it when we got home. You know how that went down.
2. He can stop me from crying.
My husband used to say during my second maternity leave -- when we had a newborn and a 3-year-old -- that when he got home from work, at least two of the three of us would be crying. And I was normally one of the two. Whether it was issues with nursing or napping or sheer sleep deprivation, I was a wreck. I would prepare for our pediatric appointments by writing down all of my (many) concerns and walk into the doctor's office nearly in tears. Somehow, Dr. C. would always lighten my mood. "Lisa," he would call to his nurse with a grin, "The Reynolds family would like us to keep their baby until she's three months old." I actually told him we would settle for two months -- that's how positively he affected my attitude.
3. He encourages my questions.
My husband loves my questions -- he really does. He loves it when I ask them right before he falls asleep... while he's in the shower... through the door when he's in the bathroom... and every time in between. Our pediatrician, on the other hand, legitimately seems delighted to answer my questions and never greets them with an exasperated huff. Instead of running out the door while I'm in mid-sentence, Dr. C. actually asks if he's covered everything on my list. He doesn't even ask with his hand on the doorknob. He is 100 percent in the room when he makes sure I don't have anything else on my mind.
4. He saves me hours of Googling.
I'm grateful for the Internet, but it can be as exhausting as cluster feeding. You start out Googling "coughing" and end up thinking your kid has TB. And, while you're in the midst of one search, other stressors pop up on your screen. Like how "everyone" is teaching their babies Spanish -- and sign language -- by the time they're 6 months old. All of a sudden, you look at the clock and realize the 15 minutes of free time that you had for the entire day is gone, and you're no better for it. That's when you pick up the phone or shoot an email to Dr. C. He never minds when I start out my questions with "So I was reading online...."
5. He doesn't judge me when I show up with vomit in my hair.
I can probably count the number of times I've taken a shower before going to the pediatrician's office on one hand. Sometimes I throw on concealer or maybe a skirt to show the world that I'm really in control despite all outward appearances. But it's more likely that I show up sans makeup and with some sort of bodily excrement or mushed up Cheerios on my body. Does that distract Dr. C.? Not at all. He tells me that I look better rested than most parents and it's clear I'm doing well. He even manages to say it with such a straight face that I believe him.
6. He knows my kids will be rock stars.
Our youngest daughter may have only been six months, but Dr. C. said she was one of the most "social" babies he'd seen at that age. He predicted she would have many friends and be the life of the party. He didn't actually say "famous," but I could tell that's what he meant. And when he complimented my firstborn on how well she gripped the tongue depressor and passed it between her hands? I'm not bragging, but it was clear he thinks she'll be a surgeon with that hand eye coordination.
7. He doesn't have the game on when he talks to me.
So maybe I try and strike up a conversation with my husband when the Rangers are in the final game of the Stanley Cup (wishful thinking) or in the midst of a no hitter, but I can't be trusted to remember my story until later. Before kids, I never had to write anything down, but now if I think of something and don't do it or tell you about it THAT MINUTE, I will never be able to retrieve it. Thankfully we can DVR, so my husband can hit "pause" and begrudgingly listen to me, but his thumb never leaves the pause button. My pediatrician would never dream of letting a game distract him. The only screen in front of Dr. C.'s face is his laptop which holds the key to important scores -- like the ranking of our baby's gigantic head, which is bigger than 95 percent of all other kids her age.
8. The word "meconium" doesn't scare him.
The word itself sounds macabre, as if it belongs in a Poe short story, and the visual image isn't any better. It looks like your newborn has digested a freshly paved road and is emitting asphalt. Meconium is dark, sticky and scary, and I have stuck my husband with the job of changing those diapers after both of our daughters' births. "They told me I should really sit on this ice pack," I explained weakly. Now, even reading the word "meconium" triggers the gag reflex in my husband. My pediatrician greets meconium gleefully and says it's healthy. Even better, he encourages my husband to be on diaper duty for those special occasions.
9. He doesn't get mad when I bother him in the middle of the night.
Whether I'm wincing in pain because of leg cramps or waking my husband up to ask him if he thought the cheese was unpasteurized at dinner, he's never thrilled when I interrupt his sleep. In contrast, my pediatrician is glad when I call with a concern. In fact, Dr. C. encourages me to reach out every single time I need him. It's like you're on a perpetual first date with your pediatrician -- you know you could always count on him to take you to the airport.
10. He wears bow ties.