So there I was, 7 months pregnant, widowed, sitting in a pediatrician’s office for my first pediatrician interview, trying to make another important decision alone, and crying hysterically in response to a simple question. How was I going to find not only the time, but also the strength, to interview anyone else and choose a doctor? She seemed nice enough, with proper credentials, and even worked in a practice recommended by a friend of a friend. Sure, she was a little awkward when I broke down crying in her office, but that had become something I almost expected in my interactions with other people during that time in my life.
The office was close to our house, it had convenient hours for our schedule, and the office staff was very professional and courteous. I liked that they had a separate infant waiting room so that I didn’t have to risk exposing my little one to other sick kids during well child visits. The practice was covered under my insurance policy, and I liked that she partnered with another doctor in the practice so I would always be seeing one of them and not someone completely new each time. I thought, “Okay, I will try to schedule a couple more interviews, but I think this one is good enough.”
Somehow, I did not find the time to meet with anyone else. Honestly, I didn’t find the courage to face someone else asking me if I had any “complications” so far during my pregnancy. Did early contractions brought on by the death of my husband qualify as “complications”? Was my extremely high-stress third trimester considered a complication? When my son came earlier than planned, I was just happy I at least had a car seat for my friends and family to rush to my house to pick up, tear open, and install. I didn’t even want to think about all the planning items I would never check off my “before baby” to-do list. I settled for the “good enough” pediatrician and scheduled our first appointment.
After the first 6 months I was wishing I had found the time and the strength to interview other doctors. Every appointment was at least 30 minutes of waiting just to feel rushed through a generic set of questions and checklists. It felt like she just checked off my questions in the system and printed out a report for me to read later. Sure she was cordial, knowledgeable, and quickly asked if I had any questions, but I wanted more. At this point I thought, “Well, she hasn’t done anything wrong, and she knows my son’s history now. Should I just stay with her?” It took me another 6 months to decide to walk away and find someone that better fit our needs.
I did it — I fired the pediatrician.
It was one of the best decisions I have made. We love our new pediatrician. Sure, there are days when we have to wait a bit for a sick visit, but it isn’t every single time. We are almost always seen right away for our well checks, and she spends as long as needed to cover all my questions and bring up any potential concerns I may have overlooked. While our situation seemed to make the old pediatrician more uncomfortable than I was, our new doctor doesn’t even flinch when I give her the “How am I supposed to give my crazy toddler eye drops ALL BY MYSELF face?” She catches on immediately and says, “Oh yes, let me show you a special hold so you can give him his drops at night before bed without hurting him at all.”
So what took me so long to make the change? I guess it seemed like you are supposed to do your research before your little one arrives and be happy with it. I felt like I would regret “breaking up” with the pediatrician. More importantly, what if we switched doctors only to be unhappy all over again?
The thing is, it is never too late to keep looking and make a change. If it doesn’t feel right after a few visits, then it probably isn’t. You are going to see your pediatrician A LOT during the first few years, so it is important that you find someone you have a connection with. Don’t be too afraid to admit that you may have may a bad first choice to find the right one.