Three Things I Would Never Tell My Pediatrician
OK, it’s confession time. Number 1 and 2 have their annual doctors’ visits coming up and it got me to thinking about the questions that pediatrician’s ask during these routine check-ups. I have to admit, I am not always honest, or at least I am not totally forth-coming when it comes to some of the practices in my home. There are probably 3 areas in which I have not been completely honest with my pediatrician.
In no way am I recommending that you follow my lead in the things that I am about to tell you. Because while I am a doctor, I am not that kind of doctor, and therefore do not have the right to dispense medical information. So use this information at your own risk. Or just surf on over to another site and forget about it altogether.
I flipped my babies to their stomachs when they were 6 weeks old. Your pediatrician will tell you that one of the best ways to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is to put your baby to sleep on his/her back. Your pediatrician is correct. This is upheld by strong scientific evidence that back-sleeping prevents SIDS. I would never recommend against it. And I never, ever meant to go against this advice either. I intended to follow this rule to the letter – I mean, how difficult could it be? Put your baby on his back to sleep, then you go to sleep.
Enter Number 1, the thumb sucker. Number 1 was orally fixated from the moment he was conceived. Really, he was! We have ultrasound pictures of him sucking his thumb in utero.
As a newborn, he was completely content when he was sucking his thumb. Every night I would swaddle him tightly so that his thumb was still in his mouth and lay him down to sleep. About 10 minutes after laying him down, his body would jerk, his thumb would fall out of his mouth and the god-awful crying would begin. This became a scenario that repeated itself time after time throughout the night. The child could not sleep more than 10 minutes at a time when he was on his back in his crib. This went on, night after night after night.
Six-weeks into this night-time torture that had become our lives, we went to visit my in-laws. I was in full sleep-deprivation hysteria, but for some unfathomable reason that I can’t remember now, I wanted my in-laws to believe that everything was perfect. When it was time to put him to bed, I was up in the room in tears putting him down to sleep and picking him up every 10 minutes when his damn thumb would pop out of his mouth and he would start to cry. Out of pure desperation and irrational reasoning that he had already rolled over once, I placed him on his stomach so that his thumb would be wedged in his mouth forever. And it worked. He slept all night – 9 hours. Of course, I didn’t sleep. I woke up nearly every hour to check and make sure he was still breathing and then I had trouble falling asleep again because I knew I was the worst mother on earth.
But every night after that when the sweet Siren of sleep was calling to me, I placed my orally-fixated son on his stomach in a position where he could indulge himself fully and we both enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
With each subsequent child it became easier to accept stomach sleeping. As soon as he/she had rolled over once (because that was my way of rationalizing my behavior) I would flip them to their stomachs to sleep and thumb suckers or not, they seemed to sleep better.
I am really concerned about my kids’ behavior. Every year when I take the kids for their annual check-up, my pediatrician will ask me how I rate their behavior or if I have any concerns. I think I usually mumble something like their behavior fits into the normal range of behavior. They have tantrums and their moods, but it is all basically normal.
What I don’t tell her is that many nights when I lay myself down to sleep and review the day’s events in my mind, I wonder if I am raising devil spawn. How else could you explain the behavior that I witness?
I have witnessed fits of anger in which heads seem to spin 360 degrees and voices rise beyond ear-splitting levels. I have seen children mindlessly torture one another for hours on end. I have been the victim of countless acts of terrorism – intentional floodings, placement of feet piercing Lego minefields, mine-numbing torture sessions of “his elbow is in my space” and daily sabotage of the events at hand.
Is this really normal? I think not.
The children spend too much time with the one-eyed monster. Screen-time – such a cute little name for an evil beast. Screen-time includes the time spent with anything that has a screen – televisions, video games, iPhones, iPod touches, Nintendo DS, the list goes on. Obviously it is bad for kids to spend the majority of their day doing “screen time.” In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, “Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content.”
I consider myself pretty enlightened and leaning towards the au natural approach of raising children, but I fight the ugly one-eyed monster every day.
Every morning my day starts out with this question from at least 2 children: Can I have screen time?
I have set rules – there are only 3 times during the day that the children can have screen time 1) in the morning after they have gotten themselves ready and are waiting for me and/or other children to be ready; 2) during afternoon quiet time; and 3) after they are ready for bed but before it is bedtime. And every day, like a moth drawn to light, they insist on staring at the screens for as long as I will enable them.
Some days, I admit, I would love to let them stare at those screens for a long time (way longer than the recommended amount). Because some days I would like to read my book a little bit longer, take a shower, or just have peace in the house for a little while. Or, I know I am going to take them to a movie later on that day (which uses the total daily recommended amount) but I still let them have screen time at home.
I know they have more screen time than recommended. But I don’t ‘fess up.
What about you? Are there things that you don’t share with your pediatrician?