When to take your baby to the doctor

I am a first time mother, with very little experience with babies prior to giving birth to Evan. Every time he comes down with even the slightest sniffle, or has some other sign of illness, I have this feeling of WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW come over me. I mean because really, what am I supposed to do now?

My first reaction is to immediately pick up the phone and call my mom, who also happens to be my closest friend, and my best source of information on child-rearing. I mean, she raised me and my brother, and we’re both still kicking to tell the tale. However, it almost never fails that when I bring up some obscure symptom, she will start her reply with: “Well, it’s been so long, I can’t remember if you guys ever had that problem when you were babies.” Thanks, mom!

In all seriousness, she does often have good advice, but it never fails that I am on the fence and end up feeling compelled to call our pediatrician for advice, which amounts to speaking with a nurse via their advice line. The nurses usually have pretty good insight into whatever ailment or behavior I’m calling to discuss, but they will often recommend coming in to be seen by the doctor.

This was the case today, when I called to get some advice about a little rash that has been worsening on Evan’s face. It started about ten days ago, and my attempts to change detergents and soaps don’t seem to be helping. My options were either to continue home care (lukewarm baths, blotting the area dry, and applying Aquaphor) or seeing if the doctor had any clue what the root of the problem was. I was pretty concerned that the rash was making him uncomfortable, so we decided to pay the doctor a visit.

Without turning this in to an extravagant narrative about our visit from the doctor, I’ll just say that it went pretty much like all of the other visits we make to the doctor go. We arrived on time, waited an hour to be seen, and then received less than attentive care from a physician who seemed to be utterly preoccupied. The doctor basically told me that she wasn’t sure what the problem was, and that we should continue home care and see if it goes away. She did mention eczema as a possible answer, but that we would need to see if it got any worse, or spread.

I guess it’s probably asking too much to expect the doctor to be able to diagnose every little thing, write me a prescription, and “fix” the problem, but at least feign some interest in me and my child.

With each of these experiences, I learn a little more about my kid, and my instincts. It’s often not worth it to take your child into a doctor’s office filled with genuinely sick children, when the issue is minor, but as a new parent, it’s sometimes hard to make that call. No one ever said that parenting was easy, right? :)


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