I Wasn't Prepared For My Baby's First Checkup

The nurses in my pediatrician's office still talk about the first time I came in with our 2-week-old baby girl. Apparently I was shellshocked, especially after our whirlwind adoption, enough to make quite an impression. There was a long list of things I wasn't prepared for when my daughter arrived, and even a sub-list of things I wasn't prepared for at my baby's first checkup.

Going anywhere when my daughter was brand new, so exhausting, and terrifying, so our first visit to the pediatrician was really the first excursion we had had since she left the NICU. My husband had to work and it didn't occur to me, until we were sitting in the waiting room, that an extra person to help or listen would have been an excellent idea. I felt like the quintessential "new mom" that day (and apparently I looked and acted like it, too).

But while the majority of my daughter's first visit to the doctor was a blur, it was the start of an excellent relationship with her pediatrician (and even if the nurses do poke a little fun every time we're back). In my opinion, that relationship is extremely important when you're raising a kiddo. You need to trust your pediatrician and feel you can ask all the questions you need and get the help or resources your child needs. The good news is that if your first check-up is a total blur, you only have to wait a few weeks to have another shot! (Ha, see what I did there?)

All The Sick Kids

I was totally unprepared for the number of sick kids in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office. Who knew, right?! Thankfully, I had brought extra blankets and could cover my daughter's car seat with one, but I was so relieved when they finally called her name.

My Lurking Germ Phobia

I'm not really a germaphobe, but I suddenly didn't want to touch a single surface, let alone put my daughter anywhere. The pediatrician's office was perfectly clean, but all I could picture was where those sick kids in the waiting room had sat or touched when they were being examined. My daughter had only been in the NICU and our apartment for her whole life, so it was difficult to even want to sit down in the doctor's office.

Bringing Enough Bottles

In my rookie mom state, I totally forgot to pack more than one bottle. In my experience, it's smart to expect the appointment to take longer than the quick hour and pack a few extra bottles, just in case. Luckily, our doctor's office was stocked with tiny sample formula bottles I could use.

Having To Explain Myself

I had been so focused on getting out of the house for the first time with my newborn, that I completely forgot that I was going to have to explain — for the first time, and to strangers — how I found myself holding a 6-pound baby girl without looking like I had just given birth. I also had to explain that we knew very little about her medical history and her prenatal care, which was harder to admit than I had thought it would be.

Blanking On Every Question

The minute I walked into the pediatrician's office I completely forgot all of the questions I had walked in with. They suggest writing down questions you have so this doesn't happen. I'm going to suggest it to you, too!

Vaccination Decisions

We had decided not to give our daughter the Hep B vaccination in the hospital, despite some pressure from the nurses. I was just too overwhelmed with information and knew I couldn't make an informed decision about whether I wanted her to have it then. Heck, I didn't know I was going to be a mom until the morning I met her!

At her first checkup, the pediatrician asked again about the Hep B vaccine and helpfully offered to defer the question for a few months. That gave me time to adjust to being a new mom and feel like I was making a decision for her health, without pressure.

Not Taking Every Suggestion As Gospel

At my daughter's first doctor's appointment, our pediatrician told me I shouldn't take her out anywhere in public for the first four months. Looking back, I know he's just kind of old school and that I didn't have to take every single suggestion he made as gospel.

However, as a brand new, shellshocked mom, I panicked every time we took her to church or the grocery store until she was 4 months old. He may have been a little strict with that suggestion, but for my daughter's compromised health at birth, it was probably a good place to start. But boy, was it a relief when we could go to the grocery store without panicking that she'd breathe in too many germs.

That I Would Forget Everything The Minute We Left

By the time I got home to my husband after my daughter's first checkup, I could barely remember anything the doctor had said, bar that extreme suggestion that she not leave the house for four months. I was so relieved that we'd had our first real outing and both lived to tell the tale, so everything else just floated right out of my brain. Seems like it would have been good to bring someone with me to listen or write down what the doctor was saying.

So Much Poking And Prodding

I mean, it's a doctor's visit, so you'd think I would have realized she was going to be poked and prodded quite a bit. Still, and somehow, I was over-protectively shocked when the doctor wanted me to get her undressed so he could examine her. It seems like such a no-brainer looking back on it, but being mentally prepared for her first exam would have been a little more helpful than walking in totally clueless. Story of the first six months of my motherhood, honestly.

Getting Good Help

I'm somehow still a little surprised that in that first visit, the pediatrician gave us major help on how to teach our daughter to feed. It was the single most helpful thing to us in the first few months, and I couldn't believe he sat and patiently worked with us until she got it.

I'd recommend to anyone to feed the baby in front of the pediatrician, whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding. My daughter was hungry several times during the visit and having him watch me feed her a bottle allowed him to see exactly how she was feeding and what she needed to work on.