When my partner and I were deciding on a pediatrician for our kids, we picked the one that most parents in our new neighborhood used and was close to our apartment. We didn’t vet the doctors with a barrage of questions, and that probably has to do with where we live: in New York City, we have a lot of options (who would take our health insurance, at the time). But I didn’t think about questions the pediatrician would ask me, as the new mom. Some of the questions were simple (“Are there pets in the home? Does anyone smoke in the house?”), but others kind of made me feel guilty, either because I didn’t know the answers, didn't completely feel comfortable in my new role as a mother, or because I didn’t know the correct answers, which really went against the grain of my Type A personality.
I was not a very anxious new mom, but my confidence in my parenting abilities was pretty low. I had never been somebody’s mother before and there were so many ways I could mess up. So in the examining room, with a 3-day-old child in my arms, I felt so vulnerable as the pediatrician went through her list of questions at our first visit. Her bedside manner was wonderful, but I couldn’t help but feel nervous that my responses would fall short of what a “proper” mom would say.
Now that my kids are older, I can anticipate the questions their doctor will probably ask, and I’m truthful, but less susceptible to feeling guilty. Not only has my self-confidence grown a bit in the decade since first becoming a mother, but I realize that pediatricians are not interested in judging parents. Truly, they only want to help us raise healthy children.
Thinking back on my “newer mom” self, though, here are some questions our pediatrician asked that made me feel guilty: