I took the baby to his 9 month check up at the pediatrician’s office the other day. I’d made the appointment months ago and, of course, the baby’s nap schedule has now changed so that it was right in the middle of his morning nap. There I sat, in the world’s most uncomfortable chair, holding an overtired 9 month old trying not to let him touch or put anything in his mouth. I don’t actually know the baby sign for “hold still”. I’m pretty sure it’s when you wrap your arms around him and pin his to his sides. Either way, he was not impressed.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by how quiet the waiting room was and how quickly we were called back to the exam rooms by the nurse. I hadn’t even resorted to blowing raspberries on his stomach to keep him from crying yet. I should have suspected it was too good to be true. She showed us to our room, took the baby’s height and weight, and told us the doctor would be right with us. She lied.
Thirty minutes passed agonizingly slowly. The baby had passed through the tired stage and into the manic joy stage. He was cackling and arching his back, trying to throw himself off the exam table, eating the little light thingy that goes in every child’s ear. It was getting ugly. I started looking around the room for inspiration: anything I could use to keep him from exploding or falling asleep.
This is the series of events that unfolded during the time I waited in the exam room:
First, I sat him on the exam table with a toy I’d brought from the car. He immediately threw it on the floor and proceeded to pull all the blood pressure cuffs off the wall. Time to stand up.
I stood in front of the little mirror on the wall behind the door making faces. I turned him upside down and made faces at him. I played peek-a-boo with the baby in the mirror. He wanted to lick the mirror, but I kept worrying that the doctor would be coming through the door any minute and we might get hit when it opened. Silly me.
I noticed a jar of wooden tongue depressors on the counter. I opened the lid, took out a little wooden stick, and handed it to the baby. Then I wondered how many other people had touched that lid. Were they sick? I decided should probably wash my hands. So I turned on the sink, leaned over so I could wash one hand at a time while holding the baby. He thought this was a great game and proceeded to stick his entire head under the faucet. He was not impressed with the result.
I placed my now wet child back on the exam table and started fishing through my purse for another toy that hadn’t been on the floor of the doctor’s office. Finding nothing, I eventually resorted to letting him play with my wallet. It was that or the Leatherman pocket knife, and I didn’t feel like chatting with Child Protective Services that day. Turns out, having little nimble fingers makes it very easy to quickly remove credit cards and drop them behind furniture.
I pried the wallet out of the baby’s hands, which was grievous error. His lip went out, tears filled his eyes, and he let out a blood curdling scream. I considered for a moment that we might get more attention of he made a nuisance of himself, but I couldn’t take the crying. I noticed the glove dispenser on the wall and grabbed a green glove. It grabbed his attention immediately, and he stopped crying. I blew it up like a balloon, tied it off and handed it to him. He thought it was pretty great until he bit the finger and it deflated in his face. Cue the tears.
I picked him back up. We looked around the room for something else to get his attention. I went back to the faucet and turned it on and off. He was feeling less trusting after the disappointment with the glove and looked skeptically at the water stream. Eventually, he quieted. I thought maybe I’d hypnotized him with the rhythmic sounds of the rushing water. Then my hand got all warm. He was just peeing. Once he finished he carried on crying.
I pulled a stool out from under the counter and sat down. I tried reading to him, but the only reading material I could find were pamphlets on dosages for pain relief medications. He ate the paper. At least he couldn’t cry with his mouth full.
The only thing that made the baby smile was spinning on the stool, which I did for about ten minutes until I was so dizzy I was worried the doctor would think I was drunk. I don’t think they take kindly to parents who puke on their exam room floors.
Finally, I gave up. I had only one more trick up my sleeve. The big one. The baby trump card. I’d been trying to avoid it, but after an hour of bouncing and entertaining the baby I couldn’t put it off any longer. I whipped out my boob and the very excited baby grabbed on immediately. I sat back with a sigh of relief. The baby was finally quiet and happy. He looked up at me with eyes that said, “what took you so long?”.
About 30 seconds later, the door opened and the doctor breezed in.
So it turns out, if you want to see the doctor in a timely fashion, all you have to do is show a little flesh. Unfortunately, this gets a little more difficult to explain when kids are 10.