I love it when it happens.
Sometimes, parents-to-be (a couple expecting their first child) call, asking to meet with me in person. Their bundle of joy is on the way and they want to speak face-to-face prior to the arrival of their newborn and the subsequent first check-up. In the language of pediatrics, it is called the “prenatal visit.”
Other times, a family is switching to the practice, perhaps because they have relocated to the area. They also want to meet in person before “officially” joining the practice.
Many new families come to us through the recommendation of friends and family, and I am always grateful for people’s good words. Social media plays no small role here. No matter how parents find their way to us, they are warmly welcomed and embraced into our “extended family.”
What do we pediatricians find special about meeting with parents who ask to come in before they bring in the kids, and/or before their beloved baby is in this world?
For the most part, these are parents who know what they want, despite their nervousness. Furthermore, they want to partner with the pediatrician, believing that he is a key person in their children’s lives. Their children’s well visits, strep throats, broken bones, school and social issues, and who knows what else matter to me and my team. We are there, alongside Mommy and Tatty, helping to bring this child from one phase to the next, making sure that the child(ren) receive the best health care.
The prenatal visit is great time to discuss some topics that are important to bringing the baby safely home from the hospital, including:
- Car seats (you need one to bring home the baby from the hospital)
- Bedding for the crib or bassinet
- Sleeping on the back
- Immunizations family members need to protect the newborn
- Technology and other means to prevent leaving a child in a car
- The predictable lack of sleep for parents and for the baby (Once you become a parent, you sign on to worrying for your 120 years in this world.)
The prenatal visit is an opportunity to “frontload” important information and hear the parents’ concerns straight from them, so that, together, we can launch the best health care platform even before the baby is born.
Parents have questions and you learn so much from those questions, which span a whole spectrum. How is the practice set up? How often will we be bringing in our newborn? I am going to try to nurse my baby, but if it isn’t for me, then where do you hold? What is your opinion on ADHD?
One question I’m asked more often than not is, “Why did you choose pediatrics, Dr. Lightman?”
Medicine was my calling from the time I was a small child. It was during medical school (at the University of the Witswatersrand) while dissecting a cadaver that I had a revelation: The perfection of the human body proves that HaShem runs this world. There is no way a human being could have ever “invented” the human body. The continuity of care and intersection of a family in the development of a well-rounded child drew me to pediatrics. Furthermore, I would be a presence in people’s lives over the long term, not just in an acute situation. The long term affords me the opportunity to get to know people and to tailor medical and health care to each person, thereby assuring that each one gets what he needs, at the best levels, with the highest standards possible.
At a minimum, the prenatal visit lays the foundation for a solid parent/doctor relationship through the first two decades of life.
In an era when most change seems to happen in nanoseconds, it is great feeling, through assuring the best health care, to have meaningful long-term relationships that lead to something even more enduring — the development of a kind, caring person, who will hopefully make a positive difference in this world.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.