Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ten Tips for taking TWO babies to the Doctor (by yourself)

What are you, crazy?  Common sense should tell you to make every effort to avoid taking two babies to the Doctor by yourself.  But, should your other two children fall ill, thus requiring quarantine and throwing a wrench in your carefully laid plans involving one adult to go with you and one adult to stay with aforementioned older children, proceed with the tips below . . .  

1. Dress as you would for an athletic event.

Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.  Short sleeves are recommended.  

It will inevitably be cold in the Dr’s office, but once they pack you, your two children, their car seats, a 10 lb diaper bag, a nurse and a Dr into the closet-sized exam room, it will start to warm up.  When both children’s crying reaches a fevered pitch the simultaneous effort of jiggling one in your arms, rocking the other in their seat with your foot, and straining to listen to the Dr’s droning questions and advice will cause even the coolest parent to break into a sweat.

2. Dress your children in one layer of one-piece clothes. 

This isn't the time to pull out the stops with cute three-piece outfits, matching socks, shoes, etc. No one wants to wait for you to wrestle them back into that adorable outfit while they’re screaming after receiving shots in both legs! 

3. Bring a blanket for each baby.   

You, as a reasonably responsible parent, would never leave your child undressed in a 65 degree room under any circumstances.  But the first thing you’ll be asked to do is to strip your child down.  You’ll then wait for 15-20 minutes with two near-naked babies.  The purpose of  this is to prevent the Dr from having to wait the 2 minutes it might take you to undress your child.  (Although, in my experience, the 5 or so minutes the Dr usually takes to figure out how to use their newly acquired laptop would be a perfect opportunity to undress baby while avoiding exposure.) 

So bring a blanket to wrap your baby in.  Even though you’ve been explicitly TOLD to leave your baby undressed you will feel like the worst parent ever sitting there with a tiny freezing infant.  Fortunately the stress of this will cause your own body temperature to rise helping to raise the temperature of the aforementioned freezing room.

4. Regardless of your political views, be thankful that the government is now paying the co-pay for your well-visits. 

Not spending ten minutes at the check-in window rooting for your wallet which is inevitably at the bottom of your diaper bag will save precious pre-meltdown minutes, as well as money.

5. Strike a balance between “responsible and capable parent of multiples” and “slightly overwhelmed and pitiable parent of twins.” 

Casually let it be known that the only reason you dared approach a well-visit single-handed is because your house has been hit by a tsunami of illness, yet you prevailed to make it to the appointment bearing a child in each exhausted arm like a phoenix rising from the ashes.  Absorb any pity, praise or help that comes your way in response to your “situation.”  

6. Nurse or bottle-feed one baby while the Dr examines the other. 

Not because they’re hungry or food solves everything, but because it greatly increases the likelihood that at least one baby will spit up all over the Dr.  This can be highly amusing, especially if it happens to directly coincide with one of the Dr’s off-handed comments about how big/small/pale/ or otherwise unattractive your baby’s head/ears/nose, etc. are. 

7. NEVER ask unnecessary curious questions. 

Throughout the appointment the Dr will repeatedly ask if you have any questions.  This is code for, “Can we keep moving along and get this over with as quickly as possible.” BUT, a new parent might accidentally mistake this to mean, “Are you observant enough as a parent to be able to formulate educated questions about your child’s development?”  This misinterpretation may lead the parent, in an effort to show their concern and deep knowledge of baby development, to throw out a random question about an issue that you already know isn’t SERIOUS, but none-the-less find interesting. 

“So, is his fontanel still supposed to be so big?” 

“Is there any reason to worry about that small rashy spot on his neck?” 

While such questions may seem harmless when brainstorming with your spouse pre-appointment, actually raising them is a mistake.  These questions are like bait for Drs who’re tired and bored from seeing hour after hour of relatively healthy children. 

At best, your Doctor will seize onto your question and launch into a five to ten minute explanation of the development of the fontanel from zygot to adolescent while you are frantically trying to calm, soothe, feed, or change two crying babies.  In a worst case scenario, the asker of such a question will find themselves carting two healthy, exhausted, crying babies off to one or another lab for extensive blood work, x-rays or “testing” just to “make sure it isn’t anything.” 

Trust me, this is a path you don’t want to start down. 

8. Try to keep a straight face when the Dr asks you things like, “Do you wipe their gums with a washcloth every day?”  

Refrain from responding sarcastically, “Lady, I’m lucky if I brush my own teeth everyday.”  Simply nod your head and smile, “Oh yes, the gums, we do that several times a day.  We’re very big on infant gum care.” 

9. When you finally leave the office with two crying babies, hold your head high

(though your back may be bent from the combined weight of babies, car seats and diaper bag). 

Smile graciously at the parents struggling to calm, carry or coax their own children.  Accept their looks of wide-eyed wonder at your parental prowess as you use alternating infant seats to bump open heavy doors and waddle with tiny penguin steps to your mini-van. 

You and your glowing off-spring have conquered yet another office visit. 

10. Schedule your next visit for two to three months from now and begin immediately aligning a support team (and two or three back-up support teams) so that you will never, ever, have to do this by yourself again.

6 comments:

  1. Sitting here in the elementary school pick up line reading this...and I'm glad I'm in my car bc you made me laugh till I snorted! Real attractive, I'm sure. Oh, that was too good. I don't even have twins but I was right there with you, as I was reading...feeling your pain. Oh and #7 and 8 - good stuff!

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    1. I love it! Thanks so much for commenting, Monday was the first day of school for us as well as a one-year- old appointment for the twins, so I'm glad someone out there was laughing even if I wasn't!

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  2. First things first -- again, this was super hilarious and I think these baby books that we read should feature real life stories just like this for every new parent!

    I was trying to think back to a funny story to share, so here goes. Just like your experience with the twins' 6-month checkup, this played more like a horror scenario turned funny when looking back on it and serves as a reminder of inner strength.

    January 2009. Casper was a year old and we lived in a shelter for women and children. As part of the shelter's rules, all children were to be with their mothers no matter what (hauling him up two staircases and keeping him contained in a tiny public bathroom stall while I used the restroom was one little nugget of fun we worked through on an every day, every-few-hours basis). There were no exceptions to this mother/child attached at the hip rule but I won't get into all those details because they belong in a book. Anyway, that part is just a short preface to my funny story...

    It was freezing outside in January that year and I had to make a trip to the bustling welfare building to enroll each of us for medical and food assistance. I bundled us up as best as I could (layers of donated clothing, most purchased through thrift store vouchers, plus a few overlapping hoodies for me because I didn't own a coat), stuck the 30-lb baby in an umbrella stroller, wrapped the bulky diaper bag strap around the stroller (so I could cart it along without carrying or dragging it on the ground), signed us out at the front desk and off we walked to the bus stop, diaper bag swinging between the stroller, slapping me with every step, looking quite fashionably dysfunctional.

    The bus arrived and just like every other trip we made, I hurried to lug the baby, diaper bag and stroller up the stairs while a bus full of people stared at me like I had 2 heads. Somehow I found my bus pass to swipe and we pushed our way to the nearest seat (where I then had to untangle the diaper bag to fold up the stroller for the ride and simultaneously keep the baby entertained, ignore that everyone was staring at us and make sure we made it to the right stop.)

    Once we neared our stop, the whole loading-up process began again and soon we were on our way off the bus (careful to lift the stroller upward at a cock-backed angle down the narrow steps for fear that baby and stroller would tumble out of the bus and onto the curb. Of course this was also very entertaining for all bus patrons and drivers to witness.

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  3. (Cont.)
    We finally made it to the building. It was my first time going to that location and unlike any assistance office I had been to before, this one was huge in comparison. We had to go through a security check then obtain a number and sit in the lobby with probably around 100 others. There were screaming and running children, wandering sketchy men, employees behind a desk with bulletproof windows who were already ready to go home by 9:30AM judging by their attitudes... you name it. I managed to fill out my paperwork as Casper became just as cranky as everyone else.

    After we had waited for 3 hours I was running out of things to entertain the baby with. He was sitting on my lap facing me when he suddenly slammed his head into my nose and cracked my glasses right in half. Inside I was completely freaking out. I am blind without my glasses and the only time they come off is when I am asleep! Sitting there waiting with my number and my bored and unruly child, I felt I would have a total nervous breakdown. I could see a few inches from my face and that was all. Everything else was a blur of bleeding colors and barely recognizable shapes. I wanted to leave but I had already been waiting for hours and the thought of having to do this again another day was too much for me. We had come so far already.

    So, I waited another 2 hours and we were finally called in to be seen. That part of this story was a blur, literally and figuratively. Once we were able to leave I had to find the bus stop, go through the motions and get back to the shelter. Now what? I asked around and thankfully got the 'okay' from the homeless health clinic over the phone to get a free pair of glasses from a one-hour optical store across town. I knew the way home from the welfare building by listening to the stops as they were announced - but making it out to an optical store I've never been to? Ha! Luckily I had used that particular bus route many times and knew in passing that their facility was decked in bright purple paint.

    So again we left for the bus stop, only this time I was more terrified because once we got on the bus (which was always the 'hard part'), I had to try and figure out where on Earth we were heading and pray that I would pull the cord at the right place. This time I knew that people were staring at me as I squinted and squirmed around desperately trying to see where we were, but by that point I could only feel the stares instead of having to actually see them.

    We made it! I saw the big fuzzy purple building and we made our clunky, hazy exit off the bus. The concept of a one-hour optical shop was new to me. I had briefly worked as an optician before my pregnancy and had taken a course on vision technology where I learned to make glasses in a shop. This place, and perhaps it was due to my blindness, was very strange but I needed their help. They did a quick test while Casper acted out from the confines of his stroller and let me pick out a free pair of glasses. They were flimsy but they were free and I was grateful. After choosing my frame, I was told to come back in an hour to pick up my new glasses. Ok. So now what? I had no money to go sit in a restaurant somewhere for an hour and we couldn't possibly sit in the cold outside to wait. We had to go back to the shelter yet again. Sigh. By the time we reached home to check in, it was time to leave again in search of the big fuzzy purple building. So we did. I got my new glasses and we made it back alive! Hallelujah!

    - Nichele

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    1. Amazing. Times like that I just have to click into my sense of humor mode to survive! When I was at the Dr office I decided to start using my imagination and pretty much wrote the whole thing in my head while we waited. It definately kept me from being as stressed out and irritable as I might have been! I'm glad you and Casper are in a much more settled place now. And, BTW, Levi conked me on the head the other week and I had to get new glasses, really suprised me, and now the new ones are slightly crooked, but I can't find the time to go back and get them straightened! Ah, life.

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  4. I remember you posting about your glasses and I thought this little story seemed appropriate, haha. I could have a look at your glasses when we come over on the 13th. I did quite a few repairs years ago although I don't have any tools right now. Still, I can try and see if I can bend them back into place. Usually that does the trick.

    Thank you, I'm very happy to be in a better place with Casper now. It is never easy but you're right, you have to have a sense of humor to get through the rough times life flings our way.

    By the way, reading your blog has been very inspiring for me. I am thinking about starting up a blog/journal again on this site. Somehow my old blogs on blogspot were deleted after being up since '07. Maybe because I wasn't active anymore? No idea, but I love reading and writing and I find your posts very encouraging.

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