In Pursuit of the Perfect Pediatrician

It took me four and a half years to find the right pediatrician. It was a rite of parenthood I felt like a complete failure at, especially because I thought it would be easy. I imagined meeting a kindly older doctor with lots of kids and loads of experience. Baby Dr. Right would take us under his or her warm wing, show us the ropes, and save us from disaster. It didn’t work out like that.

We walked into our first appointment and found our pediatrician young, childless, and high-heeled. She said “like” a lot. We were worried, but stuck it out because the office was so pretty and organized, and because I was postpartum shell-shocked and the idea of finding anyone else felt impossible. My husband caved before me; he couldn’t take the “likes” anymore, and combined with her inexperience, he couldn’t trust her.

Our next doctor was chosen at the advice of a mommy-friend with a 4-year-old. She seemed ancient in parenting years and we trusted her immensely. Her doctor had a lovely English accent, and three kids of his own (yay!), one a big chubber just like our son was. I was sure he would understand us and vice versa. I was wrong. Each time we went to visit, we had to wait at least an hour to see him. He made me feel dumb for asking what I felt to be important questions. That was the deal breaker. A pediatrician should never make a patient’s mommy feel dumb.

Doctor #3 was in the same practice and we picked her solely on the advice of the office staff. They said her wait times were much less.  Maybe I’m being unfair, but she was just so-so. I felt like there should be some sort of chemistry between our kids and their doctor, and in her case there was not.

We moved just as I was about to have my second, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try again to find the pediatrician of my dreams, and hopefully one close to our new house. I thought we hit the jackpot when I had a pre-baby interview with Doctor #4, for the record the only interview I did. She took an entire hour with me! She arranged books on the exam table for me to photograph! She had lots of kids! She was my mom’s age! But when I brought my kids in to see her it was awful. Instead of waiting an hour to see her like with #2, we were trapped in her exam room for an hour, sometimes almost 1 ½, while she re-measured, or re-weighed, not believing her medical assistant’s numbers, or slowly typed notes using the hunt and peck method. She talked to us ad nauseum about things I didn’t care about, and then we were all too overdone to ask about things we did care about.

This saga has a happy ending. Pediatrician #5 is wonderful. He is kindly, older, and has three children of his own. He is willing to talk and answer questions, but doesn’t lecture or bore me to tears. As a bonus he does everything himself, making appointments, weighing, measuring, and is lightning quick with vaccinations. He’s ever so slightly grumpy but that just helps us trust him more. A friend even told me he gave her young son’s teddy bear a check-up. That is dedication!

Looking for a pediatrician? Try these tips:

  • Go on more than one pediatrician interview.
  • Don’t wait until you’re 9 months pregnant for these interviews, because if you’re 9 months pregnant, you’ll probably decide to paint the nursery instead.
  • Do your research, both online and personally. Don’t just ask one friend, ask a whole community. Find out what the wait times are like, how their bedside manner is, how old they are, if they support breastfeeding, how they feel about sleep training, if they listen or if they talk too much.
  • Never stay with a pediatrician that makes you feel like you want to scream.
  • Keep looking! There is a Baby Dr. Right out there for every one.

Anything to add to my list? Or your own quest for a pediatrician story? I’m sure some moms-to-be would love to learn from you!