Monday, October 11, 2010

Doctors and Elephants

We are in the finding-a-pediatrician stage of our pregnancy. We’ve asked friends, family, and Linda’s OB for recommendations, and we have started to set up initial visits. We had one today, and while we were getting ready, Linda said, “I feel like we’re going to a job interview.” I felt the same way, but I told her that we needed to approach it from the opposite perspective. We’re the ones doing the interviewing. They’re the ones that need to impress us. And that would be completely true if there was an endless supply of fantastic pediatricians, but there’s not. So, we have our priorities. We want to be sure that: 1. the pediatrician has some experience with vegan children and won’t automatically blame every cough and sniffle on the fact that we don’t feed them meat and 2. we want to be sure they will work with us to build a vaccine schedule that makes us comfortable. I’ve had moms tell me that doctors will sometimes administer four vaccines in one day, for “convenience.” I know I’m supposed to trust everything the doctor says, but four vaccines in a little body seems like a lot. I wouldn’t want them to give me four vaccines in one day. Maybe that makes me one of “those” parents, but so be it.

So, the visit was strange, but I’m sure it’s because I haven’t been to a pediatrician in decades. All those toys in the waiting room and the giant pictures of babies on the wall. It was disconcerting. A nurse pointed out the “sick” side and the “well” side of the building – your child’s health dictates where you go – and then she took us down the hall to a waiting room. A doctor came in a few moments later and went through the basics – hours, the staff, etc., and then asked if we had any questions. We fired our list at her and she did a good job answering them. Thorough and honest. The vaccine schedule is something they’re willing to adjust, and she went over the ones they recommend. She admitted that she didn’t know much about a vegan diet, but that the practice would be happy to work with us. She mentioned that most people get their protein from meat, but she was sure we could get protein from other sources. This was not the reassuring comment she meant it to be. Protein intake is a non-issue for vegetarians/vegans who eat a varied diet, but thanks to the meat/dairy industry, it’s a common misconception that without meat, protein is hard to come by. Non-meat eaters are constantly asked, “But where do you get your protein?” My favorite answer is to tell people to think of the largest land mammal in the world: the elephant. Imagine how much protein they need to maintain that mass. They do it without meat. It’s an oversimplification, I know, but so is the idea that meat is all you need for protein. Maybe I was asking for too much, but I was hoping the pediatrician would be beyond the protein question. Overall though, we got a good vibe from her and from the practice. She didn’t shake our hands when she left, which struck me as disappointing, but Linda says I expect too much. So, for now, the practice is on our “good” list.

39 days until baby.


  1. Bill, since Macie was 6 months old, we have split up her vaccine schedule so that she gets no more than 2 in a month. (They jab both legs at the same time, so it's only one real cry.) It has worked out very well. She has no fevers and really no side effects, and the crying lasts 30 seconds max.

    When she was 4 months, she got 6 in one visit, and that night she spiked a fever so quickly that she had one of those little baby seizures. That made up our minds very quickly. If we have another one, we're keeping it at 2 per month.

  2. Rely on friends' recommendations. I had a set vaccination schedule and when I came for a sick visit, was ambushed into giving unnecessary shots. Is there really an outbreak, today? Sometimes, I hate to say it, but the office is more about efficiency than care. Your friends will recommend someone that is excellent.