Who among us has ever lied to their pediatrician? “Not me, I would never!” says every mom, everywhere. We would never knowingly lie, especially when it comes to the health and well being of our little ones. Yet looking back, is it so hard to believe that a little white lie may have reared its head into our doctor appointments? In an effort to be the best parents we can be, we sometimes exaggerate, downplay, omit, or simply forget to bring things up. In many cases, we don’t even believe we’re doing it. We’re human, after all.
These days, we all want to be the best parent possible – and we want others to see us as the best parent possible. With the advent of the Super Mom, it’s become a coveted badge we aim to proudly display.
Parents fear being seen as “less than”, or judged on their most important job in the world: parenting. That’s where the little lies start coming in. You may think a few fibs won’t affect much, but it can affect what medication is being prescribed, what advice you’re offered from your pediatrician, and weakens the essential bond between parent and doctor.
Understanding how we can make our pediatrician’s life easier will allow them to better diagnose our children and get them the resources they need. To do so, it’s important to understand and watch for these little omissions popping up.
The truth is vital when it comes to your relationship with your pediatrician, not sporting some Super Mom badge. Take a read through the potential ways you may be letting a lie slip into your appointment, to ensure you’re keeping things on the straight and narrow.
15 Breastfeeding Hasn’t Been That Bad
Everyone says it’s one of the most natural things in the world. But I’m guessing that most people who say that haven’t actually been through breastfeeding themselves. Let’s be real mamas, it can be hard. Especially in those early weeks when you’re getting accustomed to feeding your babe, there can be soreness, latch problems, sore tummies and even infections.
Yet we as women feel the need to represent this image that we’ve got it covered. It’s one of, if not your main job throughout the first few months of having a child, and admitting that you’re struggling can be difficult. Why is it so important to be honest? Because in many cases, it’s the main, if not only source of sustenance for your little one. If they’re not gaining weight as quickly as you like, be straight with your doc on this one.
14 My Baby Doesn’t Cry That Much
Babies are supposed to cry, right? And sure, mine is fussy, but they don’t cry that much more than other babies…right? But sometimes – they do. A baby that seems fussier than normal can be extremely taxing on a recovering new mom. All you want to do is love and care for this little bundle, and they won't. stop. crying.
To make it seem like things are normal and you’re handling them, you may downplay just how strong of a set of lungs your little one has. But babies who cry for multiple hours per day could be suffering from colic or something else. Don’t be afraid to let the real story out and try to track the hours that crying happens, especially if you’ve met all their basic needs with a full belly, good burp, clean diaper and topped up on naps. A baby who can’t stop crying does NOT mean you’re a bad mom. But it does mean that the pediatrician can help work through why it’s happening, and how to help. Speak up, mama.
13 Screen Time? What Screen Time?
Unlike previous generations when it was completely acceptable to plop a toddler down in front of the TV for hours on end, there are now recommendations limiting screen time for children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children 2 to 5 years old should be limited to one hour of screen time a day. Infants aged 18 months and younger? They should have access to none.
Though we all aim to adhere to any recommendations that will help our little ones, you’d be hard pressed to find a mom who hasn’t succumbed at least once to the lure of an interactive iPad game, or an episode of Baby Einstein. While I don’t allow it in our house, I’ve certainly been known to pull out a screen to get through a long flight with our toddler. When trying to represent yourself as an amazing mom who would never allow screens in your house, this may be one white lie that slips out.
12 She Has Great Eating Habits
When our child was ready to start solids, we had an excellent plan in place. We would skip the refined grains and fruit purees, serve only mushed vegetables and proteins, and we could avoid the toddler tantrums where kids refuse to eat anything other than plain pasta with butter. It sounds great in theory, right?
Fast forward to our two-year-old, who now won’t lay a hand on a vegetable other than potatoes, and meal time can be a true power struggle. Despite the best-laid plans, children have a mind of their own. It’s now a struggle to ensure our little one is getting the best mix of nutrients each week. I remember boasting to the pediatrician about how great an eater she was in the first year, sitting high on the percentile charts, and feeling that sense of pride that comes with it. It’s hard to not crave that validation again. But remember, being honest about the struggles only allow doctors to support you through finding the right mix that will work for your unique, strong, independent little one.
11 Motherhood Has Been Wonderful!
Listen, if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that even though there are some wonderful moments in parenthood, it is so much work. When chatting with your doctor about how things have been going, we can be tempted to smile through bleary eyes and say that everything has been wonderful. But who is that really helping?
Being honest with yourself and your doctor around how challenging you’re really finding things is not only okay, it’s recommended. And here’s the key thing – it doesn’t make you a bad mom. I consider the first 3 months of having a newborn the “just get through it” stage. Sounds wonderful right? Dealing with the physical recovery and emotional adjustment to this life is one of the hardest things many women go through, in our entire lives. So why paste on a false mask of success? Your pediatrician can help work through a plan or refer you to someone who can. And accepting help? That’s the truest sign of inner strength.
10 It’s Ok, I Know What That Is
Have you ever wandered around on Web MD and self-diagnosed an issue? It’s tempting to think that your one hour of research has hit the nail on the head. This can mean not bringing something up to your doctor, or telling them that you know what it is and swaying their opinion.
But remember – your pediatrician has gone through thousands of hours of training compared to your one online session. Let them do their job and ask the right questions that you may not have thought of. They’re usually excellent at connecting dots, and can look at things in ways we may have never thought of. The best recommendation is to have an idea in the back of your mind, and see if the doctor comes to the same conclusion on their own. If they did – great, and it corroborates your thoughts. And if not, it’s a great time to bring up your thoughts, while also having another option to consider.
9 We Followed The Medication Perfectly
Have you ever missed a single dose of medication? Ever poured out an amount of medication that was slightly less than a full dose? We all have. Saying that you’ve been a chemist when it comes to dolling out the exact medication at the exact time (when you haven’t), only causes confusion when a pediatrician is trying to monitor progress.
You might think that being accurate 90% of the time means that you’ve been on the ball. But think hard and try to remember any exceptions. This avoids a scenario of increasing medication when it’s not needed. Being accurate may be the key differentiator in helping get to the bottom of what’s been going on, and making sure your little one is back in tip-top shape in no time!
8 No Family History Of That
Do you know the medical history of your family? What about your extended family? Your grandparents on both sides? Most of us don’t know everything, and there’s no better time to start finding out then when you become a parent. We know that a lot of medical issues are passed down through generations, and many of these can start popping up in childhood, from skin conditions, to motion sickness, to more serious issues.
Taking the time to learn and get up to speed on what your family history is, gives you an educated answer to the question “Does she have any family history of it?”. Trying to remember off the top of your head isn’t going to include everything, so making a cheat sheet (which can be useful for your siblings as well) is a great way to ensure you’re ready to speak about things accurately.
7 He Never Sleeps Outside Of His Crib
A great number of parents believe that it's not safe for kids under 1 year old to sleep in their parent's bed. Yet it’s so tempting in the wee hours of the morning to let your sleepy child snuggle up against you when the alternative is them waking and wailing the moment they’re placed in their crib. I used to marvel at how our daughter could be in the deepest sleep, yet her eyes popped open the moment the crib touched her back.
It’s easy to let this little white lie slip in – no doctor, she never sleeps with us. But who are you kidding? It’s best to develop a sense of honesty in your parent-pediatrician relationship. If you let little fibs like this start floating in, it’s easy to start letting others creep in too. Remember, that they’re there to help you more than the other way around.
6 Exaggerating Symptoms
I get it, when something is wrong with your child, it’s almost as if time stops. Nothing else seems to matter, and your worries start to skyrocket to worst case scenarios. Before you know it, you’re at your child’s doctor’s office in a panic. One unintended side effect of this? It’s easy to overplay the symptoms to make the doctor feel the same sense of urgency you have.
It’s important for pediatricians to have the right understanding of what’s going on. If not, it can lead to things like unnecessary tests, running around to various clinics, and medication that’s not necessary for your little one’s body. It can be hard to detail exactly what’s been happening, so try to keep a record of what's happening to your child as much as possible so that you’re not relying on your memory in a moment of panic.
5 Downplaying Symptoms
Similar to the previous point, sometimes we can have a tendency to downplay, or even overlook symptoms as well. I’m guessing I was not the only sleep-deprived mama trying to keep track of every feeding, every sleep cycle, every burp. Especially if you have more than one child to keep your eyes on, it can be easy to miss small symptoms that you may not correlate.
That’s why doctors are trained to ask the right questions and to probe about things you haven’t thought of, like sleep patterns, eating patterns, activity level, milestones, etc. But you can help them. Even if you don’t have time to document every little thing, come prepared to speak to all these points, and be open to thinking about things you hadn’t thought of before. Pediatricians and parents are a team, and when you work together everyone wins.
4 Not Revealing All The Symptoms
Sometimes not only do we downplay symptoms, but worse – we omit them altogether. Whether we think they’re irrelevant, unrelated, embarrassing, or unimportant, it’s easy to leave the doctor’s office and smack your forehead realizing you forgot something vital. I’ve been in that sleep deprived situation, and have had to call back sheepishly asking if I could mention one more thing to the doctor over the phone. You’re then at the mercy of the gate keeping receptionist (side tip: develop a great relationship with your pediatrician’s receptionist – I recommend bringing cookies).
I’ve learned over the years, to make a list and stick to it. Even when pregnant, I would keep a running tally of all the questions, test reminders and weird symptoms that came up in between OB appointments. I then make notes during the appointment, and left with all my questions answered, able to update my hubby on the results.
3 Oh, I Never Knew That!
Whether it’s the doctor’s office or not, I think we’ve all been guilty of feigning ignorance to get out of trouble. It happens with teachers, with bosses, with speeding enforcement officers, and yes, with doctors. We as humans hate to get reprimanded and often do as much as we can to avoid criticism of any kind. That’s why all of these white lies pop up in the first place.
When you get called out for doing something wrong, it’s easy to defer to the old standby of “Oh, I didn’t know!”. And it’s okay to do so occasionally. But ignorance is not something we should ever be proud to be associated with. You’ve learned so much about this new world of parenting, mama, and it’s far better to be seen as a pro in whatever you do. Be educated, come prepared, and if there is something new that you learn, show appreciation and write it down. Remember, you and your doc are in this together, and the more they think you’re educated when it comes to your child’s health, the more open they’ll naturally become with you.
2 We’ve Been Busy
An excellent excuse to miss appointments (insert sarcastic tone here)! I get it, there are a lot of appointments when you have children. From the first year of life, there are numerous checkups, vaccinations, visits to the lactation consultant, follow up appointments with your OB. And as children get older, there are play dates, dance lessons, birthday parties, and soccer practices to attend. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have realized after the fact that you forgot to schedule an appointment, or missed it altogether.
This is one case where the “lie” may in fact be true. But “we’ve been busy” isn’t a great excuse for not staying on top of pediatrician appointments. Arguably, there’s little else that is as important to attend. So do what you need to stay on top of them. Whether it’s a day planner, your phone’s calendar, a family chalkboard in the kitchen, or another way you stay on top of things, write down each and every appointment, including follow up times. Your children (and your pediatrician’s receptionist!) will thank you.
1 She’s Way Ahead In Her Milestones
Yes, I know. We all get caught up in the milestones. It’s impossible to not compare your child with the others on the playground, and have an inner sense of pride that yours rolled over, learned how to count to 20, or started speaking in full sentences before the average. I personally was tickled pink when our daughter rolled over weeks before she was ‘supposed’ to.
This causes us to over exaggerate (and let’s be honest, brag) to our pediatricians about how great our kids are doing. This can lead to a false sense of security, as you likely haven’t been tracking every single potential metric. Let the doctor do their own analysis. You can get excited when you hear they’re ahead of the curve, but try to temper that excitement with knowing they may be under in some too – and that’s okay.