Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The ghosts in the pediatrician's exam room

This week, I took Ben for his annual checkup. We haven't been to the pediatrician a lot this past year and a half; being home a lot, masks and boatloads of sanitizer means nobody's getting sick as much. Ever ponder how infrequently your children washed their hands before all this started?! I do.

As we waited (and waited) in the exam room for the doctor to show up (some of you may recall I have Feelings about the waits at this practice) and Ben stared at my phone (proven whining antidote), I looked around and could not believe that I've been coming here for 18 years. And yes, that's the math—Max is going to be 19 in a couple of months. NINETEEN. 

I stared at the baby scale and couldn't believe any of my children were ever tiny enough to fit on it.

I stared at the standing scale and remembered what it was like to hold up Max's tiny body when he wasn't able to balance himself on it.

I could practically hear Max's sobs in the room—until he was around 5 or 6, he couldn't handle coming here (or, really, anywhere).  

I could viscerally feel the anxiety that flooded through me when I'd come for for Max's checkups. I dreaded talking about developmental stuff, because Max was so far behind and it took me a long time to realize that he was on his own unique curve. 

I remembered sitting on the crinkly paper, as I held Max in my arms, tears flowing as the kindly pediatrician tried to give me hope.  

Ben's doc came in. Check, check, check, check—he's doing great. 

I looked at the measuring tape poking out of her pocket. Max did not like the feel of it being wrapped around his head. For me, it was a whole other kind of torture—the small size of his head (microcephaly was a result of his stroke) made me terrified for his future. I mean, pretty much everything made me terrified about what the future held for my beautiful boy but getting the cold hard stats about the diminished size of his brain sank me. Now I know that it was no prediction of just how amazing Max would turn out. 

Ben brought me back to the present.

"You want to see my muscles?" he asked the doctor, and he flexed and she said "You're strong!" and I smiled. 

"It's my birthday!" he informed her. (It was the previous week). "I'm SIX!" 

"You're getting old," she agreed.

After the doctor left, I sat down next to Ben on the exam room table to wait for the medical assistant to do a vision check. He leaned into me and I felt the warmth of his little body. And suddenly, once again, it was just the two of us in that exam room. The ghosts had gone. 


  1. The passage of time - and the ghosts of medical visits past - always amaze me too. That is a long history and memories you have with this doctor! Happy birthday to Ben!


Thanks for sharing!

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