Doctor visits give me anxiety, not just medically (I have panic attacks when my blood is drawn…) but also because of cost and even more so that I never seem to be on the same page as any doctor I have seen. Our family doesn’t have a pediatrician, but for the past couple of years we have seen a family doctor in our town. She is a wonderful little lady who is like the ultimate farmer’s doctor, and she leans on the natural side which I have always appreciated and the reason we decided to start seeing her.
Originally I felt like she was very supportive of breastfeeding, very supportive of my aversion to antibiotic usage, delayed/select vaccinating and very supportive of my parenting style. I felt safe and comfortable asking her questions, and I trusted her advice and recommendations.
Then we went into the practice when A was close to 9 months old. A had a terrible cough and had a fever, so we just wanted to double check that everything was okay. Our doctor wasn’t available, and the other doctor there that day saw us. She made me feel like a TERRIBLE mother. She was appalled I was still breastfeeding, appalled that we co-slept. She told me I would reap the consequences of my bad parenting choices. I walked out of the office that day with a sick baby diagnosed with croup, trying hard to fight back tears.
The next visit, A’s 9 month well check, we saw our own doctor again. After she reviewed Allister’s height, weight gain, etc., she told me she would like me to start supplementing with formula because A hadn’t gained any weight. I was shocked. I told her I did not want to do that and she made me feel really self-conscious of my choice. I then realized why her growth curve showed not much change- the last 3 visits we had at the office, Allister was weighed with diaper on, with clothes and diaper on, and totally naked. The assistants who did the weighing didn’t have a standard way of doing things, and based on whether or not she had a wet diaper, her weight could have been significantly off. Allister is in the 5th-7th percentile normally, and has been since tiny infancy. At 22 months now, she still is in this same percentile category. She is petite- but so am I. It is normal for her. I voiced this but was blown off and once again recommended to begin formula and to come back in a month for a re-weighing.
I listened to my gut. I never scheduled a reweighing appointment and I didn’t touch formula and instead continued to breastfeed. Allister didn’t really start eating meals until she was closer to her first birthday and even then breast milk was her main source of nourishment past her first birthday. We made the executive decision to permanently halt well check visits. What is the point of taking her in when the information we would get was invalid and carelessly recorded anyway? At that point in time we had decided not to vaccinate until after she was done nursing, so she didn’t need to go. (As far as vaccines go at this point, we are currently a non-vax family. However, that is always subject to change at a point where my husband and I make up our minds and feel settled on a choice. We are not settled right now, and that is why we are not doing anything yet.)
Then Zoelie needed a checkup before she could attend preschool. We took Z in to the doctor because we didn’t have anywhere else to go. The doctor was as sweet as ever to us and didn’t say much about how we had stopped coming in for well checks with Allister. She was wonderful with Zoelie; she let her listen with the stethoscope and answered the millions of questions Zoelie asked her. Then she noticed I was pregnant again and asked how it was going.
I told her it was going great. And that Allister was still nursing. She looked at me with eyes the size of softballs and asked if it was even possible to still be nursing. Her tone was very disapproving and I realized that not only did I want to find a new doctor for Allister, but for our whole family. Even though our doctor was really nice, I wanted someone who supported the challenges and ups and downs of attachment parenting and natural parenting. Someone I could ask questions to without feeling like my admittance of an issue or difficulty with co-sleeping or tandem nursing or baby-led weaning was going to make me look or feel like a bad parent.
It isn’t easy to just up and find a new doctor or a new practice. Besides finding someone who has similar values regarding health care, we also have to consider our insurance situation. We are an uninsured family because my husband’s job doesn’t provide an opportunity for it. Paying out of pocket for coverage is something we did for a long time, but we can’t afford it anymore, especially when most of the things we needed were not covered anyway and our payments were the equivalent of a second mortgage. A few weekends ago my husband was snow blowing our driveway and was clearing out the pipe where the snow comes out because it was clogged. The fan inside hit his fingers and he broke two of them – very painful for him and very scary for us because if he didn’t have hands, we wouldn’t get to eat. This made us realize that wow; we can’t keep ignoring the fact that we are not covered. We are about to have 3 kids and we NEED health care.
This realization had great timing because I needed to see a general practitioner in preparation for my homebirth. My midwife recommended an AWESOME doctor, and I just got to go see her for the first time recently. Not only is she supportive of homebirth (she had one herself!), and supportive of extended breastfeeding and tandem nursing, but half of her clientele is delayed/selective/non-vax, she supports natural remedies, holistic care, yet sees the necessity for medical treatment in certain situations. The perfect balance for me!
The best part of this is that she participates in a payment solution called “community supported family medicine.” You basically pay an affordable membership fee to her practice each month. (Additional members are only $15 per month if that gives you an idea of how affordable!) With that membership fee, you get to come into her office however many times per month you need to. Her office visits are an hour long, she sits and chats with you and makes you feel super comfortable. You can bring up as many issues you are having at once, instead of needing different appointments for different ailments. If you need stitches- you don’t pay anything else extra except for $20 for the suturing supplies! She also has fabulously inexpensive lab rates. We are just getting ready to try this out and see how it works for our family, but I think the idea of it is totally amazing.
Our plan is to have our regular care with her, and then find either high-deductible or emergency insurance for hospital visits, etc. Hopefully this will provide a better safety net around us. My husband’s finger accident was a big wake-up call for both of us. And now our new baby will get her well check visits (I like the reassurance that my kids are on track and doing well) without feeling like we are paying for something we don’t need, or feeling judged for our choices or even having to keep secrets from our care provider. This takes away so much of my medical care anxiety. What a blessing!
Do any of you participate in something like this? I would love to hear about it and how it works for your family!