Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Check ups

We took the girls to the doctor for well-child visits last week, even though we did well-child visits before Benjamin was born so that we could get Rachel's kindergarten shots done because we didn't know how long it would get us to get insurance sorted out when we got here (apparently it took us until November). I suppose Miriam was due for her three-year-old well-child visit, anyway, so it was actually good timing to take her in but they gave Rachel an appointment as well so that she could be an "established" patient in the clinic, which makes getting a sick-child appointment easier, I guess.

Our clinic is amazing. We walked into the lobby and just stood there, staring at the walls. The whole clinic was covered in a mural of animals—camels at the pyramids, penguins in Antarctica, monkeys swinging from trees, butterflies chasing each other through the sky. It was beautiful.

We felt pretty lucky to end up with such a great clinic since I basically chose blindly. The clinic some of my friends recommended wasn't receiving new patients so this was the other close one so I chose it. When the receptionist asked if I had a doctor I'd prefer to make an appointment with I just said, "A nice one?"

We got one!

First of all, it's a she. Rachel wasn't quite sure that a doctor could be a girl because she's only ever seen boy doctors in her short little life. Growing up, I had some fantastic girl doctors.

Dr. Ewart (was it?) in BC. That's also the name I'm coming up with for my teacher in grade I might not be right on the money here. But it was something vowel-like.

Dr. Vice in High River. Also not sure that's entirely correct.

Dr. Geary in Orem.

Females, all.

Rachel's had Dr. Olsen, Dr. Omar, and Dr. Pratte—all males. She was quite surprised when a girl walked into the room. Andrew and I were quite surprised when someone our age walked into the room. We're just getting old, that's all. Pretty soon we'll walk into the doctor's office to find someone younger than us staring us in the face.

She's a really nice doctor. The girls warmed up to her right away and she spent a lot of time talking to them instead of about them to us.

She had Rachel show off some cognitive skills, such as opposites, spelling her name, drawing a person, copying shapes, and so forth. Miriam kept begging for her turn and the doctor kept letting her.

Apparently a five-year-old should be able to:

  • copy a square and a triangle
  • draw a cross as well as a picture of a person with at least three parts
  • state their first and last name
  • print their first name
  • retell a story
Both girls passed off the five-year cognitive milestones with flying colours (though truthfully Miriam still struggles with getting the letters of her name in order; they're all there, just in the wrong order). 

Rachel is smack dab in the 50th percentile for weight (49.90% if we must be exact). She's 18.6 kg (or 41 lbs and 0.1 oz (our clinic is nothing but precise)). She's a little taller, though, measuring 112 cm (or 3 feet 8.09 inches), which puts her in 67th percentile (and in the 40th percentile for her BMI).

"Her numbers are just beautiful!" our doctor crooned. "Just what I like to see!"

The doctor skipped over making Miriam demonstrate her cognitive skills (colours, pronouns, being understood by strangers 75% of the time, knowing 1000 words) because she was busy chatting up a storm and demonstrated quite clearly that she's got things under control. 

She's "a little on the small side" but still on the charts so nobody's worried. 

At three years old, Miriam is 90.5 cm tall (2 feet, 11.63 inches) and weighs 11.9 kg (26 lbs. 3.8 oz). That's the 12th percentile for height and the 7th for weight. She's in the 14th percentile for BMI. 

As odd as this sounds, that teeny, tiny premature baby we had five months ago might pass her up in the not-too-distant future. He's really packing on weight (you know, with his twelve pounds) and she's still so petite. She's barely double his size! To think she was my meatiest baby, with big chubby cheeks and thunder thighs! 

You just never can tell how things are going to play out—Rachel was my biggest at birth but Miriam completely chunked out by a couple of months, beating out Rachel's growth charts. Benjamin was my smallest at birth (obviously) but I predict he'll be a bigger three-year-old than Miriam. You never can tell, though...

Our doctor recommended that our family get the flu shot because we really don't want to bring any germs home to our sweet preemie-born baby (as Rachel likes to call him). He's already battled through his first cold and, frankly, it wasn't very fun. We'd like him to stay as healthy as possible this holiday season so we signed the papers giving permission for our girls to get the shots (the spray was out of the question since our doctor won't do the spray "if there's wheezing in the household;" since Miriam had to be treated with albuterol as a baby the spray was out of the question for her and Rachel (who vomits when she coughs; the doctor said this wasn't anything to worry about and we can expect Rachel to grow out of it by the time she enters junior high (so only five more years; yay))).

Neither of the girls wanted shots and voiced their opinions loudly.

"I got mine!" our doctor said. "It hardly hurt at all."

"Show it to me," Miriam said. I'm pretty sure she thinks bandaids are shots.

"I don't have it anymore," the doctor explained. "It's not something I can show you. It's just a little prick and then it's done."

"Okay," Miriam said.

"No! I'm not getting a shot! I got all my kindergarten shots! I don't need any boosters until later—they said that the last time I got a shot! I don't want a shot. I hate shots!" Rachel screamed.

"I'll go get the nurse," our doctor said and popped out the door.

She popped back in with some books for the girls. Apparently our clinic has a reading program and they give out books at doctor visits...for the children to take home. We love books at our house (you can read about me being emotional about books here) so this won the doctor some serious brownie points and helped distract the girls from their impending doom shots.

The nurse came in and suggested that big sister go first. They always do that; they always think that Rachel will be the brave big sister, showing her little sister how quick, easy, and painless getting shots is. That is not the case. In our family it's the little sister who shows the big sister how quick, easy, and painless getting a shot is.

"Let's do Miriam first," I suggested, handing Benjamin to Andrew and scooping up Miriam's 26 pound frame and setting her on the exam table. 

The nurse gave her a shot, Miriam almost let out a scream but stifled it when she noticed the bandaid was pink. "They gave me a pink shot, Rachie!" Miriam said. "What colour is Rachie's shot going to be? Can she have a pink shot, too?"

Then it was Rachel's turn. Oh, boy. 

Both the doctor and the nurse had commented on our "bringing the whole crew in." There were several reasons for this. First of all, I don't drive to unknown locations. I'm not a pioneer or navigator or GPS follower when it comes to driving. I drive to the school. I drive to church. I drive to Kathleen's house. I also drove to the store once.

I don't drive to new places. That might mean having to turn around (we did) or getting lost (we did) or having to park in a crowded parking lot (we did). Andrew drives to new places first so that he can scope them out with me. 

Second, I don't take Rachel to get shots anymore. I have taken our girls to every doctor's appointment for the past five years. And I've been able to wrestle them onto the table and hold them down for their shots, too. But Rachel's kindergarten shots were the last straw. I simply can't take her to get shots anymore. She's about as big as I was in grade four and she's only in kindergarten. I'm tall and willowy and no where near the 50th percentile for my BMI. I can't physically restrain my kindergartener. Not when she's in fight or flight mode. 

Third, I try not to go out in public with three children by myself. I don't have that many arms. 

I put Miriam down on a chair and then tried to pick up Rachel, who was clinging to Andrew, who was holding Benjamin. 

No good.

"Come on, Rachel," I prodded, pulling at her arms. 

"I'm not getting a shot," she said, rooting her feet into the ground.

"Well, actually, you are. It's a split second of pain to stave off a full week of agony."

"I'm not getting a shot."

Rachel and I were at an impasse. We were making our way no where, playing tug-of-war with each other's arm sockets, and neither one of us was willing to make a verbal compromis either. There wasn't any middle ground to work with—she was either going to lose the battle and get the shot or win the battle and not—so we stood in the middle of the room, gridlocked. I had her under control. She hadn't fled through the door leaving a Rachel-shaped hole in her wake, but we weren't getting any closer to the table either.

Seeing that there was no way I was going to be able to get Rachel onto the exam table by myself, our nurse suggested, "You grab the top, Mom. I'll grab the feet."

So together the nurse and I carried Rachel, kicking, screaming, and writhing, over to the table. 

Rachel all but flew right back off of it. I pinned her down but was losing my grip fast. 


I let go of her and tagged Andrew in, happy to be left with Benjamin and Miriam (who sat on my lap and watched Rachel's fit in bewilderment).

Andrew pinned her down easily (what she meant to be screaming was "I need my daddy to pin me down because there's no way my mother's going to be able to hold me still for this!" but that's hard to get out when you're using all your energy being an octopus/banshee/crazy person).

Rachel got her shot (a pink one!) and then continued to scream for the next ten minutes or so. Seriously.  And then she cried the whole way home—Andrew had to carry her (and Miriam) out to the van because neither of them "could" walk—and continued to cry at home until she realized that it really didn't hurt. Miriam had gone into the bathroom, peeled off her "shot" and showed Rachel how good her leg felt now that her shot was gone. 

Silly kids.

The visit must've been a good experience overall because Rachel has added "doctor" to the list of things she wants to be when she grows up.


  1. Rachel is such a drama queen! It is nice to be on this side of it, giggling at it, rather than in your position, living through it!

    Dr. Ewert was our PoCo doctor. Trish Ewert. And I believe your teacher was also Miss Ewert.

    Dr. Nancy Veiss (like Heiss!) was our High River doctor.

  2. I realized when we moved here than almost all of our doctors have been female. In IN we had a male doctor, but otherwise everywhere Gareth goes he's surrounded by women. All his teachers have been women so far (though he saw several dads help out in the classroom in pre-K), his doctor here is a woman, and even our dentist is a woman. Which is pretty awesome because I remember the idea of women being doctors/dentists seeming a bit foreign when I was a kid. Apparently Canada was already more progressive than the US at that time!

  3. Our dentist in BC was a woman, too! In fact, all the dentists in that office were female. :o)

  4. Oh...and our dentist's office in High River, AB, were all women, too!