I’d been dreading this appointment ever since I booked it last week. The baby needed his first round of immunizations, but with the toddler’s recent development of loud, defiant behaviour, the idea of going alone with both of them to the doctor’s office was rather terrifying.
When I told my husband that I was considering leaving the toddler with a friend for an hour, he wasn’t very understanding: “You’re going to let his behaviour dictate whether or not you need to arrange babysitting every time you do something?!” He was right; leaving him behind would only be allowing his behaviour to control me, so I gave up that idea.
Off we went this morning after a lengthy chat on how to act in the doctor’s office. I sat down to nurse the hungry baby, because the only thing worse than comforting a baby after he gets two needles is trying to comfort him when he’s also ravenously hungry. When the nurse came to get us, the toddler was surprisingly compliant, choosing one small toy from the bunch to take with him into the room.
Then it got chaotic. The toddler only wanted to sit on the doctor’s swivel stool. Baby got naked for measurements and an exam. When the nurse took us out to weigh him, the toddler caught a glimpse of the distant play corner and high-tailed it in that direction. I had to leave a stark-naked infant on the scales to give chase.
Back in the confines of the room, the toddler drove his plastic bus over every available surface before deciding the appointment was done, and he even told the doctor so. He tried to let himself out of the room, since the door had one of those awful child-accessible handles. I found myself stretched between holding the baby on a chair and reaching to hold the door closed as the toddler yanked.
Time for the shots came. The toddler was burrowing his face in the baby’s shoulder, getting progressively rougher, as he tends to do. He began slapping the baby’s hand until the baby’s face crumpled up in protest. He lunged for the basket with the vaccines and needles, but the doctor whisked it out of the way just in time. Meanwhile, I was trying to encourage him to sit down, read a book, play with a different toy. No luck.
I produced a new toy from the diaper bag, which he then drove back and forth at a rapid speed and made such a loud noise that the doctor and I were yelling at each other over the racket. The toy also sang a tinny tune, which the toddler replayed non-stop. It provided strange accompaniment to the cries of the indignant baby. My questions for the doctor were partially hollered as I attempted to discuss things like a rational adult, dress the shivering baby with one hand, and settle the toddler with the other. Somehow, we finished with both needles in the right spot and all questions more or less answered. Baby is in the 99th percentile for weight, so no concerns there!
Then I picked up the heavy car seat, slung the overflowing diaper bag and my purse over the other arm, grabbed on to the toddler, and began the agonizingly slow, snail-speed trek across the parking lot to our car that I’m becoming so accustomed to, filled with observations about every vehicle we pass. “Mom, it’s a Charger! A Jeep! A scooter! Look at the camper van! Mom, look!”
Was there actually a time when I sat in waiting rooms and read magazines? When I had quick conversations with the doctor in which the only background noise was the hum of office and machines? When I could go into a bathroom stall alone, without two male witnesses? I hereby swear that if I ever again find myself in that situation, I won’t take it for granted, because going to the doctor with two kids is like going to the zoo while becoming one of the zoo exhibits yourself.