Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Teaching the tricks of bad parenting

"So," my friend Anne asked me one afternoon. "Have you ever lied to your pediatrician?"

"Probably," I said thinking of Eric's pediatrician. He's a bit of a worrier, and I never like to worry a doctor. They might decide they need to perform more tests and I really hate those.

"I lied to my doctor about 'tummy time'," she said. "I told him we were doing it when we weren't. It would just make her scream and I couldn't take it, and I really didn't want a lecture." Tummy time is the latest iteration of TBT (Total Baby Torture) wherein you put newborn babies on their tummies for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. The theory is that since we now put babies on their backs to sleep, to prevent SIDS, they aren't developing important muscles in their backs and necks. Either that, or there a bunch of doctors giggling out behind the ER smoking and telling each other: "I told a new mom to put her baby on his tummy for an twenty minutes. I'll bet that kid screams for a week after that!" Then the doctor in the green scrubs will say, "Yeah, well that's nothing *I* told a new parent to put their 2 week old on her tummy for a week." Mwa HaAA laughter will follow. Most new babies howl in righteous anger and rage when placed on their stomachs. New babies cry all the time for inexplicable reasons. They scream and scream and it's like a dentist drill into a parent's skull. That scream, that cry is a white hot pain that you'd cut your own arm off to soothe if you thought that was what it would take. It's insane to cause them to cry when all you need to do to get them to stop is flip them over.Then your pediatrician goes and tells you to do something that will CAUSE all that helpless screaming?

I don't think so.

"She'll be fine." I told my friend.

Then today another friend with a new baby was going through convulsion of guilt over her 3 week old daughter's hatred of tummy time. The baby hated it so much that she flipped from front to back, something 5 month old babies usually haven't mastered yet. It's such a dammed if you do, dammed if you don't kind of thing. If you do it, your baby screams and makes you physically sick. If you don't you are guilted by your pediatrician.

So, I said: "Do what I would do. Lie."

New babies love to be on their stomachs when they're on top of a person who is lying on their back. They hold their heads up and look at your face. For some insane reason, the medical profession doesn't think this counts as "real" Tummy Time. They're horizontal. They're on their stomach. They're not screaming. What's the problem?

So, I told her to just do that and tell the doctor. "Sure! She spends lots of time on her stomach every day." She'll like it better in a few weeks, and nobody on God's Green Earth could take that screaming voluntarily.

Get a clue Doctors, please. This parenting gig is hard enough without any of your stupid torture. I almost never put my daughter on her stomach unless she was on my chest, and now she spends most of her time that way. It's just not that important.


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