Our pediatrician was too busy to see Zack for his one-year appointment; so I scheduled a check-up with the nurse practitioner. I have since decided that I love our pediatrician because he never clicks his tongue at me or implies that any Belknap sickness or injury is my fault. Not so with the nurse practitioner who is the Dr. Phil of health care providers. Halfway through the exam and her accompanying inquisition I expected her to ask, “You call that motherhood? How's that working for yah?”
The first few questions were a breeze. I began to answer confidently, bouncing Zack on one hip. I thought the nurse might nominate me for Mother of the Year.
“Is Zack off formula?” she asked.
“And eating solids regularly?”
“Is he still drinking out of a bottle?”
That is when the appointment took a nose-dive. She looked at me over her clipboard. “That has to stop.” She went on to explain how it's best if babies are off the bottle by the time they're 15-months old.
“Is he sleeping through the night?” she asked.
I shifted Zack to my other hip. “No.”
“What do you do when he wakes up?”
“Give him a bottle.”
She looked over her clipboard again, and then looked back down, clicking her tongue. She would have called security if Utah Pediatrics had the staff for it. I wanted to scream out, “I haven't had a good night sleep in two years, or a room to myself in over three. He just wants a bottle and I just want to sleep. Win, win, right?” But I kept silent and swallowed the guilt trip like a good girl.
“When they fall asleep with a bottle, the milk is trapped in the roof of their mouth where it can rot their front two teeth.” I looked at Zack; the thought of him toothless at two began to take hold.
“And about the solids, is he eating from all food groups now?”
“Yes,” I said. Back on track.
I wondered if this was a trick question. “Yes,” I said. “He eats chicken sometimes.” I should have stopped there, but I tried to be funny, lighten the mood. “Does hot dog count as meat?”
Ms. Nurse Practitioner didn't crack a smile. “It counts,” she said. “But not as something good.”
After a good long lecture on the importance of training Zack to sleep through the night, and a short tangent through the evils of hot dog manufacturing, I was ready to go home and have a big drink myself. But the nurse practitioner realized something Dr. Wilcox hadn't, something inherently understood by women and not men. Guilt is an amazing motivator. Because less than two-hours after I got home, I had moved Zack's portable crib from our bedroom to the kids' room, put his bottles away, and decided that he was going to start sleeping through the night that very night.
And you know what? I got the best night's sleep I had in more than 3 years. Who said guilt trips aren't healthy? I just might schedule all my appointments with the nurse practitioner. Sorry Dr. Wilcox, but sometimes a good bedside manner gets a mom nothing but sleepless nights.