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When There's a Doctor In the House

In many ways, parenting can be both harder and easier for pediatricians than for those of us without medical degrees. While all parents are anxious, four years of medical school leaves many pediatricians with a mental checklist of rare childhood ailments to worry about. "As a pediatrician, you know more horror stories," says Marla Mikelait, M.D., a pediatrician at Temple Children's Hospital, in Philadelphia, and the mother of 16-month-old Julian. "During pregnancy, I had all of these fears about what would be wrong with him. And I still think that every time he gets a fever."

Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, mother of Andy, 9, and Julia, 6, and the author of Baby 411, experienced her own freak-out when her daughter developed a series of brown birthmarks that can indicate a disease called neurofibromatosis, which can cause tumors in the brain and ear. "Six marks or fewer are benign. My daughter has twelve. The day she developed number seven, I sat in the bathroom crying, looking at her naked," she says. "My husband said, 'Will you please let someone else examine her? You're not objective here.' She went through a battery of tests and is a perfectly normal child. Those aren't the kinds of things that keep other moms up at night. But all parents have a license to worry."

For Alan Greene, M.D., a pediatrician at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford and the author of From First Kicks to First Steps, medical training helped him be more involved in caring for the baby than he would have been as a clueless new father. "Dads can feel left out because they don't always know a lot about kids. Knowing so much as a pediatrician made me enjoy and savor the moments more and made it far easier for me to be a dad," says the father of four, who had his first child while still in medical school.