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How Often Do You Call Your Pediatrician’s Office?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I’m not—nor have I ever been—an over-caller. I wasn’t an over-caller with my OB/GYN when I was pregnant either. I think I made a couple of neurotic phone calls in the 9 ½ months I was pregnant. And since Preston was born, I haven’t called his pediatrician an obsessive amount—unless he’s running a high fever, throwing up, or having excessive diarrhea. Because my son wasn’t much of a mover and shaker for the better part of his first year, and wasn’t even walking till about 17 ½ months, it prevented injuries from happening. I think I took this for granted, because now that he’s discovered his inner daredevil, I am a nervous wreck, especially after this past weekend. He had two—count them, two!—injuries, that amounted to one after-hours phone call to the ped’s office (they charge $25 for after-hours phone calls, by the way!).

On Saturday night he took a spill off my parents’ bed, while he was alone with my seven-year-old niece. Preston knows how to get off the bed the “right” way, so I wasn’t concerned leaving them alone to watch—wait for it—Yo Gabba Gabba. But they have a mini staircase thingy leading up to their bed (for their dog), and that’s what he fell off of, head first, and when we found him he was dangling upside down, apparently unable to gather himself up. I think the fall scared him more than anything, because after a short period of hysterical crying he was fine and walking/running around again.

But the next morning his balance seemed off—he’s almost two, and only been walking since about 18 months, so he’s no pro athlete quite yet. He’s still toddling a bit, but he was especially off-balance on Sunday. My husband was golfing so I didn’t have anyone else here to tell me if I was being overly neurotic, so I called the doctor to be sure. She suggested I take him to the hospital if I thought he was showing any signs of a head injury from the fall (a carpeted fall, thankfully). There were no bumps or bruises—he’s actually shown a lot worse from smaller falls—but the balance thing worried me. He kept toppling over for no reason in particular.

As the day went on, his balance came back. By the time my husband came home from golf (I called in a panic so he left right away but it wasn’t exactly around the corner), Preston seemed every bit as balanced as he usually is. Jay didn’t see anything abnormal in his behavior, so we decided not to take him to the hospital. The doctor said to keep a close watch on him today to make sure he’s okay—earlier this morning he was a little wobbly, but as the day has gone on, again, he seems like himself. So I have yet to take him to the doctor… Maybe his balance is always off when he first wakes up? Or maybe I’m looking for something that isn’t there? I mean, he’s not the most solid walker/runner in the world. He’s always bumping his head into or on something.

His second injury happened while we were waiting for my husband to come home yesterday. I had put Preston in a “time out” in his crib, because despite having just dove head-first off my parents’ bed the other night, he kept trying to climb up on my bed, climb on my elliptical machine, the couch, anything he could climb on—after I kept saying “no” and "be careful." During his time out in his crib, he was jumping up and down, goofing around, while holding onto the side of it, and hit his mouth very hard (his crib is wrought iron) and split his lip open. The speed in which the blood came was frightening, but all things considered I think I handled it quite well. His face was covered in blood, as was I…but once he calmed down, all that was left were a slightly swollen lip and a shaken-up kid. It didn’t affect his appetite, yesterday or today. In fact, you can barely tell anything happened today. I didn’t call the doctor for that one, because aside from it being messy and painful, he didn’t chip a tooth or anything (thank GOD). It was just your run-of-the-mill toddler injury.

Would you have taken your kid to the doctor if either of these injuries happened? Am I being too blasé about it? I stayed home from work today to keep an eye on him, just in case. But I feel like a doctor visit isn’t necessary. He’s acting the same as he always does, and his balance seems better this afternoon than it did this morning. He’s not falling over inexplicably, or knocking into things (any more than usual).

Everyone says to go with your gut, which is why I called the doctor in the first place, but by the time my husband came home yesterday and I had a second pair of eyes on him—my gut said nothing was really wrong. Do you ever second-guess your gut though? My other fear is not one that’s easily settled—my son doesn’t seem to understand his own boundaries. As I’m typing this, he’s in his crib for his afternoon nap, jumping all over the place—I have no doubt he’s going to hurt himself again by doing this, but there’s nothing I can do to stop him. Or is there? Sometimes I wish I could keep him in a padded room until he's 10. I swear, ever since our trip to Michigan last weekend with my friend's family, whose kids are very strong and agile and can do flips and jump off couches without hurting themselves, he's been pushing his limits a little more.

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