Monday, March 19, 2012

Clark Kent Takes a Back Seat.

Most parents would freak out about stuff like this. Not me.
The other day we went for O's one year old checkup. I don’t know how I spaced out that she was due for some vaccinations that day, and she could have gotten five (!), but we decided to do two and the the other three in a few months. Instead of seeing Dr. F, we got shuttled back to Dr. H,  which is fine but funny because we switched to Dr. F because Dr. H never had any openings. But whatever, we are easy, and I’m not too demanding. I’m not one of those overly protective dads where everything has to be super safe and perfect and my way. I am flexible. I don’t yell at waiters, and I always thank people when they assist me in any way, even if they are getting paid for it. What I’m trying to say is I am not one of those embarrassing overprotective parents who makes a major deal out of everything concerning their baby. At least I thought I was. But then I met Nurse Sally.

Nurse Sally (not her real name) was not a young woman fresh out of nursing school, but she seemed a little nervous when she first came into the room. As she went over the routine for measuring O's head and length and then prepped me for the weigh-in, it was as if she was reading from a memorized script in a foreign language. Stiff. Overly careful. But hey, I am a chill mofo and I knew the drill anyway, so I stripped O down and walked down the hall to the scale. It takes Nurse Sally a bit of fiddling to get it to the right settings and when she finally does and pronounces '20.9 pounds!’ I almost say something, because I know how to read a scale, even a fancy old school nurse’s office one with weights and gradations, and I am pretty damn sure it said 21.9 pounds. But, I was at an angle, she was reading it straight on, and after all she is the professional here, right? So, cool cat that I am, I let it slide, and don’t make a scene.

When Dr. H finally comes in she is all bubbly and joyous as usual and O lights up for her. As she brings up the graph with the new measurements added in, I mention that I thought the nurse maybe had read the scale wrong and shaved a pound off. Dr. H asks ‘Was it Sally? Yeah, she’s new. We’ll just adjust her weight accordingly on the chart.’ Not exactly a ringing endorsement of her staff, but whatever, no harm no foul.

The rest of the visit with Dr. H is great, all smiles and fun and games, but with the late start and all, we have been there over an hour  and by the time she leaves (after certifying that O was a genius, btw), O was getting a little antsy and we still had a few shots to go. But shots are quick, and we’ll get them over with and be on our way. Sally comes back in to tell us which ones O will be getting and to say that she will get them ready and be back in a few minutes. Why that wasn’t done during the 30 minute appointment is beyond me, but whatever. So we wait, and wait and wait. I take O outside and up and down the hall to keep her entertained, which is getting more and more difficult. I happen to walk by the nurse’s station and hear one of the other nurses telling Sally she needs to get things moving. She then asks that nurse to come in with her. By now I am impatient and losing my cool a bit, and Anne needs to get back to work.

Sally finally comes in with the needles and asks us to lie O down on the table. Knowing that O likes that as much as she likes sleeping in until 10, Anne and I both say we’d rather have one of us hold her on our laps instead. Sally looks perplexed by this, which seems strange for someone who works in a pediatrician’s office to not be familiar with this way of doing it. I do not wait for a response, confirm with Anne that I will be holding O and take her in my arms and sit down in the chair. The following conversation ensues as Sally looks down at O with a look that can only be described as a cross between confusion and drowning:

Good nurse: Are you ok with this?
Sally: Ummm, yeah, I think so.
Good nurse: Because you have to be sure her leg does not move.
Sally: That’s why we’ve always done it lying down.
Good nurse: But do you think you can do it this way? You have to be sure.
Sally: Umm, yeah. Yeah.

And that, my friends, is when cool cat laid back daddy-o left the building and his alter-ego, Protector Man stepped in.

Me: No, I don’t want you giving the shots.
Sally: What?
Me: If you are not confident, you are not giving the shots to my daughter.
Sally: But
Me, steamrolling through: No offense, really, but we have been here a while already, she is on edge and I do not want anything to go wrong. You can practice on someone else. I want this over as quickly as possible with no room for error.
Sally: Oh, well OK…
Me, to Good nurse: Can you give the shots please?
Good nurse: Of course.

30 seconds later, the shots were done, and within a minute O was done crying. As we got her dressed Sally came back in with some information sheets and gave them to us with a stilted explanation. It was obvious she was pissed or embarrassed and I felt sort of bad but when it comes down to her feelings versus my baby, my baby wins every time. That’s how Protector Man rolls.

On the way out I saw Good Nurse and quietly said I hope I didn’t offend anyone and she assured me not to worry about it. At the desk as we were checking out Dr. H came out to say goodbye: ‘So I heard Good Nurse administered the shots? Good.’ I didn’t quite know how to take that.

It wasn’t until after we got home that we realized one of the info sheets Sally had given us was for the wrong vaccination! I will be amazed if she is still there next time we go back.

So sure, it’s cool to be laid back, but sometimes daddy has to step up. Some days require a little less Clark Kent, a little more Superman.


  1. That was a great read, good storytelling. Not to steal your thunder, but I'd totally do the same thing!


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