July 9, 2012

The Summer Series - Dr. Melissa Arca

I'm thrilled to have today's guest visit my blog. She's one of my favorite online connections, and another parenting expert to boot. Though her area of expertise is a little different - Melissa is a pediatrician.

She writes a popular blog, Confessions of a Dr. Mom, as well as articles for her local paper and the parenting site AllParenting. To name a few.

I'll admit when I first began communicating with her, I thought some of the same things others do - wow, she must have this motherhood thing down. And I have taken advantage of our friendship and asked her advice a time or two. Her philosophy on parenting is a great fit with my own, and I trust her.

But I have learned as a mom Melissa is just like the rest of us. She's trying to do the best she can and is figuring out as she goes along...

Dr. Mom

When new mom friends find out what I do (aside from being Mom), they often have plenty to say or ask. Most of it is just plain curiosity, like… how are you here, at the park, in the middle of the day? Or, that must be so great, you know exactly what to do. And then there’s this, should I give my son time-outs?

And I love it. I love the conversations, the questions, and the commiseration that motherhood brings. Regardless of profession, the journey of motherhood is alike in many more ways than it is different.

So, today, thanks to Elizabeth, I’ll share with you what it’s like to be a pediatrician mom by sharing some of the most common questions and misconceptions I encounter about life as a Dr. Mom.

You must know exactly what do to if your child is sick or hurt. That must be nice.

The reality: When it comes to my own children, I’m no different than any other mom. I worry, fear the worst, and sometimes panic unnecessarily. It’s a strange dynamic, because in clinic, the ER, or with any other child that is not mine; I’m calm, collected, and can diagnose and treat with confidence.

But when it comes to my kids, I’m mom first.

I remember the time I kind of freaked out when my son woke up crying saying his eyes hurt and refused to open them. I spent most of the morning running through the laundry list of things that could be wrong with him. At breakfast he ate with his eyes closed and screamed when I got anywhere near his eyes.

I suddenly declared to my husband, that yes, our child was going blind. Could we please take him to the ER stat? My ever understanding and calm husband (who also happens to be a doctor)… gently said, isn’t it possible that he could have a corneal abrasion (scratch on the eyeball) rather than suddenly going blind?
I had to kind of laugh at that moment because yes, that makes more sense dear husband.

Corneal abrasion it was.

And by the way, I blame sleep deprivation on that one.

Do you think I should (you name it) to get my daughter to sleep/eat/listen/stop throwing tantrums?

Here’s the thing about most parenting questions, I’m no expert and I’m the first to admit that. I do however, have two of my own and that more than anything has taught me about the roller coaster that is parenting. I also have the tremendous privilege of seeing children and their families every day in clinic, so I’ve learned a lot along the way.

What I’ll tell you about most parenting issues is this: every child is different. Every family is different. Parenting is not one size fits all. I have good ideas and plenty of experience thus far in my mothering career, so I’ll happily dispense advice and tips based on both experience and solid evidence based research.

Above all, this is what I tell parents: listen to your children and follow your instincts. Don’t do something because you think you “should” or “it worked for so and so”. If it doesn’t feel right to you, have the confidence to buck a trend and seek out new and creative solutions that do feel right.

How do you manage it all?

Honestly? I don’t know. Some days are great and seem a good balance of work and family. Other days, I can barely keep my head above water. But isn’t that how it is for all of us? I’ve gone from full time working pediatrician, to stay at home mom, to part time working pediatrician, to now...a crazy mix of daily clinic, time with the kids, and writing.

I love it but in no way am I “doing it all”.

What’s the one thing I should do with my children every day?

The Mom in me says: tell them you love them. Several times a day.

The pediatrician says: get them outside and moving. Fresh air and exercise works wonders.

My Dr. Mom bottom line: You are your child’s most important role model. Be and do what you wish for your child.

That is very sound advice! Thank you so much for participating in my Summer Series, Melissa!

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