His voice is changing. At first we thought he had a cold or his allergies were acting up- that’s why his voice sounded gruffer and lower- different. But the days have passed and his voice keeps getting lower and lower. He’s grown five inches in the last year. There is a sprinkling of acne across his forehead. There’s no denying it- our days are numbered. We will turn around someday too soon and he will be a full-grown man leaving our house. And I am not ready.
I was not ready when I received the phone call from our pediatrician of 14 years about one week ago, as I was helping my friend Keisha who is expecting pick out her registry at “Babies R Us.” There I was- standing in the baby breastfeeding aisle of all aisles and the phone rang. “Hello?” Sandy, her assistant on the other line replied, “yes, well I am afraid I have some bad news.” My heart dropped- had something happened to Dr.? Sandy says “well, it’s just that she is retiring and closing her practice as of June 1st.” What? I was not prepared to hear those words come out of Sandy’s mouth. I knew that Dr. had briefly mentioned the possibility last year at one of their wellness appointments but I had put it out of my mind- not daring to go there.
Now, you might be wondering but they moved to St. Louis, Missouri- how can they still have their pediatrician in Los Angeles? And that, my friends is part of this sad truth- that I cannot let go. I have not been able to emotionally detach myself. The rational mind says but you must! My heart says NO! So, call me crazy but whenever I fill out a medical form for these kids- I list Dr. as their pediatrician- down to her Los Angeles office phone number. A month ago in fact, I made their summer appointments for both Big Boy and Baby Girl and built our California vacation around those appointments. That’s how much I am holding on. Which is why when I got off the phone with Sandy, I burst into tears, in that baby breastfeeding aisle of “Babies R Us” while Keisha stared at me with a wild confused look in her eyes. Without words, bursting with all types of emotion, I could no longer hold back and just let it flow.
I grieved for the loss of the only pediatrician that we had ever known, for my children who had been welcomed into this world by her, she who had guided me and talked me off the ledge so many times, through so many cloudy and murky nights and days. For 14 years, she, oh wise one- had seen us through baby jaundice with a newborn hospital stay, ear infections, hand, foot mouth disease, norovirus, a horrible hit to the head with a baseball bat, terrible falls from cribs, playground equipment, tops of stairs onto marble floors, busted lips, heads, arms, knees and on and on. She had documented the lives of my three children with her records and growth charts and percentages. She had reassured us that it was going to be alright.
Didn’t she realize that right now- thousands of miles away from everyone I know and love and with my oldest, on the edge of becoming a man- that I had needed her now- more than ever?