Lincoln Ryne Bream was born on May 20, 2020, at 6:34pm. Seven pounds and 15 ounces of pure joy born via urgent C-section due to an amniotic fluid leak and critically low amniotic fluid levels.
I had wholly anticipated that it would be a life-changing moment; and it certainly was.
What I had not anticipated is how much the birth of my first child would have such a positive impact on the care I provided as a physician.
What medical training doesn’t teach that being a dad does
Like many physicians, I had my first child later in life at the age of 37. My older brother doesn’t have any children, I was either in medical school or residency when my cousins had kids, and most of my friends had kids later in life, so my exposure to children prior to Lincoln being born was pretty much zero – other than taking care of them in the Emergency Department.
The medical part of that was no problem. Kids get sick and come to the hospital. After an outpatient pediatric rotation, pediatric ICU rotation, and seeing at least a thousand kids in residency, I certainly always felt competent and comfortable taking medical care of children.
Intubating children? Got it. Chest tube in kid? No worries. Spinal tap in an infant? Check. Pediatric trauma? Piece of cake.
Putting the onesie back on after a physical examination? Hmmm. Changing a wet diaper after a physical examination? Dicey. Questions about breast feeding and other things well child? Sounds like great questions for your nurse – let me go find one.
Certainly, I quickly became a pro at diaper changes, buttoning up onesies and learning the ins-and-outs and parenting. But what was also unanticipated is how much easier I could relate to parents after having a child on my own.
It’s different when it’s your child
My lovely wife, Jen, is not medical (despite her frequent assertion that she “is the doctor in this house”). She’s the yin to my yang. She disallows “comments from the peanut gallery” when I see how bad or unrealistic a scene is from Chicago Med or Grey’s Anatomy – her favorites. She could care less about geopolitics. I’m 6’3, and she’s 5’1 (she will tell you she’s “5’ 1 and a half). We exemplify the axiom that opposites attract.
I was in the living room when Jen came out of our room worried about Lincoln. He was a few months old. She was feeding him, and he had an episode where he choked on his milk, seemed to not breathe, turned red briefly, and ended up spitting up the milk out of his mouth and nose. I went and checked on him, and he seemed fine. A typical choking episode. I see them in the ER all the time.
While it was not a big deal to me – the physician dad – it was obviously a HUGE deal to my non-physician wife. She was rattled.
What became clear in that moment, and what I have since grasped very well through multiple such instances is that parents come to the ER at 4am because they are scared and worried about their kids. I’m pretty laid back, but I don’t worry about anything like I worry about my kids.
So, now I understand why parents bring their kid in with a fever at 5am even when they seem fine, and the pediatrician’s office opens in three hours. Or after a choking episode. Or when they’ve been crying for two hours without clear explanation. They’re scared for their child’s well-being. They’re Jen after Lincoln’s choking episode.
Except for them, the doctor is at the office or the ER, not just over in the living room.
And I no longer look ridiculous when I’m putting a child’s diaper or onesie back on.
– John Bream, MD – Founder, Bream Medical
Bream Medical is an all-inclusive, non-corporate practice that provides urgent care, primary care, and direct primary care services in Salisbury, Stokesdale, and Edenton, NC, and provides telemedicine consultation anywhere in North Carolina. We provide excellent healthcare by prioritizing patients care – not profits. To learn more about Bream Medical, visit https://breammedical.com or call 704.216.1263.