Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dear Premier Pediactrics, We Are Still Not Patients There Anymore.

Posted by Alison Soracchi at 11:04 AM
The following is an email I wrote to Dominic's first pediatrician's office. Almost exactly two years after we stopped going there, we are suddenly getting appointment recommendations, health tip emails, and more. The email below is my heartfelt explanation for why we left and what I wish for the pediatrician's office behaviors toward other mothers who do bring their children there. 

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Good afternoon Dr. Eunus and staff, 

I am writing in response to Portal messages, which I have also unsubscribed from. You see, for a period, I was just disregarding any Premier Pediatrics material I received. Prior to that, I informed the Dunnellon location that we were no longer patients there. Then the Portal messages began recently.

You see, we are not patients at Premier Pediatrics. We stopped being patients there when our son was one month old (March of 2015) because of the lack of proper diagnosis of ankyloglossia which led to less than adequate weight gain and nutrition. At one month old, my husband and I independently made an appointment with a lactation consultant and second physician who diagnosed his condition within minutes of our first visit. This, after our physician at Premier Pediatrics recommended we formula feed our son as a remedy to his lack of weight gain for the fourth time (each time a different formula), and despite there being multiple indicators that there was an underlying issue beyond his getting inadequate milk supply from my body, AND despite her doing exams of his mouth upon every visit as part of her routine process. 

We followed her advice each time while still attempting to breastfeed periodically and pump any time we provided a bottle instead. This meant I was able to measure the amount of milk my body was producing on my son's schedule. I relayed this information to our physician at Premier and expressed to her that I felt confident if I could pump that much, that the problem must be between my nipple and Dominic's mouth, not with my actual milk production and supply. We saw our physician at Premier primarily at the Dunnellon location. We visited the Ocala location once because I felt strongly he needed to be seen and Heather was not at the Dunnellon location the day I needed her. This time in Ocala, I was so upset, my mom came with me.  

As a newly postpartum mother, with intuition telling me something else was wrong with my baby, the diagnosis from a second physician was both a massive relief and extremely upsetting. How, after a month of struggling to keep him satiated, staying up literally entire nights to make him comfortable enough to sleep even for the shortest of time spans on my chest, and speaking at length with Heather repeated about how I was confident there was something wrong, how could it be so simple? How did Heather not diagnosis this? We went back for one last check-up at Premier after Dominic was diagnosed. We informed our physician of the diagnosis. And the response was cavalier at best. I remember it vividly. I was emotional, raw, in may ways relieved, and still upset to say the least. I collected my emotions enough to tell her what we had learned, and the response was barely more than an "oh, okay." That was the last time we set foot in a Premier Pediatrics facility.

Dominic had a tough start in the world. After eight days in the NICU for persistent pulmonary hypertension, he was finally coming home to us and then just a few shorts days after that, seeing his pediatrician for the first time. I imagine if things had started differently for him - if he hadn't been in NICU - maybe his ankyloglossia would have been identified at the hospital because maybe I would have had more opportunities to breastfeed him before we were discharged and maybe someone would have noticed. But that wasn't the chance his was given; he was given instead a feeding tube and one small syringe of milk at a time. 

Imagine the guilt I felt - and still feel, knowing my body was producing enough milk and yet watching my baby struggle to find nourishment from breastfeeding. Imagine the pain of failing my son when I learned he had been barely eating and what calories he did ingest, he burned off by working so hard at nursing, for an entire month. For his entire first month.  My heart still hurts from this. I still look at my healthy, young son and feel disappointment for not acting sooner when my instincts told me something wasn't right. He's strong, he's incredibly bright, he exceeds all my wildest expectations. And yet I still sometimes think about how I let him down that first month of his life. 

My intentions in writing this email are not entirely selfish. Admittedly, I do feel relieved after getting my feelings out. And I may even find some closure in sending this email, but mostly, I wish Premier Pediatrics would take my message to heart. Please listen next time a mom tells you she feels something else is not right - please look beyond the obvious solution. The month we were patients there, struggling to identify the problem Dominic was having, was long, exhausting, and mildly traumatic; I don't wish that on any mother, especially a new one - especially one just finding her voice, and most especially one who is counting on her physician to be her and her child's advocate. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my message. I do wish everyone well. 

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