I love my OBGYN.
If you consider the fact that he’s delivered more than 5,000 babies, then you can imagine how many more vaginas he’s also inspected. He has an unbelievable ability to consider the whole woman, and not just focus on the reproductive systems. His bedside manner, humor, and sensitivity are the perfect combination for me.
He guided me through my two successful pregnancies and deliveries. He treated my miscarriage in between with compassion and sensitivity, and he prioritized my healing process. He helped me conquer many personal issues with his incredible patience, unmatched by any other physician I’ve ever known.
If I was not emotionally prepared for a particular exam, he would graciously reschedule me for another time. He was eager to discuss all aspects of one's sex life, from trying to conceive, to masturbation, to low libido.
And despite that incredible list, the ultimate lesson he taught me was actually inadvertent. His mastery of one particular skill has made an indelible impact on me:
He was the master of distraction.
As most women would agree, the typical gynecological exam is a miserable experience. Laid up on a table, feet in the air, vagina exposed in the spotlight. The insertion of the speculum is a total cold metal invasion, coupled with the pressure as it clamps you open. Then, the apparently necessary poking and prodding around up there just prolongs your misery.
He would distract me during this procedure every single time. Right as he was about to put the speculum in, he would engage me in conversation. He remembered personal details and history in order to keep me engaged. We discussed my career, my master’s degree, my love life, all while he was poking around in my nether regions. I am in awe of how he could perform such a complicated task while simultaneously leading an in-depth conversation.
I have no idea if he did it with everyone, although I suspect he did. But I know he was genuinely sensitive to my complete inability to tolerate even a minor exam. What he did enabled me to gradually become more comfortable with each procedure and ultimately conceive and deliver two beautiful, healthy children.
How does this relate to parenting?
Distraction. It's the ultimate tool in your toolbox as a parent. When you successfully distract your child from a tantrum or poor behavior, everyone wins.
My daughter can’t stand having her teeth brushed. You know what we do? We sing the Ariel song nice and loud with a big, wide mouth so we can reach all the trouble (tickly) spots. Need to brush for longer? Try “Do-Re-Mi” or a similar song because it can be easily repeated. I use songs a lot. They make for great distractions in almost any scenario.
My son was angry the other day because I wouldn’t let him have chocolate for breakfast. What do we do? Offer him something else, and if that doesn’t work, “Hey buddy, let’s go outside for a little.” The opportunity to go outside will literally distract him from anything. It works especially well when my husband and I leave for dates, the babysitter takes him outside to play and then he doesn't care that we've left.
Struggling with getting diapers changed? We employ several tactics , depending on the severity of the rebellion. First, I’ll try to sing a song. Kids' choice. Second, I’ll give them a toy to hold. (Make sure it’s washable.) Third, offer a treat, “When we’re done, we’ll do ‘this little piggy.’ Do you want to do that?” Lastly, I’ll call in my husband to stand at the baby’s head and do anything in his power to distract them.
Distraction is the best technique for surviving the baby and toddler years. The less you engage in a head-on argument or discussion with an irrational, overly emotional child, the better. Use it while you can – there's a limited window of time.
Unless, of course, you’re a full grown adult who needs any trick to keep your mind off the doctor digging for China down below.