The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #38: Pediatricians, They’re Just Like Us

Pediatricians, they’re just like us.

They take out the trash. They carve jack-o’-lanterns. They even feel lost when it comes to having a baby.

That’s how it was for Jessica Franklin. Jessica’s a pediatrician and an internist and when she got pregnant, she figured she had this whole new mom thing covered. But pretty much everything about having a baby left Jessica feeling utterly out of control.

Jessica smiling through her HELLP syndrome, trying to be a good patient

Jessica smiling through her HELLP syndrome, trying to be a good patient

From childbirth (she had preeclampsia and eventually HELLP syndrome) to nursing (low supply) to her baby’s reflux (never-ending spit-up), Jessica felt like the medical experts that she’d hand-picked were not taking her problems seriously. Becoming a mother, for Jessica, also meant becoming a patient for the first time in her life, and that experience fundamentally changed the way she approached her job.


Jessica says that medical school does its best to help doctors understand what it’s like to be on the other side of the stethoscope, but some of the most valuable lessons she learned about parenting she found 1) by trusting her gut and 2) by scouring the self-help aisle at the library. Especially how to handle her son Marco’s (above) “spirited” temperament, which baffled her at first.

Preeclampsia Resources
Jessica was diagnosed with preeclampsia when she arrived at the hospital in labor—a life threatening condition to the mother if it is not treated. The Preeclampsia Foundation is an organization that advocates for better prevention and management of the disorder.

Jessica’s preeclampsia later morphed into HELLP syndrome, which was not at first caught by the hospital staff (or her doctor husband). HELLP has about a 25% mortality rate, and is reportedly extremely traumatic to women who experience it. The HELLP Syndrome Survivors Facebook group is a place for people who have lived through HELLP to connect and commiserate.

What do YOU think doctors can do to understand patients and parents better?
Ideas, please. In the comments.

Kneeling photo: Ink Anchor Photography; Kiss photo: Cheryl Fils-Aime