Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What to Expect at a WIC Appointment

Today was the dreaded WIC appointment. It can only be described as hell on earth. I know many readers could think I'm ungrateful, don't deserve their hard earned tax dollars, should just get a job, blah, blah, blah. If that is your opinion, I'll remind you that despite earning a Master's Degree and National Board Certification, my teaching salary barely covered childcare expenses for four children. Obviously I did not anticipate having triplets or being in our current financial situation. 

Let me describe the 2.5 hour process to you:

Step 1: Stand in check-in line for at least five minutes just so your name can be entered in the system. Sign your name a dozen times, then receive your number.

Step 2: Sit down in the waiting room for twenty minutes until your number is called. Our particular WIC office is located in the health department. There is a large display on STD's with pamphlets on syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. You notice multiple adults are asked to wear masks. There is absolutely NO form of entertainment, but you brought two backpacks full of books, dolls, action figures, and LeapPad. No food or drinks are allowed (other than bottles). This rule is strictly enforced. The waiting room is always overrun with toddlers running, infants crying, frustrated parents cursing, and adults talking loudly about everyone's business on their phones.

Step 3: Hear your number called. Gather the children and walk through the door to a small room. All children must be weighed and finger pricked to check iron levels. (I brought the printout from the doctor's appointment yesterday so the trio did not have to be weighed again. They accept doctor's notes within the previous 30 days.)

Step 4: Return to main waiting room for at least 30 more minutes. Desperately try to keep your children safe and entertained until your number is called again.

Step 5: Hear your number called again. Gather the children, walk through the door and down a long hallway. Meet with a "nutritionist" for a ten minute interview in her office. The nutritionist enters each child's weight and iron level, then asks detailed questions. (How much TV does he watch? How often do you brush his teeth? How many cups of milk does he drink? How many times a day does he eat fruits? Vegetables? and so on). Despite there being two chairs to sit down in, you can't get to them because the double stroller takes up a third of the office and you're standing and swaying anyway trying to calm a child.

Step 6: Get directed to another waiting room. There are no chairs available and the room is overcrowded with strollers, cranky children, and desperate adults. This holding cell has absolutely nothing to look at other than large posters with women breastfeeding their child. Wait for a grueling half hour. 

Step 7: Blessedly hear your number a third and final time. Follow the employee who escorts you to an office. Sign and receive checks. Schedule follow up appointment.

Step 8: Run like hell to the van. You survived!

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