LEWISTON — When Linda and George Glass were learning to be doctors — working as residents at a teaching hospital in Lubbock, Texas — they learned one of the secrets of treating babies.

Watch them.

Little behavioral clues will surface if a baby is having trouble. They may breathe roughly, change pallor, cry or look around for help. To the young doctors, who were eager to lean on emerging technology and tests to diagnose a problem, the advice of their aging instructor seemed a little kooky.

“He’d say, ‘The baby will tell you,’” Linda Glass said. “We thought he was sort of Voodooish.”

No longer. More than two decades later, the husband-and-wife team of pediatricians make a point of looking at and treating their tiniest patients as whole people.

“We know that no matter how big they are, they are real people,” George Glass said.

It’s also a respectful starting place for a pediatric practice.

For 21 years, the Glasses have owned Pediatric Associates in Lewiston. Together, they’ve treated a generation of children, watching them grow from infants to toddlers to schoolchildren, teens and adults.

In the process, they’ve learned that being pediatricians is more than treating the immediate health needs of children.

“It’s wearing multiple hats,” Linda Glass said. “When you commit to pediatrics, you commit to the parents, because the kids don’t get well unless the person who is taking care of them hears you, too.”

The kinds of skills they learned in medical school — delivering babies, fixing a child’s busted arm or inserting a life-saving tube into a trachea — only take the doctor so far. Issues ranging from education, discipline, addiction, domestic violence and poverty quickly arise in the examination room.

“You’re a social worker, a pastor, a teacher, coach and a physician,” George Glass said. On the average day, each will see between 18 and 25 patients.

Both doctors have learned to spend a little extra time at each visit, getting to know the child and the parent.

“I’m a lot better at that now than I was 20 years ago,” George Glass said. “It actually doesn’t take that much more time.”

Too many parents are overwhelmed by their children and don’t know what to do, the couple said.

“There’s a lot of lost parents,” Linda Glass said.

They can learn and, if they listen to the doctor’s advice, the children’s lives can get better.

“You feel like you’re partnering with the parent,” she said. “Everybody wins when it turns the right way.”

It’s not the kind of work the couple imagined.

“I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid,” George, 54, said. He grew up in Midland, Texas.

Figuring a military route to NASA would be too tough — “I knew military boot camp would kill me right off” — he decided to take the science route to space. Soon medicine captured him.

By contrast, his North Berwick-native wife, 53, always aimed for medicine.

It was a combination of her need to care for people and a need to fix problems.

“As doctors, we’re fixers by nature,” she said.

The need to fix problems is also what led George Glass to pediatrics, where there are few chronic health problems.

“With babies and children, the majority of the time you can fix it and make them actually healthy,” he said. “They’re fresh. They’re new. They’ve got their whole life in front of them.”

Together, the couple has two sons and a daughter ages 24, 22 and 19.

The children have been healthy, but the couple has had their moments of fear as parents.

George Glass served as the attending physician at each of his children’s births. One of the boys didn’t breathe after his arrival.

Linda Glass knew something was wrong when she heard her husband’s voice.

“I went into doctor mode,” he said.

His wife immediately demanded to know what was happening.

“I trust him immensely,” she said.”That doesn’t mean it didn’t rattle me right to the bottom of my toes.”

That feeling informs every life and death situation they face as doctors.

The weight of responsibility is extraordinary.

“There’s that split-second of time when you know a parent’s looking at you like ‘please, please, please, please take my child. Please. I’m begging you to do this,’” Linda Glass said. “Any good parent has those eyes. You stand there and think, ‘whatever I do, right or wrong, this is all on me.’ For that five or 10 minutes of the child’s life, this is on me. I have to do this.”

The ability to manage that fear is part of working as a doctor, the couple said.

“Fear shouldn’t be so bad that it paralyzes you,” George Glass said. “Fear should be something that keeps you on edge and keeps you sharp, because if you’re not sharp, something is going to happen.”

Thankfully, most children are extraordinarily hearty, he said. Even in delivery, the hard work is theirs.

“This baby’s freakin’ got to go from breathing in water to being stretched and pulled,” he said. In minutes they arrive in a world of air and light and louder sounds than they’ve ever known.

“It’s the baby that does all the work,” he said.

He recently helped deliver a boy who surprised his mother by stopping his crying about 10 minutes after his birth.

“This baby was barely 10 minutes old and he looked right at you,” George Glass said. “You know that there is intelligence behind there.”

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