Letter to Baby Bird

Dearest Baby Bird,

                You are unlovable. I am now four months, three weeks and two days into my captivity. I have been held hostage in my home by a tiny despot. This eleven-pound tyrant controls what I eat, when I sleep, and where I go.

                It started with pregnancy. My pregnancy with you was horrible. I was tired, all the time, sick, depressed. I assumed, wrongly, that once you were born that the situation would improve. After all, maternity leave with your sister was like vacation. She started sleeping through the night in a couple of weeks, hardly ever made a peep. I wasn’t like those parents who had babies that didn’t sleep and screamed in the restaurant. I had this parenting thing down. And then you came along, and shattered my preconceived notions.

                You have never slept through the night. In fact, I asked Daddy yesterday if he could remember the last time that you slept more than two hours at a stretch, and he couldn’t. Neither can I. Fortunately for Daddy, in the middle of the night you refuse to take a bottle and you only want Mommy. Yet still, I love you.

                You scream like a banshee any time we put you in the car for the ride that was supposed to soothe you to sleep. Forget going out in public anywhere. That is a thing of the past. I am sure I would be arrested if I took you to a restaurant, and I am unwilling to hazard the annoyed glares of other patrons anyways. Yet still, I love you.

                You always smell like spoiled milk, because you vomit up anything I put in your mouth to include the rice cereal, oatmeal, karo syrup, gas drops, reflux medication and everything else that everyone has assured me will calm your irritable tummy. Sometimes you vomit more than I have shoved into your mouth, and it doesn’t seem possible that you could contain that much puke. I have gone through every one of your sleepers in two hours, and the bedding, and every burp cloth, and all the towels. I am constantly doing laundry. Yet still, I love you.

                Daddy and I are never going to have a date again. You often scream from the time I get home until the next morning with just an hour or two of sleep in the interim. I am really not sure when you sleep. You don’t sleep for Nanny either. Surely you must be tired. I trust Nanny with you because of her infinite patience, but even she has her limits. Daddy has suggested hiring a sitter to watch you, but I think of the hours of screaming at the top of your lungs and how frustrated I am with you. I consider the prospect of leaving you with someone who does not love you. I think of how they may not be kind to you, and so we must miss yet another action movie on the big screen (the only way to watch it according to Daddy). Yet still, I love you.

                This love for you has taught me a lot about myself and about God. You are not loveable right now, but I love you anyway like a compulsion. It is like a wave crashing down on me drowning in my love for you. One of my biggest struggles as a Christian is not in believing the existence of God, or Christ, but in understanding that the God of the universe is aware of my existence, much less that He loves me.

                For you see dear Baby Bird, I am unlovable. I fail daily. I am unkind to others. I gossip. I am spiteful and prideful and rejoice in the misfortunes of others at times. I am not a perfect mother, and get frustrated with my beautiful daughters who are a daily gift from Him. How can He love me when I fall so short of His expectations?

                At three in the morning when you wake up for the fifth time since I have placed you in your crib, you smile at me. The warmth that rushes over me gives me a glimpse into the other side. I can just begin to understand how He loves me.   Thank you for that Baby Bird.

 

Love MommyIMG_20140225_140802_823

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Specialists Are Jerks

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                It is a well-established fact in medicine that specialists are jerks. (To my friends and partners who are specialists, I am not talking about you. I am talking about those other specialists. To my fellow Family Practice colleagues who would like to split hairs and say that Family Medicine is a specialty, I with a resounding eye-roll say, whatever.)

                I had a patient encounter the other day with a woman who has had cancer. Twice. She just moved to a new area. She has not been to the doctor for three years because of financial concerns. When we discussed what her oncologist and her surgeon had recommended for ongoing surveillance for her cancer, she informed me that she had previously been getting MRI’s every other years but her last one was three years ago due to her finances.

                This protocol is not a frequent protocol, but is also not unusual given specific circumstances. I have about four other patients undergoing the same post-cancer protocol. It is one that should be decided by a team of oncologists and surgeons based on the genetics of the tumor and the patient’s prior treatments. None of this is information I have access to, and requesting records and compiling them can take months. This lady in front of me is already a year late for her screening. Did I mention she has had cancer twice?

                So, I order the test. Then I get a call back saying that a certain radiologist needs to speak to me before he can allow the test to go forward. I think this is a little odd, but try calling him back, and stay on hold for thirty minutes only to be informed that he has left for lunch. I leave him my direct phone number so he can reach me easily without any problems.

                The specialist calls me back. And here is the conversation

Specialist Jerk: I don’t understand this protocol. I have never heard of this before.

Me: Oh, really, well I have a few patients who are on this protocol. It isn’t usual, but it isn’t all that uncommon.

SJ: Well I have never heard of it.

Me: Well it is the protocol she has been following from her oncologist and her surgeon.

SJ: What kind of procedure did she have? What are her tumor markers? What was the pathology on the tumor?

Me: I don’t have her records yet, and that may take months to get, and she is late for her screening. We have cleared it with insurance and they are ready to pay for the test.

SJ: I think you should get her established with a surgeon here and an oncologist before we order the test.

Me: Well, considering she is broke, I’m not sure she is going to want to pay for two office visits before paying for an expensive test.

SJ: Well I am not going to let you order the test.

Me: Ok, well, that’s fine, I will just document in her record that you will not allow the test to be ordered, although I recommended we continue with her protocol.

(This may seem like a perfectly reasonable, benign comment to the layperson, but I assure you, that this is basically the medical equivalent of saying, “I will be happy to testify against you on this subject.” It is a like the equivalent of medical napalm, but he left me little option)

SJ: (getting irate) OH REALLY, IS THAT THE WAY YOU WANT TO DO THINGS? LISTEN SWEETIE, I KNOW YOU’RE FRUSTRATED.

Me: Well, yes I am a little frustrated. I am just trying to do the best thing for my patient, and you asked me to call you regarding this, and you didn’t give me your direct line, so I was on hold for thirty minutes and then was informed that you left for lunch.

SJ: LOOK, I HAVE BEEN AWAKE SINCE SEVEN, AND I AM ALLOWED TO TAKE A LUNCH.

Me: (thinking about how my baby got up at 2 am and then again at 5 am, and then I went to work at 7am, and spent my lunch trying to get ahold of him) Yes, I agree you are allowed to take a lunch, but it is a basic courtesy to give another physician your number when you are requesting a call back. That is why I left my direct number for you.

SJ: I DON’T HAVE YOUR DIRECT NUMBER. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Me: I left it with Christy. That is how you just got a hold of me.

SJ:   WHO’S CHRISTY?

Me: Your nurse.

 

                And that proves my point that specialists are jerks (again to my specialist friends… not you silly). If that wasn’t enough, he then contacted people at my office to complain about me. I am wondering if he is going to have his mother call to complain about me next, that is if he can remember her name.

Professional Mom

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                On Thursday nights we go to pottery class. It is what I would do for a living if I were good enough to do so, but sadly after many years of lessons, I am not. My Hubby tolerates it out of affection for me. I believe about four years ago we made a compact. If he would come to pottery class with me, I would go shooting with him once a month. It is now two babies and four years later and I am pretty sure I have only been shooting twice since then (although there have NOT been any definitive research studies done on the effect of lead exposure on nursing or pregnant women).
                The Hairy Potter’s wife, Jillionaire keeps Z for us on Thursday nights. Baby Bird who is still nursing flies to pottery with us, and Neurotic Beagle (Neurotic Beagle MUST go with us to avoid property damage) also joins us. Jillionaire is one of those moms who makes me feel inadequate. Her three girls, Braintrust, Fashonista and Sweetie Pie are always dressed in clean, stylish outfits. It seems like every week they have just gotten a new hat that is perched charmingly atop their freshly trimmed or braided hair. My child has never kept a hat on, EVER. Everything in her house is always clean and is arranged with an expert touch. Martha Stewart should really talk to Jillionaire about how to arrange and organize because Jillionaire could teach her a thing or two. She does all this while managing to look perfectly put together every time I haul my bedraggled kiddos, and my yoga pants clad self across her doorstep. But you know, professionals make things look effortless, and I am clearly a poser mom.

                A few weeks ago I could feel my face flush with frustration as I argued with Z as we were about to go to Jillionaire’s house. Last time we were there, she played with Braintrust, Fashonista, and Sweetie Pie in a kiddie pool. Of course, they were all stylishly dressed in complimentary but not quite matching bathing suits. When I told Z that we were going to their house, she immediately retrieved her bathing suit and started struggling off her clothes, saying, “I wear swimsuit.”

                I glanced outside at the rainy sixty-five degree day with skepticism and ventured, “Sweetheart, it is really cold outside, I don’t think the girls are going to be swimming today.”

                My arguments were to no avail in her two year old brain. She managed to get her swimsuit on, so I tried to compromise by getting her to put her clothes on over her swimsuit to camouflage the situation. This resulted in a meltdown, and an angry toddler yelling, “I no like pants anymore!”

                We were running late, so I tucked her jammies in her bag and threw her in the car in her turquoise bikini, sunglasses, and sandals.

                I prepared myself for the judgment of Jillionaire. I have NEVER seen her girls inappropriately dressed for the weather. If it is raining, they have cute patterned matching galoshes. If it is cold they have mini-infinity scarves tucked around their adorable little necks. I dropped her off in red-faced shame. I remember being embarrassed of my mom when I was a teenager, but no one bothered to tell me that your children can embarrass you.

                Jillionaire met us at the door and greeted Z with calm aplomb. She led Z in where indeed, Sweetie Pie, Fashonista and Braintrust were dressed appropriately and performing calculus in the floor with quiet politeness. Z seemed a little shocked to find, that her mother was right, and they were not in swimsuits.

                When I picked Z up later that night, she was tucked warmly in her jammies that I could not struggle on her using either love or money. I asked Jillionaire how she got Z out of the coveted swimsuit and into her jammies. Jillionaire nonplussed reply was, “I just gave her popsicles until she got cold.” Well played professional mom. Well played indeed.

Chloe The Magnificent

                The other day I experienced my first bout of “Mom Jealosy”. So far, Z has been basically perfect, and Baby Bird is too small to compare to other children. Sure, we have toddler friends that Z plays with, and some of them are cuter than her, but they sound like Jabberwockies and Z is saying things like, “No mommy, I don’t like that, it’s ugly, I want the cute one,” or “Oh look, binoculars!” (True story).

                So, point being, she is usually the most adorable, intelligent, amazing two-year old I know. Of course, now all my other toddler mom friends will now know that I have been comparing our children. But I suspect they may be delusional in their beliefs that their little angels are superior to Z as well.

                Imagine my surprise as I encountered during an office visit, the Toddler Unicorn that shall now be known as Chloe The Magnificent (CTM). CTM came in for her well child visit. She had flowing red locks, and I mean flowing. She is only two-years old. When has she had time to grow flowing locks? I reflected on the sparse nubbin of hair on Z’s head that can barely be scraped into a small hair-clip, and that I had formerly found so engagingly adorable.

                I already found myself judging this child and thinking, “Okay, you have awesome hair, but I bet you sound like a Gremlin. Z’s hair may not be “flowing and luscious”, but she is still brilliant.

                Then CTM said, “Hi! You’re the doctor! I’m Chloe.”

                My heart sank. She seems pretty legit. I glanced down at the chart. Only two months older than Z, and Z was just going up to people at the park last week saying, “Hi! I’m Me.” Like she didn’t understand what her name was. I thought it was cute at the time, but now I am reflecting on the possibility that she may not get into an Ivy League School, and do I even want her to go Ivy League because they are overpriced and exhibit horrible grade inflation.

                Then her mom said, “Chloe, tell the doctor your full name dear.”

                “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Chloe The Magnificent,” she beamed.

                Crap, my kid barely knows her first name. Maybe that’s something they learn between twenty-four and twenty-six months I comforted myself.

                At this point, I am understandably getting a little competitive. I start her developmental screening. She can recite her alphabet. That’s cool. Z will do that if you give her enough candy, although I am sure that CTM only makes nutritious food choices consistent with an ethical, locally grown policy.

                She can draw a circle. Check, Z can do that.

                She can count to twenty. No biggie, Z can too. I am down with that, but then her mom starts saying, “CTM, draw the doctor a number seven, oh good sweetie, now do 10.”

                At this point, I am like, “You have got to be kidding me.” This kid can write her numbers. Z is lucky to be able to recognize how many fingers I am holding up.

                Then her mom says, “Now show the doctor how you write your name.”

                Shut. The. Front. Door. Seriously? And there it was in perfect childish scrawl, “CTM” plain as day.   At this point, I have determined that CTM is indeed a Toddler Unicorn, not to be confused with a Pregnancy Unicorn (pregnant mom that doesn’t show till the ninth month, and then it is just a cute little bump).

                I found myself going home and saying things like, “Z, what’s your full name?” Which was met with a blank stare, or, “Want to learn to write your numbers?”

                But when Z greets me at the end of a long day at work with giggles and cuddles, she is just as smart and beautiful as she needs to be. Maybe my job is to help her cope with the fact that there will always be someone smarter and prettier than you are. There will always be someone better, but she is the best Z she can be and she is the Z that our Father in Heaven created and loves, and that is always good enough.

                But, two days ago I was sitting on the couch while Z was playing with some of her toys, and she starts saying, “Uno, dos, tres…” and she counted all the way to ten in Spanish. I thought smugly to myself, “I bet CTM the Toddler Unicorn can’t do that.”

Strange things afoot at the IHOP

                My nurse, Kiki and I go out to lunch during the workday. Usually we choose something like a deli, or an upscale chain restaurant like a TGI Chili’s. Today, I exchanged the conventional for a touch of madness as something possessed me and I insisted on IHOP. For the uninitiated, that is the International House of Pancakes, but they serve other stuff too, as I reassured Kiki who had never experienced the glory of IHOP.

                Usually, lunch is an uneventful menagerie of cobb salads and club sandwiches, but apparently, stepping foot into an IHOP is an invitation for the bizarre. The local IHOP was a veritable nexus of the bizarre today. Here are just some things that occurred in a brief forty minutes:

  1. A waitress was just randomly walking around singing the soundtrack to Frozen as if driven to madness by her own personal earwig. Unfortunately, she could have used some auto-tune and she was belting it out at the top of her lungs ignoring the patrons.

 

  1. One waitress walks by speaking with one of her colleagues about how her boyfriend enjoyed the last of the Twilight franchise even more than she did, and that he watched it at least four times yesterday. I know that I probably should have left it alone at this point, but I couldn’t help myself.

 

                Me: Are you sure your boyfriend is playing for the same team as you are?

 

                Waitress: Blank stare, clearly confused (I could actually see the understanding wash over her) “Oh, absolutely, we have been dating for like two months.”

 

                Me: An unconvinced, “Mmm hmmm”

 

  1. Overheard from another table:

               

                Girlfriend:   Do you got any chapstick? My lips are ashy.

 

                Boyfriend: No

 

                Girlfriend: You sure you don’t got no chapstick?

 

                Boyfriend: Yeah

 

                Girlfriend (at waitress): Can I borrow your chapstick?

 

                Waitress: (confused pause) Uh…. I don’t have any chapstick. (I can tell you at this point, from the way the waitress paused, that this is clearly a lie, but I don’t blame her one bit. Who would ask to use a stranger’s chapstick? This apparently only happens in the vortex of the IHOP)

 

  1. While checking out, an ancient shriveled woman in dark glasses hobbles in yelling, “Is there a wait? Is there a wait? I can’t see anything. I had my eyes dilated today. “   All of this was at the top of her lungs. When informed there was a wait, she went back outside, where I swear I witnessed her get back into her boat of a Cad-il-lac car and drive down the street. I had foolishly assumed someone had driven her there if she couldn’t see, but that was incorrect.

                So in conclusion, IHOP is great for people watching during a relaxing weekend brunch, but during a harried work day, it does not make for a relaxing luncheon.

You stuck what? Where?

            In nearly ten years of being a physician, I have pulled foreign bodies out of every orifice of the human body.  I have washed bugs out of people’s ears (and peas, and corn) and pulled bits of foam out of nasal passages.  I will not even begin to address the other orifices and the things I have found there.  This is not that kind of blog.

            Every time I have pulled a popcorn kernel out of a toddler’s nose as their mortified parents protest their embarrassment, I have been smug.  I have smugly informed them, that it is really common and a “lot of kids stick things in their nose or ear.”  Inwardly I was thinking, “Yeah, stupid kids.  Not my kid.”

           That was until today. 

          Z has been picking her nose for about two weeks.  We have been trying to discourage this behavior, and we thought it was just something she was going through.  We tried to not make a huge deal about it.  We hoped she would grow out of it.   Finally, I had it with her today when she kept her finger in there for about an hour straight, and being the competent physician I am, I dusted off the old bulb-suction and went to town.

          I saw something back in the back of her right nostril.  I thought to myself, “This is the mother-load of boogers.”  I suctioned several times, and it moved forward, but not enough to get out, but enough to make it apparent that this was a foreign body.  I asked her if she stuck something in her nose, and she giggled, “Yeah, Mommy.” 

          This is where my expert medical training came in.  I grabbed a set of curved Kelly forceps from the manicure kit, and told my two-year old to “hold still”.  With the illumination of a flash light, and a couple of fishing expeditions, I was rewarded with a chunk of styrofoam, and a smiling toddler saying, “Thank you, Mommy.”

 

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            I found myself examining this, thinking to myself, “When was the last time we had a package delivered with foam?”  and, “How long has that thing been in her nose?”  She has been having trouble sleeping at night and now I am second-guessing if this was the problem all along.  Oh, and don’t forget the amazing diagnostic skills that allowed this physician to overlook a giant piece of foam in her toddler’s nose for at least two-weeks.  Mommy fail.  Doctor fail.  I guess it why they recommend not treating yourself or your family.

I Am A Jerk… Apparently

So one of my friends posted this on The Facebook the other day, proclaiming that one of our mutual friends would love it. 

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              I stared at the photo for a while.  There were two possibilities here.  Either my friend hates this monstrosity and is pointing out how hilariously bad it is, or she actually likes it.  To further complicate matters, one of her other friends commented, “I want one too.” 

              That comment further muddied the waters for me, because is she being sarcastic, or does she really like it?  So I start off politely, trying to venture a comment to feel out the situation, “Could you please tell me what I am looking at here?”  I queried.   

               I know, I know, I probably should have just walked away, but I couldn’t help myself.  I had to know.  I became so obsessed, that I showed people at work, even patients, the picture.   I took a poll asking what they thought.  I did not give my opinion so it was a blinded study and very scientific.  My research was of no help.  Half the people thought it was horrible, and the other half thought it was wonderful (although I expect that the half that thought it was great was just being polite, and that half was heavily stacked with little old ladies). 

             My friend replied to my question, “Most people would know this is a candle holder made of seashells, you are so funny….ha.ha.” 

            This did nothing to elucidate the key point as to whether my friends actually like this or not.  I am not always up to date on the latest styles.  Maybe it is like those brightly patterned palazzo pants that I don’t understand at all.  Other people seem to like them, but I think they just make people look like scary, sad clowns.

             I really, really should have let this go at this point, but I couldn’t help myself, so I replied, “Seriously, sarcasm does not translate well on  Facebook. Are we supposed to like this hot mess?”  (Maybe I should have left that last part out.)

             And I have been met with unmitigated silence since my post, so I assume that I am a Jerk, and we are indeed supposed to like this.  My friends will probably read this and think I am an even bigger Jerk, but in for a penny, in for a pound I always say.  And I don’t care what they say, anything that used to be part of an animal (antlers, pelts, shells, etc.) should not be used in home decor.

 

Following Instructions

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