September 29, 2009

Young Children are like Brain Injury Patients

A lot to learn, or re-learn

I used to get asked a lot why I'm so good with kids before I became a mother. The truth is, my medical training has prepared me in this regard. Young children have a lot of connections to make in their brains, much like my brain injury and stroke patients. These are my gems for interacting with both groups of people:
  • Give positive commands
    Instead of saying "don't step in that puddle," say "walk around that puddle, please." It's harder for the human mind to process negative statements.

  • Prepare them for new situations
    I've seen mothers become mortified when their kids run wild around a restaurant. This could be avoided, or at least minimized, if the children are given instruction as to what to expect and do when going out to eat. Remember that the developing mind handles new environments by comparing and contrasting to previous experiences. Thus if the dining booth looks like a fun hide-out or the row of chairs appears to be a jungle-gym, you know what follows. If, however, you talk about what's appropriate for dining out and even give a preview then the chance that you'll need to pry your child off the waiter will diminish.

  • But don't explain too much.
    Keep things developmentally appropriate or confusion/fear may develop about a situation. Example: "On the airplane they teach us how to be extra safe." -That's better than "pay attention to these instructions, you might need them in case of an emergency."

  • Offer lots of encouragement
    When the world doesn't seem like it's built for you, this can take its toll. Kind words to bolster up the spirit are necessary to get through life's challenges.

  • Be patient, let them work it out
    It's easy to fill in sentences or help with tasks when it takes longer for someone else to do this alone. Unfortunately, this only fosters dependence.

  • Do it the same way every time
    If you're teaching someone how to tie their shoes, do it one way each time you repeat a lesson. This is how the brain makes connections fastest.

  • When reason fails and hysteria ensues, a dark padded room is best

September 27, 2009

My Heart is Tenderized

Disney's Lambert the Sheepish Lion

A friend of mine told me "once you have kids, you won't be able to bear the thought of any child being hurt." At the time, I thought that was a weird thing to say seeing as how no person with a heart delights in the misfortune of the little ones. Now that I'm a mother, however, my very soul is rocked at the slightest hint that a child is suffering. I get it now.

The other day a coworker recalled the above movie from our youth and I decided to watch it again here. OH.MY.GOODNESS. When those frickin' lambs go after sheepish Lambert for being different. . . I'm telling you I just about gave myself heart block! Of course YouTube decides that a nice follow-up video would be The Ugly Duckling. . . with Elton John's "I Want Love" song as the backdrop.

Now someone needs to peel me off the floor and give me Zoloft, STAT.

September 25, 2009

When's the Best Time to Have a Baby?

Female students, residents, and physicians ponder this ALL the time!

From a pure medical standpoint, before age 30 is when you can reduce a risk factor for breast cancer. 35 and beyond is when the label "advanced maternal age" gets placed on your chart and it's like wearing a scarlet letter.

Professors in medical school know that most women come out of training in their 30s, and yet they still throw that danged chart on the big screen to make all of us cringe in the lecture hall. It's like you can feel your ovaries drying as you contemplate the curve.

So what's a female doctor to do? Most of us ask around, and the usual answer is: "there is no good time to have a baby." That's pretty true if you consider:
  • Years 1-2 of med school: All work and no play. Study, study, study. If you goof up your scores in this time period, you'll never get a desirable residency position. -This could mean the difference between matching at a program that is family-friendly versus indentured servitude. Don't forget that you finish this section with an 8-hr exam (try that with a baby sitting on your bladder!).

  • Year 3: A lot like the previous years, but all clinical. Put another way, you're studying AND have physical demands. Good luck having morning sickness and making it to your surgery rotation at 5AM.

  • *Year 4*: Easiest year of medical school. Many women opt to have a baby at this time. . . BUT there are drawbacks. This is interview time, and illegal or not, if you show up with a big bump to a potential residency program that will most likely be a strike against you. -Being honest. Also, no pregnancy is predictable and should anything happen that puts off graduation that will conflict with the start of intern year. Keep in mind that having the baby is one thing, being able to be there for your child when you're about to start one of the most demanding careers in the planet is another.

  • Intern Year: NO!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!! It's been done, but not without torture. I don't care what your specialty is, having a baby at this time is insanity. Usually 80+ hours/week, not including commute time is what you're looking at. My friend did this, her water broke during morning rounds and as she was wheeled away her senior resident asked "are you coming back soon?!"

  • *Post-intern Residency*: Feasible if your hours drop from 80/week. If you haven't taken the third board licensing exam, that's TWO days in a row of 8hr exams waiting for you. This is when I had my baby. I was a lot sicker than I had hoped, which really put me behind in my studies. Maternity leave ate up all my vacation and sick days for two years. . . There were times I'd see a patient, excuse myself for a moment to vomit in a nearby sink, and go back to finish my work because I knew that any time I took off for myself would be time taken away from the post-partum period.

    Something else to think about are workplace hazards such as radiation and infectious disease exposure.

  • Attending Physician: Now in the work force, you're probably part of a group that expects 'dynamic performance.' It's all about bringing in the money to pay off all those school loans. Can you really afford (figuratively and literally) to have a baby at this time?
Rough stuff, huh? I'm hoping to collect data on other professions and when their 'windows for fertility' occur. If anyone finds the perfect solution, do tell.

September 24, 2009

Crying Over Spilled Milk

I think I'm entitled to shed a few tears over this.

Oh the irony, I tilted back the valves of my pump to get those last few drops that were sitting on the rim. Next thing I know I got a warm, sticky mess on my lap.

Now I know the following:

September 22, 2009

Check Out My Son (and Blouse)

You might recognize the latter from this giveaway.

September 17, 2009


Don't let the bar section mislead you into thinking this is not a place for kids. I've found this restaurant to be very accomodating, especially with its outdoor section. All the food is made from scratch and there's nothing on the menu that I haven't loved. They really pay attention to customer feedback, which is why they brought back the incredible S'mores dessert you see above. Yes, in the pot is melted chocolate and marshmallow. Oh, and desserts are free on Tuesdays. The prices are good, too.

September 14, 2009

Bono = 4 onces of milk

When an invitation comes my way, I think "Hmmm, how many onces of stored milk is that going to cost me?"

We got free tickets to U2's 360 tour this weekend and I was happy to spend some liquid gold for the rocking out cause. At first we felt so 'hardcore' for leaving the house at night to go to a concert, but when we arrived we found ourselves surrounded by 40-somethings and their kids. (The concert attendee next to us couldn't have been older than twelve.)

All signs that we're getting old. . .

September 12, 2009

Remember to Take Your Vitamins

I have this kit by Med Sun.

This is a great organizer because you can fill up each capsule way in advance and take only one with you each day. In mine I fill in the slots with fiber pills, DHA, and a multivitamin. I think you can pick up a case like this at any drug store. I highly recommend.

September 11, 2009

Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

There's not much natural support.

"You sacrificed your boobs, you know." I've been told that a few times since becoming a mother. My fellow residents are the only ones to say it that way. As doctors, we've seen a lot of boobies and the saggy grandmas leave an indelible impression that makes many hesitant to have kids and breastfeed.

The only thing keeping the breast suspended are Ligaments of Cooper that are very, very fine elastic fibers. With time and strain they can give out and cause, what we call, "T4* to the floor."

I'm a big supporter of breastfeeding, but I also don't want to carefully maneuver my cane around my boobs one day. So I take the following steps to fight the good fight against the sag.
  • Rotate bras.
    If you wear the same bra all the time, it loses its support. Also, I invest in the good stuff.
  • Wear a sleep bra at night.
    It doesn't have a strong hold, but it's better than nothing.
  • Use the side-lying position for feeding.
  • If I do breastfeed upright, I bring my baby to my boob and not the other way around.
  • Pump before I get engorged.
  • Not dance like this (courtesy of my friend, Brenda).
*T4 is the spinal cord level that innervates sensation in the nipple.

September 4, 2009

The So-Called Landing Strip

Where'd I put the . . . oh, yeah!

On Unclutterer there was discussion of the need for a landing strip, an area by the door* where the day-to-day stuff that falls out of your hands when you enter the home can go. Our dining table was plagued by such items until recently. My husband fixed the lettro wall organizer by Umbra above this formosa side table by CB2 and voila, we have our formal eating space back.

More important, our morning routine is running a bit smoother. I have, hanging from the envelope, the following :
  • Baby's pediatrician appointment card
  • Don't-leave-home-without list:

    Purse and cell phone
    White coat and badges
    Pump and parts
    Cold pack and milk
    Lunch box and water bottle

Do you have a similar system? What's YOUR morning routine like?

*Note that leaving your keys near a mailbox slot, or any other opening to your home is not a good idea (a burgular can get easy access).