Archive | December, 2014

remembering

24 Dec

John’s working the overnight.  We are in Virginia with family, and he jetted up to Delaware for the shift tonight, then he’ll return in the morning and sleep most of the day.

I tore the kids away from a Christmas Eve dinner at my dad’s new (beautiful) home after they were starting to unravel.  Ari, who revels in choices (one zippy [a.k.a. jacket zipper] or two; shoes or hat on first), decided that she wanted her pants off first and, though she was excited about the prospect of them, finally opted against her footie pajamas, and so went off to the car in nothing more than a shirt and diaper.  We read The Polar Express and Brave Irene, sang our song, and got tucked with two blankets (always, always two).  Evie literally passed out the second the ignition turned on, though the transfer to crib was not as smooth.  I ate an apple with pecorino while watching Remember the Titans and scanning facebook.

There have been many moments recently I wish my kids could remember, though of course they won’t.  But I’m glad they won’t remember our absences for these holidays.  50/50 chance I’ll be working Christmas next year.  In the coming years I see us learning how to cultivate an attitude that celebrating on a given day isn’t critical.  And also hoping John and I can rack up as many Christmas/Thanksgiving/July 4th/etc. shifts sooner while their memories are still short.

Recently…

At Mount Vernon:

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Just, oh, wherever:

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The National Museum of the American Indian:IMG_7466 IMG_7474

Longwood:

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Merry Christmas!!

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some holiday cheer on the darkest day

21 Dec

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I have never felt so much anticipation leading up to the winter solstice.  The days are getting longer!  Something about having small children, kind of brings out the seasonal affective disorder in everyone, no?  I broke down and bought a light lamp.

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Can’t say I’ve been as swept up into the holidays this year, but in keeping with tradition, we got our year’s ornament and a special one for our newest family member.  Everyday Graces was kind enough to make Evie a suitable stocking; we chose the fox because, despite her docile nature, she reminds me of one in the way she curls up and sinks her claws into my neck (lovingly) when I first pick her up.

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Cookies and blow-outs (in explanation for the nearly naked babes in the bleak midwinter, or late autumn) with some of our favorites.

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Holiday postcard crafted by minted.

Wishing you and yours a happy Hanukkah, a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

croup

20 Dec

Once you hear the seal-like barking cough of croup, you never forget it.  As a sub-I on the wards last February, I heard my share.  It sounds terrifying, like the entire airway is obstructed.  But then you look at the patient’s oxygen saturation, and it’s close to 100% most of the time–bizarre!

I was really surprised when, hours after Ari went to bed, John listened intently from downstairs, and concluded that she might have croup.  I had heard her cough maybe a few times during the day, but I brushed it off as par for the course given that it’s nearly winter and both kids have been massive producers of snot for the last month or so.  As I listened from the stairway, I heard a tightness as she tried to clear her throat.  Oh, we were in for it.  26 months of skating away from most childhood illnesses, we were more than due.

Things got worse the next day in that Ari’s cough picked up intensity and frequency.  She was more fussy, but I couldn’t appreciate any more concerning signs, like an inspiratory stridor (a high-pitched breath sound from turbulent air flow in the larynx) at rest, increased work of breathing, increased breath frequency…and she just didn’t look sick.  But kids tend to benefit from a single dose of corticosteroids (oral or IV) regardless of severity, so we thought we better get on it.

At our local pharmacy, the pharmacist handed me a medium-sized bottle of what looked like cough syrup and I thought to myself, Great.  What am I going to do with the left over medication since she only needs one dose?  And then I looked at the instructions: Take 80 mL once by mouth.

Seriously?  Uh, that’s nearly 3 ounces…like, about the amount of any fluid Ari might consume (when she’s really thirsty) over the course of dinner.  I looked at the pharmacist, who cringed and nodded sympathetically, then added, “I’ve been told that dexamethasone is one of the better tasting oral steroids.”  UpToDate, on the other hand, states, “The oral preparation of dexamethasone has a foul taste,” to which my eldest and I can now personally attest.

Oh, it was awful!  John and I (mostly John) gave Ari two 5 mL syringes of the syrup at a time, with five or so minutes in between for an Elmo (“Elmo Calls” iPhone app = sanity saver) or “special snack” break.  After about 30 mL, Ari was begging, “ALL DONE! ALL DONE!”  After 40, she was shoving her blankie so far into her mouth so as to try to block any possible point of entry.

Two minutes after the last cc, Ari looked like this:

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Singing along to this video:

So hopefully no lasting trauma.  And “forts” and “boats” (they don’t have to be fancy, see below) go a long way for mood improvement.

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I wish I could say things were all sunshine and rainbows since then.  After a decent night’s sleep, we had a very mercurial Thursday, which included a trek 3.5 hours away with dependents sans husband for a residency interview.  My best friend generously offered to babysit the kids during my efforts to gain employment, so we stayed with him overnight with the hope being that I could just dip out while Ari and Evie were still sleeping.

After nursing Evie down, I proceeded to rock my clinging eldest for well over an hour before she finally submitted.  Ari was just sick enough to be uncomfortable but not so sick that she actually wanted to sleep…ever.  But after she was truly, truly, asleep, tucked in on her cot with her various animals and books, with pillows surrounding her fort/cot, I really thought the worst was over.  I ate dinner.  I prepared for my interview.  I went to bed.

And then I woke up to her screaming one hour later.  This cycle continued throughout the night.  During a brief moment of peace, I got a shower in and pretended that I was already a resident, sleep deprived from a particularly grueling call schedule, then put my suit on just in time for Evie to squawk and consequently wake her sister.

Parents of my future patients, believe me when I say that I empathize…and this is only plain, generic, run-of-the-mill croup!  I can’t imagine the state I’d be in if my kids ever needed a hospital admission.

This is me pulling it together for my interview (new glasses, I can see!  Thank you, hubs!  They might look bigger in selfies…):

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I met the other applicants in the hospital lobby.  Nice people…one hesitantly approached me, pointing to my right shoulder, “I think you might have snot or spit-up (or maybe both?) on your suit.”  Luckily, the Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes stashed in my pumping tote get out just about anything.

The day was lovely, and we reunited with John late last night.  Now we’re looking forward to settling into the holiday (oh, I almost wrote “hospital”) spirit.

 

 

 

lord help the mister…

15 Dec

I’ve been watching White Christmas a little…always found it really boring as a kid, but now I’m kind of hoping our daughters continue to develop into a Rosemary Clooney/Vera-Ellen-like duo.  They’re already thick as thieves!

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I just walked in the door after being gone for the last 36 hours on the interview trail.  Slipping into the crisp, bright sheets of my hotel bed, all to myself, was nothing short of heavenly.  But, after doing a bit of last minute interview prep (more to calm my nerves than anything else), I couldn’t help falling asleep to this video John sent me on repeat:

Just a brief, perhaps obvious, note from interviews: if there are malignant pediatric residency programs out there, I am thankful that I have not encountered them (to my knowledge).  I’m happy to be going into a field where kindness is valued.

recently…

10 Dec

IMG_7067I know I’ve only been here sporadically.  As I’m home with the girls, and additional childcare has been babysitters when I go for residency interviews and for about 10 hours weekly to work (submitting/resubmitting a paper, writing half a dozen others, facilitate a Doctoring course for first years), I’ve struggled more with this balance than others…I think mostly because there’s nothing “acute” (like the work of a clerkship) that must be completed immediately.

But there is also an underlying tension I’m trying so hard to overcome–that caused by wanting so much to move forward while simultaneously grasping at each day, begging that they stop disappearing so quickly.  I’m overwhelmingly excited for graduation and *hopefully* the start of residency (assuming I’m offered a position somewhere).  I want to get started.  But then I also feel this sinking ache of all the moments I’ll miss with my daughters.  Thank God they’re young, and their memories are short (not that those are excuses for the hours and days of their youth I’ll miss in residency).  And they are so loved, I have no concern that they will feel secure.

In college I remember being unable to not finish a book.  Now I can’t remember the last time I finished a book.  There are about 8-12 books on my nightstand with old receipts or postcards marking my place 30-70% the way through each.  I come back to books of comfort, one of which, comically, has become Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis.  There’s a sweet scene that I keep thinking about when I start to feel my anxiety build:

Lewis takes Quinn, his three-year-old daughter, for a night camping in Fairyland.  The family is going through a not-so-easy transition after the recent birth of Dixie, and Quinn has been resentful (in the car on the way to school, for example, she glares at her father with”mad intensity” and says curtly, “My daddy is dead”).  This camping trip is meant as a night out, just daddy and daughter.  The tent is old and decrepit and not water resistant.  There are aggressive donkeys that Quinn thinks are llamas, and she barrels towards them.  The staff serves a banquet of quintessential toddler favorites, including hot dogs and cupcakes.  Multiple late-night activities and readings of Harold and the Purple Crayon.  Multiple wake-ups for emergencies like failure to properly spray the child down with bug spray, “I want your sleeping bag,” and finally “An owl is in the tent!”  And then…

4:12.  “Daddy.”  I wake up.  This time she’s awake, alarmingly alert and rested.  I am not.  “What?” I ask.  “Daddy, I just want to say how much fun I had with you today,” she says.  Actual tears well up in my eyes.  “I had fun with you, too,” I say.  “Can we go back to sleep?”  “Yes, Daddy.”  Then she snuggles right up against me for what I assume will be the long haul.

5:00.  The f—ing birds are actually chirping.  Quinn, of course, awakens with them, turns to me, and begins to sing.

Ugh!  Puddle of heart on the floor!  Trite, perhaps…it helps to read it in the context of Lewis’s biting humor.  It just screams John and Ari, and I’d imagine many of the relationships between father and first born daughter.  And it just reminds me that our daughters will be okay.

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the amazing race

9 Dec

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Tell me if you think this is a good idea: A team of four mamas with a couple hundred other crossfitters, gathered together on a Saturday morning to celebrate the season.  Racing around the suburbs of Philadelphia (amidst determined holiday shoppers who, occasionally, consider stop signs mere suggestions) in the sleet and rain with shopping carts, kettlebells, free weights, and jump ropes.  Consuming some holiday beverage and food (such as smoked yule logs–I kid you not–the memory itself makes me nauseated) of choice, answering trivia questions, in addition to completing a benchmark WOD at each of the nine stations.

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We didn’t think so either.  My soaking shoes felt like there were going to freeze onto my feet.  I continued to taste the (for lack of a better word) tangy flavor of the non-alcoholic mulled wine at station 7 in the back of my throat for hours.  And, carrying the kettlebell back to our parked cart at station 4, I truly thought I would lose the mixture of eggnog, peppermint schnapps, and wassail sloshing up to the fundus of my stomach.

Probably the best babysitting money I’ve ever spent.  (John working the overnight previously was not a deterrent.)  So worth being a part of camaraderie and revelry of team “Jesus and her disciples” (apologies for any offense; we rarely take advantage of my last name).  And it turns out there is a correlation between experience pushing a stroller and ability to maneuver a shopping cart around sidewalks in the rain.

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I didn’t feel right posting pictures focusing on other individuals, but perhaps this group shot captures a glimpse of the creativity of costume and shopping cart decoration (not pictured).  I felt a little embarrassed not putting much effort into preparation, but (as you might notice) I rediscovered my beloved troll doll Santa earrings from second grade.

Loved every minute.