Archive | January, 2015


29 Jan

Interviews are over.  CS is *hopefully* behind me.  And now I’m chipping away at papers left to be completed, but also soaking in my time with the girls.  What’s the saying?  The days are long but the years are short?  Trite and true.  Suddenly it’s almost February and Evie is 8+ months old (and I still haven’t lost the last of the baby weight–ugh!).  While I am so excited/anxious for the Match, I know it will be here in a blink, and then residency.

I feel like we’re trying to strike that balance between doing kind of interesting (a snow day trip to the Outside In exhibition), even outlandish (we’re taking the kids to France in a little over three weeks to see my family there!!) adventures, with the seemingly mundane but made slightly magical by the presence of fun-sized humans (a evening walk).  I intended to write a separate post for each of these picture sets but, well, the days blew by.  No other excuse.

The Academy of Natural Sciences (my daughter had no trouble petting a rat, but terrified of small turtles):

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(and, yes, those are coffee stains…:/)

Girl after my own heart, willing summer to happen by insisting on wearing her beloved fedora and the thinnest excuse for a jacket imaginable:


Forts!!!  (Cannot seem to get my girls smiling in the same picture.)

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One-eye; she reminds me of this dog from Lady and the Tramp:

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27 Jan

It’s been seventy years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

My mother was born in 1943 in Czechoslovakia.  She and her family were significantly altered by the war for years, lifetimes even.  I remember as a small child listening to some of her stories in an otherwise quiet, still house–a bedtime routine that would inadvertently turn to questions, which sometimes inevitably unveiled macabre memories.

May we remember, respect the victims and those who fought and continue to fight for the protection of all men, women, and children, and promote peace.

It means preserving places like Auschwitz so people can always see for themselves how hateful ideologies can become tangible acts of murder.  It means sharing and sustaining the testimonies of witnesses so that they can endure for teachers and students around the world their testimonies give to each survivor everlasting life and give to all of us everlasting value. (Steven Spielberg)

Additional images here.

super high

21 Jan

In case you’re wondering how I’m feeling after taking (hopefully, pending a passing score) my last exam of medical school, this picture sums it up:


If only we all wore our enthusiasm so overtly!

It was a long-ish day.  12 standardized patient encounters in rapid fire.  We had 15 minutes to conduct a focused history and physical exam on each patient, then 10 minutes to write the note, including a brief differential and plan.  I actually kind of enjoyed the note-writing part.  Since the time and character limit forced brevity, it was fun to bang out quick, hopefully appropriate differentials without worrying a ton about the quality of writing, as long as the point was conveyed.

And, of course, since many of the encounters were adult patients, it only reinforced my love of pediatrics.


d.c. and cs

19 Jan

For my last two interviews, I got to stay with my good friend Lisa.  She’s a fellow in pediatric hospital medicine and medical education.  Since day 1, when I first decided I wanted to go into medicine, she has been a tremendous source of support and guidance.  There was a nice symmetry with ending my interview trail (and celebrating that small milestone) with her.


But then there was also this…IMG_7614

On the bus to and from D.C.  While pumping during interview days.  Or, rather pleasantly, nestled at The Coupe.

Tomorrow I take part in this insanely expensive exercise that’s required for me to practice medicine.  I am ready, but I still have random moments of panic when I’ll run down the stairs and bark at John, “What’s that physical exam finding I’m supposed to illicit, you know, for that wrist thing that’s not carpal tunnel??”

If there are any prospective med students, MS1s, MS2s, or MS3s still reading and you’re not too bombarded by so, so much advice…may I?  If I could do this again, I would have scheduled this exam within a month or two of completing clerkships, before diving into mostly pediatric electives and sub-Is.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun to read up on things like giant cell arteritis, which I haven’t given as much thought to in the last year or so, but I think CS would be slightly less stressful if taken fresh out of third-year rotations.  In addition, more and more programs are requiring scores for CS earlier, and this exam is a nightmare to schedule.

To end on a sweet note before I call it a night:

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In comparison with her more easy-going sister, Ari has been assigned the role of more temperamental of the sisters.  While probably accurate, I wanted to share just one example of her profound ability to empathize, perhaps to a fault.  Tonight I got Evie down first and Ari and I had a little one-on-one time during our book-bed routine.  She asked to take a book to bed with her.  Fine.  I tucked her in, sang our song, said our goodnights and I-love-yous.  A few minutes later, I wasn’t surprised by the sound of pages turning and a high-pitched voice practicing words.  Then quiet.

After 10 minutes, I heard bloodcurdling, persistent screaming, and I knew immediately what had happened.  When I opened the door, Ari was standing up in her crib, tears in her eyes, pointing at the ground and repeating, “Book fall!  Book fall!”  I hugged her for a moment to console her, repeated her statement so she knew I understood, and assured her that I could get the book back for her.  She then said something else that I had a hard time understanding at first, but when she repeated, it was clearer.  “Sorry, book.”

Oh, sweet one.  Her affect was so similar to what she exhibits when she accidentally (or, let’s be honest, sometimes purposefully) upsets Evie in some way, and she is so quick to apologize.  (For Evie, she’ll apologize for the slightest infraction.  For her parents, forget it.)

And now I really should call it a night…

It’s been a big week!


great title, great article

18 Jan

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I finally had a chance to read this smart, snappy, and heart-warming article on the Megabus to D.C. this week.  The piece was written by Ryan Park, the husband of a fellow Goucher post-bacc and friend.  One of the highlights of the holidays was getting our girls together–although they still kind of suck at sharing, it’s pretty sweet to watch toddler girls attempt at play together–and commiserating about the joys and challenges of balancing parenting with our careers.

In reading the comments, it’s frustrating how many people seem to miss the point.  There’s a lot of criticism regarding Park’s background and how his opportunity to stay home is rather exceptional.  But he doesn’t shy away from this fact and, of his many arguments, I don’t think he states that men should be stay-at-home dads.  Instead, he articulately defends Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s statement, “gender lines in the law are bad for everyone: bad for women, bad for men, and bad for children,” using legal history, comparisons with the legislation of other countries, and personal anecdotes.

There are so many excerpts that resonate with me, I had a hard time not copying and pasting the entire article (maybe I should have).  But to select out a few…

I could not agree more with the decision to take a year out:

My wife, without really even considering doing otherwise, had already taken almost a year off from medical school after Caitlyn was born, partly to support me during a challenging clerkship, and partly because she believed it would be good for Caitlyn’s development. But mostly it was for my wife herself. She valued motherhood and wanted to experience it fully, for as long as she could without jeopardizing her professional goals.

Yes.  Full body nod:

At the close of my 20s, it struck me that any success I had managed to achieve would not have been possible without a certain single-minded devotion to my studies and work—to the exclusion, at times, of healthy habits and relationships. A few weeks shy of my 30th birthday, when I met Caitlyn for the first time, single-mindedness dissolved as a viable life plan for my 30s. Amid the sleep-deprived excitement, frustrations, and frenetic activity of those first months as a father, my new reality sank in: For the foreseeable future, balancing my family with my career would be the defining challenge of my life.


The fatherhood bonus also dissipates when men become more involved at home. Drawing from data tracking the lives and careers of more than 12,000 people over 28 years, Scott Coltrane of the University of Oregon found that both men and women pay persistent and severe financial penalties when they step back from their careers. In fact, men seem to fare slightly worse. Men who take time away from work for family reasons experience a 26.4 percent reduction in future earnings, whereas women experience a 23.2 percent reduction. And men who decrease their work hours for family reasons suffer a 15.5 percent decline, while women’s salaries decline by just 9.8 percent. In other words, having a family helps men in the workplace only if they submit to their traditional gender role.

What the data show, I think, is that “having it all”—even at different times, as the Boss suggested she was able to do—may well be impossible for most people. For every Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who famously suffered no ill career effects from taking a five-year break from her career to raise her children, there are many more women and men who’ve found their professional trajectories forever circumscribed by similar life choices. But it’s just as true that every person who learns of his child’s first word the way I did—via text message during a late night at the office—has sacrificed immensely at the altar of professional success and financial necessity.


Sweden’s cultural expectations mirror its laws. T.’s wife knows a Swedish cardiologist who returned to work after his requisite 60 days at home. Despite his joy at becoming a father, the drudgery of life with a newborn didn’t sit well with him. His wife, a doctor at the same institution, agreed to stay home for the rest of the couple’s allotted time. But on his return to work, the hospital’s leaders pulled him aside and delivered a stern lecture on the poor example he was setting. He was soon back to changing diapers and warming bottles, and the couple redistributed their leave more evenly.

Not surprisingly, a wide body of research shows that children who have engaged, supportive fathers are better socialized, have stronger cognitive and language skills, and are more emotionally balanced. A 2007 study by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health also found that taking parental leave was good for men themselves over the long run: Those who did it lived longer than those who didn’t, perhaps because it caused them to moderate traditionally masculine, self-destructive behaviors. And it has been shown that mothers’ incomes rise about 7 percent for each month that a father spends at home with the children.

On the other hand, when men don’t have the opportunity to take parental leave, women’s incomes suffer. As economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn have found, the cost and disruption associated with generous maternity leave “may lead employers to engage in statistical discrimination against women for jobs leading to higher-level positions.” In other words, why invest in a woman’s career if you fear, reasonably, that she might leave for a year at 80 percent pay when a similarly qualified man doesn’t have that option? There is also some indication that unequal leave harms the family unit as a whole. Divorce and separation rates, which were rising in most parts of the world, fell in Sweden after the initial institution of a “daddy month” in 1995 (it was extended to the two months in 2002).



8 Jan

Whoa!  The wind on the East Coast has been ridiculous!  I don’t think I’m a bad flyer, but the landings of both flights were a little anxiety-provoking.

Safe home now.  About to go get the suit cleaned for my LAST interview–the pants are a bit stained from snow and street salt.

I felt like I wanted to bring a little something back for the girls…but of course it didn’t occur to me until I was in the airport on the way home, and my days in Massachusetts were busy with interviewing and meeting babies (those of some of my favorite friends in Beantown).  I picked up a paperback copy of Make Way for Ducklings for Ari.  I felt so torn about something for Evie.  If I get something for one, I should get something for the other, but I feared John’s wrath if I spent $10 on a board book of Goodnight, Boston.

Then I remembered the 20 minutes I just spent in the family restroom at Boston Logan, and all the other times I pumped in public over the last two-and-a-half days:

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I know my audience.

first (solo) flight

5 Jan

A little over a year ago, when Ari was one year old and a bit of a terror on airplanes, John left us for several days for a conference.  He sat in the middle seat between two morbidly obese men, one of whom smelled like tobacco.  All he could think was, This is the most relaxing flight I’ve ever been on.  I’ve been seething with jealousy since.

Well, after the recent somewhat disastrous trip, John figured he owed me.  Today I kissed my girls and John goodbye for the next two-and-a-half days (that seems like an obscenely long period of time), drank a martini in terminal E, and boarded a plane.  By myself.  I almost sprung forward when they called for passengers with infants and small children.  I fell asleep listening to Serial and woke up at Boston Logan.

I’m catching up on a few emails at a coffee shop in the airport, and a toddler is tantruming behind me, and the noise somehow seems so much quieter than anything my kids produce.  I feel a little guilty leaving John alone with the kids just shy of a week after his bilateral hernia repair…but maybe it’s comparable to when John ditched me and Ari for Alaska when I was sick at 7+ months pregnant?  And I have to get a job for next year; I have double-header interviews, so while there will be some sweet moments to relax, I’m taking the next two days seriously.

I’m still catching up on sleep from the holidays…which I think can be summarized by this picture…


Ari: up way, way past bedtime, so ready to ring in the New Year.  I was initially wearing something cuter, but it got covered in urine.  In the middle of the night, Ari pretended she was eating my limbs, and wedged her cute, ridiculously strong little feet into my ribcage, and commanded, “Mommy play!!!”  And yet she was still able to chase me around the following day:


So many thanks (sincerely!) to these crazy kids for putting up with our antics and teaching Evie to crawl (*sigh* potted plant phase officially over; homegirl can move!!).  I would have otherwise, surely, had a very unmemorable, lonely new years:

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