Thursday, December 16, 2010

THEY COULD'VE MENTIONED THAT - PART DEUX

Well, I'm back from another hiatus from Blogtown. No good excuses really - just no time and no creativity. I went back and read my previous blogs and, let me tell you, things have drastically changed. Well, except that I'm still dog tired. And, I feel like I have no time to myself. Oh, and I have no clue what today's date is...erm, so maybe things haven't changed that much. As I had suspected, over the past number of months, I've come to realize more things that I wish They would've told me. Again, feel free to add to my list, whether I'm at that stage or not, because that false sense of preparedness really does wonders! So, without further ado...

They could've mentioned that....

1. Poop can wreak havoc on a family. Constipation, I'm talking to you.

2. The pediatrician will always find SOMETHING for you to follow up on, no matter how big or small. I'm convinced there's commission involved somewhere.

3. Even when you've got things covered, time is still spent on wondering how things might not be covered, or how they can be better covered. Let it go, mediocrity is the new perfection.

4. Babies do quirky things and look weird sometimes. It doesn't necessarily mean there's a developmental issue.

5. Even though you very much know that most people are not as invested in your baby as you are, you still have that desperate urge to post a zillion pictures with hopes of acquiring a few converts who appreciate the awesomeness that is your baby (deep down, though, you realize that this is likely not the case).

6. Babies claw like rabid animals.

7. Even though they're tiny, babies are resilient little creatures.

8. Babies are little weebles with very round bottoms. Weeble + soft bed + nimble movements = Hello, Floor. Good thing for #7.

9. While you are clapping and making a fool out of yourself that your baby is now crawling, pulling to stand, what-have-you...you will also be thinking in the back of your mind "please, no."

10. Even though you survived childhood with cardboard boxes, keys, and balls, you will feel the urge to buy that fancy $40 plastic toy with all the bells and whistles because the experts say how great it is for bringing out your child's inner savant. Too bad you know that your savant is just going to drool on it and smack herself in the head with it, but alas, you buy the damn thing anyway.

11. "Pregnancy brain" is a misnomer. That mental fog and memory deficit you feel while pregnant and then on maternity leave is actually your new brain taking over. That's right, you just traded that sharp lamborghini brain of yours in for a pinto.




Thursday, September 23, 2010

CALL ME CYNICAL

It's no secret that I'm cynical. It's part of my charm, I say. Not only is it my way of viewing the world, it's my way of coping with it. So, it's not surprising that my blog today is written with the cynic in mind. But bear with me because beneath my cynicism is a real issue. I was talking with a good friend tonight about some of the tribulations of motherhood. It became clear in our conversation that too often we experience women who romanticize motherhood. Now, that's not to say that motherhood is torturous, so how could anyone NOT complain. But, I AM saying that many women seem to feel the need to minimize or dismiss the frustrations of motherhood in order to appear like they've got their sh*t together when, in reality, they struggle to maintain their sanity at times, too. In general, my personality is to call BS when I hear someone talk all positive or all negative - it just isn't real. And, most importantly, it's annoying. When I really think hard about why the all-or-nothing attitude bothers me, it comes down to the fact that it totally minimizes and invalidates other people's feelings. It's isolating and it makes people doubt themselves. So, let's keep it real. The women who paint a rose-colored picture of parenting (and, ironically, I have found my cynical self guilty of this at times) don't realize that in the process of convincing themselves and others that they can handle anything, they make those of us who struggle with the stresses feel bad about ourselves. In my opinion, women shouldn't feel guilty for acknowledging when things are tough or overwhelming. We get too focused on not wanting to look like the complainer, wanting to look like we can do it all, or, worst of all, potentially being perceived as not loving our children. Of course we love our children. Acknowledging the poo doesn't mean we love them less, and maintaining that everything is perfect doesn't mean we love them more. Bottom line, I have learned that there are aspects of parenting that are just unpleasant, unfortunate, and unfair. That's not to say that everyday should be a bitchfest, but I am a believer that if we can talk more openly about those hair-pulling moments with each other, a lot of guilt and the incidence of postpartum depression would decrease. [Did anyone else hear those violins in the background?]

As I step off my soapbox, I will preface my List below with the fact that I love Leila more than I can put into words (which, now that I think about it, is probably why my blogs focus on the cynical stuff), and I happen to think that, overall, I'm a pretty good mom so far. I just need to get a few things off my chest. So, here we go. It is totally UNFAIR that...

1. I can describe, in detail, the pattern of shadows the moonlight creates on the nursery wall at 3AM.

2. Only a mere 12 months after celebrating my doctoral degree, do I feel like I can only have coherent conversations about baby spit up.

3. My "friends" blatantly lied to me about this "4-month hurdle," after which things magically fall into place and parenting an infant becomes an easy, blissful experience. Well, Leila's 5 months old - is it me, or is it just as damn hard as it was a month ago?

4. Getting ready to take Leila to the babysitter's looks like I'm packing for a week-long trip to Paris. Well, minus the passport. And Paris.

5. After only spurts of sleep here and there, the next morning I have black circles under my eyes while Leila is a perky, happy, rosy-cheeked cherub of a bebe.

6. My social life has dwindled down to ".com"

I really could go on, but it's 4:42AM (I'm sure I could work that into the list somewhere). Feel free to share your own "UNFAIR!" moments. When all else fails, they at least provide mommies everywhere with a good laugh!

Friday, August 20, 2010

STEROIDS: THEY AREN'T JUST FOR BASEBALL PLAYERS

Leila's treatment for her hemangioma is officially underway. We decided to go with treatment via a research study at Children's Hospital because, well frankly, it just made sense. Here's why: Hemangiomas have historically been treated with prednisolone with great success. However, the corticosteroid has lots of unpleasant and scary side effects (vomiting, chubby cheeks, temporarily stunted growth, irritability, insomnia - to name a few). And let me tell ya, when you've had a chubby-cheeked baby with reflux and colic due to milk protein allergy, the idea of having a crankier and pukier baby who sleeps even less and has chipmunkier cheeks is really frightening. There's another medication, propranolol, that has accidently shown some efficacy in treating hemangiomas, but it doesn't have a well-known treatment history like prednisolone does. The benefit of the propanolol is that it has relatively few side effects, so that's comforting. Bottom line, Josh and I couldn't make up our minds about treatment because for every pro there seemed to be a con. Aside from Leila's situation, participating in the study seemed like the right thing to do given that my career is centered around doing clinical research to help children get better. I felt like it would be kind of hypocritical to not consider helping other kids in the process of treating Leila's hemangioma. So here we are, participating in a single-blind clinical trial of both medications. We were randomized to the prednisolone arm of the study and we're now one dose in. We had to take her in to the hospital for an ultrasound, blood sugar check, and to get the medication. Josh and I hated every minute of it. I actually cried during the ultrasound. To see such a little peanut pinned down with a wand over her face and goop running into her eye just seemed cruel. The fact that she was wailing so hard she was purple didn't help. Fast forward to today - so far, we've had a good day. Leila has been smiling, resting, cat napping, and occasionally crying (well, I hear babies do that from time to time...). If we don't see any progress in the next 2 weeks (aka the hemangioma doesn't shrink), we'll be taken out of the study and switched to propranolol. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the medication is effective and she (and we!) doesn't have to suffer many side effects.

On a lighter note, Murphy is now bonded with our little Roger Clemens. From here on out, they'll be known as "The Steroid Siblings." Or should it be "The Prednisone Pair" ?? :)

See my feet! My blood sugar was normal - 82.

Mommy is beyond tired. I mean, look at her! By the way, this fist tastes great...nom, nom, nom...

Daddy walked me around to make me feel better. It worked!

Friday, July 23, 2010

"CHEEEEEESE!"












Monday, July 5, 2010

A HEMA-WHAT?

Well, I've returned to the blogosphere after a short hiatus. A lot has been going on with ironing out a schedule and, most recently, arranging doctors appointments. The latest news is that little Miss Leila had developed what looked like a bruise and burst blood vessel on the side of her nose by her left eye. It was a little worrisome then, but after it started to grow, my worry catapulted to a whole new level. I tried to keep calm by telling myself "it's a burst blood vessel and those things resolve on their own within a few weeks," but I had a gut feeling that this was not something that normal. The nurse and pediatrician upon first glance immediately diagnosed it as a hemangioma. A hema-what? Well, I've heard the term before but couldn't recall in what context. The "oma" kept swarming around in my mind because I know all too well that that suffix means tumor. My baby cannot have a tumor. So, a hemangioma is a benign tumor of the cells that line the blood vessels. It's often referred to as a category of birth marks because a child is born with it (even though you might not see it right away). Hemangiomas typically look like bright red strawberries on the surface of the skin, but can look like a purplish bruise if it's beneath the skin. These things go through proliferation (a growth phase) until the child is about 12 months old, rest, and then go through involution where they start to diminish. Most will diminish by the time the child is 5 years old, but for some children it doesn't diminish until they're 10. TEN?!?! Psychologist Mom steps in. That has too many social implications, as far as I'm concerned. This is what I do for a living - help children with acute and chronic illness adjust to their differences and come to terms with their illness, and help them feel like a normal kid. I also provide support to the parents. Oh, man, this is irony at its finest. Am I going to have to do this with my own daughter? Is this a "full circle" moment? Am I going to have to provide support to myself? Ha! Then I kick into "let's get rid of this thing" mode. Well, according to my pediatrician and online resources, oftentimes doctors advocate for no treatment because it's benign and cosmetic, so they let it run its course. Psychologist Mom hears that and immediately shakes her head 'no.' Definitely not. Well, in Leila's case, they might not have an option to let it be given its location at her eye. I'm taking her to see a couple of specialists this week to have the hemangioma evaluated, specifically to determine the risk of vascular damage around her eye. As I understand it, if there's any inkling that it will affect her vision, they will want to treat it while it's in the proliferation stage. How the hell do you treat this thing? Somebody better say something other than the word 'surgery.' Well, often treatment involves corticosteriods and beta blockers. We'll see what other options we have once we talk to the ophthalmologist and cosmetic surgeon. Why am I having to say 'cosmetic surgeon' when my little baby is only 9 weeks old?? I also think to myself that this could be worse. I really hate that phrase, but after working in pediatric hospitals for the past 10 years, I have seen countless heartbreaking and completely unfair situations. So, I'm working on keeping this whole thing in perspective. We're on top of it and doing everything we can do at the moment. And, truth be told, even that's not comforting. Anyone have a magic wand??

Friday, June 4, 2010

BUT THE BOOK SAYS...

Once you learn that you are pregnant, all the talk about pregnancy, delivery, and parenting begins in full force - with family, friends, and, much to my chagrin, strangers. Nothing like a baby (or puppy) to bring out the extrovert and "experts" in people. During these discussions, it becomes clear that there is a great divide between generations when it comes to raising children. Nowadays, things seem pretty hard core compared to the 70's [insert favorite illegal substance joke here]. I was actually shocked with all the gentle advice (read: firm recommendations delivered with a ruler to the hand) I've received. One of my faves: No baby powder. "I'm sorry, what?" Apparently, it's now considered a hazard because the baby can ingest it, creating serious lung damage. Um, I'm not planning on unscrewing the cap and dumping it all over her face, leaving her engulfed in a haze of white powdery goodness. And, last I checked, we don't breath through our butt cracks. What's wrong with a dry, rash-free, fresh smelling bum? It didn't kill me or anyone else over the past 120 years, so in Josh's words, the pediatricians can pound sand on that one. The American Academy of Pediatrics and all these Don't Kill Your Baby 101 books really lay down the law with what is considered "good" parenting. I actually feel judged when I read them. My God, all the expectations involved in raising your child flawlessly can drive you to the nut house (erm, maybe a poor choice of words considering my profession) before the kid's 1 week old. I've found that these books can be reassuring in terms of general expectations of babies' behavior and developmental milestones, etc., but I think they also create a pretty rigid view of good parenting and, as you read through all the no-no's, create this drive for [unattainable] parenting perfection. Just with anything in life, isn't it all about balance and common sense? I think, for now, I'm done with the advice books. I'm to the point where I feel like I'm raising a mogwai, who I will turn into a gremlin with one benign, good-intentioned parenting misstep. So, perfect parent or not, I'm going to sit back comfortably with a paper umbrella in my bottle of baby powder, toasting the old school attitude and enjoying my baby girl. Cheers!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

THEY COULD'VE MENTIONED THAT

When you gleefully spread the word that you're expecting a bundle of joy (squeal!), people come out of the woodwork to tell you all about the trials and tribulations of the process - from pregnancy to early parentood. What seems like every conversation starts off with "When I was pregnant..." or "[insert kid's name] did this and that" ("this and that" being the most brilliant, funny, or nightmarish thing ever, of course), and is followed by cure-alls, fix-its, and other various ways to cope. Let's just say the advice was not in short supply. Not only that, but it was totally helpful. Like with everything else in life, once you go through the process yourself, you not only connect your experience with all that advice (ah, now I get what she meant by "pain like you've never experienced before"), but you also build your own stories and come up with personal words of wisdom. After all, you're now an old pro. But, you're also left scratching your head at some tidbits that apparently missed the advice train. Here are some of those things, in no specific order, that you wished They would've mentioned:

1. Despite heroic efforts, sometimes you're just not going to know what in the hell your baby wants. And that's OK because eventually you'll figure it out (but be prepared to not look graceful in the process).

2. Parenthood is not always full of blissful goo-goo and ga-ga moments. Sure, They warn you about the sleep deprivation, but there are moments when you want to tear your hair out from what seems like nothing (which is actually the cumulative stress of the life-changing transition you've just been thrust into).

3. Formula smells disgusting.

4. It's not the middle-of-the night feedings that are the roughest, it's the one that takes place 45 minutes before your alarm clock goes off that makes you want to pound your fists into the mattress.

5. Lanugo, the downy fine hair that keeps your baby warm in utero, is frightening when you see it in person. The ear hair alone can rival that of any 80-year-old grandfather. Quick, make that wax appointment at the spa for two! (just kidding, don't call Child and Family Services on me).

6. Babies develop acne and, just like with teenagers, it's not cute.

7. Despite their convenience (those suckers snap into everything!), car seats are bulky, awkward, and more difficult to schlep around than what those fabulous moms in 4-inch heels make it seem.

8. Your beautiful bundle of joy will molt. Not only that, you will find yourself itching to slather her with any lotion you can get your hands on (a newfound no-no).

9. We definitely all know about and expect the sleep deprivation, but what They don't warn you about is that you do asinine things as a result of this extreme fatigue - like, oh, say walking into a Thai restaurant to pick up a pizza you ordered from the Italian place nearby (and, instead of realizing you're in the wrong place, you wonder why the Italian place has Asian decor).

10. If you weren't already, you will become One with the clock. However, that's only for timing the feedings. Otherwise, you will be late for everything despite giving yourself 5 hours to get ready.

11. Along those lines, spontaneity is totally out the window.

12. Babies have ironic timing. Example: Leaning down to your beautiful bundle to teasingly say, "You're smelly" only to have her respond with two farts in your palm and a sly little grin (that's our girl!)

13. The clothes may be tiny, but laundry loads double. And, although you're prepared for multiple onesie changes, what They don't tell you is that you go through that many outfit changes yourself because, unfortunately, the baby doesn't just spit up on herself.

14. On the spit up note...pristine, adorable baby clothes acquire tan splotches after only one wear. Worse yet, that tan crap doesn't seem to wash out. Booooo hissss.

15. The baby monitor doesn't just capture the baby's noises. You can be heard over that blasted thing, too.


So, these are just a few tidbits I wish someone would've told me. I'm sure there will be plenty more to come, and you can bet they'll show up in the blog....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CUE THE CONFETTI!

Success! Thanks to Hubby having to work a double shift today (meaning that he had to rise and shine at 4AM), Leila slept in her crib last night! Now, before you get too excited (OK, maybe it's just her own mother relishing in this), it was only a 3-hour success. But I'll take it! After Leila's 2AM feeding, she was noisy enough that we went into the nursery to allow Hubby a couple of hours to sleep. Oh, this was going to be a challenge. You should know, Hubby and I have had a hard time putting Leila to bed in the crib. Call it anxiety or call it wanting to stay in our comfort zone - after all, she calms so quickly in her little comfy lambie swing - we (aka Hubby) immediately "rescues" her from the big bad crib after about, oh, 60 seconds. And if the rescue isn't so swift, Daddy is planted at cribside, hovering over the edge of crib watching Leila's every move with the baby monitor held directly up to his ear like a cell phone.

So, back to last night...out of pure fatigue, I put her in the crib without reservation and flopped my tired self into the big girl bed at cribside. I laid there anxiously waiting to see what was about to transpire. Although I was thrilled she didn't start testing the strength of those little lungs, I wasn't in the clear yet. Of course, she was totally fine - just making the sounds babies do when they're settling into sleep. But, let me give you an idea of what was running through my mind...What was *that* noise? Is that normal? I should check on her. No, I cannot check on her - she's fine. Did she just spit up? I should check on her. No, I cannot check on her - she's fine. Was that a pre-meltdown noise? I should check on her. No, I cannot check on her - she's fine. Crap, Hubby has rubbed off on me! I, with my training in child development, am supposed to be the voice of reason. Here I am, laying wide awake (albeit with my eyes closed, as if I'm fooling anyone into thinking that I'm sleeping) worrying about every breath, sound, sneeze, hiccup...you name it. But, as we say in psychology, it's all about the "reframe." So, instead of focusing on having become the ball of nerves I gently tease Hubby about, I'm choosing to enjoy the fact that we made it over a big hurdle last night!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS

For those who know me, most (OK fine, all) would say that I'm not the most domestic creature. Quite the opposite actually. If I could pay someone to go around the house and pick up all my half-empty cans filled with flat coke, I totally would (takers, anyone??). So, as you can imagine, this motherhood gig is quite the challenge for my domestic incompetence. I thought I was doing good - staying on top of cleaning bottles, doing dishes, doing loads of laundry, wiping the kitchen countertops clean...you get the drift. But it's crazy just how much one 8lb little being can produce in a day...forget that, in an HOUR! After I've wiped the kitchen countertops clean, what seems like 2 minutes later, residue from powdered formula crops up all over the place (can someone explain how it got down in the stove??) and, now, wet rings from newly washed bottles have seemingly reproduced like those creepy camelback crickets in the basement. Talk about leaving a girl feeling deflated! Worse yet, by the end of the day, despite feeling like my day couldn't have been busier, it looks like I've done absolutely nothing except make sure the dent in the sofa stays exactly in the shape of my butt! This raises the question that's been wracking my brain for the past couple of weeks now: how the heck is the condo going to survive once I go back to work? And who would've thought that this would be the primary concern of an undomestic goddess? On that note, some countertops are calling my name....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Naming your soon-to-be bundle of joy is a big deal. Not only will your child carry this with them for life, but it is the first thing that truly connects you to them before their big arrival in a way that is far more real than looking at an ambiguous picture (which, quite frankly, resembles a big-headed Seuss character). But once a name is chosen, GAME ON! This little fuzzy black-and-white Who all of a sudden becomes a real little person - YOUR real little person. For me, once we decided on a name, I started fantasizing about what she would look like. Whose features would she have? Would she have big blue eyes like her daddy? Long legs? Would she make sarcastic zingers like her mommy? Or, Heaven forbid, would she like the History Channel?!

For me, the name game was a difficult one. Once we found out we were having a girl, hubby knew pretty quickly that he wanted to name our bundle Leila (pronounced "Leela") - my grandmother's name. Leila is a pretty, feminine name that you don't hear that often, but not as obscure as a cuckoo fad name (Apple, anyone?). In fact, the name brings up many positive attributes for me. However, after losing my grandmother in 2008, the name became loaded. As beautiful as it is, it felt wrong to call anyone else by her name. When I hear "Leila," I picture a petite, white-haired grandmother with wide, sparkling blue eyes and a grin that made you wonder just what secret she was hanging on to. But, I remained torn. Even though it was strange and uncomfortable to call someone else Leila, my grandmother was so special that I also loved the idea of making our little baby girl her namesake. Ultimately, we decided to go for it. We feel confident that Baby Leila can carry the name well and make her great-grandmother proud.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'M A MOTHER

So, the title says it all. Well almost. It's all about the punctuation, people. Right about now I'm feeling the period, the question mark, and the exclamation point. I'M A MOTHER. The period makes the most simple and pure statement of the recent change in roles in my life. I'm a wife, daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, and - yes - now a mother. I'M A MOTHER? The question mark captures my disbelief in this change in roles and the fact that I am now responsible for the well-being of a little human being, despite still feeling like a kid myself at times. Almost 3 weeks have passed since we welcomed Baby Leila into our lives, but it still does not feel real. When people ask how we're adjusting, with humor I respond that I have moments when I expect her parents to show up at our door ready to take her back home. Although I joke, it's true. But those are just moments - which, quite honestly, are fueled by the grueling feeding schedule and the seemingly never ending sleep deprivation. The many other moments are captured by the exclamation point...I'M A MOTHER! It's such an exciting transition, albeit overwhelming. Two days after Leila's birth, Josh and I were sitting on the couch snuggling with our little monkey and out of nowhere, the realization hit us - we're a family. That's right, we shot straight from partnership into family, all within a blink of an eye. One minute we're two people facing an abstract transition, while the next we're staring at our beautiful (and I mean beautiful!) baby girl.

I've wondered if this mix of emotion is normal. When I have my question mark moments, I feel guilty. You hear about so many women embracing what seems like the bliss of mommyhood, and here I am wondering what in the hell I've gotten myself into. But all it takes is a little grin, soft coo, or a tight grasp of my finger to turn my question mark moment into one with an exclamation point.