Tuesday, January 31, 2006

happy birthday to me

oh good, so I'm still in bloggy-land.
So I turn 31 today. As I got up for the 3rd time between 3 and 4 this morning, I felt pretty sorry for myself. "It's my birthday, dammit," I muttered to the mewling babe, as I barely resisted the urge to cram the pacifier down his throat and toss his swaddled heiny right out the window. As if I am owed something, just for showing up in the world. Hee hee.
We'd forgotten all such unpleasantness when we woke up for real around 6:30. Charming habit Gabriel has adopted, of waking up and cheerfully chortling to himself in his crib for 20 minutes or more as I pretend I'm still asleep under the comforter. And then when I finally walk in the door, he lays a big smile on me . And a poopy diaper. Inevitably. But that goofy gummy smile is something else.
Celebrations of the day include: buying a book at the quite adequate bookstore in the strip mall next to the grocery store. I picked out Annie Proulx' first volume of Wyoming Stories. I'm all excited to read Brokeback Mountain after being quite astounded by the movie. My mother-in-law has a story about Annie Proulx, about her health, actually, naturally. I guess she called the doctor's office where my MIL worked in Northern Colorado trying to get a referral of some sort. MIL says she was rather imperious and did not care about insurance. "I could buy this practice," or something like, were her words to poor, harried MIL on the line, trying to figure out where to send her . The rich/famous get harassed by the mundane details, just like the rest of us. They can just ignore the foolishness and still get what they need. Nice, that.
Have been promised Indian take-out for dinner by M. Am very looking forward. Will almost make up for the fact that M announced this morning he would be redeeming his Christmas gift cert for a massage today. I mean, true, I got it for him to get a nice massage at this lovely spa in Berkeley. But to finally find the time to work it in on MY birthday without inviting me along seems a bit mean. This is one of those things though, that M, being a man, won't get unless I bring it up. And I'm trying to be bigger, really, growing as a person... and so will repress it until I burst into tears later. Well, here's to growing.

Monday, January 30, 2006

testing, testing

I just did something way out of my technology comfort zone and tried to add a link to this here blog. Apparently this involves monkeying with the code and I think I royally screwed it up. So just to make sure I can still publish on this site... here goes.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

cantankerous me

So day #4 of antibiotic treatment for ear infection. Gabriel has taken a real liking to the amoxicillin in all its pink vileness, licking his lips as I squirt it into his mouth, then blowing raspberries to show his glee. It has turned his poo temporarily (I hope) green, and given his farts a very aromatic je ne sais quoi. I'm a little alarmed that this child, who is not yet in day care or exposed to any pre-school riff raff has at 5 months managed to brew up an ear infection with only a little help from the sniffles and a plane ride. Is this the beginning of a long love affair with antibiotics of varying hues? Will he end up with tubes in his ears like his cousins? Will his grandmother* rhaphsodize about his medical woes as gratingly often as she does about her own?
The pediatrician, humoring me as he knows I'm a sometimes med student, let me look at the ear drum in his groovy magnifying otoscope. I don't know much about ("algebra, don't know what a slide rule is for..." sing it!) peds, but that was one red, bulgy ear drum. And I'm feeling pretty dumb because the only symptom he had was a cough, for, like, weeks. For as much reading and studying as I've done in my medical "career" to date, I am realizing that you don't actually learn anything until you've seen it in a real person. Lingering cough...ear infection, of course!
As excited as Gabriel is about getting his next dose of yummy medicine, he is still very luke warm to the idea of eating rice cereal with a spoon. Perhaps I should dye it pink and squirt it down his throat, but no, that would not be the point. The spoon, the big boy eating, that is the point. Maybe he just doesn't like rice cereal and despite offering it 10-15 times (as recommended on the box, in Gerber's desperate bid to sell more baby cereal), it's just a bland as cardboard. Now that his palate has been ruined by the tasty, sweetened meds, I think we should try something a little more toothsome...pears, anyone?

* My MIL really deserves a post of her own, but in brief, I have never had a conversation with her that did not eventually make its way back to someone's ill health, preferably hers. She recently met her 5 month old grandniece, but the only details I managed to retain in the litany of dear Flora's virtues are 1) she sleeps through the night 2) she eats every four hours 3) she hardly cries at all except when she had DOUBLE EAR INFECTIONS and then she just went "ahh ahh."
She declared the last with such glee that I wanted to kick her for getting such a vicarious thrill out of a small person's distress. But perhaps my judgment is slightly biased due to fatigue (my 5 month old son does not sleep through the night), breastfeeding every 2-1/2 hours, and frazzled nerves secondary to fussy, inconsolable infant with only one ear infected. Perhaps I am just a bitch.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

We did survive

We limped back in to SFO two nights ago, ragged and sniping at each other, me wearing a weepy, bewildered 20lb baby in his bjorn. Good lord. Why do people travel? For fun? For relaxation? The funny part is, of course, that I love to travel. The farther and more frequently, the better. And Gabriel actually handled it all like a champ, obligingly sleeping off the stimulation of the airport madness during each flight. But the being there, the sojourn, that was the truly trying part. For some reason it is much much more exhausting to take care of a baby away from home, away from all the doo-hickies and accoutrements that I use to ditch the kid, I mean, entertain the child, whilst I take a few moments for myself. His mobile, good for a couple 15 minute breaks a day, our ritual cup of tea in the morning: Gabriel in his bouncy seat staring at the light fixture, me reading the funnies. And while grandparents could be seen as the ultimate child entertaining product, I found it nerve wracking when, after a few moments of delight, he would inevitably cry and fuss in their care. Attachment mommy control freak: if my child is crying, I would much prefer that I be holding him! It makes sense in that primal, evolutionary part of the brain only. He seemed to cry a lot more on our trip, whether due to over stimulation and disruption of routine (child after mine own heart), or long brewing ear infection, I can't say. Made me look like the mom of a malcontent and cranky baby, nonetheless. By the time we got to M's parents, Gabriel had really had it. And so had I, frankly, but we soldiered on. M and his father managed to not fight, and I managed to not strangle his mother, despite somewhat veiled references to my weight, my intelligence and my worth as a person. Or perhaps I'm over-reacting.
Bright spots:
--Snow! dressing up the baby in his snowsuit and taking him out to see the stuff. He was game and I was thrilled.
--Movie! saw 'Brokeback Mountain' with M while Grandma, Grandpa and Great-Grandma babysat. Returned with engorged breasts to screaming baby, but fun while it lasted.
--Joy! Gabriel smiling for his grandparents. They are over the moon.
--Food! Eating out just M and me. Spending way too much money on wine, cheese plate, pink drink! for me, and sugar on a stick (for coffee stirring?).
So we made it back. Gabriel's now sucking down the bubblegum pink amoxicillin and I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life. Today anyway.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Off to see the wizard...

Off to see our parents anyway. We will be flying back to CO to visit with parents and inlaws tomorrow. I am hopeful that flying with a 4-1/2 month old will not be complete hell, but I have been accused of being an optimist. As of right now, Frontier Airlines has kindly wedged us into a window-middle combination. When I called a week ago to try to get an aisle, they said the seats were locked up until the day of the flight. Hmm... that sounds like complete BS. So we're going to try to get there early and perhaps have Gabriel woo a counter agent into something a little more baby friendly. Of course we are tempting fate with our typically complicated scheme to avoid paying airport parking. Although thankfully it does not involve any public transportation transfers, just a taxi and the questionable proposition of summoning one to the Red Cross office in Burlingame at 7am on a Sunday morning. Wish us luck, eh.
Anyway, as there will be grandparents galore to watch the Gaby-baby, I will have even more time to blog! ... in theory. What I am really looking forward to is going to see a movie: so many choices (I really want to see the new Pride & Prejudice so that I can despise it properly)! and maybe going out to dinner with my husband! So to the two of you who read this (not counting my mother!) we should resume in a week or so.

Friday, January 13, 2006

vaccine rant

ooh, I forgot about this. Yay! I love to get up on my high horse. Anyway, we live in California, where many things are tried out and discarded before the rest of the nation even hears about them. All right, that's kind of snotty, but kind of true. And currently it is fashionable amongst new parents to not vaccinate their children. Or at least express Grave Concern over the safety of vaccinations and decide to wait until later. This drives me CRAZY!
I had Gabriel at a birth center, because though I am a medical student, I am not crazy about hospitals. Actually, I like hospitals fine, I just don't like my being a patient in a hospital. Plus, during my OB/GYN rotation, every childbirth I attended boiled down to about 4 people staring at the poor woman's anaesthetized crotch and yelling Push! Push! So not me. Anyhoo, by opting out of THAT scenario, I found myself in the world of birth alternatives. There are many cool and wonderful things to be found here, but as one might expect, it also attracts those with Grave Concerns regarding medicine in general. During natural childbirth classes people were sharing tips on homeopathic doctors who see children and don't believe in vaccination. I am all for homeopathy. Whatever works is my motto. But vaccines represent the pinnacle in public health, the ultimate preventive medicine. You will never get these diseases! To decide not to vaccinate your children is to rely upon the herd immunity of the larger population which depends on, yes, widespread vaccination. In effect you are saying: I don't care about anyone else, my child is the only one that matters. This sort of thinking is so incredibly selfish it takes my breath away.
1) There is no solid, scientific evidence and NO good studies that link vaccines to autism.
2) While serious vaccine complications exist they are so incredibly rare it is almost ridiculous.
3) Oh, and children die of these diseases.
Actually it was living in Mali that made this whole issue crystal clear for me. Because children did die of measles, meningitis and were horribly maimed by polio. Every year. For want of that MMR a family is devastated, a child is lost.
So that's my vaccine rant.

a short list of things that annoy me


1) leaf blowers

2) people who are too cool for 4-way stops and shoot through while the rest of us sit around like chumps

3) visits to in-laws

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

a new toy

My sweet baby boy has discovered his genitals. I mean it was bound to happen, but so soon? Sigh. A couple of nights ago in the bath, he reached down there and got a handful. He looked a little surprised, possibly because I haven't been so good about trimming his nails, but probably more like, ah, who put that neat toy there. Since he's in the mindless grasping stage anyway, I don't think he remembers between, uh, experiences, but several diaper changes of late have all featured my cleaning poo not only off his bottom, but off his hand and quick little nimble fingers. M, an extremely lapsed catholic, said, "oh boy, does this mean we can start shaming him." Yes, this is just the beginning, where we have to lay all that open-mindedness and free-expression on the line.
Apropos of not much, we did not have Gabriel circumcised. Yet another once-taken-for-granted, now controversial parenting conumdrum, complete with vitriolic internet debate. Despite his daddy's initial concerns of, you know, not looking like the other boys, we decided there was no compelling reason to perform minor surgery on a newborn. He now has a very small increased risk of a UTI, ditto penile cancer, but from everything I've read, these are more closely related to hygeine and safe sex than presence of foreskin. About half the newborns in California are not circumcised so if we stick around the golden state, he shouldn't feel too weird in the locker room. M helpfully adds, "and if we move back to the midwest, at least he'll be big enough so that he won't get beat up." That is, if his current rate of growth continues. I'll sum this up with boys are strange, and leave it at that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

really vibrant karma

with apologies to JM...
I went down to the curb to get my trashcans and recycling bins yesterday afternoon. I dragged them up to the garage wondering, hmm, what's that smell? Well, it's urine you big dummy and it's now all over your hands and the right leg of your pants. At first I thought one of the homeless folks in the neighborhood had used my recycling bin for an impromtu urinal, but even in our neighborhood that would have caused something of a stir. It had to be a dog, spraying all over my cans, teaching me a lesson in responsible pet ownership straight from the universe.
I bow before its eternal wisdom...but still plan to pick up the poop only if someone's looking!

dream baby

I have these dreams, usually in the fractured remnants of sleep and probably triggered by Gabriel's first peeps, in which I'm searching frantically for a crying baby. Looking everywhere: under the bed, in the drawer, outside on the lawn. Finally, finally, I find him and gather him up in my arms for a snuggle, only to hear him crying again in the distance. In my dream, I am distinctly confused: but I've got my baby, why is he still crying. That serves as the last dream-thought and I am then jerked back to reality where G is tootling in his crib down the hall, and not cuddled up next to me. These dreams have only begun recently. In fact, any dreams involving the baby are of very new vintage. It always takes my subconscious a while to catch up to my reality.
Perhaps I'm suffering non-co-sleeper guilt. It's all the rage, you see: the family bed, co-sleeping, a Walton-esque tangle of arms and legs in the cause of family harmony and joy. I was pretty sure I didn't want anything to do with it before G was born. Painted a bedroom purple, bought a crib. Then he arrived and he was so freaking tiny and still part of me that I could hardly put him down, let alone leave the room, and so our experiment in co-sleeping began. It didn't last long. I was so freaked out M would roll over on top of him (heavy sleeper), that I spent my nights with my arms akwardly encircling our little fussy bundle. I would drift off between feedings, only to jerk awake the moment he made any sound or movement. After a week and a half of getting almost no sleep, I started having tension headaches too. I vividly recall one awful night where hypervigilence got the better of me and I couldn't sleep at all. Not a wink. The next day we got a little baby basket at the consignment store and set it up right next to the bed. I slept so much better. Falling asleep on our saggy old mattress felt like snuggling into fancy hotel linens and being wrapped in the softest feather comforter. And that's the story of why our son sleeps happily in his bed down the hall and not with us. Still, when I talk to parents, the cool hippy type parents I always wish I could be, I'm a little envious. Baby bed envy. The evil part of me hopes they're really not sleeping well, either.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

making friends in the neighborhood

G and M are sitting on the couch watching sports together. This is vaguely reminiscent of the 2nd dayof G's life when I stumbled out of the bedroom in a hormone induced stupor to find the boys watching the Godfather. The pediatrician has done his utmost to impress upon me the evils of television on the developing brain and I have given up my burgeoning daytime tv habit. No more holding peekin while bouncing on the exercise ball and watching Regis and Kelly. It wasn't an enormous sacrifice. On the weekends, however, when M is home and watching sports (on one of the two channels we get) it is a little harder to prevent G from absorbing the vile rays. Our house is small; there is no escape from Al Michaels et al. And though I agree that we should avoid plopping him down in front of the idiot box whenever possible, I can't get too crazy about him catching a little ambient idiocy. He lives in this house, and is a product of our culture, and much as I hate to admit it, tv plays a role. Plus his dad has to teach him how to do manly male bonding things. Sometimes these involve television, but I don't want to get involved.

Anyway, we went on a walk this morning with the dog, G in his stroller. This represents a milestone of sorts. G has been adamantly anti-stroller from his birth. All those mothers pushing sweetly napping wee babes through Target in their infant carriers, so not our experience. Our reality was a shrieking infant thrashing in car seat while parents power walked the aisles grabbing things off shelves at random and then dashing to the checkout. Later, I tried a nice walk to the post office one ill fated afternoon when he was about 4 weeks old. He screamed half the way there (2 miles) and all the way back. So. I gave up on the stroller, parked it in the garage and broke out the baby wraps and carriers. These have been very successful, I'm happy to report, allowing him to scream in his car seat all the way to the store, but then be happily snuggled against my chest when we've reached our destination. As my babe rapidly approaches 20 lbs (he's really big) however, it has become a bit of a strain to lug him about, strapped in front. So the other day I gave the stroller one more try: and he loved it. Sitting up (sort of), looking out, all good fun. This morning, I thought, what a great day to take a little family walk. The sun is shining, no wind. Perfect. So we strap him in and take off down the street...forgetting, as we make the turn to come home, about the winter morning sunshine slanted at a wicked angle. Very unpleasant to baby eyes. Cries, nay, screams. As we tried a little damage control on the sidewalk, futzing with the shade, pulling sunhat down to very rakish angle over his eyes, we realized we had pissed off our neighbors when a window screeches open and a torrent of angry Spanish pours forth. Right, moving on... A few minutes later the dog stopped to take a crap on the grassy median between sidewalk and the road. A poodle popped its head up in the picture window of the house and started barking. This brought an angry fat man in a white t-shirt into view, banging on his window yelling at us to get our goddamn dog out of his yard. I brandish the plastic bag in which I clearly intended to pick up the poo -- going above and beyond, in my opinion -- but he just shook his fist and looked ready to burst through the window, or burst a blood vessel. The poodle looked on serenely. So on a 20 minute walk during which we endured a screaming infant (and forced him to endure the blinding light), we drove at least two of our fellow residents to the brink. A Sunday well spent. And it's not even noon.

Friday, January 06, 2006

feeling better!

The ravages of mere virus have passed. I resolve to be much more vigilant about hand washing, herbal tea and sick contacts. I will shun them. Right. I will not, however, use the antibacterial soaps, lotions, and new anti-viral tissues offered for sale to all germophobes. A healthy immune system does require something to fight off, I believe. Otherwise the body gets bored and starts making up activities for itself in the form of allergies.
Anyway, Gabriel tried solids for the first time yesterday. I had thought that I might do the super-dooper breastfeeding exclusively through 6 months, supposedly so good for babies, preventing allergies and such. I noticed, though, that G made these rather adorable chewing motions when he watched me eat. A little rice cereal can't hurt, right? My mother gave me cereal when I was a mere month old and I turned out all right, or at least allergy free. Anyway, it proved a low-key success. I believe he was intrigued. He accepted 6-7 spoonfuls, most of which ended up on chin and bib, but no worries. We'll try again today!

Monday, January 02, 2006

sickie whinge

Well, we're all three in various stages of the dread head cold. And the real revelation, though hardly profound, is that a child's sickness is about 3 million times worse than an adult's sickness, even M's with the perpetual hacking cough. One might think (though one would be wrong) that a sick baby would sleep more, eat more, instinctively turning towards wholsome succor at the breast. Ha! Instead, young Gabriel has reverted to newborn sleep habits, with hourly waking through the night, crying, and general misery. And his stuffy little nose makes eating a frustrating ordeal, crying in hunger, then sadness when latching on makes breathing difficult. Poor little guy! I've grasped the bulb syringe desperately a few times, intent on sucking out the snot I hear rattling around in his head. I've wimped out each time, though. I mean, a med student who loves taking off toenails, suturing ragged wounds and lancing anything with pus should not be at all squeamish about sucking phlegm out of her son's nose. Yet, I hesitate. If the snot were bubbling out of his nose it'd be one thing, but I can't actually see it, just hear it, and I'm unwilling to stick the pointy end that far back in his head. I can just see the headline: medical student "mother" impales infant's pituitary gland in over-eager attempt to remove phlegm. It's just a cold, I remind myself.
My only hope, though a dim one by this point, is that he will recover, some day. And that he will re-establish his old, now longed-for sleeping habits. I remember when we only got up twice a night. Last night he was up 12 times before 4:30, when I woke up M, Gabriel's tears mingling with my own. He obligingly took Gabriel for a drive so that I could get some sleep, a trick we hadn't pulled since week 6. The rejuvenating effect of 2 consecutive hours of sleep interupted only by the phone and the cat pouncing on my head really cannot be overstated.