Thursday, March 17, 2005

post-call st. paddy's grab bag

It's starting to get a little warmer around here. And I mean warmer as in "no ice, no snow," not warm in the objective sense of the word. A daily high temperature in the mid 40's is not warm. But it's warmer.

Every year, when it gets to the dregs of the winter like this, I think about what it would be like to move to a warmer climate. Not fantasy warmer climate, like Hawaii or something, but just somewhere a little more temperate, like Florida or Southern California. They must have such nice winters there, all mild and such, like Spring all year round. (Except for the parts of the year where it's summer.) And I think about sitting on a lawn during a balmy winter afternoon, sipping on an iced tea and wearing flip flops, and think, that would be nice. But then I think about driving to the strip mall and cleaning the gutters and mowing the lawn and making sure the raccoons don't get into your trash and give your dog rabies. And that bring out all my latent suburbophobia, and I snap out of my little fantasy petty fast.

* * *

I remembered--but only because the Chiefs sent out an e-mail reminding me--that today is Match Day for next year's intern class. Which for me right now is a little bit of ho, and a little bit of hum. Of course it was a big deal when I was a fourth year med student, in fact it was THE big deal, the culmination of everything EVER, or so it seemed at the time. But I often wonder if I would have been as gut-bustingly excited about the match if I had really known what future lay waiting for me. (Residency, that is. Two different residencies, in the end. Many many years of indentured servitude, more like it.) Even last year, I was kind of excited about the Match. Aside from having a lot of friends that were matching a year late (having taken a year off for research or what have you), it's always a nice feeling as an intern to know that new blood is on the way, and this too, shall end. Kind of.

It's convenient that Match Day is on St. Patrick's Day this year, though, don't you think? Why, that's twice the reason to get utterly obliviated. For those of us who drink, that is.

* * *

(OK, don't read this next part if you don't want to think about boobs. And not boobs in that sexy way, boobs in the biological way. OK, I think I just lost 90% of the porn seekers right there.)

I've been doing a lot of research into this whole breastfeeding thing, what with the pumps and storage methods and techniques--and what I've concluded is that while I'm definitely going to give it the old college try (actually, let's call it "the old med school try," which implies more dogged persistence), it's all going to be somewhat logistically difficult. Let's just examine the facts here, shall we?

I'm probably going to be going back to work about 5 weeks after having the kid. I know, I know, it would be nice to have more time off, but that's not really how it works around here. So five weeks. Five weeks to rev up my milk supply, feed the kid, and stockpile some for when I go back to work. Fine. Let's make the rather large assumption for the moment that this is going to work. The problem is, how to keep having boob milk to feed the kid after I return to the hospital? Everything that I've read in terms of successful pumping seems to go against every tenet of the medical resident's lifestyle. Behold:

  • "Make sure you get enough sleep." Ha! Moving on, then.

  • "Try to pump every 3 hours." Um, OK. I don't really know how this is going to work, since I haven't started with anesthesia yet, but I'm not sure I'm going to have a break from the OR every 3 hours to go pump. We have a 15-minute mid-morning break, and a lunch break, but I think that's pretty much it.

  • "Stay well hydrated and have some healthy snack on hand to munch on throughout the day." OK, again, this is going to be hard. Obviously, there is no food or drink in the ORs, so I'm either going to have to chug water before going in there and have to pee rather badly for many hours at a time, or I'm going to have to reserve water and food for my break, during which time I'll probably be pumping, peeing, and eating all at the same time. These are all such pleasant images, aren't they?

  • "Stay warm, to help with milk letdown." The ORs are freezing.

  • "When it comes time to pump, find a nice, relaxing environment, put your feet up, listen to music, and try not to think about work." I have no idea what kind of space the anesthesia department has for such, uh, private activities. They actually were lovely to me when I told them about Cletus, and gave me all kinds of suggestions about childcare and the like. But a private room for pumping? I have a sneaking suspicion that said room may also contain a toilet.

  • "If you work many hours during the day, try to give your baby unlimited access to the breast at night." Yeah, but then...when do I get to sleep?

Well, it all comes down to this. I'm going to try. I'm going to try really hard to make this all work, because we all know that Breast is Best and blah blah blah, I don't need to go through all the research and studies again because for crap's sake, WE KNOW already. (To wit, from Napoleon Dynamite, "Maybe I will, OK? God!") But here's what it comes down to. There are a lot of things to do, and a lot to take care of with a new baby. And the one thing I don't want us to neglect is that fact that we should actually be enjoying the experience. It shouldn't be a schlog, this joyless burden of tending to task after task after task. I don't want to lose sight of the forest for the trees and all. And you know what, this kid is going to turn out great, no matter how long we breastfeed for. I know that in today's overachieving super-mommy society, this has become unacceptable, and people will chase you through the street with lit torches if you even intimate that you're not breastfeeding straight through until age 1, but believe me about the kids--if you love them, they turn out OK. You know, as long as you're not beating them with bats or locking them in closets or anything like that.

So we'll go for it. We'll give breastfeeding it the old med school try, all dogged determination and all that. And if after all the trying and plotting and planning and research, there comes a point where it just becomes untenable for whatever reason to maintain the boob juice output, we'll say "fine" and switch over, and be OK with that too. Because (and I know this is heretical for a Pediatrician to say such a thing, but) there are more important things in life.

(However, any advice or recommendations about breast pumps, schedules, strategies from people who have been in similar work/child situations are welcomed and appreciated. You all have given me really good advice in the past, and I'm indebted to you. Thanks!)

Currently reading: OK, I finished "Deception Point" yesterday, so now I can recap. NASA discovers a meteorite with fossils on it frozen in a glaciar. Fossils from outer space! All these scientists agree that they are SPACE FOSSILS! But they are not really space fossils, they are fossils of GIANT DEEP SEA LICE. The data was FABRICATED to skew the presidential election! But then the scientists realize that they have been DUPED, and then people try to kill them! With ice guns! And they are chased into the Arctic Ocean, and almost die, but then they don't! And they end up on a boat over some GIANT MAGMA SPHERE surrounded by HAMMERHEAD SHARKS that will kill you if they even smell one drop of blood in the water! Did I mention that they got SHOT AT with ICE GUNS? And one scientist escapes certain death by shark attack by PEEING on himself to cover up the blood smell! Also, he is fat and likes to eat a lot, did I meantion that? Because he's a nerdy astrophysicist. But the two other "scientists" are good looking and end up falling in love and DOING IT in LINCOLN BEDROOM in the end. Oh, and also, the evil politician who's running for the presidency accidentally exposes himself in a sex scandal with his hot aide, who is ultimately disillusioned with Washington politics and sells him out. And then in the END end, after the TRUTH HAS SET THEM FREE they drop the deep sea lice meteorite back into the ocean from whence it came.

Actually, when I recap it like that, it sounds pretty much like the best book ever.

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