Sunday, July 31, 2005


Now, I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about this, like we're going to be one of THOSE PARENTS who make their kids take a thousand classes and prep courses and strap them down to listen to Mozart because they must be SMARTER THAN ALL THE OTHERS, DAMMIT. And also keep in mind the fact that Joe is an ophthalmology resident, so it's kind of a cute gag. But yesterday, we ordered this Allen eye chart as a decoration for Cal's room.

This all started when I printed out some black and white patterns for Cal to look at. Babies can't really see that well, but they respond best to high contrast patterns and human faces. I mean, not that I know that for sure, but supposedly, RESEARCH SHOWS. Credit where credit is due, I originally got the idea from from Ben and Jenn over at The Trixie Update. They even share some of the patterns they had designed, some of which we printed off and laminated into these giant flash cards. (Did I mention that we have a home laminator? Yes, we do. It is officially The Greatest Purchase Ever, and we laminate everything now. We're even considering laminating the dog, so that she'll shed less.)

We tied some of the patterns up on the inside wall of Cal's crib, and I think (so far as I can really tell anything about what goes on in his little melon) that he likes them. He started staring at them really intently, and his eyes were making these little saccades over the patterns, scanning them like crazy. Then he fell asleep. ("Aaaand, I'm spent.")

Of course, once Joe cottoned to this idea of visual stimulation, he completely threw himself into it. Talk started about "center surround inhibition" and "ocular dominance columns," (which I politely mmm-hmmm'ed), but when he started opening up Photoshop and tinkering around in there, I knew that the man was serious. One thing led to another, and by the end of the evening, we were proud owners of an Allen eye chart, set to be delivered sometime next week.

Of course, commercially-prepared products not being good enough for our boy, Joe decided to free-hand large versions of some of the Allen figures for Cal to ogle. Again, who can tell if he likes them or not, since he's just, you know, a BABY...but he did seem to be fixating on them rather intently.

And we didn't want to leave the dog out of the fun either, so...

Don't worry, it's all just for fun. We won't be crazy brainiac pressure parents. There will be no enrolling in any baby Kaplan courses.

(We prefer Princeton Review.)

Currently reading: I'm thinking about re-reading "The Da Vinci Code," just because it's fast and easy and breezy and I don't really have the concentration for much else right now.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

they call him mellow yellow

Just got back home from Cal's third doctor's appointment in the past week. Our Pediatrician agrees that he looks less jaundiced. (It was hard for us to tell if that was the case or if we were just getting used to looking at his yellowness.) It didn't help, of course, that we dressed him entirely in yellow for the last visit, just to make things more subjectively confusing for everyone involved. He still has a touch of scleral icterus, and you can see the jaundice on his palate and tongue a little, but overall, he's looking good, and almost back up to his birth weight. Hoorah for eating!

Joe's parents got into town yesterday evening to visit the New Kid on the Block (oh, oh, oh oh oh...the right stuff) and right now they're cooking up a big Italian storm in the kitchen so we can stock up our strategic freezer reserves for the next few weeks. Of course, they're flipping out about the baby. Now hear this: grandparents love babies! Later, more unique insights, like dogs love bacon and rain is wet.

Yesterday Joe asked me if I was going to be jealous of our nanny. I had to think about that one. It's absolutely no question that I enjoy my job and I'll be excited to head back when the time comes...but on the other hand, it kind of kills me that we're basically hiring someone to do with our kid during the day what Joe or I would love to be doing ourselves. It's not that I want to be a stay at home mom or anything like that, because my job fulfills me in a different sort of a way, but I just wish that the choice wasn't so extreme one way other the other. I know the hours I work are in large part due to the fact that I'm still a resident, but sometimes it just seems like I basically have a choice between being out of the house at least 14 hours a day or just quitting medicine altogether. Which, obviously, is not really much of a "choice" at all. It's going to be a big adjustment to go back and juggle home life and work life is all I'm saying. I mean, we're up for it--Joe and I have been planning our schedules and plotting various family-time scenarios (getting our weekends off together, our evening routine with the kid after work), but the more I think about it, the more I realize that ideal solution to being able to put as much of myself into work and family as I would like is just to clone myself.

("There is no Island!")

I'm so grateful to have the few weeks off with Cal that I do. And I'm just trying as hard as I can to enjoy myself and not get all stressed and sad about what it's going to be like when those few weeks are over.

(Oh, and for those who asked: the stroller is working out great. The more we use it, the more we realize it's the ideal city stroller. Very versatile, very smooth, very steerable. And since it's different and kinda cool-looking, we're turning more than a few heads on the street with stroller envy. Not that we care about that kind of thing...except that WE TOTALLY DO.)

Currently reading: "Embroideries," the new Marjane Satrapi offering. It's a nice little snack of a book.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

labor day

Joe is getting sad that he only has three more days of paternity leave before he has to go back to work. I think he misses the baby already. I don't blame him. As it is, I have five more weeks, and I'm going to be a wreck that first morning I go back to the hospital. I hope they don't make me do anything too important. Oh, wait.

Today was supposed to be Cal's original due date. I'm glad he decided to join us a little early. Aside from the fact that he was already HUGE and probably would have been even more monstrous had he waited another week, the extra few days have been priceless. But, original due date as it is, seems like as good a time as any to go over the events of the real day that Cal decided to join us. Don't worry, this is not some ultra-graphic birth story. I'm just as squeamish as you. How Ob-Gyns deal with that much gore is unknown to me.

On the matter of getting in the door:
I started having more intense contractions Thursday night after my OB visit. Not painful, exactly, but uncomfortable, and getting closer together. We decided to wait until morning and then check in with labor and delivery (L&D) to see how things were going. Given the fact that the hospital was "full" (i.e. no beds on post-partum or in the NICU, a tip we got from our OB the day before) we weren't so hopeful that we would be admitted until Cal was crowning or some such thing. In fact, I even had my work bag with me so I could head straight over to the ORs in case we got "sent home." However, by some miracle, we did get admitted. We showed up on L&D at 6:00am and were in a room by 7:30am. Shortly afterwards, I was getting my hoo-ha examined by a first-year Ob-Gyn resident, a former medical student that I had worked with during my intern year. Um, hi. This isn't awkward at all.

On the matter of moving things along:
So we were definitely in some sort of prodromal labor at this point, but nothing much was happening fast. It was all very boring. Joe ran over to the clinic to cancel his patients and rearrange his vacation schedule, and picked me up some breakfast on the way back. I sat in bed strapped to a fetal heartrate and toco monitor, watching bad daytime television. Tony Danza has a daytime talk show? He is the boss. My OB was luckily covering L&D that day, and swung by for a quick exam and a chat. I started Pit to move things along. And move things along it did, except it also involved running in something like 4 extra liters of fluid, which I'm still working on peeing off. Damn, that was a lot of fluid.

On the matter of pushing:
So what I realized when the time came was this--everyone talks about "pushing" the baby out, and any fool with a television knows it involves a lot of effort and maybe sweating and cursing. But how exactly do you push? I didn't know. Push? Push how? Push who? Luckily, my OB gave me a very good hint, which was that I should just forget about pushing "where the baby is," and instead concentrate all my pushing as though I were basically having the world's largest bowel movement. Crude, but effective. I pushed for half an hour and out he came. And there was no sweating and no cursing. In fact, it really wasn't that bad at all. (And then the anesthesia wore off.)

I feel very proud that I was a good pusher. A good DRUG pusher. Ha! No, but seriously, as Peds I got called to so many deliveries where I was just standing there for DAYS because the mom was giving these wimpy little pushes, and everyone started to get kind of annoyed, and eventually the OB resident or whoever would just whip out the vacuum or something and just drag that kid out of there, because it had been smushed up for two hours and in the birth canal and its heart rate didn't like it very much at all. And meanwhile, I'd just be standing there with my little blue towel waiting and waiting and waiting to do my Pediatrics thing, all the while thinking that I could be eating my sandwich downstairs right now if only the mom could just push with a little more oomph. As added incentive for me, the nurse that had been on duty with us all day was going off-shift at 7pm, but we really liked her and wanted to be able to show her the baby before she left. Cal was delivered at 7:02pm.

On first impressions:
Cal was born with his eyes wide open. And I don't mean that in the Creed way, but I mean his eyes were literally open and looking around the room from the second he emerged. "He's big!" was the first thing my OB said. "He's so pink!" said Joe, which indicates to you our state of mind--we had our eyes peeled for any signs of neonatal distress. But of course there were none. He was alert and perfect and beautiful. And he's been that way ever since. I know it must seem like I'm scamming you, that every picture of our newborn that we've been posting is of him looking all awake and alert with his eyes open, but seriously, he is like that a lot of the time. Except, you know, when he's not.

On the aftermath:
As in many hospitals, L&D is this beautiful, shiny new facility, built specifically to lure money--I mean patients--into the hospital. Post-partum is less so. We had been promised a single room (given that Joe and I were both hospital employees), but since the hospital was full, there was only one bed available that night, and that was in a double next to a roommate who talked on the phone all freaking night, and snored so loudly in between phone conversations that I was seriously thinking about paging ENT for a stat T&A, because sister was obstructing.

I didn't start to feel really tired until I got down to post-partum, when it all started to catch up to me. I was kind of dizzy and bedbound for about 12 hours, I think from a combination of the anesthesia and anemia (my crit dropped from 14 to 8, but I think a lot of it was dilutional from all that fluid) and the fact that I had just pushed some eight pound-plus kid out of my body. By the afternoon of the next day, however, I was a lot better, and by the time we were ready to be discharged, I was chomping at the bit to go. Being a patient sucks.

On the matter of how everything is different now:
When we first got home, I could barely believe it. We get this beautiful baby? And we get to keep him? Like, forever? Actually, I can still hardly believe it.

I don't want to jinx things since he's only a week old, but so far, Cal seems like a pretty easy baby. Doesn't cry that much, and when he does, he responds to the things that we do to make him stop crying pretty much immediately. Of course, he could still be in the honeymoon phase, and we're cautiously anticipating some more rough nights and fussy days ahead, but so far, he's given us no indication that he's going to give us an overly hard time. I mean, he knows we're trying, after all.

So things are the same, but also totally different. The center of the house has shifted to the nursery. We are single-handedly supporting the makers of Purell (and the equivalent Walgreens generic) and have little bottles stashed all over the house, and in every pocket. Normal things suddenly seem dangerous or dirty, like the large truck pulling up at the intersection on our way to the park today (what if it careened out of control and hit the stroller?), that guy smoking a cigar while walking down the street (air pollution), or the old man peering intently into our kid's face (germy). It just seems like there are invisible perils everywhere. But I'm sure we'll get over it, and in two years, we won't even blink when Cal is smearing dog feces all over the wall. Well, maybe we'll blink a little.

So anyway, Cal's great. We love him. It's kind of hard not to. I mean, have you seen this kid?

Currently reading: "Barefoot Gen, Volume 1," first in a four-part series about the story of Hiroshima. Just to help along the post-partum depression, you know.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

hufflepuff vs. ravenclaw

I guess that lack of sleep must have caught up with me, because last night, I briefly forgot--FORGOT--that we'd had a baby.

To be fair, I was asleep, and having a dream about Harry Potter. So that's the first psychotic thing. I dreamed that there was a Quidditch game going on (shut up) that we were watching from the bleachers, Hufflepuff versus Ravenclaw (shut up), and when Cal woke up hungry and started crying, it all got kind of mixed up into the dream. Somehow, I was in charge of breastfeeding the Quidditch players, and as I picked up Cal and popped him on, I was hazily trying to figure out who he was, what team he was playing for, and gee, wasn't he a little bit small for Quidditch? Aren't there height and weight requirements?

"Which player is this? Which team?" I asked Joe groggily. Thankfully, he was half-asleep with the burp cloth over his chest, and didn't really hear what I was saying.

Eventually, I woke up enough to remember that, oh yeah, we had a baby, and I'm breastfeeding just that one baby, not a gang of magical teenagers in robes. But it was strange, because I literally did forget that the kid had been born. Man, if two hours of sleep is this discombobulating, maybe I'm just better off not getting any sleep at all.

Currently reading: Finally finished Harry Potter. Wow. That was kind of intense.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


We've been home for two full days now, and things are going really well. I don't know why I'm all surprised--I guess I thought the transition would be more difficult or something.

Of course, it helps that Joe's home all week, and the fact that I delivered on a Friday tacked on two whole days to his paternity leave. This has been awesome. As predicted, he's taking to this whole fatherhood thing like a regular Bill Cosby. (Or a regular Paul Reiser, whichever you prefer.)

Not that there haven't been some glitches along the way. After noticing that Cal was glowing a rather bright orange, we've been back and forth to the Pediatrician's office these past few days to get his bilis checked. As of yesterday, they were still rising, but still in the low-risk category. We're hoping that the blood today will show at least a plateau, if not a drop. It's killing me that our kid needs so many needle sticks.

Oh, all this wasted insight after my Peds residency. I've become one of THOSE PARENTS. All those years, I was secretly thinking that THOSE PARENTS who had to leave the room when their kid was getting immunized or straight cathed or what have you needed to just toughen up and get a grip. What did I do yesterday at the Pediatricians office when she stuck him for a bili? I cried. I cried because she put the pointy needle in my kid's hand and it made him cry and therefore, I too had to cry. Yes, yes, I know. Get a grip. Maybe I need to take vitamins and get more exercise.

Everything is going well. Cal's taking to breastfeeding like a pro, and we're taking to the sleepless nights like a couple of...medical residents. I don't even feel that tired, honestly. It's so relaxing to be home instead of running around all day and night dealing with other people's kids. Compared to that, dealing with my own kid so far has been a dream.

(Don't get all crazy--he is breastfed, but we supplemented with one bottle of formula once for his hyperbili, just to hydrate him a little bit until the old milk factory kicked in full steam. No, he has not had any nipple confusion. No, people should not get into arguments in the comments section about breast vs. bottle. People can feed their kids how they want, everyone's going to turn out fine.)

As for myself post-partum, I'm doing pretty well. Getting my energy back, and even though I have aches and pains like anyone, it's nothing that I can't handle. My only piece of advice to those of you out there who have not yet gone though this experience is: don't take anything for granted. And I mean anything. Because one day you're able to sit pretty in a hard wood seat with no problem at all, and the next day, you're wearing disposable undergarments with 2.0 Chromic catgut poking out of your bunghole. Yes. Yes. Now let us never speak of this again.

So anyway, so far so good. Even Cooper has been a good big sister--everytime the baby starts crying, she'll up to his crib or wherever he happens to be lying and look over to us like, "Do something!" And then when one of us take care of the issue at hand (picking him up, changing a poo diaper, stuffing a boob into mouth) and the kid quiets down, she seems satisfied and walks away to monitor what we're doing from a distance. We've been trying to give her as much attention as we can, because we don't want her to feel unwanted or anything like that. This is a family, after all.

Currently reading: Trying to finish "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." My sister, Potter-fan extrodinaire, saw where my bookmark was (reasonably near the end, mind you) and said, all surprised, "You still haven't finished this book?" Um, HELLO, I just had a BABY. Geez.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

just some more pictures, for now

Just got home today. Will of course soon post a real update, but for now, why not enjoy some of these pictures that are not taken with a phone cam?

He's perfect. We love him so much already it's unbelievable. So I guess we'll keep him.

Currently reading: Ha.

Friday, July 22, 2005

return of the cooper report

Hi everyone! It's me, Cooper! Hi! Hi! Cooper! Hi!

Wait, hold on for a second. Have to scratch. And lick my butt. Ah. Better.

Anyway, I, Cooper, am here to tell you that Michelle and Joe aren't going to be around here for a couple of days. They had to go to the "hospital" to "have the baby," whatever that means. So I'm writing this from the Dog Spa, where I'll be relaxing in utmost luxury until they come and get me. And this is GREAT, because I really needed that seaweed wrap and oxygen facial. Seriously. I mean, New York in the summer? It kills.

I don't know what all this fuss about "the baby" is about. All I know is that there is some new furniture in that room that used to be empty. And new toys that I am not allowed to chew, not even for ONE MINUTE because then everyone gets all mad and starts saying "No, Cooper! NO!" like I just peed on the floor or chewed up their med school diplomas or something. (For the record, I WAS JUST SNIFFING AT THEM. If I were going to rip them up, don't you think I would at least wait until they left the room? Jeez.) I don't even have any idea what this "baby" is, though I suspect Beggin' Strips may be involved. Don't ask me how I know. I have a sense about these things.

Wait, hold on a second. There's a fly in the room. Fly! Fly! I kill you, fly! I catch you in midair with my jaws of death! I am the Mister Miyagi of dogs!

Yum, flies.

So anyway, I'll be at the Dog Spa until Michelle and Joe come back to pick me up. And then we'll go home and everyone will be so happy to see me that they'll give me treats and pet me and rub my belly and pay attention to ME and only ME because I am great and I am COOPER! The center of the universe!


Hmm..."baby." Wonder what that's all about.

Currently reading: "Walter, the Farting Dog." He was so misunderstood.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

let's get this party started

I've hit a new low--last night while cooking, I burned myself...ON MY STOMACH. (I was reaching above the oven for a bottle of cooking wine, and in the process, touched my belly to a bubbling pot of pasta sauce.) Luckily, there was no real damage incurred, but it just strengthed my resolve that THIS PREGNANCY MUST END, and soon, before my stomach gets crushed under a falling safe or something equally injurious.

I've been having some contractions--irregular, and not really painful, but definitely more uncomfortable than the Braxton-Hicks fake-outs. They don't really seem to be coalescing in any particular exicting pattern or anything like that, though. Anyway, I have another visit with my OB this morning after Grand Rounds. Let's see where things are going here.

Currently reading: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Actually managed to make some headway because Joe was home sick yesterday and I had to take to subway home from work.

Monday, July 18, 2005

cal has a girlfriend

(I just wanted to knock that belly shots post off the top post in case someone thought I was running some sort of Body Issues website.)

Anyway, just got an e-mail this morning that Ray and Susan had their baby. Their predicted due date was exactly one week earlier than ours, so it was all very exciting to hear that they had made it over the finish line. I am wholly, inelegantly jealous.

We stopped by the hospital after work (they delivered at [East Side Affiliate], not at the home institution) and checked out the scene. Of course we wanted to see the baby, but mainly I wanted to get the lowdown from Susan. What's the scoop with labor? Was it terrible? Was it not so bad? And when did they let you take a shower when all is said and done? I have this big fear of being all rank and sweaty in that hospital bed, all gory and blooded up down below like some kind of murder scene.

The main piece of advice that Susan passed along, however, was to get the epidural as early as possible. As if she had to convince the anesthesiology resident of that. Preaching to the choir, here. And yes, I know the conventional wisdom about getting the epidural too early and the possibility of arrest of labor with increased incidence of C-section, but there was that study that came out in the New England Journal this February that disproved that theory. And I am not ashamed to say that we have printed out said article and it has been neatly folded and tucked away into our hospital bag. Oh lord, we're going to be the most annoying patients ever.

Anyway, their little girl is beautiful. I know people say that all babies are cute, but this is just not true. There are ugly babies. Luckily, Ray and Susan dodged this bullet, their kid is actually adorable, not puffy or smushed up at all. After fully slathering ourselves in Purell, Joe and I both held her--kind of a practice session for Cal. As I carried her propped up on my shelf-like abdomen, I encouraged her to tell Cal how GREAT birth was, and how he should totally join her on the outside. We have TV and candy out here. It's awesome.

Currently reading: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Haven't made much headway yet, but this is not my choice--now that I'm not taking the subway to work, there's just not enough time in the day to read anymore.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

belly shots, the final roundup

In a move blatantly stolen from Heather at Dooce, I give you the last six months of the Incredible Expanding Uterus, condensed via the wonder of time-lapse photography. I know I still have 11 days left until my (ha!) "official" due date, but I've decided I'm done with taking pictures of this kid until he decides to show his face on the outside. And anyway, if I get any bigger than I already am, I'm not sure I want any photographic documentation of that fact.

My only disappointment with this pregnancy is that I didn't get bigger boobs out of the deal. Wasn't I supposed to sprout these gigantic, pillowy, mother of the Earth boobs? What happened? I just can't catch a break, here.

14 weeks

16 weeks

18 weeks

20 weeks

21 weeks

22 weeks

24 weeks

25 weeks

27 weeks

29 weeks

31 weeks

32 weeks

34 weeks

36 weeks

38 weeks

Saturday, July 16, 2005

down and out, hopefully

Hey everyone. Still alive, still not in labor, though the latter I can say with much less conviction. Sometime over the course of the last week, Cal has decided to "drop," meaning that he has figured that the old cervix is the only exit out of this joint, and he's waiting by the door with his bags packed, occasionally knocking on said door at the cost of some discomfort to yours truly.

At this point, I think it's almost as uncomfortable for the people watching me waddle around crashing into things as it is for me to do the actual waddling and crashing. I have become a human science experiment on gestation. I walk into the break room at work to find people placing bets on when I'm going to go into labor. My OB herself seems convinced that with my current exam and the hours I'm working, I will probably not reach my official due date in two weeks, but is of course unable to give me any more specific of an estimate. I've come to be fine with this fact. Let's get this show on the road. Let's have a baby already.

Meanwhile, work is going well. I'm still an idiot, of course, but starting to be slightly less so every day. On Friday, my attending even left me alone in my room for a twenty minute stretch, and lo, my patient survived. It's like learning to ride your bike when you're little, that moment that your dad first lets go of the back of your seat and off you go. At first, you don't notice that he's gone. Then you notice that you're peddling alone, and you freak out mildly. And then the euphoria sets in, the wind is in your hair, and you feel like The Man. (Luckily, the fourth event of my bike-riding lesson did not occur that day--losing control and crashing into a bush. That would have sucked, and been difficult to explain besides. Where the hell did this bush come from, for instance, and how did it get into the OR?). But seriously, it was nothing but pure rookie exhilaration to be sitting there hunched over the patients head, anesthesia machine to my right and meds at the ready, flop sweating all over the various monitors and beeping things. Oh man, I can't even drive a car, and they let me do this?

The thing that I'm finding I really like about Anesthesia is that there's nothing standing between you and the medicine. It's you and the patient. The patient does something, you respond in real time. Something needs to get done and you do it. There's no delay, no writing order and waiting for them to get picked up, no middleman, chasing down nurses to have them give meds, no neverending rounds. And you know, these are things that I just do not miss.

When I was a Peds resident on call for Oncology, or the NICU, or on the wards, so often I'd just feel like the human equivalent of a USB cable--just a conduit between the attending's mouth and the computer order system. I'd get in early, and then we'd round for eight hours, during which I'd write down everything that the attending was saying. Then I'd park myself in front of the computer for the next two hours, endlessly checking five million lab results and entering orders into the system. After that, I would rush around and poke my patients with sticks, trying to make sure they were all still alive so that I could park myself in front of the computer for another two hours to write a pile of worthless progress notes that no one would ever read. And inevitably, later in the evening, the attending would find me again and give me a whole list of new orders to enter, or change from the first time I entered them earlier in the morning. With the exception of examining the patients, I hardly felt like what I was doing was medical at all. I mean, accountability aside, anyone could enter orders into the computer. Anyone could copy down lab results. Anyone could sit on the phone for hours waiting for pharmacy to confirm that they received my fax. But I never gave the meds myself--I didn't even know what many of them looked like. I never had to run my own IV lines, set up my own equipment, and even rarely would I ever be the one drawing my own bloods or starting my own IVs. I mean, in many ways that's good, to have ancillary staff in a large hospital to help with the little things. But what I ended up feeling was that much of what I ended up doing as a resident (at least during the days) was secretarial, and much less was actually medical.

Anesthesia is different. Now it feels like I'm doing everything. I start the IVs, I run the fluids, I push the meds, I keep the patient breathing. All the vitals are at my fingertips, I tell the patient how fast and how deeply to breathe, how deeply to sleep and when to wake up, how much or how little to move, how fast or slow their hearts should be beating. And while it's great, because really, this is ultimately the field for control freaks, sometimes it's scary to have that much control. For example, I don't love the middle man, but sometimes the middle man is very helpful. I can't even remember how many times on Peds that I got a call from the nurse or the Pharmacy to double-check or correct the dosing on a med order. And many of those times, I was wrong, having made some sort of stupid calculation or reading error. As all of us in medicine know, it just happens sometimes.

Now it's just me and the meds. I calculate and I administer. Don't trust your arithmetic skills? This is not a good field for you. Thank god I have my good Peds math habits still with me, along with a calculator strapped to the back of my ID badge. Because when it comes down to it, whereas I would have really had to work to kill a patient during my Peds residency, I feel like it's a relatively simple task to kill a patient under my care as an Anesthesiology resident, either with sloppiness or bad judgment. And it's that ease of fucking up with majorly bad consequences that scares me. I mean, wouldn't it scare anyone? It should. These are real people I'm taking care of, not Sim Human.

So anyway, the adjustment process goes on. But I'm still having a good time, even though I still feel like a third year med student every single day. I can't wait until this kid is born, so I'll feel completely out of my element both at home and at work. Won't that be fun?

Currently reading: Um, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" of course, what the hell are you reading?

Monday, July 11, 2005

puffy legs and chicken arms

This morning, as I was struggling to put on my venous stasis support hose leg by leg, in all their opaque, hospital white glory, all I could think was, "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me." Trying and FAILING.

I had my in-service exam all day Saturday, so the weekend, while beautiful, felt way too short. And this morning, I was back. But I didn't really mind that much. I mean, I did mind waking up at 4:45am, but I didn't mind having to be at the hospital. I'm having fun.

(intubating a patient in the OR)
There, it's in.

Good. You still need to get a stronger left arm, though.

[You hold the laryngoscope, a.k.a. the metal looking-down-the-throat dealie, in your left hand, and use your left arm and shoulder to lift]

Yeah, my arm is kind of puny.

That's your assignment for after you have the baby.

What, working out? Pumping iron with only my left arm?

(Totally serious)

Currently reading: Read? I can't even keep my eyes open.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

shining, shimmering, splendid

Last night I went to bed at 8pm and slept for 10 hours straight. Well, with pee-breaks every two hours, but since I've become rather adept at somnambulism I barely woke up with these little pit stops. This has been a truly exhausting week. Anesthesia is a whole new world (don't you dare close your eyes!), and aside from the fact that this profession requires us to get up at ungodly early hours, each and every moment of my day is spent learning so many new facts and skills that my head is pulsating with new and only tenuously imprinted knowledge. This is not made any easier by the fact that in the past three days it has become increasingly difficult to run around, or even to walk with anything approximating ease--which is unfortunate, because until they perfect that hoverboard technology, walking's the best shot I have for actually moving about.

So yes, it's a whole new world (every moment red letter!) but at least the people here are nice. In particular, I've been phenomenally lucky to get matched up with the attending with whom I've been working, because not only is she an amazing teacher, she's also been extremely sensitive about this whole pregnancy thing. See, my original plan was to not create any waves and work on a don't ask, don't tell policy--basically, to not bring up my pregnancy or the surrounding topics unless asked about it directly. What I failed to realize was that when your stomach is the size of a watermelon (though not square, like the Japanese kind), people are going to want to talk with you about it. That's just all there is to it. So despite my best intentions to blend in with the rest of my class, for departmental purposes, I've now been officially anointed "The Pregnant Resident," and that's how every single person I've talked with since Tuesday has referred to me at some point or another. How will people relate to me after Cal's born? They probably won't even recognize me. And they'll all be asking each other, "Hey, where'd That Pregnant Resident go? Did she quit the program or something?"

Yes, but anyway, my attending has been instrumental in getting me the bathroom and water breaks that I've needed throughout the day, which is crucial because in all likelihood, were it not for her kicking me out of the OR from time to time, I would probably just be crossing my legs and doing the pee pee dance in silence in order to prove that I'm a tough guy, no special needs here, nosiree. My attending even noticed the other day how unattractively waterlogged my ankles looked by mid-morning (with the 12 hour days spent almost entirely on my feet, the lower extremity edema is really getting out of control) and called over to the PACU to have them bring out some thigh-high support stockings from the supply closet for me. Not the sexiest item of clothing in my wardrobe, but they do help.

I am having a good time on the job, though. It is true, the analogies they make about conducting anesthesia and flying a plane. It's the takeoffs and landings that are the really scary parts (corresponding of course to inducing the patient and waking them up at the end), but the difference is that at this point, the time in flight is scary for me too. I expect at some point, it becomes more of a "we have reached our cruising altitude, you are now free to move about the cabin" kind of feeling, but at this point, it's more like, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT, I'M FLYING A PLANE!" But it's really very fun and extremely exciting despite it all. In the words of that irrepressible carrot-topped scamp Annie Warbucks, "I think I'm gonna like it here." (Commence dance number with countless numbers of domestic staff members leaping about with mops and tea trays.)

And thank god my attending was nice enough not to give me beef about the fact that from now until this kid pops out, I have to make it to these weekly OB appointments. True, I scheduled them all for lunchtime, and true, they're just across the street at one of the hospital outpatient clinics, but it certainly interferes with my work day the fact that the office kept me waiting an hour and a half for what amounted to literally a five minute visit. But what can I do about it, really? If I were more of an asshole, maybe I would try throwing my weight around a little bit, pull that old "I'm a doctor, dammit, and I need to get back to work" schtick, but I would just feel bad, because it's not like all the patients in front of me haven't been waiting for an hour and a half as well.

Anyhoo, the upshot of my 37 week visit is that in the time since my last visit, my cervix has decided to dilate to one centimeter. Apparently, this is about par for the course at this point in the game, but I'm hoping this doesn't mean that Cal is thinking about arriving early. Don't get me wrong, if it weren't for work, I'd be ready to get the show on the road now, like immediately, because the ninth month of pregnancy is no fun AT ALL. But with everything else that's going on, I've been having frantic whispered conversations with the boy begging him to stay in for at least another two weeks, if not the full three, because mommy has to stay at work as long as possible so she can learn how to not kill any patients when she comes back from maternity leave and will be expected (somehow, miraculously) to know exactly what she's doing.

Currently reading: "Anesthesia Secrets." Someone recommended this book to me as a good quick reference. And it does seem to be, although carrying a book like this around makes me feel a little like a med student.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

hey you

Apparently I have reached the point in this pregnancy in which random strangers in the street feel the need to shout things at me. Nice things, for the most part. But still, who are you?


(Walking down the steps of the Health Sciences Library)

You're having a baby!

(Weighing options for answer, some pithy and some profound, finally deciding upon...)

That's so sweet!

Thanks, uh...Mister.

Or how about this lady:

(Walking out the front door of the hospital)

(In wheelchair and leg cast, smoking a cigarette)


When's the baby coming?

In about three weeks.

Looks like you're having...

A boy? A girl? A bobble-head doll?

...a real porker.

Oh. Uh...thanks?

Currently reading: "The Handbook of Clinical Anesthesia." This book is pocket-sized, so it reads really fast and also makes me feel like a giant.

Monday, July 04, 2005

coke and a movie

Have you guys seen the "Coca Cola Zero" cans that are popping up everywhere? Apparently, it's a calorie-free version of Coke. Another one, I mean. What, Diet Coke wasn't enough? I tried to search for some information regarding this so-called "Coca Cola Zero," and from what I can determine, it is supposed to co-exist in harmony with Diet Coke because it's marketed to have a "unique taste" distinct from that of its other no-cal counterpart. At least the Coca Cola execs learned from the mistakes of that "New Coke" debacle and didn't replace Diet Coke entirely. But still, do we need two no-calorie Cokes on the market?

My real guess as to why Coca Cola Zero exists is that it is marketed for guys who feel like ordering a Diet Coke is sissy. This is a non-issue in New York City--the lines between sissy and manly here are artfully blurred, and everyone drinks Diet Coke--but maybe elsewhere in the country, Diet Coke is only for girls. That was the whole rationale behind the introduction of Pepsi One, wasn't it? The ones with the manly commercials of Cuba Gooding Jr. screaming and jumping up on top of tables? I'm just waiting for the Coca Cola Zero marketing campaign to get under full swing so I can see if I'm right or not. If the ads look like beer commercials, then I win.

* * *

Joe and I went to see "War of the Worlds" last night. Insert obligatory Tom Cruise joke here if you must, but just because the guy is a lunatic doesn't make me not want to see his big old Steven Spielberg summer blockbuster movie. It was OK. There were some parts that were very exciting and scary, and some parts that were clear 9/11 references that made me kind of squirmy (showing a wall of posters of the missing and the lost, for example). And then there were some parts that didn't make much sense at all. I guess technically you can not read this next part if you want to avoid being surprised by the movie, but--come on, everyone knows the story already, right? I mean, it was a book and all.

  • OK, I have to admit that even though I hate precocious showbiz kids, Dakota Fanning is a reasonable actress. She's very natural to watch up on screen. It's just those interviews and press appearances that I can't stand to see, because no kid should ever act and talk the way she does, like a tiny little industry adult. Blech.
  • I mean, the obvious point that everyone is going to make about this movie is that the aliens are clearly idiots. What, invest all that time and money into your invasion and don't even think about the fact that the Earth might provide a hostile environment for you, albeit on a microscopic scale? Also, considering that you BEAMED IN FROM OUTER SPACE on a BOLT OF LIGHTNING, can't you think of a better strategy for exterminating the human race than just running around and SHOOTING everyone with ray guns? Also, how come they're vaporizing the humans one minute, and then painstakingly collecting them one-by-one the next minute to liquidate them into fertilizer? If we're so important for fertilization purposes, maybe they shouldn't be vaporizing us left and right, huh?
  • Tom Cruise is super-intense. When is he ever not intense? Even if he was in, like, a fluffy irreverent Farrelly brothers movie, he'd be, like, INTENSELY fluffy and irreverent.
  • Did you know that Morgan Freeman narrates this movie? He's like the new James Earl Jones, with the ubiquitous voice-overs.
  • What the hell is this movie "Stealth"? From what I can tell, it's about a "smart" warplane that turns...EVIL. I'm guessing Jamie Foxx signed on for this one before the success of "Ray". I'm also guessing that I'm not going to see "Stealth."

Currently reading: All Anesthesia, all the time, baby. Man, I haven't studies like this since med school. I'm even back to making my old nerd study charts, which is all too scary and familiar.

(Oh yeah, and Happy Fourth of July. Don't go blowing your hands off now, you hear? Your local ER staff surely would not appreciate it.)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

first day of school

Yesterday, I finished my first day of Anesthesia residency. No one died, but mostly because I didn't have to touch any patients today. It was mostly a paperwork and detail-sorting day. We were handed out a lot of information. We got a bunch of books and toys. We watched a movie about SAYING NO TO DRUGS because it is a HAZARD OF THE PROFESSION and we should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MAINLINE FENTANYL even if we are a little curious because YOU COULD DIE. Great. Now I'm too scared to even touch the narcotics for fear that it'll somehow jump into my veins and turn me into a junkie. Also, we had to take some sort of "baseline knowledge" exam, which I'm sure proved that my baseline knowledge is zero. To leave plenty of room for improvement, right?

Also, I spent some more time with my new resident class. The biggest difference I could see right off between my old class and my new class is that it feels like my new class is all guys. At first I thought it was just a perception bias, like after I graduated from Wellesley and felt like my med school class was just packed with guys (even though the real breakdown was probably closer to 55/45 guys/gals) because I was so used to an chicks-only classroom environment . But in the case of my new class, it's true. Whereas my Peds class had 17 women and 3 guys in it, my Anesthesia class has I think 8 women and 18 guys. It's raining men.

So I met a bunch of new people. Everyone seems very pleasant and friendly and, like me, a little nervous about starting. We all asked each other the same few questions over and over again. "Where did you do your prelim year? Where are you from? Do you know what the hell we're supposed to be doing our first night on call?" (Some people were tapped to be on call their first night. They're probably relatively lucky because they'll probably be hand-held a little bit and then let out early. We're not exactly the most useful people in the department right now.) However, there was one question (aside from possibly "when are you due?") that I was asked most of all. And everyone asked it in kind of the same way.

"So, why'd you switch out of Peds?" (Knowing smile, figurative elbow in the ribs) "Couldn't take it anymore, could you?"

And while I understand what they're trying to say and even agree with them in certain respects, I can't help but to feel a little defensive for the tiny little Pediatrician that still lives inside of me. I mean, yes, let's face it, I'm very, very relieved to never have to fill out another school form or write another letter to the WIC office about how my patient needs a special kind of infant formula. But I still love Peds, and there are many things about it that I'm going to miss a lot. I'm glad that I switched departments and am excited about all the things I'm going to be doing and learning, but I'm not an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of girl. I have dual allegiances. I like my new department, but will cherish and defend my old department to the death.

Anyway, when my new co-residents all start having kids and are calling their Pediatricians at 2am, I'm sure they'll be glad that there is someone out there who can "take it." Even if it's not me anymore.

Currently reading: So Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring? We're doomed. At least when it was just Rehnquist, we were just faced with the prospect of replacing one conservative with another.