Saturday, January 31, 2009

what, no nejm?

Some of the magazines strewn out at the neighborhood inflatable playground, ostensibly giving you something to read while your kid bounces his brains out.

Pretty standard assortment, but I have to say the JAMA caught me by surprise.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Cal never had pacifiers. Never got into them. He could take the bottle, and would breast-feed like a fiend, but anytime I tried to give him a pacifier, her would just stick his tongue out and the thing would go rolling plip-plip-plip on the floor. So eventually I counted this as good luck (who wants to get their kid attached to something that they're eventually going to have to take away anyway?), and when we were expecting Mack, pacifiers were not anything near my radar of Things To Get For The Baby.

I think you know where this is going.

Earlier this week, I got these Soothies, for no other reason than they were the kind of pacifier we used in the NICU and in the Well-Baby Nursery when I was a Peds resident, so something about having that implicit endorsement of the hospital made me feel good. (She said, writing a note with her Zantac pen on her Advair scratch pad while taking a sip of coffee from her Viagra coffee mug. Ah, we are pawns!) I also seem to remember that the ones they had in the NICU were vanilla-scented for some reason, which I found disgusting, but the nurses insisted that the babies liked. Well, I guess I never heard any of them complain that they didn't like vanilla, anyway.

So on a hunch, after watching Mack endlessly rooting around after just finishing Breakfast #3 (following Breakfast #2 and #1--this kid eats like an anesthesiologist) I ran to CVS and got him a pack of those pacifiers. After a few test sucks, he took to that thing like...well, like someone with a suck reflex, I guess. And then he got all blissed out and his eyes got all heavy and five minutes later, he was asleep. And I was like, oh, so THAT'S why people give kids pacifiers. Only after he fell asleep, the pacifier fell out of his mouth and rolled on the floor into a pile of dog hair, and when Mack woke up a short time later, rooting around for the thing, he was displeased.

So I took the Soothie and safety-pinned it to a rolled up dishrag. That way, I figured it would at least stay put even if he spit it out, and there was enough material for him to sort of grab at and hold in place. Though I don't love the safety pin part of it, it seems to work well, and while inelegant, it seems to have been an ingenious solution.

So ingenious, someone already patented it.

Which begs the question: where was I ten years ago (or whenever) so I could have beat these guys to the punch? And how come their dishrags are so adorable?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

pinky dinky doo

So yesterday, out of curiosity, I looked up how much that laptop bag would have cost if one were to buy it new. $150. And they were selling it at the "antique store" (basically new, it still had all the factory-creases in it from not being used) for $20. And I thought to myself, well, I could use a bigger laptop bag. And maybe pink isn't that hideous? Humor me, please. We're into Barbie!

Thus underlining a key weakness of my character. Sometimes I will buy something not because I want or need it, but just because it's a good deal. See also: a dozen donuts.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

antique roadshow

Shortly after we moved to Atlanta, Joe and I drove by this antique shop en route to another destination. The storefront itself looked sort of questionable, and it was in a part of the neighborhood that was plus/minus on the sketchiness scale, leaning more towards the sketch, as was the fact that the store itself looked like a place one might stop to buy bail bonds. But still, there was something about the store that intrigued me, and through the bars on the windows, it looked like there may have been some interesting junk inside.

"Can we stop by that antique store sometime?" I asked Joe eventually, our third time driving by the place in as many weeks.

"HAHAHAHAHA!" he replied, and that has been his answer to my request ever since, despite my repeat and increasingly peevish blandishments that no, I am, in fact, serious.

So today, in an effort to tear myself away from that delicious three week-old baby and actually leave the house for the first time this week, I decided that screw it, I would just walk there. It wasn't that far, it just seemed like it would be far, just like everything else in Atlanta seems far apart because the landscape between is always viewed from the inside of a moving vehicle. I walked to the antique store and went inside and looked around. AND IT WAS AWESOME.

In one sense it was like any other antique store you've ever seen. It had that same musty odor, for example, and every single surface of floor and wall space was plastered with some eclectic mix of hideous, retro-kitch, and cool ignored decor item. But the way the shop was set up was very interesting. In each corner, one set of items were arranged very theatrically, almost like set piece, or a still life. It made you appreciate the items more. It made you want to buy things that you had no reason to own.

Inexplicably, some of the coolest items were labeled "NOT 4 SALE," like this multi-pronged lamp shown below, or these retro-cool metal-coil space heaters that look like the Eye of Sauron in "Lord of the Rings," which would surely burn down our entire house if I actually was able to buy it and plug it in at home. But oh, what a stylish fire it would be! There were tons of other things that I would have bought had I the money, the design aesthetic, and the space to keep it--but alas, I have none of those things, so lose-lose. (Lose-lose-lose?) For instance, see that wood-carved otter on the left in that second picture below? That would be something that I would consider AWESOME at someone else's house, though in my own house, it would rapidly be covered by sheaves of old mail and Matchbox cars, and would probably start to pick up dust until I just started to resent the damn thing. So that was the gist of this whole store. Theoretically awesome, but probably not for me.

I did come very close to buying two items, one a seemingly brand new Timbuk2 messenger/laptop bag, and the second a giant tan, cream and orange Obama campaign poster. However, upon closer examination, the messenger bag was pink--sort of a cotton candy pink, which I just couldn't stomach; maybe I would have conceded to hot pink or magenta, but COTTON CANDY?--and the Obama poster was out of stock. The lady (she had one very prominent front tooth that I could not stop looking at, even though I tried very hard not to--it's like when you see Jewel close-up for the first time) said she could sell me the display copy, but it was a little wrinkled, and anyway, she said that she would be getting some more in, so that gave me some time to sleep on it.

So in sum: walking to places = good! Especially since it cuts down on the temptation to buy a gigantic rusted water fountain and lug it all the way home in a vain attempt to artsy your house up.

(Full photo set, unfortunately rendered via phone cam, here.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

reasons cal just gave me for not wanting to eat his dinner

"It's too boring."

"It's going to give me too much energy."

"I'm allergic to it."

"Spaghetti and meatballs hurts my feelings."

Monday, January 26, 2009

double happiness

Hey all, happy new year. Thanks for all the e-mails regarding restaurant recommendations--I guess the Atlanta restaurant scene is not quite the New York restaurant scene, but I keep thinking SOMEONE must know how to make a good tandoori chicken nearby and be willing to sell it to me, right? I know the Buford Highway is where I'm going to have to go to get any good ethnic food, but it's just such a production to get there. It involves PLANNING and DRIVING and GETTING LOST and U-TURNS IN FRONT OF EARL'S CLASSIC GUITAR EMPORIUM. So maybe I should learn how to cook.

Chinese New Year was fun. Cal was super excited to have my parents here, and Mack pooped himself with glee at meeting his grandparents. (Well, he pooped, anyway.)

Oh, and a tangentially related story, I went to Krispie Kreme the other day, because--well, it's a really boring story, but basically, I went to the bank, and then I was trying to find things to do to keep me out of the house for longer to practice being away from the baby for at least an hour and a half, because, dude, cut the cord already, and there was a Krispie Kreme, and I knew my parents were coming, and Cal had mentioned wanting to eat some donuts, and--yeah, see, I told you it was boring. Anyway, I got six donuts, which seemed like more than enough at the time, and the person at the register told me that the total was six-something, but was I sure I didn't want to just get a full dozen for just seven-something?

Oh no, I demurred, we couldn't possible eat A DOZEN DONUTS. And then I took the donuts home and ate three. And then Joe ate two. So by the time my parents got here, there was only one donut left, and it wasn't even the kind that my dad liked. (Original Glazed, for you dad-stalkers out there. Now you can entice him into your trap, consisting of a basket held up by a branch tied to a rope, under which is stacked a pile of donuts. You're welcome.)

After my dad grudgingly ate the last donut (he doesn't like custard filled, because he's CRAZY and hates deliciousness) I relayed the story of, "but for only a dollar more, you could super-size your donut order" etcetera etcetera, with the moral of the story being, and that's how they get you, and that's why America has a 95% left main occlusion, The End. Which is true. I waited for him to start telling me how right I was, and how cunning I was for not getting sucked into their commercial enticements.

But instead, my dad looked at me like I had just confirmed what he knew all along, namely that I was NOT VERY SMART, and said, "Yeah, you'll never make that mistake again. NEVER just get six donuts at Krispie Kreme. Either get four, or get the full dozen. Six is not a good deal. Usually I get a dozen, and if your sister is home, she'll eat two, and I'll eat ten."

HE EATS TEN DONUTS? And before you start thinking that my dad is some gigantic fatty fatty fat fat, let me just show you a picture from this weekend:

Clearly, he is Kobayashi. Anyway, Joe went out the next morning and bought a box of a dozen donuts. And then we ate them. And lo, they were good. Happy New Year.


(What? I didn't say it was a good story.)

(Full picture set here.)

(Parentheses! Who doesn't love 'em?)

Saturday, January 24, 2009


So my parents are coming to visit us this weekend! For Chinese New Year, don't you know. Year of the cow. (Ox. Whatever. I don't think that in Chinese there is a difference between "cow" and "ox" but people just call Year of the Ox because it sounds better. Can't say as much for Year of the COCK. I call it year of the Chicken myself. But anyway, that is neither here nor there.)

Joe was inquiring at work about good Chinese restaurants in the area (he said he asked a Chinese optometrist at work, but the name on the e-mail he forwarded me was, like, Trang Vu Pham [not her real name] so I'm thinking Vietnamese) and we got some recommendations that are, of course, outside the city, where the ethnic food corridor is. However, it occurs to me that we don't have any way to transport all of us any distance by car--now that we have two carseats in the back, we are one seat down in the car, and really, even the seat between the two carseats has been whittled down to near nothing. I'm pretty skinny, but even I have to sit sort of cockeyed with one hip jutted out just to wedge myself between all that unforgiving plastic and strapping. So it looks like we'll spend Chinese New Year's Eve eating either very bad local "Chinese food" (which I'd really rather not--I mean, why bother?) or white people food. Or we could cook. So...white people food it is!

Oh, speaking of ethnic foods, is there a place to get good Indian food in Atlanta? Preferably in city limits? I don't mean fancy Indian food or fusion or any of that stuff, I'm talking about good, cheap Indian food, in a restaurant like the types that taxi drivers used to stop by at 3am in New York to get a gigantic styrofoam partitioned tray of steaming whatnot. I don't think I've seen a single Indian restaurant since we moved here, and though (admittedly) I haven't really looked around that much, we do live in a neighborhood with a lot of restaurants, some for the more daring palate, and not one of them has been Indian. Any good suggestions, shoot me an e-mail, I would love to know.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

time machine

Cal, July 2005:

Mack, January 2009:

Huh. I guess they are related.

In other news...

I think I'm getting a little more of a handle on my rewrites for the "Scutmonkey" manuscript. I admit that with all the stuff that was going on around here, I kind of stalled out there for a while. Anyway, the gist of the rewrites is that my editor requested that I try to include more personal stuff to balance out and bridge across the medical stories, and asked that, while she has never asked this from one of her authors before, I try to make my book more like my blog rather than less. Initially (meaning when I started to write this thing) didn't want to have so much overlap between what I've written online and what I'm writing for the book, but I do see her point--the blog stuff is much more personal, whereas the medical stories, while interesting, are a little more discontinuous and do keep things somewhat at a distance. So I've been sort of slogging through some of my old blog entries from training, I guess sort of reminding myself what it medical school and residency were really like, and trying to rework some key portions with that perspective in mind.

And having just freshly re-read some of those experiences, let me just say this: THANK GOD that phase of my medical training is over, because I could not do all that again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

planning my re-entry

I have a little under four weeks before I have to go back to work, but as with Cal, we have to lay down the groundwork for my re-entry into society early early early, because the whole thing's going to involve a bit of planning.

First thing's first--food. If I am to be separated from Mack for any period of time longer than, oh, say, an hour (he usually eats every two hours, sometimes every three, but sometimes after one), he's got to have something to eat while I'm gone. So since last weekend, I've brought the breast pump out from hibernation (it seems that sometime in the two and a half years since that thing's been in stasis, Cooper decided to use it as a rawhide chewing platform, because the outside nylon of the bag is coated in dog spit and cow skin parts--hygienic!) and have started laying the base for the Strategic Milk Stores. We are doing pretty well on that if I do say so myself.

Also, in the evenings, I have been giving Mack a bottle, just to get him used to the idea that equivalent food can be dispensed from either boob or silicone nipple. I don't want to wait so long that he actually rejects taking the bottle altogether, because if he wants to eat during the day, he's got to get on board with Plastic Mommy, you know what I'm saying? I know everyone gets all frantic about nipple confusion and rejecting the breast the like, but with Cal, I started introducing the artificial nipple for one feeding starting at just around two weeks, and he was able to switch pretty effortlessly between the two, so go figure. Babies--not so stupid as we think! I have been saving the bottle feed for the evening, so that either Joe or Cal can enjoy the experience of feeding the baby, and while they're all occupied, I'll take the opportunity to pump. These past few evenings I've been able to net about 6oz. during this one skipped feeding, which amounts to three fresh bottles for every one used. The stockpile, she is growing!

I have also been sleeping with my glasses on. SO I CAN SEE MY DREAMS. No, really, it's so I can check the clock throughout the night. I know that all talk of a schedule or regularity is meaningless between now and when Mack hits six weeks, and that whatever he's doing now, it's all subject to change anyway, so why bother--but I am trying to figure out what times he's waking up to eat. Overnight, he's still feeding about every two to three hours, and I think if we can engineer it so that he eats at 4am, and then at 6am, I should be able to make my escape for work at 5am without too much of a fuss. Either way, it's going to be hard getting out the door, but it will probably be a little harder if I have to tear the kid off me, possibly setting off The Crying and The Waking Up Of The Sibling and General Household Chaos At Dark O'Clock.

Luckily, Mack so far seems to be a pretty easy baby (he rarely cries, and when he does cry, all it takes is some combination of snuggling +/- foodstuffs to get him to quit making those little bird noises) so hopefully that will continue and we'll have a reprieve from some of the more pernicious aspects of newborn parenting--colic, staying up all night pacing the halls and the like. But nonetheless, returning to work does take some advance planning. For instance, on the other end, I already scouted out months ago where the outlets are in the bathroom of the women's OR locker room, so we're go on that. Ah, back to the days of breast pumping next to a toilet. Don't let anyone tell you that the life of a doctor isn't glamorous, kids! Because I forgot to tell you that the toilet is made of SOLID GOLD.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

life with two

I'm still in the process of learning as I go, but so far life with two kids is fine, so long as there are two people available to take care of them. When Cal is at school--fine. Easy. When Cal is home in the evenings and Joe is home from work--man-to-man defense takes care of most things. But having both kids when it's just me is a little on the challenging side right now. Yes, I know lots of people have two kids or even more, I'm not saying it's the most challenging thing in life, and not impossible, just a little logistically difficult until we get our routines down. Especially this Saturday, when Joe got called into the hospital late in the morning and both kids were ready to eat lunch at the same time, so I had Mack crying increasingly frantically on one side of me while I was rushing to fix up some soup and bread for Cal, who wanted that plate, no, not that plate, the other plate, and why was there applesauce with his lunch, he didn't ask for applesauce. Kid, you will eat what I serve, or it's MREs for you.

Cal has been good with the baby, very interested and concerned and eager to help (or at least "help") with a number of things. The thing that I've noticed with Cal (and it's not that I wasn't warned that this would happen) is that everything about him seems to be MORE than before. More big, more loud, more words, more flailing limbs perilously close to the baby's head, more everything. I know this is mostly a relative change of scale--I have a hard time seeing Cal as a baby anymore when seeing him next to, you know, an actual baby--but there is some readjusting taking place as we figure out how to exist as a family of four. Some of this is going to involve me being a little more patient. Some of this is going to involve Cal recalibrating his energies and expectations now that he has to share his parents with another kid. And some of it is going to involve Mack just getting a little older, a little bigger, a little sturdier.

We're all working on it.

(Two week photo set here)
living history

Mack, I know someday you will thank me for propping you up in your carseat to watch Barack Obama's swearing-in and inauguration speech. Even if you slept through the whole thing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

i don't want to do work, i just want to bang on my mug all day

I am almost done with week two of my six week maternity leave, and I have to say, it is going fast. I had a similar feeling last time when I had Cal, although that was more of the "How can I possibly abandon my baby in this cold cruel world as I go back to work," etcetera*, while this time, it's more, "Shit, I have so much work to get done and only four more weeks to do it." This is exacerbated by the fact that it's been quite a while since I had a chance to sit down for more than twenty minutes at a stretch to do anything (study, write, what have you), so the inclination to procrastinate and surf the web aimlessly is high. And...hey, shouldn't I update my blog? And...hey, I'm hungry, I need to make a ham sandwich posthaste! And...hey, the light in the bedroom is nice, shouldn't I take more pictures of the baby? DO IT FOR THE GRANDPARENTS.

Ha! Look, he thinks he's people! And his face is so red! So ruddy and big, like a pumpkin balanced on top of a pile of rags! He's like one of the Kennedys or something! Or at least Bill Clinton!

Oh yeah, I should do some work.

Time to get to work!

Work work work!


Whoop, baby's waking up.

* For what it's worth, by the time the end of the six weeks rolled around with Cal, I was kind of bored at home and kind of ready to get back to work. Deadbeat mom!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Today I cracked open an egg that had two yolks! TWO YOLKS IN ONE EGG! Behold!

This means:

  1. I am very lucky! I should go buy a lottery ticket now!
  2. Organic eggs my ass, that's some Chernobyl shit right there.
  3. I need to start taking Lipitor immediately.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

mack, one week old

This may be more for the family and friends, who are more likely to indulge me 13 photos of a baby doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, but a photo set of Mack's one week old photos is up on Flickr. (I don't even want to tell you how many photos there were originally, before some judicious culling.) Anyway, I'm trying to get some birth announcement/thank-you cards together, so these should give me something to work with.
first week home, first 911 call

So Mack is one week old, and I think we're all doing well. Cal so far has made the adjustment as smoothly as one could expect (in that he acts like an insane person, but the insanity is typical three year-old stuff and indistinguishable from the insanity manifested before the baby was born) and Joe is back at work doing Those Things He Does. Speaking of which: THANK GOD for Joe's paternity leave. Oh man, if we could have a househusband full-time, that would just be solution to all life's problems, because Joe single-handedly kept this place afloat that first week. Not only was he completely available to Cal while I was hobbling around, alternately incapacitated by fatigue and my most non-adorable sutures and a variety of not-appropriate-for-discussion postpartum indignities--he did almost all the cooking and cleaning and handy-manning that one could reasonably accomplish in a week. Really, the only thing he didn't do was the biologically improbable, barring a prolactinoma in his pituitary the size of Kansas.

Ha! Medical humor! How much do you love it?


Anyway, I remarked to Joe over the weekend that we might want to get a carbon monoxide detector for the house. They were actually required in New York (or at least I assume so--one day about two years ago our super showed up at our door, shoved a carbon monoxide monitor into our hands and instructed us in his inimitable nasal Queens accent to affix it somewhere near the kitchen before stalking away, screaming something into his walkie-talkie). But there is no CO monitor in our house currently, and as I had been having some headaches ever since we started using our gas fireplace, I just wanted to make sure we had our bases covered. So anyway, we got the detector yesterday morning. After some cursory exam of the packaging (some terror-inducing clipart of kids sleeping while ODORLESS DEADLY FUMES closed in around them), I pulled out the detector, plugged it into the wall close to the fireplace, and walked away.

It started alarming about a minute after.

I pushed the reset button quickly (just to turn off that deadly piercing shriek before we all went deaf), and thought to myself that I shouldn't panic, it could just be a startup alarm, to show that the detector is working. After resetting, the alarm was silent. The little green light was on, showing that the detector was sampling. I headed into the kitchen to make some lunch.

And the alarm went off again.

I repeated the reset process, but the third time the alarm went off, I figured we needed to do something about it. First, I cut off gas flow to the fireplace. On the back of the alarm were printed instructions that if carbon monoxide was detected, we were to: 1.) Open all the windows in the house, 2.) Move outdoors, and 3.) Call 911. I did the window thing, bundled Mack up and moved him next to the open doors leading out to the courtyard of the complex, but when it came to calling 911, I balked. Call 911? Really? Wasn't there a building supervisor I could call? Or a local fire department hotline? Everyone was fine. Was it overkill to call 911?

I called the building supervisor. Voice mail. I looked online to see if I could find the the contact info for my local fire station. After finding a number that seemed plausible, I called in and explained the situation. Whoever it was that picked up the phone was very nice, very responsive, but after every sentence I said, she put me on hold, and then there was a pause of about 15 seconds before she came back to ask me the next question. Address? I told her. Please hold. Click. Doo dee doo. I put my jacket on. I poked Mack, who was still alive. I thought about hyperbaric oxygen chambers. The gas flow to the fireplace had been back on for six days by this point.

The lady at the fire department came back on and told me that she was sending someone over. "But next time, you should just call 911. That's why I kept putting you on hold. Everything you were telling me, I was relaying to the 911 dispatcher." Oh. Three minutes later, I heard sirens. I peeked out the window and I saw a firetruck--a full, huge rig--tearing down the street in front of our house. Did I do that? Were they coming here, or is there another, actual fire? Two minutes after that, there was a knock at the door. When I opened it, there were no less than ten firemen standing out in the hallway.

It kind of reminded me of a code in the hospital, actually. Probably a third of the time there's a code called (usually in the case that a patient has arrested), the code is a false alarm, and what really happened is that someone just fainted, or had a dip in their vitals, or disconnected one of their monitors while making a run for the bathroom, making everyone think that they died. In the hospital, the cavalry shows up to every code called, but once they see that it's a false alarm, most of the people leave.

After about a minute, seeing that no one was passed out or engulfed in flames, half of the firemen went back to the truck. The others went around the kitchen with their carbon monoxide detectors, examined the stove, poked at the fireplace. I felt sort of sheepish for some reason, and kept apologizing and rationalizing, even though I know that I only did what I should have done and the fire department were just responding as they are supposed to--but I just felt embarrassed, like I was making a big hysterical fuss. Anyway, I explained the whole thing--the out-of-commission-for-several-years-only-recently-reactivated gas fireplace. My headaches. The new CO detector that basically started alarming the second we plugged it in. One of the firemen was examining the detector itself, which was now making intermittent staccato shrieks. "Was it alarming like this?" he asked me. No, I told him, when I called, it was making a single, steady alarm. "This thing is acting weird," he remarked.

Anyway, in the end, the firemen blamed it on the monitor, saying that sometimes they can malfunction, and that there may have been a buildup of schmutz (my paraphrasing) on the detector mechanism causing it to false alarm. In any event, they did not detect any carbon monoxide with their own detectors, but that, to be safe, we should keep the gas flow to the fireplace off until it could be checked. In light of my headaches, which prompted the whole purchase of the CO detector in the first place, they asked about Cal and Mack, if they've been having headaches or acting different. I said that we'd only had Mack home for a week, so I wasn't really sure what "different" would be for him, but he seemed perky enough, and that Cal was feeling fine. "Good," he said, "you're probably OK, then. It's like canaries in a mine shaft. The smaller ones will feel the effects first."

Anyway, the firemen--who were all very nice, by the way--trundled out after about ten minutes, and after letting the house air out for another ten minutes (I was taking no chances), I closed all the windows again, examined Mack again for signs of carboxyhemoglobinemia (what, you don't have a carbon monoxide oximeter on your eyeballs?) and put another layer of clothes on him, because without the fireplace, the house was getting downright chilly.

I actually have a ton of work that I need to do during this maternity leave, including but not limited to 1.) studying for the Boards, 2.) working on my manuscript, and 3.) possibly getting my GA state drivers license. I gave myself a week "off" before jumping into the fray, and though that week ran out yesterday, I really, really didn't feel like doing anything.

So anyway, if nothing else, I had a great excuse for blowing the day off.

Monday, January 12, 2009

no respect

(Wincing, rubbing his head)
Ow. I bumped my head on the door. I have a boo-boo. I need to go to the doctor.

Well, I'm a doctor, can I take a look at it?

You're not a doctor, you're a MOM.

Friday, January 09, 2009


We gave Mack his first at-home bath last night. Which is neither here nor there, because the real big news is that we finally figured out how to turn on the fireplace in our house!

It's a gas fireplace, so don't get too excited--there was no assembling of logs or gathering of kindling or pumping of bellows or flaming hot pokers. But no one could figure out how to turn it on. The real estate agent had no idea. The guy that we're renting the townhouse from said he never used it, because neither he nor his wife could figure out how to turn it on. A neighbor (neighbors in the South apparently being quite friendly) came over the other day and tried to help us figure it out, and while he was unable to do so (despite having an identical fireplace in his unit), came bearing something even more useful, which was the instruction booklet for the fireplace. Who knew that fireplaces had instructions? Or that they turned on with a switch? THE FUTURE IS NOW.

We don't have a space heater, and we regulate the temperature in this place with the thermostat, so I couldn't figure out how we were going to warm up the place quickly for Mack's bath until this flaming baby came to light up our lives. We went from 68 degrees to a crackling 85 degrees or so in the office (the smaller of the two rooms that the fireplace connects) in about five minutes. Which, frankly, is pretty awesome. Too bad we live in Atlanta instead of, like, Nome. I would be using this thing every day.

(Oh, and the bath went well too.)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

signs that you maybe need more sleep

Reading my discharge instructions in the hospital yesterday:

"Your sutures are adorable and don't need to come out." Wait, what? They're ADORABLE? Excuse me, did you see them? They're hardly adorable. What kind of hippy-trippy, feel-good, sunshine up the ass person wrote these discharge instr--

Oh. Absorbable.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

bros before hos

So...we're home! It took a little while to get things moving in the morning (as with anything in the hospital, there was no shortage of people who needed to sign this and complete that before we were allowed to walk out the door), but we managed to extricate ourselves from the machine relatively unscathed, and with an emesis tub full of freebies to boot. Freezy ass-pads, I love you.

Cal made it to school today, and when he came home, I was glad to see him of course, and excited to start settling into our new two-kid household--but I have to admit that when he walked in that door, one of my first thoughts was, "Oh man, there isn't enough hand sanitizer in the world for this moment." Preschoolers. Whose snot haven't they touched?

Anyway, more updates later, but for now, just look at some pictures from Mack's first day and a half with us and indulge our new baby shutterbuggery. And mourn my being so utterly outnumbered. This house is lousy with BOYS.

some things i had forgotten about newborn babies

1.) Their breath smells like melted sweet butter.

2.) They are so soft that even when you see yourself touching them, it takes a while for the actual sensation to register.

3.) Apparently, they need their diapers changed a lot. Or at least more than I've been remembering to.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

the winner of the staring contest

and introducing...

Mack Wei-Ping Walrath
January 6th, 2009, 1:09am

8lbs, 5oz, 19.5 inches
Worth the wait
worrying about cal 1.0

I wonder if he actually went to sleep at a reasonable time tonight without me or Joe there. If not, screw it, he can skip school tomorrow. Hell, he's already missed two and a half weeks for vacation, what's one more day?
already planning

Trying to convince Joe to run out to the one good sushi place that we've found in Atlanta and see if they'll make a take-out lunch for me for tomorrow. Come on, I haven't eaten since 7am! Don't make me eat hospital lunch!

Monday, January 05, 2009

so maybe it won't be before midnight

Hi, still here. Sorry to leave you all hanging, we were watching "Batman" (the Heath Ledger one) on my laptop.

It was good getting that epidural. Aside from the obvious reasons, it's nice being reminded what it feels like on the other side of one of those needles. We've also been AROM'ed (you know, they ruptured my membranes), so hopefully we'll see some pickup in the pace here and squirt this kid out already. Contractions anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes apart, hoping they will get organized and move the mail already.

Wow, my legs are really numb.
behold, anesthesia!

Epidural in. Hey, these things DO work!
maybe i should sell tickets

The overnight resident just came in the the intern and two medical students "to say hi before we started doing anything to you." I know it's possibly hypocritical to say this, since I was a med student on OB seven years ago, but...four people? This better not be no damn peep show.
updates from joe

Apparently Cal is shoving down that corned beef and cabbage like some sort of Irish kid. If I'd known he liked sodium so much, I would have been lethally salting all his vegetables long ago. He (Cal, that is) will be in the bath and hopefully pajama-ed up by nine, so Joe can get back here and be bored along with me.

On a completely unrelated note: you know the benefit of having an anesthesiologist as a patient? That they instinctively untangle and pass back all the monitoring cords and whatnot under the IV tubing. I knew all that training was good for something.
my goal... to have this kid before midnight, by the way. Did you hear that, kid? No more free ride. You're breathing air tomorrow.

The contractions are definitely stronger on Pitocin. I don't think I'm on the placebo arm of the study.

Also, my blog and my Twitter stream are apparently becoming one.
like some damn martyr or something

People keep walking in here all surprised that I'm just chilling here at 5cm without an epidural. Believe me, my pain threshold is not that high, it's just that I'm not that uncomfortable right now. And they keep asking me if I want my epidural now, for fear that I "won't be able to sit still" if I wait too long. Dude, I got wet tapped last time. I CAN AND WILL SIT STILL.

They just started the Pit, though, so I might be changing my tune soon.

(Is this weird that I'm blogging now? Maybe this is weird. But I have nothing left to do. I could watch CNN, but all they're showing is stuff about John Travolta's kid. I ordered some books from Amazon this weekend "for the hospital" but I guess I didn't order them early enough because they're not arriving until tomorrow.)
on the homefront

They haven't started the Pit to augment things yet, so I sent Joe home to take care of our extrauterine kid. Hopefully he'll at least have a chance to stuff in some dinner and get Cal at least ready for (if not into) bed before anything real starts happening here. Cal's first day back at school is tomorrow, and to say that he's been off his schedule is...something of an understatement. I told Joe I would call if things looked like they were going faster than expected, but I think we'll be OK. We live a fifteen minute walk from the hospital--two minutes by car.
we are go for launch

I had an OB visit this afternoon after work, and at the end of it, the OB asked, " you want to go to L&D now?" Friend, you do not have to ask twice.

Sitting in L&D now, 5cm and 50% effaced, head at 0 station. Let's have us a baby before tomorrow, shall we?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

brick prison in the news

Fairly amusing piece in The New York Times about kids cramming for the admissions exam to my old high school. Given how hard these kids are studying, I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had to take the test today, I wouldn't get in. (And I don't mean if the 10 year-old me took the exam. I mean even if the 30 year-old me took the exam.) Nonetheless, I feel privileged to have been schooled among such academic titans. I mean, just look at us. Clearly, we were geniuses.

Best line in the article? Though probably only hilarious to those of us to went to high school in New York City?

And what if they were not among the fewer than 200 students who gain seats out of a pool of up to 2,000 test-takers?

“I’ll be sad,” said James Lee, a student at Intermediate School 119 in Glendale, Queens, “but there’s still Stuyvesant.”


* (OK, OK...I am the one at the top of the pyramid in the gigantic green T-shirt. I think we were in...eighth grade at the time? What, obscenely oversized isn't cool anymore? Wait...what do you mean, it wasn't ever cool? Thanks to Maria, whose Facebook page I ganked this off of.)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

unwisely braving horizontal stripes at 39 weeks

At this point, with prospects of a 2008 debut dashed and the weekend half over, I figure I'd almost rather just work most of this last week and have Cal 2.0 wait until our induction date (Friday, January 9th) to meet us. There are a couple of reasons for this, foremost of which is the fact that while the hospital at which we are going to deliver is pretty close to our house (a fifteen minute walk as a matter of fact, close enough that my preferred mode of transport home after my OB appointments is on foot), it is pretty far from the hospital where I work. If something happened while I was at work, I have been assured by many that someone would be freed up somehow to drive me into L&D, but the fact of it is that I have no concrete contingency plan, and that such an event would require some scrambling and confusion and juggling of personnel, none of which I would want to perpetrate on the busy OR staff the week after coming back from the holidays. (I told them that my original plan was just take a cab, but the resulting reaction to that suggestion was roughly the equivalent of the reception that Bush got at that Iraqi press conference where he got shoes thrown at him.) Joe said that I should just call him in case of emergency so that he could dash in and drive me to the hospital, but that would just take twice as long--requiring him to extricate himself from work, drive all the way out to where I work, getting lost, driving all the way back intown, which--no. So for that reason, not going into labor during the week, at least not during the day, would be the wisest option.

Secondly, if we make it far enough to go in for our scheduled induction this Friday, we get two extra weekend days tacked on to Joe's paternity leave, which, given that he only has a week off, is significant. But either way, what will be will be, and if nothing is going to happen this weekend, I'm ready and eager to get back to work on Monday, because all this sitting around and waiting is driving me crazy.

Again, from the front, looking...OK-ish:

And then from the side, grievously regretting the optical effect of the horizontal stripes. I look like one of those topographical illustrations that mapmakers use to depict the mountainous outcroppings of Appalachia:

So, how this induction will supposedly work is this: we have an appointment for 7:30am on Friday. We are to call L&D two hours before to confirm bed availability--which sounds early, to wake up at 5:30am just to call in, but that's about the time that I'm usually leaving for work anyway, so it should be no big change from usual. Barring the influx of eighteen pregnant ladies overnight going into spontaneous labor and yet all failing to deliver by morning (fairly unlikely, but as someone who has worked the floors of L&D, I know not entirely out of the realm of possibility), they will tell us that we still have our spot and we can head in to start our morning of Pitocin, amniotomy hooks, and bad daytime television.

But anyway, there's no point in thinking about it anymore. It's just good to know that there's a defined endpoint. That said, if we call in at 5:30am on Friday morning and they tell us that we should just stay home because there are no beds, I may scream.

We got a big box in the mail yesterday afternoon from Joe's sister, addressed to [the baby's name that we picked out]. After some deliberation with Cal as to whether or not we should open it now or stick it under the Christmas tree, we decided to "help" the baby and open the box now. I'm glad we did.

So now we have an actual Ling Ling to keep the baby company after he's born. And until then, at least to keep the crib warm for him.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

you're the birthday boy or girl

Fine, endlessly gestating gigantic fetus. Just stay up in there. Just stay up in there FOREVER.

(Reverse psychology, see.)

Today, lacking anything else entertaining to do (the weather outside was sunny, but a bit cold to stay at the playground for anything more than half an hour or so), we decided to take a family trip to Chuck E. Cheese. That's right, Chuck E. Cheese. Remember when we used to live in Manhattan and, like, went to museums and street fairs and crap? THOSE DAYS ARE OVER. Now we go to the equivalent of a kiddie casino and eat pizza while watching animatronic mice sing cover versions of 80's pop standards. Stay classy, Atlanta!

Cal was excited to go initially, but as many of you know, three year-olds are not quite sane, and because we offended him in some way (I believe it had to do with the fact that we insisted that his carseat harness did in fact have to be buckled while the car was moving) he screamed that he WANTED TO GO HOME! WANT TO GO HOME! DON'T DRIVE THE CAR! STOP! DON'T WANT TO GO HAVE FUN! the entire ride there, and once we had finally arrived, refused to get out of the car. Oh, this poor kid, whose cruel, heartless parents wanted to take him to Chuck E. Cheese to play Skee-ball and eat pizza. Clearly abusive, authorities should be alerted immediately.

Luckily (for all) he warmed up once he actually allowed himself to be physically dragged into the place and saw all the rides and video games and balls and (best of all) "money" that he was allowed to put inside the coin slots to participate in each activity. We gave him a little cup of those play tokens to run around with, and I think that may have been the highlight of his day, because he was guarding those slugs like Gollum. (Tip for those interested in going to Chuck E. Cheese with their own thankless children: go register at the Chuck E. Cheese site online and you will be e-mailed some coupons for tokens and food that will actually save you a ton of cash. No, I do not work for Chuck E. Cheese Corporate, but dude, it was like free money!)

(Oh lord, first Chuck E. Cheese, now excitedly discussing the merits of coupons. Next up, high-waisted mom jeans and Sunny Delight. "Sunny D? Hey, your mom's cool!")

Anyway, it was fun is all I'm saying. We even accrued enough tickets by the end of the afternoon to cash in for one of those big, novelty rainbow lollipops at the prize desk, which was listed for the price of 200 tickets--a ridiculous-sounding number of tickets, until you realize that the cash value of each ticket was, like, a penny. And yes, we did play Skee-ball, though Cal had some questionable gamesmanship and insisted on not only standing on the Skee-ball ramp, but winging the ball overhand like a baseball. (Luckily there were not that many people there, so the only head trauma sustained was his own.)

So anyway, Happy New Year! Hope everyone is starting off the year right, and I for one am so glad not to have to be giving birth or taking care of a newborn right now, because the dizzying ease of having only one child to care for is just so freeing.