Hold It in Your Stomach

It sounds weird translated into English, but my parents would tell me (in Vietnamese) that there were times you should hold your opinion–or knowledge about someone or a situation–in your stomach. Essentially, keep whatever it is to yourself. Don’t lose face. Don’t throw someone under the bus. Don’t let others know that you were somehow privy to the delicate details.

Unfortunately tonight, I’m full, and I threw up my humble pie: I just want to say that I’m incredibly proud of Dr. H. Not only is he a good husband and father, he’s a freakin’ good doctor too. A medical doctor. The kind of doctor who can save your life. The one who is STILL in training when many of our friends settled down after we graduated from college seven years ago. So. When you address him formally on paper, it’d be kind of nice if you could write “Dr.” instead of “Mr.”

Back story: a couple months ago, we went to a wedding. It was beautiful and the theme was actually one of my favorite movies. We happened to be seated at a table with some folks we didn’t know, so we introduced ourselves. The older woman on my right told me her name and introduced the man next to her as “Dr.” I think my eyes lit up because she must know.

Know that medical school debt is no joke…know that “I’ll be home in an hour” doesn’t always mean an hour when patients are involved…know that 80-hour weeks happen, especially in residency and fellowship…know that some nights are lonely when he’s on call…know that you just need to hug and listen to him after a patient dies…know that…know that…know that…

So I smiled and said, “Oh! My husband’s a doctor too. What field of medicine is he in?”

She responded, “Well, he’s a dentist.”

Sigh.

I won’t minimize the work that dentists do, but that wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

I’m proud of my husband, but I don’t introduce him as “Dr. H.” I was surprised that she did.

Should I have held this in my stomach?

 

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Breastfeeding Is…

When I was maybe five or six, my older sister and I explored the contents of the desk in my parents’ bedroom. They never used it (or maybe they did before we were born), but it became a resting place for random things, including an envelop of “Love Is…” comic clippings that my dad (or mom?) saved.

Love-Is-GigglesThis one reminds me of some silly moments with Dr. H.

As I was self-expressing my left breast tonight to try to loosen a clog (unsuccessful, DANG IT), I went through a bunch of “Breastfeeding Is…” thoughts that span the good and bad. Now if only there were cutesy illustrations that go with it:

Breastfeeding is…

…frustrating at first–I thought this was supposed to be easy?!

…the perfect food for H!

…painful sometimes: awkward latches, tugging baby, clogs, etc.

…one of the hardest things I think I’ll have ever done in my life.

…one of the most amazing things–my body can nourish a human!

…connection, that sweet sweet mom-baby bond.

…funny at times, especially when H tries to work a finger into his mouth at the same time.

…frustrating again–when H gets distracted or is in a new environment and doesn’t eat as well.

…feeling like a milk maid or cow at times. Moo.

…leaking when it’s been a while since the last breastfeeding session.

…losing sleep because I know it’s worth it.

…I could probably go on and on.

Anything you’d add, mamas?

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You Shall Not Kiss My Baby

I have an uncle who has an interesting way of showing affection. As a child, he’d give me an awkward side hug, put his mouth near my ear, and then do this weird inhale-kiss thing. (I did this to Dr. H to demonstrate and he hated it; imagine cold air whooshing out of your ear–IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE.) As I grew older, I’d try my darndest to avoid it. I remember one time doing a soccer-like feign, only to get clotheslined and pulled in to this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad kiss.

We were at a wedding a couple weeks ago when my uncle approached H. I instinctively brought my hand up to cover his ear and did yet another defensive soccer move (this time, putting my body between the two of them). He leaned over anyways to get close to H’s ear, and then I felt the cold air whoosh near my hand. Haha! Thwarted!

But seriously: stop kissing my baby. He’s cute (I’m obviously partial), but don’t do it near his ear, his mouth, his eyes, his face, his hands, ANYWHERE.

H-Eyelashes

I would’ve said feet were okay up until about a month or two ago, but H has since discovered them, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched him accomplish Cirque du Soleil-like contortions to get his feet into his mouth.

I even put my foot down with my own mother, forbidding her to visit H until she got her Tdap. If you want to see how serious and heartbreaking pertussis can be for infants, I’ll just leave this here. During the lockout, my little sister overheard my mom telling someone she wasn’t welcome at my house. Sigh. That’s fine. I don’t mind being the “bad guy” if it means I’m doing what’s best for my son.

If you haven’t been reading the news, there’s a story about a newborn who died from meningitis that she contracted from someone who kissed her with a cold sore, or the herpes simplex virus.

Oh. Heck. No.

This. THIS is yet another reason why you shall not kiss my baby, lest you experience my mama bear wrath:

https://giphy.com/embed/8abAbOrQ9rvLG

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Adorably Squishy, Aggressive Love

On Call

Dr. H’s fellowship application is in! Apparently it costs the same to apply to one as it does to 10, so he applied to 10. They say it could be as early as next week that we hear back about interviews. More realistically? It’ll be about two or more weeks. We’re not expecting to hear back from all locations, but Dr. H has a pretty competitive resume (we’re thinking at least a few of them will want to meet him).

On (Mom) Life

When people meet H, the second thing people tell us after “Wow, he’s got big eyes,” is “He hasn’t missed a meal, has he?”

Hehe, I’m not offended. H is a big baby. His arms look like stacked marshmallows and his legs have SO. MANY. ROLLS. He’s adorably squishy and we love it.

And other people love it too. So much so that they hug and squeeze him. Hard. Which makes this mama a little stressed. Mostly because one morning as I was changing him out of his pajamas, I noticed little purple pin-prick dots on his arms; I thought it was a rash, but when we went to to the pediatrician, she examined his arms and said they were little bruises.

Wait, what?!

Folks, it’s called petichiae, which are tiny blood vessels that burst under the skin. Since they were localized to his arms, she speculated that someone squeezed his cute arms a little too aggressively.

Now when people comment about H’s likeness to the Michelin Man, I tell them about his arms and pray they love on him a little more gently.

On Faith

My friend M told me about the Examen, which is a spiritual exercise from St Ignatius:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence.
  2. Review the day with gratitude.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions.
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
  5. Look toward tomorrow.

I try to do this at the end of every day, but I find it creeps up on me throughout the day, especially number four. It’s usually, “EUGH. I could’ve behaved a little better in that situation,” so I work to try to understand why I did what I did and how I can do better tomorrow. I love that to God, we’re all works in progress.

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Positive Thoughts and Self Care, or Lack Thereof

On Faith

There was this TEDx talk (from 2013, but I only just saw it now) about how people are basically Negative Nancys. It’s known in the marketing and communications world that word of mouth is powerful. In the social realm, especially websites like Yelp or on Google, people are more inclined to share a negative review than a positive one. Womp womp.

But Alison Ledgerwood, the social psychologist in the talk, gives tips on how to “rewire” our brains to be more positive, including keeping a gratitude journal.

I have a few empty journals on hand and actually penned in three things I’m grateful for this morning. Side note: I love journals–my manager collects these as swag from conferences to give to me.

As a Facebook post, people were posting some inspiring things, including one woman who mentioned Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

On (Mom) Life

When you’re on a plane going over safety procedures, the flight attendants tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others. But as a mom (and currently not on a plane), it’s easy to ignore my needs and wants and make sure H is safe, warm, fed, loved, etc. If you gave me $50, I’d much rather spend it on something for him than for me.

Now that H is eight months old, I’m “remembering” myself again. My eyebrows have grown a little wild. I haven’t removed the nail polish on my toes, and I painted them back in May–yikes! Clothes? I finally replaced my black flats, but only after the edges on my existing ones were frayed and falling apart. My hair is up in a frizzy ponytail six out of the seven days of the week.

I’m still a spend thrift (we’re PGY4 with medical school loans, after all), but I’ve been hankering to create a capsule wardrobe and getting my hair a little more under control for work. It’s time for more self care.

 

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Early Days with H, Swaddle Fail

On (Mom) Life

There’s a story making its rounds around the web about a heartbroken mother whose seven-month-old son died from accidental suffocation after being placed in his crib with a blanket. Jordan DeRosier was the one who discovered her sweet Sloan.

I. Can’t. Even. Imagine.

Moved by her grief, she took to social media to educate others (and no doubt, she’s saving some lives) about safe sleeping practices.

I think about how we have H in a sleep sack at night and how his crib is bare except for the mattress and the green-and-gray-giraffe-patterned fitted sheet.

But I also think about that one time. That one time I went to check in on H when he was about five weeks old.

Note: As a new mom, I checked (often) to make sure H was breathing. I’d stand there to watch his chest rise and fall, and if that was hard to see, I’d put a finger in front of his nose and mouth to feel that warm, moist breath.

It was the middle of the night when I figured I’d check. I’d been the one who put him down earlier in a swaddle sleep sack. As I approached his crib, I saw that his nose and mouth were completely covered by the swaddle wings.

If it had been light out, I’m sure you would’ve seen the color drain out of my face. I remember my heart pounding and my hands scrambling to undo the wings. I remember frantically touching his face and neck for signs of life. And I remember the relief when he moved as I cradled him.

I’m tearing up as I write this. I hadn’t swaddled H tight enough so the wings crept up over his face (unfortunately, I’m not the only one). For the next several weeks, I was hyper-vigilant about the wings and would re-swaddle if it so much as crept up to the base of this neck. I think I drove Dr. H a little crazy because I’d re-swaddle his swaddles as well–sorry!

How close were we to being the ones with the cautionary tale? I shudder to think about that. Hug your babies close, mamas. And make sure their sleep areas are safe.

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“It Will Round Out”

Hi, folks. Long time, no blog. Let’s just jump right in.

On Faith

H is nearly eight months old now–wowee! And with that comes the babbling, which is SO SWEET because he’ll “speak” with such gusto (and include various dinosaur-like squeals). In our attempts to get him used to our church outside of the cry room, he’s had a few LOUD babbling matches with other babies in our parish during readings, homilies, psalms, etc. We pray with him every night and more recently starting talking about how Jesus loves him. H looks up at ceiling fans and light fixtures occasionally, so when he’s looking up at the crucifix in our living room, we tell him, “That’s Jesus, kiddo. He loves you more than mommy and daddy.”

On Call

As far as I can tell, Dr. H is enjoying his internal medicine chief-dom. It’s quite the departure from patient care (it’s kind of like being in middle management between the administration and residents), so when he was covering a 24-hour shift recently for someone who covered for him back in March, he came home with some pep in his step. Change is good. One perk for family life? His schedule is so much more predictable! He gets weekends off and is home at reasonable hours. He’s in the midst of applying to fellowships, so fingers crossed there!

On (Mom) Life

Who has two thumbs and just froze 30 ounces of breastmilk? This mom! Now, that may not sound like a lot, but for someone who pumps a total of three to four ounces in one pumping session, that was pretty amazing. My baby has food!

Now, the whole, “It Will Round Out” title. Baby heads are super malleable at first (to make it out of the birth canal). H happened to favor a way to hold his head, which was ever so slightly turned to his right. We followed the AAP recommendation and put him on his back to sleep, but because of that slight turn (and likely some other early events, like being on his back for 12 hours for jaundice light treatment at three days old, having his head the same way in the car seat for four hours when we went to the in-laws for Thanksgiving at a little more than a week old, the rock-and-play that he slept in sometimes that first month, etc.) he has some flattening on the back of his head, also called plagiocephaly.

Sigh.

I noticed it early on (very mild) at about four weeks. It was obvious enough to me that I had Dr. H hold him out while I took a picture of the top of his head:

H-Head

People told me I was being a paranoid, but I started putting H to sleep on his side (supervised) and held him more. At two months, it started getting more obvious. We stopped using the rock-and-play and I let H sleep on his belly (supervised) during the day. At each doctor’s appointment, I’d mention my concern about his head shape. Luckily, it’s just cosmetic and doesn’t affect development, but each time, the recommendations were:

  1. More tummy time
  2. Hold him more
  3. Reposition his head while he sleeps
  4. Don’t let him sleep in bouncers, rockers, car seats, swings
  5. Limit time in bouncers, rockers, car seats, swings
  6. Put toys and shiny things on the side that isn’t flat to encourage him to turn
  7. Place him in his crib where he’ll turn toward the door (off his flat spot)

Now, you can imagine my mom guilt and feelings of inadequacy whenever I looked at the back of his head. I thought I was giving him plenty of tummy time, but I could easily increase that. I held him quite a bit, but I could hold him more (and in a wrap or Ergobaby if my arms got tired). Repositioning his head? I can’t tell you how many times (even to this day) that I wake H from his sleep from doing this. Even when I’d turn his head, he’d turn it back after a little while to that so-called sweet spot. Here’s his head at almost three months:

Head-3

I started asking about helmets and whether or not that was something we should pursue. I’d read about them, visited online forums about moms and dads who’d chosen the helmet route, researched the pros and cons, and was amazed about the results. H was also in the perfect age range (four months).

Our pediatrician checked H’s ears, assessed his facial symmetry, saw that he didn’t have a problem turning his head left or right (I’m guessing to rule out torticollis), and told us to continue this conservative course of action. She said that she’d seen worse cases and referred those children on to the neurologist for helmets; ultimately, those children weren’t helmeted. Additionally, a helmet therapy study came out in 2014 that recommended letting nature take its course when it came to head shape.

As much as I wrestle with this decision on a daily basis, we’re following the recommendation of our pediatrician and not putting H in a helmet. I hope that in two years, I can write a follow-up blog and tell all worried mama bears that it’ll be okay.

Otherwise, he’s healthy and the happiest little (big!) guy around.

H-7-Months

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Little Piece of My Heart

On Life

Hello, folks! I miss writing, especially since my job is more technical in nature and I recently finished up a business statistics class.

It looks like when I last wrote, life was rolling merrily along: I was taking two graduate courses, gearing up for a big project at work, and planning Dr. H’s birthday.

But fast forward several months and the most wonderful thing happened:

baby-h

Meet Baby H! He’s a little piece of my heart that is out and about in this world.

Dr. H was lucky enough to have a month-long easy rotation after Baby H was born. Or perhaps I should say I was lucky because those first two weeks of parenthood were rough. In addition to the sleepless nights, I ended up getting PUPPP, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Essentially, they’re itchy hives from pregnancy that don’t respond to anti-itch products or medications (we tried hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl ointment and medication, Calamine lotion, Caladryl lotion, ice packs, prednisone, triamcinolone ointment, and finally triamcinolone cream). I’d wake up scratching myself until I bled. Dr. H held my hand at night and would pull me back if I moved so I wouldn’t scratch. By the time I was prescribed the tub of triamcinolone cream, it’d been three weeks and the rash was finally subsiding. Ooof!

Now? I love being a mom. I’m head over heels when Baby H smiles, and I can’t tell you how proud I am when he lifts his head up during tummy time. He currently has a cold (sigh), which is just a small taste of the many things I won’t be able to protect him from as he grows. Since this picture was taken, he’s gotten over his jaundice and his face has filled out with some adorably kissable cheeks. He’s fairly easygoing (from what we’ve gleaned) and is starting to sleep for longer stretches at night–whoo hoo!

On Faith

Baby H will be getting baptized this month, and parents and godparents at our parish are required to take a class to learn about the importance of the sacrament. In my one-on-one meeting with the instructor, we discussed how our lives are like a pop can. Imagine it being crushed (because of original sin) and that baptism pulls that pop can back out. The only thing is, there are now lines and creases. Over Baby H’s life, our goal is to help smooth out those lines and creases through faith formation.

On Call

After that glorious first month with Dr. H by my side, he returned to work on a cardiology rotation (considered one of the rougher rotations an internal medicine resident will complete). So far, he’s been superstitiously dubbed a “white cloud.” If you’re at all curious, the opposite is a “black cloud,” which spells bad luck.

We’re approaching the end of third year (the end of residency–there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!), but unlike other medical specialties, chief residents in internal medicine complete an additional year. So for us, there’s a sparkle at the end of the tunnel!

There have been several times Dr. H has looked at me and mused, “Do you realize if I weren’t doing chief year or fellowship, we’d be close to being done and could do/afford x-y-z?” This usually happens after a more difficult shift, but as quickly as it comes, we both look at each other, know that that’s not the point, and understand that his medical training path goes on for a little longer.

 

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Salute the Chief!

On Life

We took another step into adulthood: Costco membership, executive level. I hope it’s worthwhile! On the day we went in, Dr. H stepped off to the side to take a phone call.

On Call

While I was at the membership counter filling out some paperwork, he was offered a chief resident position…and he accepted! He and a handful of others from his program are the creme de la creme, the bees knees, the ones who have top-notch clinical and leadership skills.

From my vantage point, internal medicine residents kind of “campaign” to be chief. I put that in quotes because the selection process seems to be shrouded in secrecy after the nominations are in. I’m not sure how other programs choose their chief residents, but to me, it seems to be less about spouting off qualifications and more about letting colleagues know that you’d be receptive to the post.

A chief year is another year of residency, which begs the question: does one really need to be a chief? No, you don’t have to accept if they offer it to you, and obviously, it delays #itgetsbetter. But sometimes you do what you need to do what you want, and being a chief resident is a neat thing in the medical community. Dr. H wants to pursue a fellowship; being a chief resident carries some weight.

My MIL is an OR nurse. When we told our families the good news, she sent a card with this little gem:

Salute-Chief-Web

She received this when she was the director of the OR and wanted to pass it on to Dr. H. My favorite part is the “i” that was drawn in.

On Faith

I gave up Facebook for Lent to grow in faith. Not only because it can be a time suck with link bait, but also because it was a space in which I found myself comparing my life to others. I think these two points from Christianity Today really hit the nail on the head about comparisons:

1) They can make us feel better than the person we are comparing ourselves to, leading to pride…

2) They can make us feel worse than the person we are comparing ourselves to, leading to low self-esteem, which still keeps our focus on ourselves…

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Never Let the Things You Want Make You Forget the Things You Have

Can I be honest for a minute? Because as much as I love that quote, I want to shout this at it:

AwPhooey

Delayed. Gratification. Sucks. I said that to my father-in-law recently, and he laughed, “Yes, it does!”

I’m grateful for everything God has given me. Truly. I’d have to use Dr. H’s fingers and toes in addition to mine to count everything up. And even then, we’d have to use Rue’s paws to keep on going.

I just get a little tired of the wait sometimes…four years of undergraduate education…four years of medical school…three years of residency…another year if Dr. H becomes a chief resident…two or three more years of fellowship…

Marshmallows

Note: I believe the LDWs had a talk about marshmallows at the annual conference.

You know the marshmallow experiment they performed on 4-year-olds back in the day? A child would get one marshmallow. If after 15 minutes the child didn’t eat the marshmallow, he or she would get a second one.

We’re still waiting for the second marshmallow. Sigh.