Mama Doc Philosophies

All Articles in the Category ‘Mama Doc Philosophies’

Savoring Versus Saving

dock calling me

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning, torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day.

E.B. White

It’s an entirely challenging task getting to live this     just     one     life.

E.B. White summarizes the dilemma as well as I can imagine when he describes the tension between wanting to savor and wanting to save. For most of us who are raising children there is a constant tug-o-war in our minds/hearts as we decipher how best to live each day, especially when making choices about how we work. Nothing better than savoring the delight of our children, though, most all of us agree on that. Sure my boys fight and squabble, they ignore me when I ask them to put on their shoes, they leave their room a mess, and they forget to say, “please” in front of Grandma. But not a cell in my body denies this: my boys are simply miraculous. I constantly remain awestruck while in the midst of my family. And yes, just like those ahead of me warn, it does feel as if their childhood is coming at lightening speed.

So as the torrid waves of “work-life-balance” perpetuate, I’m unplugging for a few weeks just as I’ve done the last 2 years.  A true believer that digital-free time is essential,  I’ll use this post to ensure I check-out of the Internet for a bit. After sundown Friday I’ll be off Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (maybe even Instagram), off the blog, and only sporadically into my email. I’ll still be at clinic and also on KING5 News. The rest of the time I’ll be with my family as we work to live mindfully, enjoy the end of summer, and prep for the onslaught of autumn.

Be well until September. In the meantime here’s some good reading:

The 7-Minute Workout

7-Minute Scientific Workout from The New York Times Magazine

7-Minute Scientific Workout from The New York Times Magazine

Exercise got thrown out the window for me in a routine way after my boys were born. It wasn’t a lack of interest, just a lack of organization of our time. Just now, as my boys get older and more independent, I’m integrating regular exercise back into my life. My experience with malignant melanoma this past year also was a big nudge. Seeing a glimpse of mortality does implore you to stay alive.

That’s why the 7-minute workout saves me. It’s the first no-excuse-not-to workout I’ve ever seen (I know others exist, they’re just not on my dashboard). The best part of discovering the 7-minute workout was the reality that in getting it done I didn’t need any equipment, any large chunk of time, or any childcare. On May 9th, The New York Times published an article that elevated the research article behind this workout and concept. Authors who created the workout hail the benefits of high-intensity-circuit-training (HICT). They say, “HICT is not a new concept, but it is growing in popularity because of its efficiency and practicality for a time-constrained society. The combination of aerobic and resistance training in a high-intensity, limited-rest design can deliver numerous health benefits in much less time than traditional programs. When body weight is used as resistance, it eliminates the limiting factors of access to equipment and facilities.”

This will likely be familiar: the day the article ran 5pm rolled around and I’d yet to exercise. The night was packed as we were headed to the school spring concert. The idea of a 10pm run wasn’t enticing. I’d just read about that 7-minute workout and the authors’ details of benefits including building whole body muscle groups, burning fat, and improving markers of health like insulin resistance. Felt like I had zero excuse.

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Day In, Day Out

There happens to be whole, large parts of adult American life that no one talks about in commencement speeches.

It’s the season for commencement speeches. A season I love, I keep a post-it note on my own computer from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address. The post-it note is faded and bent, worn and tired. But there’s rarely a day I don’t see it. I see it right now…

Advice at the moment of transitions in our lives is helpful, but rarely sinks past the skin at the moment we hear it. Sometimes it’s upon reflection and maturation that we look back and realize how much we value wisdom we’ve heard. It’s as if advice has to brew. It’s just this past year or so that I’ve really embodied the concept of “Be a willow, not an oak.” That was the message delivered at my older brother’s high school graduation. Clearly it struck me then, enough to remember it, but the advice only got heart-deep this past year, some 20+ years after I first heard it.

This 9-minute snippet from David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College (my beloved Alma Mater) is worth your time. I’ve listened to it three times in three days. I suggest this will change not only your day, but your year. This is the type of parenting advice I love most: it’s marketed as life advice, college-graduate advice, or advice for the young. Yet all the while it’s actually perfect for we frenzied, over-worked, tired, callous-handed parents. The monotony, the hard labor of caring for young children is rarely glamorized and never snags enough attention to make it worthy of a speech. I think David Foster Wallace’s wisdom is profound and on-point.

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Home Births: Polarizing Views

baby OLike so many controversial parenting topics, discussing home births brings out dynamic opinions. These controversial topics unfortunately often tear us apart from one another. This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement on home births that will hopefully help inform. In general, the policy statement identified data confirming it’s safer to have birth in a hospital, but outlined ways to decrease risks for moms and families, midwives, and doulas that want to partner with moms to have their babies at home, as safely as possible.

  • Home births only occur in about 1% of births here in the United States although interest in increasing. Distance from the hospital matters~ if it takes more than 20 minutes to get into a hospital from home, risk of complications including infant mortality are higher. Data shows that home births carry at 2-3 fold higher risk for infant death when compared to hospital births. 
  • The AAP states home births should only be considered if no maternal health problems, if it’s a term baby (after 37 weeks and before 41 weeks gestation), labor started at home spontaneously or as an outpatient, and it’s a single pregnancy that isn’t breech. Having had a previous C-section makes a home birth a no-no in their mind.
  • The AAP recommends having at least 2 people attending the birth with at least one person at the birth who’s sole job is to care for and tend to the baby after the birth. They outline that the baby’s caregiver needs to know how and why to resuscitate a newborn. The team caring for mom and baby need access to consultation with obstetricians and pediatricians and a well-planned way to access the hospital or medical team easily if needed.
  • The AAP says, “Every newborn infant deserves health care that adheres to the standards highlighted in this statement.” Care described includes warming the baby and initial transitions, glucose monitoring, infection monitoring, feeding assessment, jaundice checks, vitamin K shot, Hepatitis B shot, eye infection prevention, hearing screen, newborn blood screen, and follow-up care plans.

I believe we each have the right to make health care decisions that are best for our families. We also must have access to un-biased information on safety. Every single health decision we make is a process where we weigh risks against benefits. Home birth versus hospital birth is no exception.

My disclaimers: I had 2 hospital births which required all sorts of intervention and intensive care—2 C-sections, a bedside resuscitation for my newborn, and a short NICU stay for one of my sons. I would never have wanted to have a home birth after my training in pediatrics. That being said, there were aspects of the hospital care that really upset me. I didn’t have a birth plan, per se. I wanted this: a healthy baby and to survive the delivery without complication. I got both, thank goodness, but it wasn’t perfect. The beginning of motherhood was a challenge for me both times around and in part, I’ve always looked back feeling I should have been a stronger mom in the hospital… Read full post »

Work Trip Kiss

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 10.40.16 AM

Leaving our children for any reason makes our hearts hurt. Fortunately, the technology of our time provides incredible proximity. Tonight I got a kiss from my 4 year-old from 2000+ miles away while in a Google Hangout. Every parent has tricks that allows them to endure working trips or distance from their children created by time or space. FaceTime and Google Hangouts allow me to join books at bedtime and spontaneous conversations on the fly.  Ohhh, thank you 2013…

I Love Being A Working Mom

View from our seats at TEDx during the afternoon session

View from our seats at TEDx during the afternoon session

I love being a working mom. This is really the first time I’ve known it like I do today. I had one of the best days of my life two weeks ago, seriously ranking up there in the top 5 thus far. And unsurprisingly to me, it was a work day. However unlike ever before, for the very first time I brought my son with me.

Today is “Bring Your Kid To Work Day” but really any day we do it counts. Pick an ideal time and involve your child. My contention is that you’ll rapidly recognize the incredible fortune it is to live this lunatic life that requires navigating the dreaded work-life-balance ordeal.

When my 6 year-old joined me on a work trip earlier this month it was as if at once two huge ships met at sea. All the sudden my little boy was welcomed into the world of making change. I felt unlike ever before I represented more of my whole self while at work. And let me tell you, his eyes were wide open. All day.

One of the post-it notes on my computer at home says, “Design a beautiful day.” The quote stems from Dr Marty Seligman who’s known to have founded the field of positive psychology. He devised the concept of the beautiful day activity (seriously encourage you to click on that link).

Thing is, every time I’ve talked about designing a beautiful or meaningful day, work is a part of it. If I only had one more day to live, I’d work for a few hours in the morning. No question about it. I really do love working as a doctor. Of course, I really do love being a mom. Valuing both of these roles takes skill and I’m don’t always have it…

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You don’t need much to play a duet if you know a piano player.

Although my boys don’t play piano, I was reminded this weekend how children really sponge-up opportunity. They’ll try most anything and catch on faster than we do. After we finished a delivery to my mom, our 6 year-old sat down at her piano. A few minutes later he was playing a Chopsticks duet, my mom providing the accompaniment.

Count to 6 and have 2 fingers– it’s possible. Perhaps he is a piano player, perhaps it’s time for lessons.

This was just another reminder that we often don’t plan the most precious moments of our day.

Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.
– Maria Montessori

Listening To The Periphery

hallway baconWe learn so much from our children. How to slow down, how to speed up, how not to behave. How to be present, mindful, and attentive to immediate needs. I’m not always entirely mindful and I certainly find myself easily distracted–it’s not just the phone I need to put down. Yet one low moment of distraction came to light late last summer when my 4 year-old literally put his body between my phone and my face to get my attention.

But ever since August I’ve felt more aware of the moments that pile on and feel more able to witness those I am lucky enough to work with and those with whom I am lucky enough to spend time. I enjoy clinical medicine more since I felt a more intimate proximity to my own mortality. I enjoy my children more and my time alone more, too.

It’s often those much younger and those much older and more experienced that clarify issues and help us focus the lens. It seems to me the simplicity of knowing what to do and what matters most stems up from those at the periphery. I’m not saying those of us stuck in the middle of this generational sandwich don’t have insight, I just think we draw heavily from those for whom we are indebted for their pace, their age, and their innocence.

I learn so much from children every day. In clinic today my stomach dropped at one point simply because of the story shared by a 6 year-old. The day had been laid out differently because at our morning huddle in clinic we review comments that come in. A patient had detailed in a comment card that he/she felt the nurse and medical assistant had spent more time listening to them than the doctor had. Sometimes we can do such a bad job showing those for whom we care we’re listening. It’s pretty obvious that as we work hard to witness our lives we often get more quiet. I feel so much more porous to the lessons in this wicked-packed-full-generational sandwich. Which reminded me of this: Read full post »

Soccer Mom

Soccer net

I had an unusually good time watching my boys play soccer this past weekend. It’s not always been easy to get our youngest on the field and I’m not the mom who’s really loved being there. There’s been years of standing on the cold sideline where I didn’t think the boys were getting much out of it. And there have been countless minutes on that sideline where I’ve been consumed, weighing the costs and benefits of the soccer class, while my coffee went cold. Fortunately, something has changed recently. I’m certain it’s not only me who’s noticed–the boys seem differently positioned as well. Although I look in from the net and see something that seems entirely clear (a soccer field, a group of children–excited and eager [or exhausted and angry], and a coach) these little boys have reminded me yet again of the diversity of vantage points we share. They really do see those green fields as a part of their future. A great coach can really make our children immensely proud and excited to be alive.

Wonder is priceless and the pristine innocence harbored within our children often delivers moments unique to childhood. Children often hold the gift of believing that anything is possible. So often when they share this perspective we get to see a glimpse of unconfined opportunity. We’re reminded of our own potential, too.

Two things recently passed through my ears I have to share. They’ve enhanced my soccer mom experience immensely. Read full post »

Let Us Break The Silence on Stillbirth

This is really beautiful. There’s little to say other than we can do a better job supporting parents in their loss and in the celebration of their children’s life and legacy.

Watch this and enjoy the amazing amount of love you will feel…

“I want the baby I didn’t have.”  “I feel like a bad luck charm around other moms.”

“I couldn’t understand why that happened to me…”

“His life was a good thing.”   “People say really sad, crazy things.”

“We said don’t come and they came….that was what we needed.”

“I love to tell people about my son…I don’t get enough chances to talk about him.”

“His life was a good thing.”

“I’m not afraid to mention him.”  “Why don’t they tell you about it?”

“You second guess everything you did, everything you didn’t do.”

“I don’t want another baby. I want the baby that I didn’t have.”

“I love to tell people about my son… I just don’t get enough chances to talk about him.”