Seattle Mama Doc

A blog by Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson.

A mom, a pediatrician, and her insights about keeping your kids healthy.

Anything for a Nap

My son climbing up a slideSo you know that thing you do when you’re desperate for your kid to sleep? That thing where you take your child to the park, run them into the ground, and force them to stay up a bit later than usual? Then when nearing complete destruction or implosion, you keep the windows down in the car and the music blaring so they won’t fall asleep on the way home? All this in the hopes that when you are home, they CRASH. CRASH HARD and sleep like a zombie. Instinct tells you that the physical fatigue they acquire will allow them to pound out an outrageous nap.

We do this. Most of us, at least. We think that the way we sleep is the same as the way our kids sleep. And after learning by experience that a hard day of weeding, running, or traveling increases our ability to crash asleep, we trust that tiring out our kids will get them to nap extra-hard, extra-soundly and extra-long.

Brutal reality: it may not. Read full post »

The Verdict Is In

Smiling babyWhen I was in high school and dreamed about my future children, I think I thought I wanted them to be popular and athletic, strong-willed and friendly. Maybe live in a big house. When in college, I wanted them just to be smart and go to a great school. In medical school, simply healthy.

Now that I’m a parent, I maintain only one consistent and overriding dream (besides the healthy part, that remains): I want my boys to grow up and be happy. No care in the world about the Ivy League, the house, or the soccer team. Trite but true.

First ever Swanson-parent-teacher conference for F was this week. First time in my life that the husband and I have sat down together, across the table from an impartial observer, and discussed our child. I think we were both a little nervous; I wore a dress. Read full post »

If It Were My Child: Use the Buddy System and Make a 3-Day Disaster Kit

Doctor Suzan Mazor driving a carThese earthquakes (Haiti, Chile, California, China) are freaking me out. So did reading this article. Later this month, you get to see my complete video blog of my effort to make a 3-day disaster kit, a disaster packet for my F’s preschool, my interpretation of what you need particularly for kids, and watch me ready my family for the worst of the worst. I partnered up with my friend, Dr Suzan Mazor because she’s scared, too. Meet Suzan. She’s smart and very funny.

I’m finally doing it—preparing my home and family for the unthinkable. If it were my child, I’d make a 3-day disaster kit. I’ve procrastinated for years. Every time I have perused the sites on how to prepare for a disaster, I have gotten so freaked out and scared about disaster-death-dilapidation that I’ve become paralyzed in my effort. Subsequently, I had never assembled anything for the kit. Really, I’m one of those people who until last week didn’t have water stored in the basement. Are you? Read full post »

Reading & Talking, Sitting & Listening

little readersI was never a very good reader when I was little. I really didn’t enjoy it like everyone else.

As a child, I simply preferred to talk. My brother would sit for hours quietly reading while I’d work on making a lot of noise. Apparently, I have always felt I had a lot to say. Many people have noticed this; my 7th grade pre-algebra teacher nicknamed me, “Mouth.” And in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota circa 1979, my parents recall (and retell the story of) a camping trip where everyone was so tired of talking with me they shooed me away. When I gave up vying for their attention, I stomped off alone and within minutes, I struck up a conversation with a group of ants. Read full post »

Nothing I Learned In Med School: On Parenting…

Parenting, pure joyStumbled upon an article summary last week, “Bad Behavior Linked to Poor Parenting.” I am going to call this BBLtPP. I clicked on the link with butterflies, hoping not to find something like: We’re following a pediatrician with 2 sons, one doctor husband, and one overweight Labrador who live in Seattle. She writes a blog. It’s her parenting we’re worried about…
But I clicked on the link and it didn’t exist; I got an error message. Then again, nothing. Clicked a few minutes later. Nothing. The page on MSNBC for some reason had vanished.

Thank goodness.

I hate seeing reports like this in the media. They propel this myth that there is one way to do this, this raising of child. When American Idol advertised for “Mom Idol” last night, I wondered was Mom Idol going to sing or just win for being the best all-around-rock-n-roll-Mom? I’m certain not to win in both categories. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong. Parent teacher preschool conference next week, so I’ll let you know. But really, what defines ideal motherhood and who is the one doing the defining? Read full post »

Video: Infant Slings — Wonderful Way To Wear A Baby

Seattle Mama Doc Infant SlingThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a safety warning about the use of infant slings, particularly in babies under 4 months of age. Watch this video for more information. Not all slings are born the same, so inform yourself about great sling options and the bag-type slings to avoid. And look at the infant position recommendations from the CPSC below to ensure you’re using the sling properly.

See the video at the bottom of the post.

CPSC infant position recommendations

Read full post »

Which Is It?

Running to PottyI spent the weekend lying around feeling like death on a cracker. And most of my mental thought other than, “Please, please go away, bug” was consumed by the question, “Which is it?”

Food poisoning and a bad weekend for me
or
Gastroenteritis and a bad week for me, my O, my F, the husband, and my friend visiting from San Francisco

Let me explain. Food poisoning is not likely to be contagious, gastroenteritis (or stomach flu) is. This phenomenon of stressing on my exact diagnosis has occurred only since having kids. See, I had the “stomach flu” all weekend. I visited the porcelain bowl more than 30 times on Saturday. I felt like utter crum-dog. You’ll have to endure no more details than that, but lemme tell you, it was awful.

As a mom now, what worries me the most when this happens is ensuring the kids don’t get it. Because then it would be a total nut-house-disaster-ness-gross-vomitorium-diarrhea-pit. You know what I mean. Nausea and “not being able to control my secretions” is something okay for me, but nothing I want my kids to endure. Let alone have to clean up after. Read full post »

Vitamin D: Vitamin Of The Year Part 2

Vitamin D SunsetVitamin D is clearly important. And like I said earlier this week, it is getting all sorts of attention. Two studies from this week have captured my attention.
I don’t think this vitamin D thing is a fad. The new (2008) recommendations for 400 International Units (IU) of daily Vitamin D in infants and children represent evolution in our understanding how we can protect and prevent illness in infants and children. It’s not that Vitamin D is more important than other vitamins, it’s just that Vitamin D is more likely to be absent in children than the others. New data this week suggests that delivering mothers (the ones with the big belly about to birth) who live in the city (are out in the great outdoors less) are more Vita D deficient that we thought. Another study finds that supplementing all infants, no matter what they eat, is essential in providing them the vitamin D they need. Vitamin D is synthesized in your body when you get some good sun (above) or from fortified foods in your diet including milk, cereal, formula or eggs and fatty fish. During the winter, getting those rays of sun is more difficult. And it’s more difficult all year long in infants who we say shouldn’t be in the sun whatsoever. So we have to ingest it. Take a look at this data and rationale for all of the D-detail.

Watch the video at the bottom of this post, too… Read full post »

Vitamin D: Seattle Vitamin Part 1

Offer Vitamin DF calls it our, “Seattle Vitamin.” In the upper left hand corner of the US (read: Seattle) we’re a little lacking in sunshine. It’s a product of not only our rainy weather, but our latitude on the globe. New data finds that taking supplemental vitamin D may be more important for we mamas, we city dwellers, and we little ones (infants) than we thought. Especially up here where the sunshine comes around about every fifth day.

Vitamins are so well engineered these days (gummy what?) my boys think they are a marvelous daily treat. So do I.

A study yesterday in Pediatrics finds that urban Boston moms (think Northern climate) who spent at least ½ of their pregnancy living in the city, were at far greater risk for having vitamin D deficiency than we thought. So were their babies! In this group of urban moms, up to 58% of newborns and 36% of the moms at the time of delivery were vitamin D deficient. Holy deluge of D deficiency! Say it with me…

A second study published yesterday found that we are doing a poor job getting babies the vitamin D they need. Less than 1/10 of all breast fed babies and less than 1/3 of formula fed babies are getting the vitamin D pediatricians recommend. Something has to change. Read full post »

Seeker.

Chemo SeekerSeeking perspective and cure. If it’s true that life is all about your perspective, I know this Friday sunshine will help.

This past week has been a total mind melting experience. Cloudy and cold, too. With my mom’s chemotherapy and subsequent complications, my perspective of medicine has changed again. Forever. Being the patient, or in this case the patient’s daughter and advocate, reminds me how hard it is to sit on the other side of the white coat. Power differentials, hierarchy, miscommunication, communication, laboratories, computers, research, trainees, and simple distance sit between the provider and the patient. They take up all sorts of space.

Invisible yet room-filing.

Above is a photo of my mom directing her chemotherapy. She felt that if she gave the chemo direction (via her powerful words and a Sharpie), the chemo’s accuracy would improve. Got to give her credit. Speaking up (even to your chemotherapy) is always essential in medicine. Read full post »