What 2am has taught me

Our holiday break started with some character-building, to put it gently.

Full disclosure: I began typing this post as a play-by-play of our exhausting weekend, but as I was writing I kept hearing John’s voice in my head singing “The Grinch.” (He has been singing that song quite a bit to Ben lately and it’s hilarious.) I realized that I was totally being the whiny, obnoxious grinch.

You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile,
You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile,
Mr Grinch.
Given the choice between the two of you,
I’d take the seasick crocodile.

So I challenged myself to find the silver lining.  And it immediately became clear!  Those 2am moments over the course of those 3 rough nights actually allowed me to do a lot of reflecting on medicine.  Yay, medicine!

Here is what I learned while riding the struggle bus…

Thurs. Dec 19, 2am:

The night where I decide “Maybe not” on Emergency Medicine:

As John and I inspect a thick piece of his thumb skin that has recently been sliced off by a mandolin, my stomach makes a queasy turn. Although I am fascinated with the sheer gore of the injury, here are the things running through my head that soon become topics of discussion as we wait for the bleeding to stop: 1. What if it never stops bleeding? 2. What if it gets infected and develops gangrene? 3. Am I a neurotic hypochondriac, or is this reaction totally rational? 4. Shouldn’t cool-as-a-cucumber-in-a-crisis John be the one going to medical school? 5. Shouldn’t we go to a ER just in case? 6. What if we have to be up all night putting pressure on it and fall asleep at the wheel while driving to Chicago? 7. Will I pass out in my surgery rotations in med school? 8. Do I really want to consider emergency medicine if this is how I deal?

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Sorry for those who don’t like the sight of blood. Just scroll down quickly!

Fri. Dec 20, 2am:

The night where I decide “Maybe” on Pediatrics:

For a semi-narcoleptic drowsy driver like me, a road trip that starts at 5pm and ends at 4am feels like torture. And now that precious cargo is always on board, I am hyper-vigilant about my wakefulness when driving and will pull over at the slightest tinge of heavy eyes. So there I am driving at 2am all hopped up on a ridiculous amount of caffeine and staring into the black night while John and Ben sleep. And I realize that it is a truly rare gift of time to be forced to do nothing but think, so why not tackle something that has been on my mind a lot lately:  What do I want to DO in medicine?

Do I need to decide before med school? Definitely not. Will I change my mind? Quite possibly. But here is why I WANT to decide:  Family.  I will be engaging in a constant cost-benefit analysis of how I spend my time in the next 4+ years so that I can juggle wife-mom-student simultaneously. And I know that having a focus will make the balancing act less stressful and my time more purposeful.

I didn’t expect an answer on the drive, nor do I feel certain about it, but it started to come to me gradually as the white lines became permanently etched into the back of my retinas.  I’ll save the HOW or WHY for a future post, but here is the WHAT :

Pediatrics.    Specifically, Adolescent Health.

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Teddy and Cameron look on as Daniel tries to make Benjamin happy. What great cousins!

Sat. Dec 21, 2am:

The night where I discover that it is always possible to dig deeper:

Benjamin’s worst night ever. We were running Ben on fumes at our family holiday Christmas party, so he got to bed late. John was feeling pretty miserable from a cold and I had a stomachache. Ben himself was on the brink of a cold, from his first few days at daycare. We joined him around 11pm, just as he was waking up unhappily. Then we spent the next 6 hours trying to get him to get back to sleep. We bounced, we sang, we rocked, we tried cry it out, we tried co-sleeping, I nursed until my nursing parts were raw. Eventually at 4:45am I tried the wake up and play option. And finally something worked.

So what did I learn about medicine here? Well, nothing specific. Only that I can do pretty much anything after being up with a screaming infant all night while dealing with a stomachache and physical and mental exhaustion from several consecutive nights of no sleep. I am guessing that med school will bring me to the same point of stretching beyond what seems possible on many an occasion. I am ready like a yogi.

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He even makes crying look kind of cute, right?

Also, MERRY Christmas Eve! 

To the thousands in Michigan without power this Christmas: I hope you are finding the silver lining, even if you don’t have the comfort of your cozy home on this holiday. I hope you are making joyful memories, even if your normal traditions cannot be carried out this year. And I hope you are learning the depths of your capacity to love and laugh, even if you have to do so while riding the struggle bus.

let the good times ROLL

Ben has been a pro at rolling from his back to tummy for three months now.  Remember this?

But he has only recently realized that there is a better way to get from tummy to back than screaming your head off. We started practicing a few weeks ago, so for the past few days he knows exactly what I mean when I say “Roll over, Benjamin.” But he just couldn’t quite coordinate himself, even though he had plenty of strength.

Until yesterday, when he finally mastered it! I think it was the Christmas music from the “Indie Holiday” station on Pandora that gave him a little festive motivation. I caught him doing it just as the perfect tune came on:

Ben and I are heading in to join John at the Chambers holiday party today at noon (thank goodness the Courthouse is open after this scary incident yesterday!). Then driving into the sunset all the way to Chicago! It’s going to be an action-packed week, but we cannot wait!

Happy Half Birthday! (overdue)

Ben and I had our half-birthday on December 6th (old news now…), and I’m finally getting around to posting his pictures today!

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6-month checkup stats:

Weight: 17 lbs, 3 oz! Although this seems huge, he is now closer to the 50th percentile than 75th. Hmmm… babies are just bigger than I ever imagined, I suppose.

Height: 27.4 inches. John and I agreed that the nurses could be a little more meticulous about making sure they measure accurately. But according to this (maybe accurate?) measurement, he’s only grown 0.4 inches in 2 months. He’s now at the 75th percentile for height (last time was at 90th).

Head circumference: Don’t know measurement, but still at 50th percentile.

 

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NYC Encore!

Finally uploaded pics from the weekend trip. Love them!

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Brightest blue eyes!

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I found out why Dr. Moneyball didn’t choose pediatrics this weekend. His reasoning was enlightening (for my own thoughts about my future plan), but I still think he made the wrong decision. I mean look at this guy w/ that baby. A natural!

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So great to see our long-lost friend Sam. This picture captures him perfectly…still the same great Sam we remember!

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Beautiful NYC backdrop @ the 9/11 memorial. And Ben seems happy after the long, cold line and the insane security checkpoint.

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Jeff & Mariko, taking in the heart-wrenching beauty of the 9/11 memorial.

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Our first family Christmas photo @ Rockefeller Center.

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And Jeff & Mariko’s first family photo. So beautiful!

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We almost left the Bumbo behind, as we were trying to pack as lightly as possible. Thank goodness we didn’t. Benjamin had a great big breakfast to start our last day in the city!

Eating Crack Pie with Magritte & the Sherpas

Over 10 years ago, on one of my first days of college, I was walking through the Michigan Union with friends and we stumbled upon an art sale. As we flipped through print after print, my eye caught a pretty blue painting. There must have been stars in my eyes, because another friend came over and said, “Oh, Starry Night?”  Uhhhhh?… sure.  Yup, I was that girl who had never seen Starry Night. Only days after I used that blue tacky stuff to stick it on my dorm room wall, I realized that I was the ten-billionth college girl to have the famous painting adorning her walls.

Fast forward to last Sunday, as I pushed a stroller with precious cargo (fast asleep!) through MoMA in NYC. A bit more grown-up (perhaps?) but still just as art-illiterate.  Having no idea that MoMA has had The Starry Night in it’s permanent collection since 1941, I did a double-, no a triple-take when I turned a corner and saw it staring back at me! I’m no art aficionado (I guess we’ve already established that?), but one thing I love about art museums is seeing the rich texture of paintings. Starry Night has unbelievable texture. I can’t even find the words to describe it.

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And then there was Magritte. The friends we had met in NYC, Jeff & Mariko, had wanted to visit MoMA to see the Rene Magritte exhibit. We dutifully followed along, with only a vague sense of who the guy even was. Walking through wall after wall of his works felt like being on an emotion roller-coaster.  Magritte can make you feel disgusted, curious, mesmerized, and uncomfortable all in the blink of an eye.

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Magritte’s Clairvoyance, one of my new favorites!

Speaking of roller-coasters, that’s a great way to describe our whole weekend in NYC.  Luckily our ride had far more ups than downs. Or maybe it should be “more downs than ups” — the huge drops on roller coasters are way more fun, right?.  Most of what we did involved eating. The crack pie from Momofuku might have been my favorite. Williamsburg (where we stayed at an AirBnB place, was the perfect place for eating. We didn’t mind sticking out like a sore thumb among all the hipsters.

We also managed to keep a six-month-old, on the verge of breakdown, fairly happy during a cold, one-hour line at the 9/11 memorial. A huge thanks goes to our dear friends Kevin (Moneyball!), Mariko, & Jeff–I’m not sure we would have made it through the most doped-up, chaotic security at 9/11 without Benjamin’s “sherpas” helping us keep our shit together. We sailed through crowded subways, restaurants, streets, and museums with well-choreographed ease.

Moral of the story:  I do NOT recommend trying NYC with an infant without your very own set of sherpas. It would probably be harder than climbing Everest itself.

Oh yea, and we left the city with our first Christmas present for Benjamin, an awesome board book (from MoMA!) of Magritte’s imaginative paintings:

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Peekaboo, NYC!

We drove for 3.5 hours through the rain last night to arrive in the Big Apple, meeting our friends Jeff & Mariko at a nice little AirB’n’B place in Williamsburg. Benjamin had a late night, but slept well, only waking up at 4am to nurse. Then he was all coos and babble from 6:45am onward, but I got a luxurious extra hour of sleep when John woke up at 7:30 to take over and go on a Daddy-Son coffee run.

We had a nice lazy morning, complete with a game of peekaboo as I was getting out of the shower:

Overdue Thanks

Well, we did it! We hosted our first Thanksgiving. It was amazing to have my mom, dad, and brother fly in to visit us in Baltimore. Our long holiday weekend was just the right mix of action and relaxation.

.thankful.

.thankful that Benjamin got to spend so much time with his Nana, Papa, and Uncle Patrick.

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.thankful we could find a semi-non-sketchy clinic to get Patrick back to good health.

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.thankful for being treated to a delicious Italian dinner at Sammy’s Trattoria. thankful we could treat everyone to some good home cooked sous-vide chicken. so fancy, right!?

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.thankful we got to see a beautiful and heartwarming Christmas play at Centerstage, while Patrick babysat.

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.thankful we pulled off a pretty great first Thanksgiving dinner and had so many helping hands to constantly wash dishes all day.

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.thankful that we got to beat John in a game of Monopoly, finally.  (full disclosure: we assigned him the iron and $1 to start—he was at work.)

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.thankful for free bus rides. thankful for finding my lost car. thankful for gravity. and seeing Gravity in 3D.

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.thankful that Ben was nothing but giggles on Santa’s lap.  thankful we got scammed into overpaying for a photo. 🙂

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.thankful for $5 happy hour pomegranate martinis surrounded by the sparkly lights downtown.

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.thankful for a date with my mom to Saturday morning yoga.  (while Toby & Ben led yoga for the boys at home.)

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.thankful for an amazing Michigan-OSU game…but unthankful for that damn 2-point conversion.

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.thankful someone invented brunch. thankful someone opened “b” bistro. thankful for our delicious farewell brunch.

so, so thankful.

We dearly missed the rest of our family…in Michigan, Illinois, & California…but we can’t wait to see everyone at Christmas!