Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Your Turn - Annie's Story: How Being a Lawyer Prepared Me For Mamahood

"Your Turn" is a series of posts where readers share their stories of parenthood, work, the struggle for a balance, or just life generally.  If you are interested in contributing a story, please email me at butidohavealawdegree@gmail.com, or click here.

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. (Don’t even get me started on the fallout I experienced by following an uninformed childhood dream.)  I also knew that I wanted to be a mama.  And as I got older, I became more aware of the challenges that being both presented.

I told myself I could handle the challenges of doing each well, but deep down I didn’t want to do both. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t half-ass anything.  And I knew that if I could have things my way, I’d be whole-assing the mama thing.

That being said, I assumed that being a 24/7 mama wouldn’t be an option for me.  You know, six-figure law school debt and all.  While that didn’t stop me from developing an exit strategy -- namely starting my own life coaching business for attorneys during my pregnancy -- I wasn’t sure if I’d have the ladyballs to quit.

Fast forward to the summer of 2013 when our Gwyneth Paige was born with an obstruction in her lung.  I didn’t even get to hold her before watching them intubate her in preparation for transport to a higher level NICU... in a neighboring state.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Cleaning - National Drug Take Back Day

Last year I did a major overhaul of our house.  I cleaned and organized EVERYTHING.  Closets, random drawers, under the beds, toy boxes, the pantry, our medicine cabinet and any and all types of storage systems.  I was hard core nesting.  And by the time my baby arrived, I was proud and satisfied that he was coming into a clean, well organized home.

Since then, it's all gone to shit.

Last week, my husband announced that he believes we fit the definition of hoarders.  Oh really?  I said.  Then feel free to do something about it!

I'll believe it when I see it.  But I suppose I will help.  First on the list?  I'm going to revisit our medicine cabinet.

Last year I began working with OTC Safety.  I've learned a lot through this partnership, in particular about reading medication labels, learning about active ingredients, and safely storing and disposing of medicine.  I definitely needed the lesson -  in one of my first posts, I wrote about how shameful our medicine storage was.  With two small kids in the house, we weren't doing a good job of storing our prescriptions or OTC medications in places that were inaccessible to our kids.  I did an overhaul - I gathered everything, checked expiration dates and discarded old medicine, and organized it all in our new, spiffy medicine cabinet.

Look how pretty!
Alas, time has flown.

April 26 is the DEA's National Drug Take Back Day.  In its honor, I'm going to engage in "The Organizing of the Medicine Cabinet, Part Deux."

Lucky for me, I've been good all year, so everything is up and away, where it should be.  However, it's time I do a purge of all that's expired.  But how to do that safely?  My kids have been known to go through our garbage cans. (I promise they are generally supervised.  Just not all the time).

Instead of simply throwing them in the trash, the FDA suggests mixing expired medications with other substances, such as coffee grinds.  Then, place them in a sealable bag or empty can before disposing them.

As an alternative, as part of National Drug Take Back Day, there are also local take-back centers that will be collecting medicine this Saturday, April 26.  Just go to this website to enter your zip code and find a list of nearby locations that will be accepting prescription and OTC medicines for safe disposal.

There's some more information in the graphic below.  Happy spring cleaning!

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of the CHPA OTC Safety Ambassador Program.  All of the opinions reflected here are my own.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Appreciating the Moment Isn't All it's Cracked Up to Be

Last week I found myself organizing photos.  I am old school when it comes to photos - I still have every single one printed out, and placed in a hard copy album.  I just don't like the idea of all of my memories floating around in cyberspace somewhere.  I like to be able to hold a tangible picture.

I've been a little busy lately, with a new baby and all, so I have been a bit delinquent with my photo upkeep.  Thus, last week's photo organization centered around last summer and early fall - eating lobster in Cape Cod, frolicking at the beach at the Jersey shore, being ridiculously pregnant at my sister's wedding, and then of course, the early days with baby Colin.

I generally do get sentimental when I go through pictures, but this picture his me like a ton of bricks and had me an emotional mess:

Please excuse my pale, decrepit appearance.  I had just pushed out an 8 pound baby and hadn't slept in two days.
I had to do a double take.

That baby in my lap there does not look like the baby sleeping in the room next to me right now. That baby in my lap there is a newborn, only two days old.   The baby in the next room is plump and filled out.  He started eating solids this weekend.  He rolls over and sleeps on his tummy (for 12 straight hours, I might add).  He smiles and laughs and even sits up by himself, for a few seconds at a time. The baby in the room next to me looks like this:

How did this happen?  In a mere five months?

Everyone talks about how time goes so fast.  When one has a baby, especially the first one, they are generally bombarded with the following advice:  Appreciate every moment - the time will fly! or Savor this time - it will be over before you know it! or It doesn't get any better than this!  Or some permutation.  Basically, this is the best time of your life and it will be over soon, so you better appreciate it every. single. second.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Still Not an Expert, the Third Time Around

I have found that since having my third child, I have been asked a lot of baby advice.  I am happy to share any expertise, but let me tell you, I don't remember much.  So when people ask me what a six month old's schedule should look like, my answer is usually:  "I have no idea.  Ask me when my baby turns six months!"

It's amazing how much we forget, and how little we know.

Case in point:  Our family recently took Colin on his first flight, to Disney World.  We packed all of the necessary items for our carry on (or so we thought).  Diapers?  Check.  Wipes?  Check. Pacifier?  Check.  That's really all we had.  I am breastfeeding, so the food is attached to me at all times.  I mean what else could we possibly need?

Note to all mothers with infants - never EVER leave the house without a spare set of baby clothes. And definitely, DEFINITELY don't get on an airplane without one.

He was sitting on my lap when I felt the explosive poop.  It immediately traveled north, up his back. I could feel the moisture on my hands as it spread onto his onesie.  I called for my husband, who brought over the wipes and a diaper cloth, which were no match for the spreading feces.  It was around that time we realized we had NO SPARE CLOTHES FOR THE BABY.  (We ended up keeping him in his soiled clothing, wrapping a diaper cloth around the outside so as not to cause those around us to gag at the sight, and buying him a Disney onesie immediately upon disembarking the plane).

Ahhh, the yellow poop stain.  This outfit was subsequently thrown in the trash.
All of this to say that even us experienced moms falter.  We certainly make mistakes, and we definitely don't have all of the answers.  In fact, we still have a lot of questions.

A recent article by OTC Safety highlights some of the most common questions parents ask pediatricians.  And I have to say, even with baby #3, I continue to ask these questions myself:

- In what circumstances should I give my child a pain reliever, and how can I make sure I administer the proper dose?  (Quick answer - Read the package label very carefully, base dosage on weight (not age), and if your child is younger than three months and has a fever of 100.5, consult a doctor).

- Should I give my child a daily multivitamin? (Quick answer - Yes, if your child is a picky eater, a vegetarian, or has allergies - but consult a physician first.)

- How should I treat my child's cut and how do I know if he needs stitches?  (Quick answer - apply direct pressure, clean the wound, and use an antibiotic ointment.  Do NOT use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome on the wound.  If the cut is deep, have the cut evaluated by a doctor.  And if you end up in the ER, try not to nearly faint like I did.)

- What is the best way to treat diaper rash?  (Quick answer - use an ointment, change diapers frequently, put diapers on loosely, and consider changing diaper brands).

For more detailed answers, you can view the article by clicking here.

I'll add one additional question and answer of my own:

- What should one bring on the plane when flying with an infant?  (Quick answer - diapers, wipes, AND A SPARE SET OF BABY CLOTHES).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting to Know my Dad, Pre-me

When we were in Disney World a couple of weeks ago, my oldest son fell in love with the Peter Pan ride.  His favorite part was flying over the city of London in the pirate ship.  Thus began his obsession with London. 

"Is London real?  IT IS???  Where is it?  When can we go?"

I told him that we were probably going to go next year (true), and that I am very familiar with London, as I lived there for two years when I was in my early twenties.  

"You LIVED in London?  When?  Where was I?"

Trying to explain to a child that they did not exist is more difficult than I anticipated.  He seemed unable to comprehend that I had a life before him.  To him, life for everyone started when he joined it.  We all started existing when he started existing.  

I find the whole thing very cute, and I'm not surprised.  Because I feel the same way about my parents.
Whenever I see an old picture of my parents - a picture from their childhood, or their wedding day, or even my mom pregnant with me - it's hard to fathom that they had a life before me.  It's hard for me to imagine them in diapers, going to prom, or getting drunk in college.  Who were they then?  It's not something I think about often, but it is a weird feeling when I do.  

"Did you really exist without me?  Before me?"

I liken it to seeing a teacher in a grocery store.  It's just all kind of weird and wrong.  

Most of us never really get to know our parents -pre-us.  We hear stories, and we see pictures, but it's all abstract.  But last year, I got to know my dad a lot better.  The "pre-me" dad, that is.  

When my dad was in his twenties, in the 1960's, he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to rural India.  I have always known this, and in many ways my dad's passion for India was ingrained in my childhood.  I traveled there with him twice - once at the age of 4, and once at the age of 9.  I have heard many a story of his time there - of living in a rural Indian village with no electricity or toilets; of building latrines; of sleeping on a table; of eating spicier food than one could imagine, of learning how to play the sitar, of contracting elephantitis in order to avoid going to Vietnam (true story!), of flying back to America to see Washington, DC on fire in the view from his plane, in the wake of Martin Luther King's assignation - but these stories were always abstract and obscure.   

My dad had always though of writing a memoir of his time there, but he is a busy professor and therapist, and the demands of life and work got in the way.  But a few years ago, he finally did it.  It took him a couple of years, and many edits and rewrites, but he finished it.  When he did, I read it.  And I loved it.

My dad and I have always been very close, but of course, there is a "pre-me" person that was foreign to me.  But this book has helped me get to know that "pre-me" dad, and I have to say, I think he's a pretty cool guy.  The stories he has told me from the time I was a child are now vivid and clear, and he has quite a story to tell.  

I may be biased, but I think his book is amazing.  It's well written, and in fact, a page turner. Anyone who has traveled abroad (or wants to) will relate to it, and its historical context, in the shadows of the Vietnam War and the turbulent 1960s, is fascinating.  All of the profits from the sale of his book will be donated to the non-profit village school in Anavatti, India, where he lived as a Peace Corps volunteer.  

So without further adieu, here's a link to his book (click here) - you can buy it on your kindle, or in hard copy.  I highly recommend it!  

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