Motherhood, Women's Health

HOW I CAME TO BE AN OB/GYN

“You must have the grossest job in the world. Why on earth would anyone want to be a Gynecologist?” my twenty something patient asked, as I was examining her ‘nether regions’.

“Well, I do enjoy helping people” I lamely replied. I was doubtful she heard me, as she had already returned back to texting at this point.

I smiled as I left the room, remembering my surprisingly similar thoughts at her age.

I wanted to be doctor for as long as I could remember. But when I started medical school, the two specialties I knew I didn’t want anything to do with were OB/GYN and Pediatrics.

There was little doubt in my mind that Family Practice was my chosen path.  I chose Oklahoma State University because of its focus on primary care. I had shadowed several FPs and truly enjoyed the continuity of care and relationships that occurred in Family Practice.

When I started my rotations as a third year student, I excitedly picked FP as my first month. The practitioner I worked with was amazingly kind and knowledgeable.  He also had a passion for teaching and I was appreciative of the time he spent instructing me. Though we saw some interesting patients, there was also a lot of mundane colds and earaches. After about 3 weeks, I started to have doubts whether this was really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was a little concerned, but knew I had a few (our school required 6 months of Family Practice) more months to decide.

The next month, I did an away rotation in internal medicine with a wise internist who had been in practice for 30 years. While I didn’t love internal medicine, I did love the doctor. I soaked up every bit of wisdom about life and medicine he sent my way. He inspired me to THINK and not just memorize facts. On my last day of the rotation he sat me down and said essentially that I had done well on the rotation, but he thought my personality was the most suited for OB/GYN.

I smiled on the outside, but internally I rolled my eyes.

My first thought was, “What a sexist!” I was sure he was saying that merely because I was a woman. OB was becoming a female dominated field, and it had been commonly suggested for me to consider it. However, the last thing I could possibly be interested in was doing PAP smears all day. Yuck. Child bearing had no interest to me whatsoever. It was WAY too messy.

I composed my initial thoughts and replied, with a simple, “I don’t think so.”

“When’s your OB/GYN rotation?” he asked.

“The last one of the year.” I replied, having postponed it to the end.

“You should seriously consider moving it up earlier” he encouraged me.

I thanked him for his advice as a courtesy. Then thanked him profusely for the other things he had taught me.

On the drive home I was still fuming about his remark. However, my thoughts began to wander. His wife and all 3 of his daughters were doctors, but none OB/GYNs. There were no other sexist things he had said or done the whole month.  I respected him greatly and had trusted all the other advice he had given me. Perhaps, I should listen and at least move my rotation up to earlier in the year. After all, I wasn’t loving FP nearly as much as I thought I would.

After several frantic phone calls, I managed to set up a rotation with a local private practice doctor, in desperate need of some CME’s.  I ‘did’ very little during this month, but what I observed was life changing.  I observed his daily practice: his rapport with his patients, interesting procedures and complex diseases.  He was able to practice preventative medicine in a real way (one of my passions) and also do fascinating surgeries.  I witnessed babies born then later the same day the removal of a giant ovary full of teeth and hair from another patient. It was thrilling. On my last day of the month, I broke down in tears on the way home. I couldn’t believe my month was over. I didn’t want it to end. I had fallen in love with the crazy life of being an OB/GYN.

Then began the soul searching and prayer. How could I have a family and be an OB/GYN? As much as I loved my month of OB, the hours were harsh, and I wasn’t sure I could hack it. Was being an OB really God’s plan for me or just a selfish whim? After months of pro’s and con lists and long discussions with my husband, I finally felt a peace from God that this was the path I should take.

Finishing my last 6 months of family practice rotation only confirmed my decision.

This life is NOT easy. The hours do get crazy. Yes, there are days when I do get tired of looking a vaginas all day long. But the longer I do this job the more I love it. So here I am, 8 years into private practice reflecting on how my life is nothing like I expected it to be when I began this crazy adventure in medicine. I realize that it is amazingly better.

Thank you Dr. Bruns for telling me I should be an OB/GYN. You were right.

Motherhood, pregnancy

My Birth Story

When my alarm began blaring at 5:20 am on January 21, 2004; I immediately hit the snooze button. I am normally a morning person, but the last few weeks of my pregnancy were beyond exhausting. As I reluctantly climbed in the shower I purposefully avoided the mirror. I really didn’t want to catch a glimpse of my giant whale body. I had stopped feeling like a ‘cute pregnant lady’ long ago. My feet where still swollen from the night before; I noticed my sock indention from the previous day’s work.

I was lucky. My pregnancy was healthy and had gone quite smoothly, with the exception of one small hiccup: at 32 weeks I learned that my son was breech, and he never flipped. My c-section was scheduled for 39 weeks. If I am completely honest with you, I was more afraid of a vaginal delivery than a c-section. A small part of me was slightly relieved that things would be nicely scheduled and I would never have to face all the drama of labor.

My parents had their plane tickets to Ohio. It would all happen in 2 more days.

I was in my OB/GYN residency training during my pregnancy. I worked 80 hours a week, often 12 to 14 hour days. Residency was challenging enough when you weren’t carrying around 50 pounds of extra baby weight and having to pee every 5 minutes. However this was my final day of work. Tomorrow I would take an exam, then the baby would be here on Saturday. It was surreal to know exactly when the baby would come. I couldn’t wait to meet baby Ryan (we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, but the name was to be Ryan either way).

My last day at work was not an easy one. I was assisting with several surgeries and it was during the first case that the headache started. As the afternoon progressed, I started seeing little spots. I knew these were the sign of preeclampsia, so I stopped by labor and delivery to have my blood pressure checked. It was dangerously high. I wanted to go home and get my things, but my fellow residents insisted I stay and get blood work. “Really, I’ll be fine” I said. I had no insight. Intellectually I realized I had preeclampsia, and shouldn’t leave the hospital when my blood pressure was sky high, but it didn’t compute emotionally. It was strange. There was also an element of denial at play. This could not be happening to me.

I had seen patients act this way many times and assumed they were non-compliant. I realize now when patients have an irrational response to an emergency that it is likely denial more than ignorance. So often we spend so much time picturing and planning how our special day is supposed to happen that when things go awry, it zaps the wind from our sails and leaves us stunned in disbelief.

My doctor arrived and decided the c-section should be done immediately and a magnesium drip would be started to treat the preeclampsia and help control my blood pressure. I attempted to argue that I really didn’t need it. Magnesium was a miserable drug. She just glared at me, “Of course you are getting magnesium.” I took a deep breath and complied.

After several blubbering phone calls to friends and family, they set me up for delivery. My mom didn’t get to be there, but my husband and friends (fellow residents) were there to support me.

As they wheeled me into the cold OR, I realized I was terrified of the “unknown” despite doing hundreds of c-sections myself. As I lay strapped to the OR table, I felt vulnerable and afraid. It was so awkward to be on the other side of the knife. As the surgery got underway, though I felt more calm; comforted by the familiar sounds of the instruments and operating room banter.

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As he was born, the entire room cheered. “It’s a boy” someone said. My husband and I were overwhelmed with joy.

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As the doctor held him up over the blue sheet for me to see him, I remember thinking that he looked blue and they should really get him to the warmer. Myself, my husband and my friends (who we’re running various cameras) we’re all crying and cheering. It was an amazing day.

As I held him in recovery and nursed him for the first time, I remember thinking how incredibly blessed I was. I couldn’t believe how deeply I could love this sweet little boy. What an amazing gift.

 

Motherhood

5 Lessons I Learned From Writing a Book

Jessica and I at our first book signing. Feb 2011

I recently came across a bunch of pictures from our book signing and was reminded of this post which was originally published as a guest post on Jon Acuff’s (non defunct) blog. I pored so much of myself into the Pregnancy Companion manuscript, that thinking back to the excitement of the book signing brings a nostalgic smile to my face and fills my heart with warm fuzzies. So here’s what I learned from writing a book:

 

Three years ago, 5 days after bringing a new baby home from the hospital, I signed my first book deal. I was deliriously excited at two dreams coming true at once. In hindsight, I no idea what craziness lay ahead. Luckily, I learned a lot along the way.

  1. You find the time for what’s important

Writing a book is a staggering amount of work, but I’m used to hard work. See, I went to medical school for a zillion years. But working full time, with a newborn and a deadline felt overwhelming. I’m a morning person so I was up at 4 every morning to write furiously before work. Those months were fueled by caffeine and adrenaline, but amazingly worth it.

  1. The rewrites never end

“Working on my final round of edits today . Almost done!” was my facebook status about 900 times. I knew there would be edits, but by the 6th round, the thought of reading the manuscript one more time made me cringe.

  1. You can’t please everyone

The publishing experience takes this platitude to the extreme. I co-wrote a Christian Pregnancy Book. Mainstream Christian publications felt it wasn’t Christian enough (we actually mentioned *GASP* birth control). Secular media felt it was too religious. Different editors gave us opposite feedback. Eventually, we wrote the book that we believed would be most helpful to pregnant moms, and based on the response we get from them, we are pleasing the right people.

  1. Buy Books.

Previously I was a fan of borrowing books or checking out the library; now I buy books. All the time. I appreciate how extremely challenging it is to sell books. If I am ever at a book store and there is a signing going on, I stop what I’m doing and get in line. If the author has no line, I will stop and talk with him indefinitely, feigning interest in the subject, no matter how lame. “Oh a book about a civilization of bunnies, you say? How interesting!” Having been on the lonely side of a signing table, I know the awkward angst of sitting sadly with a fake smile hoping someone will stop by.

  1. My Definition of Success

I am an OB/GYN with a successful practice. My life has not been tainted with failure. When I got a book deal, I assumed that this venture would be met with the success that I’d grown accustomed to in life. Not because I was cocky, (OK, I’m a surgeon, so by definition I am slightly cocky) but because I felt it was a really great idea, and I was naive.  Despite the fact that everyone related to me thought my book was awesome, it was not the best seller I’d hoped it would be. It hasn’t even sold 10,000 copies. But it has helped people and genuinely made a difference in some women’s lives. That is why I wrote it and truly what is important to me. I had hoped it would impact women and be a best seller, but that is not the case. When I get discouraged, the royalty updates from my publisher go in the shredder. But the thank you notes from the people we’ve touched…those stay in a folder to remind me of my new definition of success.

Writing a book did not change my life or make me a millionaire. It did teach me that time management is key, that you can always find time for what’s important, and that success is best measured one person at a time.

Motherhood

Lessons Learned from My Dad

Kendall Patterson 1953-2015
Kendall Patterson 1953-2015

I lost my dad last year.

He was the rock in my life that I took for granted; not realizing the true weight of his presence until he was gone.

His death was surreal. I can still feel the plastic of the ICU waiting room chairs as the trauma surgeon began to say words that I couldn’t process. The phrases ricocheted in my head, as my mind refused to accept the grisly truth. The bullet had torn his abdominal aorta. The team did everything they could, but the blood loss was too great.

He was gone. No warning. No chance to say goodbye.

The year that he died, I felt like I was stumbling through a numbing fog that would be randomly interrupted with intense raw painful sorrow. My grief was like a wound, ripped open repeatedly by the most random memories. This year the fog is lifting. The wounds are still aching, but slowing healing as I begin to come to grips with the reality that this is the new normal of my life.

There are a million things I miss about him, like the way he greeted me as “Daughter” in a mockingly formal clipped tone with a half smirk and a side hug. I miss his almost daily phone calls, “just to check in”. My heart hurts when I think of all the times I swiped “ignore” on his calls because I was in the middle of something. I told myself I would call him later, but often never quite got around to it.

I have found comfort in his memories and meaning in the lessons I learned from him through the years. My parents were divorced so I lived mostly with my mom (and wonderful stepdad) growing up, but was extremely fortunate to spend the last 10 years living in Tennessee near my dad. He and I were always connected, but I’m so thankful that he was able to have to a close special relationship with his grand kids these last 10 years as well. In honor of father’s day I wanted to share some of the lessons learned over the years from my no where near perfect, but pretty wonderful dad.

 

Me and my dad
Me and my dad

 

1. Birthdays are special

Dad and Tom at one of Ryan's birthdays
Dad and Tom at one of Ryan’s birthdays

I was raised in family where birthdays were a pretty big deal. Everyone gets to feel special on their birthday. I assumed all families were this way until I got married and my husband found it strange that all of my extended family sent him birthday cards.

My dad used to call me crazy early on my birthday. He said he wanted to be the first one to wish me “Happy Birthday”, but really he was just being ornery. He did this to everyone in the family. On HIS birthday, he also called me obnoxiously early so I could get “The privilege of being the first to wish him a Happy Birthday”.

Everyone in our family, not only felt the pain of his loss on his birthday, but we all missed that brief dependable 6 am call on our own birthdays as well. On my husband’s birthday last fall, he mentioned sadly as we headed to bed that he didn’t get any phone calls to wish him happy birthday. Sure there were texts, cards and Facebook messages, but that special early morning old school phone call was painfully missing.

Dad the jokester
Dad the jokester

2. Lonesome Dove is the best

My dad was a true cowboy and he was obsessed with all things horse related. He had a rule that he would only watch a movie if it has horses in it and the mini series Lonesome Dove was his legendary favorite.

He knew the story word for word and could quote every clever Augustus McCray line perfectly. He even had a horse named “Lori Darling”.

Much to my teenage annoyance, he made me watch the mini series many times when it premiered. I reluctantly agreed that it was a tolerable story, but honestly didn’t think much about it until he left us.

Last year I read the book. It was beautifully written ( I really hope he read the book while he was still alive). I didn’t really plan it but I finished the book and then watched the miniseries on the week of the anniversary of his death. Hearing Robert Duvall deliver all the witty lines that I heard my dad say over the years was oddly comforting.

My dad's love of Lonesome Dove inspired one of his friends to make this sign which is an homage to the series. The sign hung in his barn for years and now it hangs in my house to remind me of my dad.
My dad’s love of Lonesome Dove inspired one of his friends to make this sign which is an homage to the series. The sign hung in his barn for years and now it hangs in my house to remind me of my dad.

3. Do What you Love

My dad was a hard worker. He toiled for years on the GM assembly line full time during the days, while tending to his farm in his spare time. He was an outdoors man and needed to be outside for his sanity. He hated the assembly line, but nevertheless put in his time, providing for his family until he could take early retirement. He enjoyed several years of retirement/ farming until he went back to work at something he enjoyed, helping his friend and cousin at Lewisburg Heating and Air. I am so glad that he took those years off to enjoy his farm and spend extra time with the grand kids.

Dad worked for years on the line at GM
Dad worked for years on the line at GM

He always encouraged me to find a job that I really loved. “You spend a lot of time working, you don’t want to be miserable”. This simple but wise advice was key in my choice to be an OB/GYN.

Dad having fun with the boys on the farm
Dad having fun with the boys on the farm

4. Enjoy nature

When I think about my dad, I usually picture him sitting on the porch. It’s sunrise and he’s holding a steaming cup of coffee, watching his cows mill around the field in the morning mist. Sometimes, I see him in the afternoon. He’s sitting with his chair kicked back on 2 legs enjoying a sweat tea or a natural light, while he jokes with friends or watches the kids run around the yard. Other times, I think back to the many hours that he and I spent on horseback, riding on one of the many trail rides we did when I was growing up (he had me riding a horse before I could walk). All my favorite memories of my dad are when he was outside, because that is where he was happiest.

Trail riding
Trail riding

6. There’s no place like home

There are many traits they say I got from my dad. It’s said that I walk like him, I work hard like he did and I know I mumble like him (half of our phone conversations where the other person saying “What?” over and over). One thing I didn’t get from him is my wanderlust. While my dad loved nature, he loved the nature in Tennessee and had no desire to travel any where else. Well, the only place he wanted to go but didn’t was Montana, but other than that he was perfectly happy to stay home. All. the. time. He was content with his farm and his life. The only power strong enough to pull him away was family (mainly grand kids).

Each summer dad would have sevreal loads of sand hauled in to his spring fed pond to create "Papa' beach". The boys would spend hours playing in the sand and the best part for dad was that he didn't have to go all the way to Florida.
Each summer dad would have several loads of sand hauled in to his spring fed pond to create “Papa’s beach”. The boys would spend hours playing in the sand and the best part for dad was that he didn’t have to go all the way to Florida.
Love the look on dad's face as he watches Carson on the pony.
Love the look on dad’s face as he watches Carson on the pony.

7. Carry Cash

My dad always carried around an obnoxious amount of money in his wallet “just in case” he needed it. I on the other hand rarely have a twenty and put everything on my credit card. This frustrated him excessively, especially when I would travel. I would usually stop and get a some emergency cash to appease him if I was taking a road trip (he would always ask if I had enough money…. even when when I had a real job). This year since he’s gone I always think of him when I hit the atm before I travel. One of the many mundane things that remind me of him.

We had a million bon fires at the farm. Perfect crisp fall evening, where we roasted hot dogs and eating way too many smores.
We had a million bonfires at the farm. Perfect crisp fall evenings, where we roasted hot dogs and eating way too many smores.

8. Family first

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 is the scripture that I read at my dad’s standing room only funeral.

In his life and his death he put his family first. He loved us all fiercely and completely. He cared for us all and gave sacrificially to provide for his family

He was always looking out for us. I never needed to check the weather, because I knew dad was glued to the weather channel and would call me if a storm was even remotely close. He was fairly obsessed with the weather. Once on vacation, after my dad had spent an hour watching the weather channel, my son Ryan asked him ,”Papa why don’t you just walk outside and see what the weather is instead of watching it on TV”.

I knew that my dad would do anything for me or my kids. I remember a few months before he died, we were staying at his house and I woke up at 2 am to the smell of bacon cooking. I drug myself into the kitchen to see what was going on, only to find Carson perched on the counter and my dad bent over the stove. When I inquired as to what the heck was going on, I was informed that Carson was hungry and wanted bacon and eggs. The fact that it was 2 am did not seem to bother either of them.

The time we went to see Willie Nelson perform a benefit concert in a field in Leper's Fork.
The time we went to see Willie Nelson perform a benefit concert in a field in Leper’s Fork.

I keep rewriting this post, each time failing to find the perfect words that his memories deserve. But these are the stories that have brought me comfort and put a teary smile on my face. I want to share them with others who also loved him, if I can muster the courage to actually hit “publish” on this post.

This father’s day I’ll celebrate the wonderful father that my husband has become and the blessing of my (step) father who did most of my raising. But every father’s day from this time forward will always be bittersweet. I will always greatly miss my dad, but I am continually thankful for the years that he was a part of our lives. 

 

The power of grandchildren even got my dad to go to
The power of grandchildren even got my dad to go to Disney
Orange Beach
Orange Beach

 

 

Humor, Motherhood

My Crazy Spring Break

I inhaled the crisp mountain air, as I swooshed down the mountain. The panoramic view of snow capped mountains and giant evergreens was so perfect it looked like a cheeesy 70’s landscape painting. The edge of my skis cut through the powdery snow, which provided the perfect amount of resistance as I sailed down the mountain. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins, as I fought to maintain the delicate balance between speed and control…

“Mom! Moooooom! Is it time to go yet?” Carson, my 6 year old, elbowed me in the stomach, obnoxiously pulling me back to reality. I wiped the drool from my chin and realized that we were not in Colorado. We were in the Tampa airport, where we had been for the past 5 hours.

The morning had started smoothly enough. We had made it to Nashville airport on time, all children and luggage accounted for. We sailed through security, without any “special screening” for my ethnicity vague looking husband. However on arrival at our gate, we discovered our carefully planned direct flight to Denver had been cancelled due to weather. Our best chance to get to Denver was to fly to Tampa and catch a flight from there later that afternoon. So away we went, on what was to be one of the strangest travel experiences of my life.

Shortly after I was awakened from my snowy dream, I was informed by my Hubs that the Denver airport was shut down due to a nasty blizzard. Our flight from Tampa to Denver was also cancelled. Our choices were: return to Nashville (with no chance to get to Denver) or stay in Tampa for 2 days and fly to Denver on Friday afternoon. I did not like either of these choices. During my 30 minutes of denial and tears, the direct flight to Denver filled, and we got the last remaining seats on a connecting jet through St. Louis.

We were all ridiculously disappointed. This was our first Colorado ski trip in 8 years and we (and by “we”, I really mean “Russ”) had been tediously planning it for months. We quickly realized though, that if we were going to be stranded somewhere, Tampa was not a bad place. So we rented a car and checked into a hotel while wearing our puffy ski jackets and carrying 2 giant suitcases full of fleece. Luckily we had packed swimsuits (for the hot tub at the condo), so the first thing my travel exhausted boys did was cannonball into the pool. Then we made a trip to Sears to buy shorts and t-shirts.

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When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

My first thought was to go to Disney (about an hour away), but the planner in me was already so frazzled by this hiccup, I didn’t think I could handle going to Disney during spring break with only 1 day notice (I need months to plan my fast passes!). We realized we were staying 10 minutes from Busch Gardens, so that was our new destination.

We arrived at Busch Gardens right when the park opened then next morning, hoping to be first in line for the rides. Beating the crowds was great, except that several of the major attractions didn’t open until a couple hours after the park opened {insert sad trombone}. Busch Gardens is half zoo, half amusement park. The bigger roller coasters were a little too intense for my gang, but the boys enjoyed the animals and the tamer rides. It was frustrating that they charge extra for fast passes and the safari tour (both included in price at Animal Kingdom). We also kept missing the train which takes you through the park to see the animals in the fields.The kids had a great time, despite not being able to ride a ton of rides due to long lines and my youngest being vertically challenged.

I loved the “Gardens” at Busch Gardens. The park is decorated with several elaborate topiaries shaped like various animals. I made my gang mimic the bushes for the photo ops.

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My Octopii

Our flight didn’t leave till 4 o’clock the next day, so we decided to visit nearby Clearwater Beach and go to The Clearwater aquarium. This is the home of the dolphins Hope and Winter from the Dolphin’s Tale movies. The drive across Tampa Bay was gorgeous. It was quite surreal to be driving a thin bridge across the ocean lined with palm trees when we were supposed to be in the mountains. The actual aquarium was interesting but Winter was shy that day, so it was difficult to get a good look at the dolphins. I enjoyed the experience, but honestly my boys were underwhelmed.

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Tampa Bay
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Hope the dolpin

We got to the Tampa airport around 2 and finally arrived at our Condo in Keystone at midnight, where my brother and sister were waiting for us. It had taken us 2.5 days to get there. I could almost hear the hallelujah chorus playing in the background as we unloaded our suitcases.

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View from Condo

The next morning we dropped our young ‘un at ski school (it was his first time), but then discovered that our pre-rented skis did not get dropped at our condo as ordered. We grudgingly ventured out to rent equipment, which seemed especially painful, because I JUST WANTED TO GO SKIING AND NOT WASTE YET ANOTHER HOUR OF MY LIFE. Alas, I took a deep breath and realized I was finally inhaling that crisp mountain air I had been dreaming about and all was good.

When we finally got on the the slopes, the snow was perfect. The lift lines were not bad and Keystone itself was phenomenal. The blizzard that had delayed us was at least thoughtful enough to leave us the most fantastic powder. At the bottom of the first run I was able to catch up with a friend from high school who also happened to be there (the wonders of FB), but as we were chatting I noticed my older son was acting a little off. He and the hubs both had awful headaches and headed back to the condo. They texted me later that they had altitude sickness. Seriously people, you can’t make this stuff up.

I then went back to the condo to care for my family. I then took advantage of the afternoon with no kids and skied my quads off with my brother.  Please don’t judge me, I promise that I did text frequently to make sure they were still OK.

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Keystone with my brother (to whom I am currently making payments to ensuring the go-pro videos of me skiing are never released)

Luckily, everyone felt better with some rest and fluids and the whole family was ready to ski together on Sunday. Finally.

On day 2 of skiing I decided to work with Carson instead of sending him to ski school. Not sure if this was my best idea. There were many tears and tantrums. And Carson got frustrated too. Eventually, he got it figured out and by the end of the day he made it down the mountain, albeit falling a million times. Even when he would fall, he would shout “This is soooo awesome!”

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My ski buddy

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The last day, everything seemed to finally come together. I skied with my boys in the morning and they both zipped down the mountain like it was nothing. Their grins were epic. Watching them have so much fun together was worth all the drama getting to the mountain. Russ and I also remember how much we loved to ski. We all can’t wait to go back.

So how was my spring break? Not what I planned, not relaxing, not cheap and definitely not low stress. Despite all the drama, it was pretty awesome. I got home with some great stories and special family memories that I think we’ll be talking about for a long time.

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Motherhood, Women's Health

The Great Many Juxtapositions that are My Life as an OB/GYN

It was 9:35 pm and I found myself staring longingly at a trash can, salivating at the beautiful sandwich perched precariously on its rim. My hands were trembling from hunger. If you would have checked my blood sugar at that moment, it would have likely been critically low.

My day had started at 6am with a 5 mile run and I hadn’t stopped moving since. I got paged for a stat delivery while I was in the shower and the day had seemed to go down hill quickly. A full office and multiple laboring patients awaited me. My emergency protein bar served as my lunch and during the cafeteria’s dinner hours, I was in the OR on a hemorrhaging ectopic pregnancy. I was so tired I could feel every muscle in my body, and each one throbbed in their own unique way.

 

The sandwich is CLEARLY above the rim.
The sandwich is CLEARLY above the rim.

That is how I found myself in my real life Seinfeldian dilemma. After realizing the cafeteria was closed I had went back to my office in hopes of grabbing a leftover sandwich out of the refrigerator only to realize in horror that someone had thrown the precious salted meats in the trash. However one specimen had perched itself slightly above the rim, still on its original plastic tray.

Do I eat refuse or trek across campus to the doctors lounge for a poptart? If it is above the rim is it technically garbage?  Not to me in that moment. I wolfed down the cold cuts and said a little prayer against listeria and all other types of food poisoning. It tasted divine.

I thought about how very strange my life was, as I sat back and patted my full belly. A mere two weeks earlier I was dining at leisurely at cafes in Paris, now I was George Constanza, eating  out of the trash.

Beautiful gourmet meal from our trip to Paris.
Beautiful gourmet meal from our trip to Paris.

The next day  I ran into a casual acquaintance who remarked how glamorous my life seemed on social media. I laughed and told her my trash eating story. The incident made me think of the many other strange juxtapositions of my life.

There was the time I found myself in one of the messiest deliveries of my life a couple of hours before the hospital Christmas party. While birth is a beautiful moment of life, sometimes it can also be a giant hot mess. During this rather difficult birth I was initially pooped on quite extensively. Then as the baby delivered, I was hit with a tsunami wave of amniotic fluid that soaked me to the core, making a mockery of my ‘protective gear’. The patient then began hemorrhaging, so I performed an internal uterine massage to help stop the bleeding, which equals me inserting my entire arm into her uterus, making me feel a little bit like a large animal vet. The only bodily fluid missing from the event  was vomit. Hours later after a “Silkwood  shower” and a quick makeup application, I find myself at a country club in a little black dress having small talk about the weather.

Many times I’ve been at the playground with my kids only to sneak away a few steps to answer a call from the hospital about a STD or other topic that is definitely not a ‘playground friendly’. Bedtime stories or games of ‘hide and seek’ have often been interrupted with stat pages to the hospital. I’ve gone from reading Dr. Seuss to performing an emergency C-section in moments.

The worst juxtaposition is dealing with loss in the middle of a regular day. While OB/GYN is often a happy specialty, when it is sad it is heartbreakingly awful. I often have to deliver the worst of news: miscarriage, infidelity, cancer, infertility. There have been days where I have went from placing a lifeless baby in a mothers arms and with barely a moment to catch my breath and dry my eyes, to seeing a patient for a new pregnancy right down the hall. Death and life with only moments in between; the roller coaster of emotions is so strange.

I’m not complaining about my job. I’m well adjusted to the bodily fluids and tumultuous schedule. I simply find it intriguing how my life can go from one extreme to another so very quickly. I’m sure most other doctors would have similar stories (well maybe not the trash). Also this serves as a good reminder that if you see me looking semi-fancy in a picture, the special ingredient that made my hair extra shiny, might just have been amniotic fluid.

 

 

 

 

Motherhood

Happy New Year: Writing Year in Review

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. (Photo Credit Amy Conor)

I am finally catching my breath and attempting to recover from December, which is known in medicine as “lets see how many procedures we can do in one month” month.  Every patient has met their deductible and has suddenly decided that they desperately need that surgery they have been procrastinating for years.

Thinking about this coming year, I am going to try to make more of an effort to keep up this blog and also link from this blog to my other writing. This will be an easy way for anyone who wants to follow my writing to have access in one place, since I write for several sites. Although, I think the only people who follow my writing are actually related to me, so its probably unnecessary, but a girl can dream.

Catching up, here are some of my favorite posts from last year:

I have no sex drive. Could it be my hormones? Was the first (and only) post that I’ve done for WebMD that actually got featured on their home page.

I enjoy writing, but one thing I don’t enjoy is writing headlines. However this post for MIM is my favorite headline EVER:  My Life as a Call Girl.

My personal favorite post of the year was this one that was originally posted at Grace for Moms, but also got featured by Kevin, M.D.:  What an Emergency C-section is Really Like. I had a fellow OB tell me that this post gave her chills, which was also my favorite compliment of the year.

I described traveling to Paris for my 40th on this site: Learning to Breath Again: Turning 40 in Paris.

I attempted to impart a little wisdom over at MIM: 10 Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Private Practice.

There was the post that made everyone throw up in their mouth a little bit: Is Seeding after C-section Safe?

Any my latest post for WebMD is Do I have an Ovarian Cyst? , which I find to be a mega boring topic. Considering the material, I felt like this post went pretty well. My editor did nix my favorite line that I wrote: “Sometimes your ovaries are awesome and help you make another human, but other times they get pissy and try to kill you. ” I have no idea why.

I’m hoping to both run and write more this year, but life sometimes has a way of putting hiccups in those plans.

Santa was very good to me this year.
Santa was very good to me this year.