Friday, November 28, 2014

Sleep. Family. Turkey. Sleep.

I should be sleeping. You probably should, too.

I'm both alone and awake for the first time in over a week. I'm drawn to write. There's a pretty good chance I might currently be on The Walking Dead as an undead extra.

My husband, daughter and I traveled to see family all last week. I'm an introvert who lives 10 hours away from her family. Generally, it works. Long visits can be hard. I drink deeply of both the spirits and the intoxicating laughter that comes from being around my blood relatives. I stay up too late. I try to squeeze everything I can into our time together.

And then, I crash. I've never crashed this hard. I've never taken a 10-month-old on a road trip and then continued the family visiting with my mother with us on the way back, either. It's been so, so wonderful to have this extended time with family.

Gratitude is on everyone's tongues, if not their minds. I am grateful. But perhaps this Thanksgiving meant less to me because of the gratitude I try to practice every day. It's not a perfect practice but it is ongoing and it is intentional. I have the most to be grateful for this year out of any before, and I feel it so deeply. I feel it deeply every day.

My daughter was happy yesterday at my husband's family's Thanksgiving, for the most part, though overwhelmed by all of the new faces, all of whom wanted to meet her and squeeze her and make her laugh. My mother and I had to take her for a drive to get her the nap she needed so desperately.

The break from work has been so wonderful. This isn't to say anything bad about my work, but I have been defining myself too much by what I do (or don't do). I left my full-time job over a month ago and have been working at a new one part-time. It's been great for my personal life, but I'm still trying to define myself professionally. This long time off has reminded me to not define myself personally by what I do for work. That is a really, terribly hard thing for me.

How do you do it? How do you find balance between work and family and turkey and gratitude and relaxation, if any?

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Hug your family, for me, and try to get at least some sleep.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Feel Grateful for Everything You Have

Yep, I'm talking about material things here.

Maybe you're like me and you feel grateful pretty regularly for the things that really matter: your loving husband, your healthy children, your ability to laugh through the shit and baby food flung around your used-to-be-clean house.

And maybe you're also like me (and the rest of America, I think) in that it's never enough. I'm talking material shit here, people. There's always something more: the next piece of jewelry that's just classic and essential and why haven't you spent at least $1,000 on your solitaire earrings yet? The next wardrobe piece that you'll want to drop $350 on because you'll wear it, like, forever, with anything, but you won't because let's all agree you can find a knockoff deal somewhere. The next stainless steel appliance. The next tablet or iPhone or smart watch or whatever the hell they're inserting chips and internet connections into now.

I've found (sadly, this is revelation-quality shit to me right now) that I'm so much more appreciative of the things (people I'm being shallow today so get over it) I have when they're clean. I can knock off the voice that wants more when I appreciate everything around me.

The one stainless steel appliance in my kitchen looks awesome when it's not covered in tiny fingerprints and milk drippings. At least I think it's milk.

The 1998 Corian countertop still looks pretty bangin when it's glistening-white (when the lights are dim I can pretend it's quartz).

The proportionately large bedroom (large compared to the rest of our home) feels like a luxury retreat without the piles of laundry and diapers and wipes and books and hangers lying around.

The office/guest bedroom feels cozy and cerebral when the focus can be on the stuffed bookcase instead of on the piles of papers and holiday gift bags and envelopes I cleaned out.

Secret: I clean like a pro when I've had a glass of wine. Whatever.

It's all the same underneath; no major renovations up here on the main level. It's just clean. Appreciated.  Taken care of. It took me days of sneaky-quiet cleaning while my daughter naps to get to this point. It's not easy when you're responsible for a little person (or two or three) sharing your home, but it's worth it. I promise it's worth it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How NOT to Choose a Pediatrician

Not just anyone's going to have a privilege—nay, the joy—of dutifully caring for your baby at every visit throughout their young life. You've read all about getting a wonderful pediatrician for your baby, you may have even made a checklist for an interview (you've scheduled) already.

You make sure the doctor has admitting privileges at your hospital, you google his or her name to look for random reviews and comments online. You read his or her bio, you check to see if the office has a Facebook page and hours after 5 pm and on weekends. Who answers the phone, and when? How long have they been practicing?

Is this doctor a complete kook? Do any red flags go up?

Or maybe your options are limited—you live in a small town or your insurance will only cover a certain practice.


Here's a red flag: Does the doctor engage with you? Is he or she fully present while visiting you? Do you feel rushed?

Doctors are people. They're very busy people. They're very busy people with highly demanding jobs. But they are also caretakers. They are THE expert in your baby's health. They're the people you call when you feel a weird bump on your baby's head, the people you look to when your baby is teething and you're not sure whether it's OK to give him or her Tylenol on the regular (FYI—It is.)

You shouldn't have to pry answers out of them.

Yes, in any case, you should be your own advocate, or in parents' cases, you must be your child's advocate. You must ask every question you can think of, bring anything to attention you think warrants it, even if you sound paranoid (you do, and you're just like every other new parent out there).

You must speak up when the doctor's not answering your questions, you must correct them when they get the facts wrong about your child, you must, you must, you must.

I must find a new doctor for my baby.

I'd felt before that my doctor was rushing through appointments. I'd given him the benefit of the doubt—he's human, he's busy, etc. But it's to the point now that I feel as though if there were something seriously wrong with my baby, I wouldn't be confident that he'd catch it.

I had to ask a couple of times at Lana's 9-month appointment about appropriate teething remedies. The doctor seemed not to really care. The nurse didn't get her height correct. The manner in which everyone who touched my baby was rough and rushed. No wonder she hates it there already, at 9 months.

After a not-good appointment, I stood in front of the receptionist as she spoke on the phone, waiting to make my next appointment. After a few awkward minutes, she told the person on the line to hold and asked me, "Do you want to make an appointment or something?"

No smile. No nothing. I, and my daughter, were a chore.

Do I have to tell you here that we're looking for not only a new doctor, but a new practice? I'm not sure what's going on at this one, but it's not good. It's not the group of people I want to trust with my daughter's care. I felt as though my OB's office was so much more caring and attentive—why, why, why would you make sure you get only the best care while pregnant but half-assed care for the child you dreamed of and took prenatal vitamins dutifully every day and then went through labor for?

Anyway. Any suggestions? I only know how NOT to choose a pediatrician.