The Pediatrician in Me

Sometimes it really pays to be a pediatrician as well as a mother.  Take yesterday afternoon for example.  At precisely 3:51pm, Micah looked at me and said “this ear really hurts.” (“Darn!” was my first thought – “oh, honey” were my first words.)  Now, there are very few lessons from my residency training program that I remember verbatim, but I do remember a senior doctor telling me, “If a child older than 4 says their ear hurts, it’s likely to mean something real.”  So I went to the “medicine bag” and pulled out my otoscope (very handy to be a pediatrician), smiled happily that the battery was charged enough that the light turned on, and looked in Micah’s ear.  Yep, that eardrum was screaming red.  So, I thought through the options….see a doc?  Hmm, pediatrician’s office is closed…could go to the hospital’s urgicare satellite clinic….seems like a pain because it would take the rest of the afternoon (and I’m planning on cooking up some yummy Thai food!)….hmmm, Target pharmacy is open until 5…. Picked up the phone ….. “Hi, this is Dr. Lynne…”

And that is pretty much where the limit of me treating my own kids ends (my sister will vouch for that – I don’t even treat her kids…..and no one else in the family either!).  I will do ear infections on the weekend.  That’s it.  Anything else – “go see a doctor.”

You see, I can’t be objective when it comes to my kids.  This winter Micah fell in basketball and naturally cried for a bit afterwards…but was soon back in the game.  The next day (yes, after paying no attention to his hand for well over 30 hours) I noticed that his right thumb was swollen 3 times its normal size and was black and blue.  It looked ugly.  It was Sunday evening.  Seth was to have minor outpatient surgery on Tuesday.  I had a day to figure out what to do.  So, I spent most of Monday driving him around wondering how best to get the thumb evaluated.  His pediatric office?  The emergency room (over 3 hour wait time per some inside sources)? Does it need anything at all?  What if I ignore it and then it’s actually broken and we go 2 more days?!?  We ended up at the hospital’s urgicare center where he was fitted with a very nice little splint…more to help him feel better, the doc said (but I knew it was actually more to help me feel better).

I get stuck in wanting to do everything I possibly can to take care of the kids as well as I can.  But that’s in the midst of not knowing sometimes what the best care is for them.  And believe me, this is only mild stuff we’ve been dealing with.  A little asthma.  A little ear infection.  Colds.  Fevers.  Nothing serious – no real emergency room visits (though I was sure Noah was trying absolutely positively EVERYTHING he could to require an ER visit before he turned two – “how about a few stitches, Mom??” – and I give myself full and unending credit for thwarting that plan!) and no hospital stays.  I am very thankful.  Because I have decided that I will either overreact with the kids (oh yeah, it’s clear, that’s one of those can’t-catch-your-breath, have-10-seizures, fall-over-and-get-a-concussion, lose-a-kidney, break-the-thumb and end up in the hospital kinds of situations) or completely under-react (oh, just rub it!).  There’s no middle ground.

Which is why, unless it’s a weekend evening and they are complaining that their ear hurts…I drag my kids to go see a doctor every time.  (Though I will confess to being a tad late on this last guy’s well child check-up….um, 15 month visit?…. or 16 months ….who’s counting?!?!)

Anyone else have this trouble of under- or over-reacting??

Surviving New York City Madness

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow I just survived 3 days in New York City with three young boys (6, 3, and 1).  It’s probably entirely related to the fact that I traveled with a good friend who is very easy-going, her 2-yr-old son and her nanny (whose back should be sore from holding my 1-year-old most of the time in a front-pack!).

I personally only had one minor explosion, I think — trying to navigate a stroller out of a narrow NYC Starbucks doorway on day one — with octopus hands lunging from both sides of the stroller and two boys fighting each other for the right to get through the doorway first, despite the presence of said stroller.  And a very sweet woman holding the door open for me heard me mutter “I can’t do New York City by myself with 3 little boys.”  Without a pause, she affirmed, “no, you can’t.  It’s too hard.”  Fortunately, my friend is wonderful enough that I repeated the same phrase to her shortly afterwards despite my usual hesitancy to ask for help.  From then on, my youngest was graciously strapped to the nanny most of the time and I was able to have hands free for two other boys who liked to dart away.

I was pretty stressed about how Micah would behave during the trip, knowing that triggers for his outbursts include tiredness (how could he not be tired, traveling in a car for 9 hours, getting to bed late in a new environment, walking and sightseeing, pushing past thousands of people….), lack of consistency (every day we visited something different), and hunger (it’s hard to figure out new places and new food, finding food in time before blood sugar crashes, and really, where can you get “chicken nuggets and ketchup” in NY City?).  So the fact that I only had one minor from him when he cut his lip on a water bottle (that he was trying to open with his teeth despite multiple reprimands to “never do that!”) and then again a few minutes later when waiting in the sun in a crowd of hundreds of people trying to get on the ferry leaving the Statue of Liberty island…Wow.  I am impressed with him.

So here’s what I learned from our trip:

  • No matter how impressive the “tourist” sites are in a new city, the most favorite place of all is the local playground.
  • My 3-yr-old will continue to challenge his immune system no matter where we are.  Apparently (according to the nanny), he ran his Hot Wheels pickup truck up and down the benches at the playground, through the sand, across the open rim of a garbage can, and then right into his mouth!
  • Kids six and under have absolutely no concept of how high the Empire State Building is (nor do they care about the history of how it was built), but they sure are impressed by the 10-minute “Sky Movie” ride simulating flying over and around New York City (and bumping into people in Central Park and into a shark in the bay! Who knew there were sharks in the waters of NY City?).
  • Any and all bottles of fluid, no matter how costly (even if $3 for 16 ounces), will be spilled – including red Powerade onto my fresh mozzarella and basil hot Panini sandwich that I was just about to pick up to eat.
  • It is scary to think how easily the one-year-old could fit through the criss-cross wires on the observation deck of the Empire State Building – 86 floors up!
  • It is important to travel with good friends who are comfortable letting each other’s kids take turns having melt-downs….as well as multiple requests to return to the playground.
  • There are a LOT of dogs in New York City and one can get tired of the “can I ask the owner?” question prior to petting each and every one of them.
  • I can see why New York City parents might worry about “nanny stealing” – there was a clear difference in the spectrum of nannies available for observation at the playground.  I wanted to bring one of them home with us!
  • There’s no guarantee of getting good sleep after a long drive. Got home at 1:30 am, tucked in the boys, and my head hit the pillow at 2:00am – and then some alarm on one of my running watches went off at 2:01…. and then the 3-year-old crawled into bed with me at 2:09 after a nightmare…ahhhh!  But the sense of accomplishment this morning made it all worth it.

So, here’s a photo of our “calm and bliss” traveling together…but photos only capture the moments of glory.  This was taken right after Micah’s first melt down and his refusal to accept an ice cream cone.  So I held his which Seth shared with me and his white  T-shirt.  Noah also demolished one but not before it melted into a river dripping down his arms.  Stickiness did not stop him from playing with the “coin” a friend gave him which he dropped over and over, bent down to pick up repetitively, and clearly has his right hand raised, playing with the quarter in his mouth.  Seth was tired of the front pack and being given over to someone “new,” so clung to me.  Micah’s shorts and my pants are red on the front from the Powerade that spilled on my lunch and the backpack holds tiny Statue of Liberty snow globes the boys picked out as souvenirs…among a TON of other heavy stuff.  That’s the story behind this “calm” – and thank goodness there are moments of tenderness like this.  We might even go again some day!

Top Ten – Disney

Top Ten ways my two-year-old tried to drive me crazy at Disney World:

10.  Must touch every open garbage can and/or push the swinging lid of garbage cans which are within a ten-foot radius of one’s steps…or can be reached without Mom stopping me prior to touching.

9.  Must climb up, walk along as far as possible, and then jump off every wall that is, say, under four feet high.

8.  If Mom decides to bridle me with a lamb “backpack” (aka dog leash – I’m no fool!), must pull forward as quickly as possible into oncoming people….or stop suddenly and explore small particles on the ground…possibly needing to taste them to determine identity (again, only if this can be done without Mom yanking on said chain to stop the taste test).

7.  Must manage to outwit Mom at least once by disappearing for a sufficient quantity of time to make her heart thump and nerves explode, say by wandering off at the Dinoland playground area, cross over the bridge, and sit playing happily in the sand until she finds me (hey, don’t worry, it was an entirely closed in area….it’s not like I went out the exit part of the play ground and was truly lost!)

6.  Must attempt to splash in the water of “It’s a Small World”…or any other boat ride for that matter….”Jungle Cruise” can get the same reaction….prior to the harsh tone of “Noah!!”

5.  Must try to drag the “tail” of aforementioned leash into as much dirt and/or mud as possible, or step on it repeatedly, prior to Mom noticing this act and wrapping the tail over the head of poor “lamby” as I walk along.

4.  Important to always resist Mom’s attempt to have control of the said leash, though once she firmly establishes that she is the one who gets to hold that end, should drop the battle without a care in the world…and take off running.

3.  Must attempt to give every single Disney character in each and every parade a high-five, even if that means occasionally stepping off the curb (a definite Disney Parade no-no!) and enduring the reprimanding “N-o-a-h….”

2.  Must remain standing the entire bus ride to the airport, despite the repeated reminders to sit, blabberings about safety this or that, threats of losing life or limb, and/or attempts to knock me into a seated position by swiping my legs out from under me.

1.  And lastly, must without a doubt refuse to fall asleep on the plane ride home, jump over the back of the seats to play with grandpa, climb under seats to retrieve thrown toys, unclick seat belt 102 times (very fun), spill any drink within an 18 inch radius, and squeal as loudly and as often as possible.  This energy expenditure is worth falling asleep at 6 pm and sleeping in clothes and coat the rest of the night.  Thanks for the Disney trip, Mom.

Top Ten

We had an office picnic this past week.  It was great – everybody came….all 6 of us!  I brought baby wipes (….okay….and desserts).  You can wipe down a picnic table with them.  You can wash your hands with them before eating.

What many people don’t know, and probably particularly people who do not have kids, is that baby wipes are golden.  They are strong.  They are moist. They can do just about anything.

So here’s my Top Ten List of what baby wipes can clean:

10.  Spills around the minivan cup-holders from mocha lattes (that are just necessary some days to survive after long nights)

9.  Food spills on the couch despite the rule of no food in the living room

8.  Sticky lollipop fingers compliments of the boys’ pediatric office (sugar-free of course)

7.  Dried green snot smeared over cheeks and nose, especially first thing in the morning

6.  Greasy hands from putting a bicycle chain back on….again…and again for the 3-year-old

5.  The dining room table after a meal of spaghetti (good for the floor too)

4.  Chocolate chips ground into the car seat of a 1-year-old who completely demolished a granola bar within a few minutes

3.  Puke on the carpet

2.  Pee on the carpet

1.  Poop on the carpet

(yep, all of that has been tested in private, home-based research, but repeating this research is not necessarily recommended)

What baby wipes can not clean:

10.  Nope – can’t think of a thing….

This is the reason why there is always a box of baby wipes in my car and several of them scattered around the house: third floor for the midnight diaper change; second floor bathroom to clean little behinds before they get into the tub; first floor living room/diaper changing area (we gave up on changing tables long ago…we just chase them around the living room!).

My mind has been spinning this week with “lists” of things related to parenting.  Don’t ask me why baby wipes was the first “list” on my mind, but stayed tuned this week for more lists coming :).

Why the term “mini-van” is a misnomer – it should really be called a “mini-home”

It took me 6 months to deal with the fact that 3 car seats were not going to continue to fit snugly across the backseat of my SUV – 6 months and some splits in the door handle leather that kept getting squished each time I shoved the door closed.  Well, it only took about a month to realize that the 3-in-the-back situation never could work….because from the day we picked Seth up at the hospital, Micah and Noah were now within touching range of each other.  Every parent knows this is a deadly situation.

So, by the end of the year I said goodbye to my nice SUV (ahem…paid off….SUV), and stretched out into a luxurious new-to-me minivan.  And it happens to be on the upper end of luxury – but it was the only one on the lot the day I drove by and spotted it.  I think that was also the last day it was clean!

To me it really is more of a mini-mobile home (though a kitchen sure would be nice).  (It does have a potty – a plastic pop-up one which rests under one of the seats, but isn’t really ever used….because the kids are boys!)  The mobile home carries an odd assortment of items, not all of which are essential, but some are.

Here is my list of “must haves” for any transportation system (kids or not!):

  • Bottles of water – even though they warm up in the middle of summer and are not environmentally friendly, it’s at least once a week that one of the kids is dying of thirst and demanding a drink, even if home is 10 minutes away (and no, I won’t pull over to the side of the road to get one out of the back….every time).
  • A stroller – if you have a kid under 3, you better have at least an umbrella stroller in the back for the spur of the moment stops for fun, or you’ll regret it tomorrow.
  • Cell phone charger – this is most important on the weekends because I often hand my cell phone over to Micah when he wakes me up at 5:45.  He watches a movie and I turn over and sleep for an hour…but this drains the battery so it sometimes needs to be charged (he’s a better excuse than “I forgot to charge it” or “I played too many games of Scramble that it drained”)
  • Some money – I always have $20 stashed somewhere (not telling you where!).  I can’t tell you how often it has gotten me out of a jam (like showing up to dinner with friends and not having my wallet…or running to the store quickly, and …).  I’ve used it so often that I’ve developed a system to prompt me when I need to replace the money as well.  I’m just saying, if you don’t have this already – do it!!  Quarters don’t add up fast enough.
  • The most important thing in a vehicle, of course, is Baby Wipes (brand not important)!  It’s shocking how many uses there are for them – sticky fingers from the lollipop, mocha latte splattered onto the consol, dust on the dashboard, sticky drivers wheel, bits of granola bar ground into the car seat cloth, really just about everything….including a baby’s bum, amazingly enough!
  • And for uniqueness, my mobile home at this very moment contains half a plastic dolphin from a “happy meal” from our beach trip in June, a few spare clean diapers, an umbrella, 2 empty plastic water bottles, 4 one-third less plastic bottle tops from said water bottles scattered across the car, a half-eaten box of Honey Nut Cheerios (the other half appears to be on the floor), one Hot Wheels race car, several granola bar wrappers (oh yes, granola bars belong in the list of “must haves” because the 10-minute ride from day care to home in the evenings can become disastrous with hungry tummies!), the swimming bag, the “floatie” for Noah in the pool, an extra pair of Noah shoes (I just took out a pair of socks 2 days ago…), and the ever-present box of tissues (which can work in a pinch if you’ve run out of baby wipes!).
  • Finally, I think the best thing I’ve purchased is a plastic bucket for the back seat so that Micah has his own trash can.  I mean, how many 6-yr-old boys wouldn’t love their own trash can?  He loves it so much, he’d rather keep it clean and just throw the dirty tissues (yes, he has his own tissue box, too – I do not have elasta-arms!) on the floor!  But it really is the thought that counts.

What are your must-haves?