Thursday, July 29, 2010

A random but hopefully delightful collection of things

Here are three recipes that we've tried recently and really liked:

Yellow Squash Gratin
- This is going in my favorites file. We really liked it. It has a lot of yellow squash (12 C but I halved the recipe). It would be great especially if you have your own garden and need a way to use a lot of squash- it is prolific this time of year.

These two are easy and we really liked them, they are going in my Good and Quick file:
Indian Chicken Curry from my friend Beth and Vegetable Lasagna (I doubled this one) from my favorite recipe website.

Meanwhile here's a picture of John looking at Theodore:

What sort of fellow are you? (I believe he's saying that in a British accent.)

And look! What's that? A magical floating baby?!

No. It's actually it's a picture of one of John's recent Excrement Explosions! The picture had to be edited for modesty's sake. Peter was only wearing his boxers and I didn't want to make all the ladies of the interwebs swoon.

I was getting ready for church while little J was in his swing when I looked at him and realized he was happily smearing himself with his own poop that had exploded out of his diaper onto his abdomen and legs. That's pretty gross. But it's also kind of cute and pitiful. Breastfed baby poop is not nearly as disgusting as adult poop or older solid-food-eating- baby poop. But still probably not something that should be smeared on one's face.

This week a friend from church, Holly, came over to help me clear out the weeds in our front garden plot. And by weeds I mean foliage that would make the Amazon seem like a paltry grove of trees. I was really nervous about having Holly help me with this. I know nothing about weeding, planting, gardening etc. I so far have only managed to kill plants. I thought this would take forever and be a waste of Holly's time since I didn't know what I was doing. But it turns out Holly knew what she was doing! She got that former jungle to look like a wasteland! Which is what I'm going for for now. Soon we'll replant some things and hopefully strike a happy medium between Amazon and barren wasteland.


No match for Holly.

I helped Holly with this for about an hour then I had to go feed the baby. So while I was sitting on my bed sipping ice water and nursing, Holly was toiling away in the rain at my garden! What a good friend with a heart of service! Holly truly outdid herself. Especially when you consider that a few days prior Peter had worked on the garden for about 20 minutes but then stopped when a wee bit of drizzle came along. But Peter is made of sugar and melts in the rain, you know.

It looks so much better and has taken a weight off of my shoulders to have that task done! In my mind it was such a big job and I didn't know where to begin. Though Peter commented that it has lost its "welcome to the secret garden" charm. But I don't think our neighbors approve of secret gardens that are so unruly that they can't walk past our house without vines and branches dragging them against their will into a magical world of talking plants- or whatever the Secret Garden was, I'm not really familiar with the story.

I'll post more pictures when we replant things. I also plan to paint the door blue, I think. We'll see how it turns out!

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Just Had to Post These

Bath time with modesty fish

After bath happiness

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moments in Mothering

Monday night was a difficult night. Overall John is such a good baby that even our difficult nights are like a walk in the park with puppies and kittens compared to what I have been told I was like as a baby.

Monday I don't think he got enough sleep during the day and became overly tired at night and wouldn't sleep. We finally got him to sleep at 11, which is a full 2 hours after he should have gone to bed. Then he woke up at 4 am to eat. The next hour and a half was like a comedy of errors filled with lots of bodily fluids. First I couldn't get him to stay awake to eat- and I really needed him to eat because I was full of milk- and then I couldn't get him back to sleep.

Anyways, at night I feed him while we're both laying down. I put a diaper cloth under his head to catch drool and spit up so that I don't have to sleep in puddles of regurgitated milk. So when he woke up to eat, if you can picture it, we're both laying down. He's on his right side facing me with the diaper cloth under his head. At first he's eating contentedly and then he stops jerks his head back and over his left shoulder and vomits all over the bed. Alas, you know what they say, the best laid diaper cloths often go awry. Babies his age are too young to do things out of spite but some moments it really does seem like they're out to get you!

But last night was GREAT! He slept for seven hours... somewhere around there. Exact times are fuzzy. But what's even better is that I think that I slept for six of those hours! Thank God for uninterrupted sleep!

I still can rarely manage to get out of the house having both brushed my teeth and put on deodorant. I seem to always forget one or the other. Hm... one day I'll get both! But that will probably be the day that I forget to wear pants.

Little bookworm

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A germ you might want to catch

A few months ago I happened upon a muffin recipe that I wanted to try. I finally got around to making the muffins last week. I was pleased with them. They're reasonably healthy and filling and they don't taste like cardboard (I think they taste quite good). They were even eaten by some of my health-food wary in-laws. One of whom eats butter by the spoonful and the other of whom nearly gagged when I told her that the recipe included wheat germ. Even from the likes of them the muffins elicited a hearty "they're good." Which I consider high praise, all things considered. Maybe they weren't telling me the truth, but as far as I know these muffins are approved by even the most unlikely of sources!

Somewhere in the process I started wondering what wheat germ actually is. So I did what any good child of the internet age would do, I googled it. Which of course led me to wikipedia. And what I found made me so happy. Here's what wikipedia had to say:

Wheat germ is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients including Vitamin E, folatephosphorus, thiamin, zinc and magnesium, as well as essential fatty acids and fatty alcohols.[7][8] It is a good source of fiber.[9] White bread is made using flour that has had the germ and bran removed.[10] Wheat germ can be added to protein shakes, casseroles, muffins, pancakes, cereals, yogurt, cookies, and other baked goods.[11] Wheat germ can become rancid if not properly stored in a refrigerator or freezer,[12] and away from sunlight. (folic acid),

Look at all the nutrition packed into those little flakes! Given wikipedia's dubious sources of information (maybe that page was simply a propaganda ploy by the wheat germ growers of America!), I've since confirmed its nutritional value by looking at the nutrition facts on the back of my bag of wheat germ and also by researching it briefly on other websites.

It appears to be a great source of a lot of nutrients. Most interesting to me is folate. Which is very important for women of child-bearing age, who are pregnant, could become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

So, I've started looking for ways I can add wheat germ to my diet- I might as well since it seems to be so good for you and I have a whole bag of it now. We tried adding it to a smoothie. Which is a good option, I think, but you must be careful about your proportions or your smoothie will taste like dirt. Most successfully, I've been adding it to my oatmeal in the mornings and have been really happy with the outcome. I found this recipe online for Banana, Wheat Germ and Oats. I've eaten oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast for about 5 years now. Sometimes I like to change it up and I liked the way this turned out. Granted, it's not that different than just plain oatmeal, but I like the texture. You can pretty much add whatever you want to it. I made it with a peach instead of a banana. One morning I added pecans. You can also make the oatmeal with milk instead of water. I omitted the butter.

I'm always looking for ways to vary our diet and add nutrition. I'm plan to try these muffins and this pancake mix sometime soon. I'll post about them if they turn out well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Follow up

This is sort of a follow up to yesterday's post. Today we went to the pediatrician for our 2 month appointment. All seems to be well, as we expected. One thing is for sure- we have a chunky monkey. He's nearly doubled his weight in 2 months. He weighs 14 lbs 9 oz. He's in the 95th percentile for weight and the 50th percentile for height. Most of you probably don't care one bit about this information. But I continue to be amazed that we have such a porker.

He's such a little charmer! He was cooing and smiling nearly the entire time. I think we'll keep him!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two Months!

In honor of baby John's two month birthday today, I conducted an interview with him to explore his feelings on his life so far.

Mom (M): So, Baby John, what are some of your favorite things about life these past months?

Baby John (BJ): Well, mom, I have to say that my very favorite thing is the 24/7 Dairy Queen. The food is delicious and the service is tolerable... a little slow in the middle of the night. I also love having "chit chats" with mom and dad. That usually makes me smile! I enjoy parties. As you know, between postpartum baby showers and family weddings, I've been a party animal since I was knee-high to a ladybug. I like all the attention. And sometimes the background noise of conversation puts me right to sleep. I also love reading books, singing songs, being in the swing and bath time.

M: It sounds like you are a happy guy and pretty easy to please! But certainly not everything has been sunshine and rainbows. Tell me your least favorite things about these first two months?

BJ: I have to say the long hours in between the milk buffet can cause me to become quite impatient. Sometimes it feels as if I haven't eaten for days! Though I'm assured it's usually no more than a few hours. Which I have to take your word for because no one has taken it upon himself to get me a watch. Tummy time can ruin my mood. I also abhor shopping when I'm tired. Remember that Whole Foods incident? I haven't screamed bloody murder like that in quite a while!

M: Yes, I do remember the Whole Foods incident. Which is why I now have an irrational fear of grocery stores. What are some of the things that you have learned in these two months?

BJ: I have learned so much! Let's see...I've learned that night time is mostly for sleeping, with a few snacks, of course. A boy has to eat, after all! I've learned to smile and hold my head up. I've also started "talking." I don't yet believe I'm well understood because some of your comments back to me have been absolutely preposterous. But you'll learn in time, I'm sure.

M: Thank you for granting me this interview, baby John! It has been a joy to have you in our family! We love you and can't wait to see the little person you will become!

Baby J took his first trip to the beach this past weekend. Peter's family is staying in Galveston at their timeshare there. Here are some pictures:

Baby John with Grandma Ness

The ladies. I cannot beat them off with a stick.

Friday, July 09, 2010

It's fun to go to the Y-M-C-A

I've been attempting to get back on the "healthy lifestyle" bandwagon. I took a six week break. I didn't exercise and I pretty much ate what I wanted to eat. It was fun. But now it's time to get to work and get serious about losing my baby weight! One of my goals is to run the San Antonio half marathon in November. My brother in law is going to do it and he's recruited almost the entire family- and the Ness family is not a small family. We might have bought up all the slots. My mother is also planning on running it. It should be fun! (Side note: If you've ever considered running a half marathon, you should do it! You will have fun and it will be easier than you think it is. And even if you hate it and it's not easier than you thought it would be, you'll at least be able to tell people that you've run 13.1 miles!)

So we joined the YMCA. We have one right near us and it has just been remodeled. They have really nice facilities so I've been trying to go regularly. On Monday I tried to get Peter go with me to a weight lifting class. He was reluctant because he thought it was going to be a "sissy jazzercise class". I assured him otherwise but he didn't quite believe me until he was there on the floor having his abs whipped into shape and changing his tune. At one point he looked at me like a child who has just been told his beloved pet puppy has died- utter dismay.

Then when we actually got to the weight-lifting he kept looking at me and mouthing "wow." And the next day he could barely move. AND he wants to go back to the same class tonight!

I wasn't very sore. Which might mean I wasn't working hard enough. My fitness motto is "don't be a hero, just finish." I find that it's a good, middle of the road way to exercise. I'll never be on the cover of a fitness magazine but at least I'll have enough mobility to get out of bed the next morning to go work out again.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Parenting tips by Leslie

If you drink morning coffee (or any hot beverage), which I do though I've switched to decaf, put it in a thermos. That way when you have to change your baby's diaper and clothes, your clothes, the sheets and start a load of laundry all before you can finish it, it will still be warm!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Don't go to the hospital in July

Friday night was my first call night as an Internal Medicine Intern. No, I am not going into Internal Medicine, but I have to do 1 year of general patient care before specializing in eye surgery (ophthalmology). Things have started out well and my first 1.5 weeks have been rather smooth. My first month is at a rather nice private hospital in the Medical Center here in Houston, in contrast to the more hectic teaching hospitals I will experience later this year. I thought I would write a brief story of the goings on of a brand new intern on call for the first time.

At this hospital an intern on call has 3 jobs over night (after a regular full day of work):
  1. Admit new patients - of course these are non-surgical patients, just coming in for whatever reason
  2. Cross-cover patients - this means that when questions arise with patients already in the hospital that require a doctor's help, the intern on call gets paged by the nurse
  3. Respond to codes - a "code" is called when a patient is doing VERY poorly and is about to die if something is not done (usually heart or lung related problems)
Fortunately, no codes were called all night! Praise God for that!

I ate dinner with my other residents on call around 6:30 pm and got my first admission around 8 pm. Actually, 2 came in at the same time, so I got 2 around 8 pm. I went down to the ER to see them, find out what is going on and get them admitted to the hospital. All went well but it was not until around 12 am that I got absolutely everything done (writing an admission History & Physical, calling the attending physician on call, writing orders, re-writing orders because I wrote some wrong the first time, then re-writing orders again because the patient had some objections to the orders I had written. She really preferred her meds to be administered she always gets when she comes to the hospital every couple weeks. Please tell me which one of us went to medical school? Yikes. It's too early in my career to be saying things like that.)

That sounds fine enough, but in the midst of these admissions, I start get the first few of about a dozen calls throughout the night from nurses (see job #2 above). "My patient in room ### has a history of hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease and came in with abdominal pain but the pain medication is not working well enough, is there something we can give her?" Hmmmm. Good question. Did anyone mention to you that this is my first time on call and really have no idea? The nurses are very good and spend a lot of time with the patients, so they are definitely a good resource. On the other hand, their education/training is different not every suggestion should simply be agreed to without thinking. So I pause my admissions and go see patients with pain, nausea, insomnia, low blood sugar, whatever and try to figure out what to do for them, if anything. Many of these questions got referred up to my upper level resident for advice.

By 2:30 am, everything was calm and I had nothing to do, so I went to try and sleep a little. It was nice, for about 1.5 hrs. At 4 am I was paged by my upper level for my 3rd admission for the night. I was pretty tired at this time and a little more interested in the bed than seeing another patient, but to the elevator I went. That one actually went rather smoothly. Around 4:30 am, I was fully awake and it didn't bother me that I was seeing a patient. Believe it or not, after only 1 hr 45 min, I had seen the patient, written the H&P note, called the attending, written orders (this time without having to re-write them) and dictated the noted. Let's just say that's a record for me!

Now it was 5:45 am and I was starting to see other doctors coming in to start their regular morning work. Ha! I was just finishing my night! Unfortunately, I also had regular morning work - seeing the patients that I had been following this week and writing a progress note on how they were doing.

In the end, I laid down for 45 min of sleep from 7:15 to 8 am before finishing my first call shift. That's a total of about 2 hr 15 min of sleep, somewhat broken up and of low quality.

So why the title of this post?

Just because the person in the hospital has an M.D. behind their name that doesn't mean they know what they are doing. Just because I have the title of "doctor" or "resident" or "intern" that doesn't mean they gave me a special magical dose of knowledge with it, so as to know what to do. A brand new intern in July was just a med student a short 2 weeks ago! Therefore, avoid the hospital in July! or August or September for that matter. By October, I bet I will be getting the hang of things.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

A slow moving uterus, a titanium reinforced cervix and a lot of Jane Austen

For those of you who are interested, here is John's "birth story." Don't feel obligated to read this. Especially if words like cervix and amniotic fluid make you uncomfortable.

I really wanted to have a natural labor and delivery. Why I wanted such a thing is the subject of a whole different post. To sum it up I can just say that I'm not a masochist. Rather I think that one intervention usually leads to another and many women end up following that cascade all the way to c-section. I wanted to try to avoid that scenario. I did succeed in avoiding a c-section but did not have a natural labor in the least. However, considering the outcome, I can't complain:

Here's what happened (it's a long story):

I was over 40 weeks and hoping to avoid medical induction. A colleague of mine practices acupuncture in addition to being a nurse anesthetist. We had discussed that if I went past my due date that I wanted her to work some prickly magic on me and get my labor started. Unfortunately for me she was in Italy on my due date so she couldn't help me. But I went ahead and looked up another acupuncturist in SLC and made an appointment with her. I went to her office on the afternoon of Tuesday May 11th. As I was getting into my car after the appointment, I felt a little leak of fluid. I thought it might be my water breaking but waited to see if I felt any more before I was sure. About an hour after I left the appointment, my contractions started to pick up in intensity. I'll never know, of course, whether or not the acupuncture actually caused the contractions but, if not, that's quite a coincidence. I thought I was in early labor and felt confident that I could certainly progress before Monday the 17th which is when my midwife was planning on inducing me.

On Wednesday morning, the 12th, I went in for a non stress test which my midwife's practice routinely does if a woman is beyond her due date. They informed me that my amniotic fluid was low enough that I would need to be induced that day. Low amniotic fluid can indicate that the placenta is not functioning well. I explained that my water might have broken. I wasn't sure. I kept thinking during the pregnancy, "I'm not going to be one of those women who doesn't know if her water has broken. I'm a nurse and I should know better." Ha. I had felt some leaking but it was never continuous and I really couldn't tell. Regardless, due to the low fluid, I was going to be admitted to labor and delivery.

Upon being admitted to L&D I was informed that my cervix was 75% effaced and 1 cm dilated. I knew that I was in for a long road at this point and my hope for a natural labor and delivery begin to wane. However, I was contracting every 2-4 minutes so my midwife gave me time to see if I would begin to go into active labor on my own. For the next, oh, 10 hours or so Peter and I walked and climbed stairs, walked some more and prayed for active labor. In between our walking sessions we went back to the room where we watched Pride and Prejudice (the 6 hour A&E version) while the baby's heart rate was monitored. We climbed so many stairs that my legs were shaking. (Perhaps all the walking made my body think that I was in some sort of danger? Fleeing a band of slow-moving bears or some other menace which made it determine to hold off on active labor?) I also ate snacks. I had to do that covertly since it's against the rules in L&D. But I'll be a monkey's uncle if I was going to go more than 24 hours without food (and it was looking like I was going to be there for quite a while). Plus it was fun to be subversive. My contractions did get more intense but apparently they were no match for my titanium reinforced cervix because at 9 pm, I was still 1 cm. It was determined that we would start pitocin.

Pitocin was started at 9 pm. For the next four hours I worked through the contractions as they got more intense. Around 1 am I was getting tired and having a difficult time. The contractions came so quickly that I didn't get much of a break. My midwife wanted me to sleep and emphasized that I would need rest to get through the intense labor yet to come. I knew the only way I was going to sleep at that point was if I had an epidural. I asked the nurse to check my dilation. Peter and I had decided that if no progress had been made, I would get the epidural. So the nurse came to check me and I was still 1 cm. So I got the epidural and went to sleep.

The next morning, May 13th, my midwife came in and checked my cervix at about 7:30 am. I was dreading that she was going to say I was still 1 cm dilated- I had heard that so many times it almost seemed like a given. However, I was 4.5 cm dilated! From then on I progressed pretty steadily. Even though I was progressing, I was anxious and emotional during these hours. I was afraid that after all of this time that I would end up with a c-section anyways either because his heart rate would become troublesome, I would stop dilating or I wouldn't be able to push well. Also, I found the epidural to be really uncomfortable. It did allow me to sleep so I suppose it was better than pitocin contractions. But I didn't like feeling numb and unable to move. It didn't completely take the pain away either. I kept feeling contractions on my right side. Between the anxiety and the discomfort, part of me wanted to have a c-section and just get it over with. Thankfully that wasn't necessary. And I wasn't so upset that I couldn't appreciate my favorite movie Sense and Sensibility which we watched that morning. At 2 PM- 28 hours after I'd been admitted to L&D- I was 10 cm dilated!

I started pushing at 2:15. This was the hardest part but also the best part. It was hard because I was pretty uncomfortable, my bottom half was completely numb and I kept throwing up. I had no idea if I was pushing or simply making pushing faces and doing a lot of grunting. It was the best part because I felt like I was actually doing something rather than laying around idly waiting for things to happen that were totally out of my control. Also Peter, my midwife and the L&D nurse were so encouraging and kept telling me what a good job I was doing. I wasn't sure if they were telling me the truth. But I began to trust them because Peter looked so excited. This was hard work and it got to the point where I was praying in between each contraction that I would have strength for the next one because I was so worn out. The next day I was more sore than I have ever been. I was using every muscle in my body even though I couldn't feel half of them. I am proud to say that 1.5 hours later at 3:46 PM John was born. I thought that was pretty good pushing out an 8 lb 10 oz first baby in only 1.5 hours (if I do say so myself).

I was so relieved to leave the L&D floor. The rest of the day was a daze of happiness. We went to the nursery to give John a bath, spent a lot of time snuggling and eating. John eating breast milk and Peter and I eating pie from Marie Calendar's which was conveniently across the street. It was so nice just to be together. I'm hoping to have an easier, or at least shorter labor next time. But looking back I have nothing but fond memories about those days.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Hodge Podge

Welcome to Houston:
I usually sort of know what is going on in the world insomuch as I get the NY Times headlines in my inbox everyday and most days I listen to some news in the car or on TV. But lately I've been rather busy and not really paying attention. But I have noticed it has been raining a lot for the past 24-48 hours. Low and behold it is because there is a hurricane in the gulf (landing in Tx?)! I had no idea. I'm still not really clear where it is. I doubt it's coming directly to Houston because I think I would've noticed more panicking. I hope I'm not expected to evacuate because that's not going to happen...

This Garden Minestrone is one of my favorite summer soups. It is hearty and chocked full of veggies. And most of them are in season now. I was actually able to find everything I needed at the farmer's market last week. Even carrots and spinach which I understood were winter-time produce in Houston. But I shan't complain. Anyways, if you need something to do with the plethora of squash, zucchini, tomatoes and corn that are around, this is a good one. I like it as is but you could doctor it up any way that you fancy by adding different spices/veggies etc.

Lightweight Champion of the House:

Put 'em up!

Left hook

Actually, don't bother mounting any defenses because I'm pretty much going to conquer you with my charm.