Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Little pitchers have big ears...



When I lived in New York, I honked my horn constantly.  New Yorkers use the horn about as often as they apply the brakes, it's just part of city driving.  So when we moved to Connecticut, it took me a little while to adjust to suburban driving style and etiquette. Fairfield County drivers, while not aggressive, can be a little... entitled.  

Our first weekend in Fairfield, we went on a family excursion to Home Depot to pick up some odds and ends for the darling little cape house we'd rented.  Lilia was almost three years old at the time, and unlike me she was *very* excited for this outing.  The only thing that could make Home Depot remotely palatable, in my opinion, would be an in-store bar, and our Home Depot did not have one.  So I was driving pretty slowly, not very eager to get there.

We arrived at a stop sign along the way, just behind a brand-new Audi convertible.  The Audi's impeccably-coiffed driver was chatting away on her cell phone, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she'd completed her stop (and it was time to go!).  In the three or four minutes we waited for her to move, several more cars lined up behind us. The intersection was a four-way stop, so we couldn't safely navigate around her.

Jeff and I both mumbled and grumbled a bit about how ridiculous it was not to pull over to talk on her cell, and instead to park at a stop sign of all places.  After some hesitation, I beeped the horn ever-so-gently, hoping to remind her to move along without irritating her.  Fail.  The woman promptly exited her car and started walking toward ours, still talking animatedly on her phone, and visibly displeased.  I felt a little nervous, but rolled down my window anyway.
Grumpy Audi lady: "You have some nerve."
Me: "I'm so sorry to honk at you, but we've been waiting for quite a while."
Grumpy Audi lady: "This is Fairfield!  We don't honk here."
Me: "Sorry.  I'm from New York, sort of."
Grumpy Audi lady: "I can see that."


There was an uncomfortable silence.  She glared at me through expensive looking sunglasses.  I avoided eye contact and waited for her to move.  She didn't. Jeff leaned over me to get a better look at her, while I continued awkwardly studying my grubby steering wheel.

The silence was broken by a small voice from the backseat, which said (in a perfect imitation of her father),  
"GET OFF THE DAMN PHONE!"

The woman removed her sunglasses and peered in at Lili, snorted, and huffed her way back to her car.  As she drove away, still on her cell phone, we dissolved into a fit of laughter, having just confirmed for the grumpy Audi lady that we were in fact just as vulgar as she had suspected.


Lili, that small voice from the back seat, turns 8 years old today.  She's still hilarious and has impeccable comedic timing, and despite overhearing plenty of f-bombs, has grown into a polite, sensitive, sweetheart of a kid. Her brilliant observations and witty commentary, along with her cousins' adorable antics, gave me my first crash-courses in parenting, and provided the inspiration for this blog.

Happy Birthday Lilipuff, we love you <3




Monday, September 21, 2015

The pathology associated with...


When our baby boy was three weeks old, one evening he began to fuss after a feeding.  He'd barely made a peep the first few weeks of his life, something I’d heard was a rare and beautiful thing.  So when he started to cry, I wasn't too concerned.  I burped him on my shoulder, repositioned him and waited, rubbing his back.  Fifteen minutes or so later, he began to cry louder.  I rocked him, and did the walk-and-wiggle bounce that usually lulled him to sleep.  Rather than settling down, he progressed from crying to full-on howling.

My husband came in to see what was happening.  He took baby T from me and tried his "Superman" hold, which usually did the trick.  T's cries continued to increase in volume and intensity. While both hubby and I had been pretty calm up until now, we were starting to get rattled.  We took turns trying to soothe him.  While Jeff held him, I texted an experienced mommy friend for suggestions.  When it was my turn, hubby researched various possibilities on the internet.  Meanwhile, the baby continued to cry, louder and harder, his face an alarming shade of red and his little hands and toes curled up in what I assumed was a response to pain.

After another half an hour, we had tried just about every soothing technique imaginable with no results and were both full-on freaking out.  We stripped the baby naked and studied him for signs of injury or illness.  I suggested that Jeff should know what was going on because he was not a first time father. He retorted that I should have it all figured out, because I am a nurse.  We accused each other of feeding, dressing, or positioning mistakes.  I lay our tortured infant in his crib just long enough to fling a baby bottle at Jeff for suggesting I might have diapered the baby too tight and hurt him.  Things devolved from there, and pretty soon I was wailing right along with our newborn.

In desperation, I called my sister.  She is a doctor - more specifically, a Pediatric Emergency Specialist.  I had not called her with questions since T was born, reasoning that she was dealing with such high acuity patients that I should not distract her from desperately sick and dying children with mundane new-mommy questions.  But when I reached out to her that night, I was certain that an ER visit was fast approaching.

I briefed her in between sobs.  She was predictably calm, took charge immediately and gave me instructions:  Put the phone on speaker, place baby T on his back.  Take his knees and gently bring them up to his chest, first one by one, and then both at the same time.  I did as directed and when I raised his knees up to his chest, we heard a sound like machine gun fire.  And the screaming stopped.  Just like that.

"What just happened, Megan?!"  I asked her.

"He passed gas, Karen"  she said.

K: "What's wrong with him?  Why was he in such pain?  Does he have Hirschsprung?  Do you think he's obstructed?"

M: "He has gas, Karen.  I've never heard of any pathology associated with farting."

This was not the first, nor would it be the last time my diagnostic skills were undermined by my relationship to the patient, but I’ll save those stories for another time.  :)  



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mother of the Year



Some years ago, before marriage or my own kids, I was driving my then-4-year-old niece home from preschool when my cell phone rang.  Like the responsible adult I was pretending to be that day, I ignored it. Sari noticed this, and piped up from her carseat:

Sari: "Auntie Karen, why don't you answer the phone?"
Auntie Karen: "I can't, honey, because I'm driving."
S: "You can still answer it."
K: "Nope, it's not safe or allowed."
S: "That doesn't matter.  You can just answer it, and if a cop sees you, hang up and drop it on the floor."
K: "Wow.  Where'd you learn that, sweetie?"
S: "Daddy and Grandma."

Ha!  So much for setting a good example, hers had apparently already been set for her by my brother and my mom.  I thought: I can't believe they'd talk on the phone with a BABY in the back seat!  How irresponsible. And dangerous!

Fast forward 7 years and I'm holding my cell phone in my left hand while I steer the car with my knee, waving my right hand blindly behind me to catch projectile vomit with as it shoots out of my infant son towards his mortified sister.  I'm shouting at my husband, "he's puking and she's screaming and I'm driving on the grass around a huge traffic jam and THIS IS BULLSHIT!"  

The screaming in the backseat paused, and I heard: "You just said a bad word."

Yes, yes I did.  And I have said many more since.  I can think of a lot of F words to describe parenthood, like Fun, Fantastic, Fulfilling - but the one that comes out of my mouth most often is "F**k!"  

I'm not mother of the year.  But I'm working on it.