Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happy Radish, RN

This radish is licensed to nurse.

One year down, two to go.  Bring on the babies!

Thank you for all of the support, encouragement, laughs, and wisdom that you all have shared with me during this past year.  This blog has always been my outlet, but that took on added meaning over the past twelve months, and I am, again, grateful for everyone who reads and roots for me in my tiny corner of the internet.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Things I find

I've been seriously neglecting this blog, of late.  I take my boards tomorrow though, so hopefully I'll have more to say once that's over with.  In the meantime, some favorites from the past few weeks:

Sunset over Brooklyn
I found this fascinating, largely because I applied for Teach for America during my senior year at Smith, and made it through several rounds of interviews before being cut.  I felt a little dejected and snubbed, but found something else to do.  Looking back, I am so, so glad that I didn't get accepted - here's why (and here, too).

Birth is expensive.  During my pediatric rotation, I spoke with a family who had just received their hospital bill for the birth of their second child.  They had insurance, and they were shocked at the price tag on her epidural, in particular (I think it was around $10,000).  They asked me why it wasn't covered and I told them probably because it's an elective procedure.  The mom looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Well, what was I going to do, have the kid in my living room?"  I smiled angelically and suggested she consider that with her next child before giving her the name of the Connecticut home birth midwives' group (who charge around $4,500 flat fee for all your prenatal, birth, and postnatal care).

I liked this piece about - as a woman - being your own story, not just the supporting character in somebody else's.

Grandmothers cooking - and some beautiful photographs of food and women and kitchens.

Lots of people I know are obsessed with Netflix's new show, Orange is the New Black.  Several of these friends then ask if I'm watching it, knowing that I went to Smith (the alma mater of the series' protagonist, Piper Kerman, who wrote the autobiography on which the show is based).  I am not, and here's a pretty good explanation of why.  [Full disclosure: I tried to read the book a few years ago, and the author rubbed me the wrong way.  Probably because my best friend in college volunteered in a prison, did a Fulbright looking at prison systems around the world, and is now getting her PhD in sociology at Berkeley focusing on this same topic.  Suffice to say, I was better educated in the idea of prison reform and our country's messed up system than would have allowed me to tolerate Kerman's self-congratulatory and blatantly racist memoir.]

Expecting a lot of new mothers is something the US is particularly good at.  What if we looked at how everyone else in the world did things?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Timing Is Everything

I love the word ambivalent.  I loved it long before I even really knew what it meant, which did nothing to curb my use of it.  Thank goodness for the movie, Girl, Interrupted or I probably never would have learned that I, like Susanna Kaysen, had been using it to mean the equivalent of "I don't care," when in fact, "ambivalence suggests strong opposition."  Armed with my new knowledge, I used ambivalent when several other words would have sufficed: to describe the fact that I was indecisive, perhaps, or simply a tad bit lazy and prone to procrastination when it came to important decisions.  But no, I was torn, you see, I was ambivalent.  Eventually I learned some new words and thank goodness, or else my psyche might have bowed under the weight of so much hand-wringing.

In May, just a few months ago, I found myself in a situation that brought whole new depths of meaning to the word.  I thought I was pregnant.

Back in September or October, after several weeks of dating and a few weeks of knocking boots with this new boyfriend of mine, I got my act together and went on the pill.  I had taken the pill for years as a teenager to help curb my viciously painful periods and had never had the issues with it that I know so many women do (thank goodness).  I went off of it in college because I was dating women, and it took a few months of being on it again this time around for it to sink in with me that now I was taking it because every single time we had sex, I could potentially get pregnant.  This might seem incredibly obvious, but for me, this was kind of mind-blowing.  All of my previous sexual encounters with men had been so short-lived that whatever potential for worry there might have been was gone within a month.  So, despite being not only well-educated but pursuing a degree in women's health care, it took some effort on my part to get my shit together.  I set alarms on my phone, I carried my pills in my school bag, I did whatever I could think to retrain my brain into acknowledging that yes, this could happen to me.  And things were fine.  I was lucky - I don't have any bad reaction to the pill and thanks to Yale's health care coverage, my pills were free.  Does it sound too good to be true?

And then, one day in late May, as I started my run on the treadmill, a fleeting thought blipped through my mind, Why are my breasts a little sore?  Did I mistakenly grab the less supportive sports bra out of my drawer this morning?  My mind drifted to other things until later that night, when we were lying in bed together, he asked me, "Um, hon?  Why are your boobs bigger?"

My heart dropped to the floor and words failed me.  The darkness of the room pressed against my eyes and I managed a faint, "I- I don't know.  Are they really?  No, they're not."
"...I think if anyone would know, it's me."

One beat, two beats, three beats of silence while I thought I might burst into tears.

"I love you," he told me firmly, gathering me in a hug.  "But I am not ready for kids right now."
"I- I know," I stammered, realizing with a cold and heavy certainty that this was truer than true.  "Neither am I."  And as I said those words, my heart wrenched and I knew it was true, but I didn't want it to be true.

And thus began the longest week of my life, while I waited to get my period, knowing that the reassurance of a negative pregnancy test could be entirely false since I wasn't even late yet.  I cursed everything I knew about pregnancy, because it meant nothing I felt that week, nothing, went undetected and uninterpreted as a symptom.  My breasts were sore, I was moody, I was vaguely nauseas, I was freaking textbook pregnant, until a week went by and there on the toilet paper was the reassuring sweep of red.

That week gave me a new perspective on the word ambivalent, as I considered what would happen if I was pregnant.  You see, there was a part of me that simply thrilled to the idea that I might have a baby now.  A part of me that lay awake at night with my hand on my lower abdomen and thought about how he and I could make it work.  But it was fleeting, because the much bigger and more mature part of me thought about the kind of things like, what a terrible way to tie someone to me forever - by knotting us together with an unintended pregnancy.  And I thought about how, sure, maybe it's old-fashioned and prosaic of me but yes, I really do want the wedding and the marriage first and then the conscious decision to be made together, of yes, let's procreate.

In the dark of one of those sleepless nights, I landed on it: I want kids, and I want them with him, but not like this.  

Which is why when I get back to school at the end of the summer, I'm going to get an IUD.  The pill is just not a long-term solution for me.  It's too much stress every month, between the remembering and the worry.  I am wary of an IUD, I'm not going to lie.  But I have several friends who have them who I've spoken to at length, and I'm willing to give it a shot.  If I hate it, then I'll reassess.  But even though it makes me a little sad to be so decisive about saying, No, not now to having kids, I know it's the right thing to do.  I take deep breaths and tell myself, No, not now, but someday.  Someday, soon enough.