The Last Bottle

bottleMy alarm clock rings later now that I am no longer breastfeeding and pumping.  I used to wake thirty minutes before my kids so that I could pump before the chaos of the morning began and nurse my daughter before leaving for work.  Like a chemist in my own kitchen, I poured milk from one container to another, calculating and measuring each bottle and bag.  I estimated how much she would need in my absence and hoped each day that I had predicted correctly.  The top rack of my dishwasher was full of bottles and pump supplies, each broken down into their multiple interlocking pieces that I assembled and deconstructed many times each day.  Why would I miss all of these tedious and lonesome activities?

I am a big supporter of breastfeeding.  As a pediatrician, this is one of my favorite topics to discuss with patients.  Breastfeeding both of my children has been an incredibly rewarding experience.  Not only was I mourning the end of my personal breastfeeding journey, but ceasing to nurse and pump signified the end of her infancy.  When my son weaned, it was due to his waning interest in nursing as his passion for food and self-feeding grew.  I took pride in his broadening palate and independence.  He was feeding himself, walking, and talking and I celebrated the arrival of toddlerhood.  As a first-time parent, I eagerly anticipated each step forward.

The second time around I am acutely aware of how fast childhood charges ahead and I attempt to stay present, enjoying the little moments together.  As a breastfeeding baby, my daughter was cradled in my arms and pressed against my chest much like she was the day she was born.  Although she continued to grow, with her hands now reaching up to stroke my hair and her legs draping over my arm while she nursed, she fed just as she had that first hour of her life, every three hours since.

After she turned one she weaned herself from nursing and so I subsequently stopped pumping.  I gradually used all of the milk that I had painstakingly pumped, labeled, and stored over the past months and slowly my freezer emptied.  Bottle-by-bottle our breastfeeding journey tapered off, until the last bottle, which sat there proudly marking the end of 13 months of exclusive breast milk.  However it also ushered in a diet exclusive of me and she no longer needed me specifically for nourishment.  It threatened my sense of utility.

In the weeks since though, I have experienced what it feels like as the non-nursing parent and recognized how often I leaned on nursing to comfort her.  I have had to learn other ways to soothe her and to provide her with nutrition.  As she is no longer dependent on me alone for feedings, I have feared that the strength of our connection would waver.  My fears have been reassured by her over-sized grins, the tightness of her hugs, and squeals of joy when we are together.  Breastfeeding served its purpose for us already, giving her the best start and forging a bond that is unbelievably strong and when the time was right for her to become more autonomous, she had the strength to make that decision herself.  So when I feel sad that our breastfeeding journey is over, I take pride in seeing the young woman who I am raising grow into her own.  I remind myself to celebrate our accomplishment and while I will miss her infancy, I know that we have so many exciting adventures to come.  Her last bottle reminded me that I should cherish each moment we have now before it is gone.

My Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving_plateA year ago we hosted our first Thanksgiving with nine adults, a toddler, a 6-week-old infant, dog, and cat.  It seemed like a good idea initially, since hosting Thanksgiving would spare us from having to travel with two kids and would potentially keep my newborn away from a larger germ-filled crowd.  However, not only had we never hosted Thanksgiving before but we had never cooked any Thanksgiving dishes ourselves.  Typically when asked to bring food to a Thanksgiving celebration, we stopped at a local farm store and picked out some pies and apple cider.  So, in  a panic, I did what any party-planner on maternity leave would do…. took to Pinterest.  After scrolling through a few hundred photos, I created our menu and started shopping. (See my Thanksgiving Pinterest board here)

Since I do not normally cook much, I knew it would be too ambitious to teach myself to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal while breastfeeding my newborn and chasing my toddler.  Even with my husband’s help, logistically, I wasn’t sure where we would put all the pots, pans, or trays!  So I decided what items we could handle and then supplemented our menu with prepared side dishes from Whole Foods that could be easily heated up.  We shop at Whole Foods frequently, so I knew that I could trust their Thanksgiving dishes to be delicious and healthy for my growing family.  Sure enough, our Thanksgiving spread was a hit, both the Whole Foods dishes and the homemade sides, and guests couldn’t tell which was which.

This year, our local Whole Foods invited me to sample their Thanksgiving menu and knowing that we were hosting Thanksgiving again I appreciated the opportunity to taste-test the items I would order.  As expected, everything was delicious, but I especially enjoyed the squash soup and butternut sweet potato casserole.

Thanksgiving_menuI spent my time at the tasting though thinking about how to best incorporate vegetables into my children’s diet, which is one of the biggest challenges I face whether Thanksgiving or a regular weeknight.  I picked the brain of their healthy eating specialist, who not only teaches their employees about wellness but will do cooking demos, tours, and teach schools and local businesses about healthy eating.  She gave me ideas like making cauliflower rice, chocolate avocado pudding, and spiralizing zucchini.  I also learned that if I order $30 worth of food, Whole Foods will deliver it to me by bike for free (i.e. I don’t have to schlep the kids outside in the 30-degree weather).  I am looking forward to trying new ways to add vegetables into their diet.

While last year I was feeling thankful for time with my newborn baby girl and not giving my family food poisoning, this year I am looking forward to watching my kids explore new foods together and challenging myself to broaden our menu.  There will be many of the same staples that we count on year after year, but thanks to the creativity of the chefs at Whole Foods, perhaps a few new dishes with a more exciting twist on the traditional fare.  Meanwhile in our kitchen, I’ll continue to sharpen my kitchen skills, find places to hide veggies in my kids’ food, and double-check the batteries in our smoke alarms.

What’s on your Thanksgiving table this year?

 

[Disclaimer:  Whole Foods allowed me to sample their Thanksgiving menu for free.  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.  I have no affiliation with Whole Foods.  You too can taste tons of local vendors every Wednesday from 5-7PM at the Whole Foods on South Street]

Pediatrics & Preschool

glo_germsI wash or sanitize my hands before and after each patient, after the bathroom, before eating, and multiple other times during the day… likely at least fifty times.  I am less diligent though about reminding my children to wash their hands and I am intimately aware of how dirty their hands get as they rub them all over my face and clothes often.  As we head into the Winter, I am trying to improve my success in getting them to wash more often.

A colleague recently told me how she gave a hand hygiene talk to her daughter’s Kindergarten class, which I thought was an awesome idea, and so I adapted her talk for my son’s preschool class.  My son was ecstatic to have me in his classroom and enjoyed being my “special helper.”   I introduced myself as a pediatrician and asked what a pediatrician does.  Silence.  Then, another pediatrician’s son raised his hand and said, “a pediatrician is a doctor who helps keep kids healthy.”  A perfect plant in the audience.  We then talked about covering our coughs, read a book called A Germ’s Journey, and discussed when we should wash or sanitize our hands.  The kids informed me that hand-washing was for after the potty, before lunch, and after the park, which corresponded to when the teacher’s informed me that they encourage hand-washing in the classroom.  The highlight was when we practiced washing our hands with glo-germs and a blacklight flashlight.  Four volunteers rubbed the pretend germs on their hands and showed the rest of the class how the germs glowed, especially in all the creases and folds of their hands. Then they washed their hands while the teachers and I sang a few hand-washing songs (thanks to the creativity of the teachers).  When the children returned we checked how thoroughly they washed their hands and two of the four did an excellent job while the other two, including my own son, were sent back to try again.  Even the best hand-washer was left with a few “germs” in the webs of her fingers, showing us all how many suds and scrubs we really need to get clean.

I left the kids with a coloring page about covering their cough and cleaning their hands and we reviewed a few key points that I hope they remember throughout cold and flu season.  At home, we will continue practicing our hand hygiene skills and hope for a healthy year ahead.  Now while he washes he says, “just like you taught me at school!”

As a pediatrician mom, this was the ideal work-life integration in that I got to spend weekday time with my son in his classroom while also showing him what I do professionally.  While I hope the kids learned a lot about staying healthy, I hope they also appreciated how fun it is to be a pediatrician.  I saw how proud N was to have me teach his class and the look on his face while we sat in front of his class together warmed my working mommy heart.

Budsies for the Holidays

firetruck_budsie

 

 

 

 

 

A year ago I wrote about how I turned my son’s artwork into a stuffed toy with the help of a company called Budsies.  This year, N was tasked by his preschool teachers of bringing in an item for show-and-tell that was sentimental and he chose his Budsie firetruck pillow, which sleeps next to him every night.  He told his class about how he (with my help) drew a fire truck and then someone turned it into a pillow for him.  He was so proud to show off his creation.

His Budsie also reminds us of his buddy V, who moved across the country a few months ago and has her own Budsie.  N told his classmates about how he and his friend made these pillows together and that she now lives far away with her Budsie.  Although he may not remember making his Budsie, the memory of it being his own creation and sharing this experience with a friend has stuck with him.

I am always looking for new ways to save my children’s precious artwork and this is surely one that is both creative and functional.  I am looking forward to when N is able to draw more items for us to submit for our next Budsie.  In the meantime, I wanted to share this and offer Mommy Call readers a holiday discount!

1.  Go to www.budsies.com

2.  Upload, email, or text your child’s artwork to Budsies.

3.  Enter code: MommyCallBudsies and receive 20% off your purchase before December 31st.

4.  Get ready to receive your amazing creation in about 5 weeks.

5.  Comment below or tweet me photos of your Budsie!

 

{Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.  I have no affiliation with Budsies.}

A Hero’s Halloween

dress_up_playI have nothing against superheroes.  We have plenty of comic book heroes around our house.  However, when my son wanted to dress as a real-life hero for Halloween, I was discouraged to find that our local Halloween superstore had no such costumes.  With walls full of spandex suits and capes, racks of shields, swords, and guns, we were simply looking for a firefighter helmet.  N outgrew his firefighter costume from last year and so we were looking for an updated version.  The store clerk looked at me confused and then informed us that they did not sell firefighter costumes.  I scanned around me for other everyday heroes: police officers, nurses, doctors, and teachers.  No, no, no, and no.

I remember dressing as a doctor when I was younger, as I knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Halloween gave me an outlet to try on this profession in a fun way!  Those were the first scrubs I ever wore and I remember feeling proud to dress like my doctor.  N feels the same about our local firemen and tells me often that he wants to drive a fire truck when he “gets bigger.”  So I did not let the costume store stop him and we eventually found a firefighter costume for him elsewhere.  He has worn it in his imaginative play many nights each week leading up to Halloween and long after his candy loot is gone, he will continue playing this role.

I know that soon he will likely want to dress like Spiderman or Captain America, but I’m enjoying his current appreciation for the heroes he sees in his everyday life and to whom he can aspire.

 

For last minute Halloween costume ideas, check out my Pinterest costume board here.

What was your favorite childhood Halloween costume?

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