A Scarring First Impression

When you start your clinical rotations in medical school, they say that you should not start with the specialty that you desire for your career. The thinking is that you need a rotation or two to work the kinks out. You need to get your bearings as a physician-in-training so that once you get to your chosen field, you are ready to impress.

Some medical students do not yet know what specialty they are interested in, but I was firmly committed to pediatrics. So when I got my schedule and saw Pediatrics listed as my first rotation, I was nervous that my chances of making the best first impression would be hindered but was determined to not let that happen.

Although my white coat was bestowed to me during medical student orientation, I had not had much opportunity to don it until my clinical rotations started. With too few hours of sleep behind me, I decided to iron my white coat, hoping my professional appearance would help add to my first impression. Not only did I need to impress my supervisors, but also earn the trust and respect of my patients. My ironing board at the time was a small tabletop board, which I lay on the floor of my bedroom and knelt beside. In my haste, the edge of the iron grazed the fleshy part of my thigh above my knee, branding me with a linear scar that would shine as a pearly reminder of this first day for years to come.

As a pediatrics resident, each time I pushed a leg through my scrub pants, I saw this scar and remembered those first-day nerves. On the days in the middle of the Winter when the hours are long and the thanks are few, it felt good to remember the days when I was so eager to be the best doctor I could be. Most days of my training were spent dressing in the dark while my husband and the rest of the world around us lay sleeping. My scrubs and fleece jackets were barely different from my pajamas and my hair spent more days in ponytails than not. I shudder to think what impression some of these appearances left on my patients. However, my scar reminded me of a day when I ironed my jacket and although the skin on my left thigh stung from its new mark, I never let the smile fade from my face. I think about this as I teach eager new medical students, and even new interns each July. Eleven years later I find it hard to see the scar anymore but will always remember its symbolism.

Tech-free Dinner Conversation

img_3458My family knows I have a tech-free dinner rule. I might be more lax at breakfast or lunch on occasion, but dinner is for family time and conversation. Frequently though I am frustrated by the lack of responses to my questions of “how was school?” or “what did you do today?”.  I tried more unique questions like “what was the funniest thing that happened today” but that usually fell flat as well. So when I heard a local Philadelphia area mom created conversation starter cards that were age-specific ways to spur discussion, I was excited to try it.

Tiffin Talk is a box of daily cards with conversation prompts centered around a weekly theme and season. I chose the kindergarten box and our themes were: memories, yum, by yourself, what do they have in common, idioms, how do you feel, singing, nursery rhymes, the favorite part, all done, magical thinking, hide and seek, and what’s up. In addition to the main question, the cards are decorated with puzzles, number games, images, and facts to entertain. There are guidelines about how to use the cards, but it is meant to be fun and flexible. We used them routinely for a few weeks and will continue to use it sporadically as needed.

We enjoyed some of the questions, like “What is your all-time favorite food? Is it something that is made from other foods put together? Can you make it?” These types of questions prompted us to learn something new about each other. My biggest complaints was that some of the questions were a little abstract for my kindergartener, like “Can you remember tomorrow yet?” In these cases, the cards made dinner a little frustrating.

A thirteen week box of cards will cost you $60. There are multiple options, including some for parents, counselors, and seniors. In addition to sets based on age, there are themed packs for things like addiction, grief, and self-image.

The CEO, Kat Rowan, is passionate about creating moments for people, especially parents and children, to engage without using technology as an interface. In India, a “tiffin” is a food carrier used for lunch, but Tiffin Talk cards are much more than your average lunch notes. These are thought-provoking questions that will lead you away from the usual answers of “fine” and “nothing” and toward real connections.


[Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Tiffin Talk. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. I did receive a complimentary box of Tiffin Talk cards. The above does not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.]

Ticket Giveaway: The Pump and Dump Show

pump_cvParenting is hard. In my professional opinion, laughter is the best medicine. What’s better than laughing at the ridiculous things we do as mothers than doing it with friends on a night out. Join other parents looking for laughs at Philadelphia’s Punch Line Comedy Club. I’m giving away 2 FREE tickets to the Pump and Dump Show on Thursday, May 18th. This is the perfect excuse to get a sitter and take off those sweat pants.

To win the tickets, go to my Mommy Call Facebook page and enter a comment about a mom-fail (or dad-fail) moment that you had. The one with the most likes, wins the tickets.

I’ll start with a flashback to one of mine: Fractured Mommy Tales

To Enter the Ticket Giveaway: enter your comment on my Facebook post.

[Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Punch Line Philly or the Pump and Dump Show. I received complimentary tickets for this giveaway. Ticket winners must be 21+ and should be aware that this prize does not cover the 2 drink minimum required by the club.]

A Pediatrician’s Guide to Dressing Your Baby

Most people do not turn to their pediatrician for children’s fashion advice, but there are a few questions that come up often. Below are my thoughts as a pediatrician and a mother about some baby fashion dilemmas that have a medical basis:

    1. Ear piercing: The American Academy of Pediatrics does not give a clear recommendation about what age children should get their ears pierced, if at all. This is a personal decision for the parent and child to make, although your pediatrician may have an opinion. Generally, if the piercing is performed carefully and cleanly, there is little risk, no matter the age of the child, although after the first tetanus shot at 2 months is safer. A good rule of thumb though is to not pierce ears until the child is mature enough to assist in the care of the piercing. Gold posts minimize the risk of an allergic reaction and inflammation so are best for the first pair, which you leave in for 4-6 weeks.  More info: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/pierced-ears.html
    2. Teething jewelry: You may have seen some babies wearing amber teething necklaces, which are thought to help soothe the pain of teething. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims and these necklaces pose a choking risk. Silicone teething rings and wooden toys are safer teething options. More info: http://www.chop.edu/news/teething-pain-risky-remedies-avoid
    3. Shoes for new walkers: There are many designer shoe options for new walkers out there, but since you baby will outgrow these shoes within a few months, the good news is that it is better for children to be barefoot. Of course once they are walking outdoors, you will need shoes, but these should be comfortable, flexible, and well-fitting and do not need to be expensive. Since children’s feet grow quickly, you should check the fit of their shoe frequently and have a professional fit their shoe if you have any questions. More info: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/baby-shoes.html?ref=search
    4. Newborn hats: We have all seen the adorable photos of newborn babies wearing the pink and blue striped hats. Many new parents wonder though: how long does my baby have to wear that hat? Newborns have a hard time regulating their body temperature, but by the time they are ready for discharge, they can also stop wearing that knit hat routinely. Since infants lose heat through their head, wearing a hat can help keep them warm when you need them to be. In general, newborns need 1 additional layer than you need for the ambient temperature. So if you are comfortable in a t-shirt, your infant needs a onesie + blanket or a long-sleeved shirt. More info: http://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/warmth-and-temperature-regulation
    5. Sleep sacks: All parents need more sleep, so they are also always on a quest for anything that will help their child sleep better. Once your child is learning how to roll, you should no longer swaddle them, so that if they were to roll over while sleeping they can protect their face with their hands. Therefore, transitioning from swaddling to a sleep sack makes sense in the first few months. Remember though that it is more important that your baby sleeps on their back in a safe crib, than what pajama brand they wear. More info: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx


[The above is for general informational purposes only and is not to be considered as medical advice for any particular patient. Please contact your health care provider for advice about your own child. This post was originally published in the QVNA Magazine, March 2017, here.]

Birthday Party Giveaway


My son’s birthday is this week, so in the spirit of birthday celebrations, I want to offer you all the chance to win a FREE birthday party at the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. This party is good for up to 15 people + birthday child (additional guests are $14.99 each). The party must occur in 2017.

I love art-themed birthday parties and while I haven’t been to one at the Crayola Experience yet, it looks like a lot of fun. For the parents’ sake, the parties include party supplies and free printable invites.

You can enter the raffle below anytime between now and Tuesday, March 21st at 11:59 PM. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter and I will put you in touch with the folks at the Crayola Experience to start planning your party! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[I have no affiliation with the Crayola Experience and I was not compensated for this post.]

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