Sunday, April 28, 2013

All the world's a stage...

One of the hazards of being the offspring of people who like musical theater is being subjected to the soundtracks. As a colicky baby, the Kid heard me sing Grease for 2 hours while walking her and then heard Anything Goes and Cabaret from the spouse.

The adults around here continue to like musicals a great deal and as a result the soundtracks get played a fair bit. The Kid has seen Annie several times and could sing Tomorrow for you. She's also seen A Year with Frog and Toad. She will sing the entire thing at any moment.

But then you run into the musicals that are not terribly kid-friendly and yet are so much fun to sing along to as nerdy adults. Rent comes to mind, or Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. We adults like Rent and play it fairly often, especially when we are grumpy at the world.

Then the questions started. First she wanted to listen to it, requested it. Then she wanted to know what La Vie Boheme was about. We settled on "boring grown-up stuff" and skipped the sad songs and that one about sex.

Here's the trouble: even though she understands the words, she may not know what they mean, but she might also understand more than we think or make up things too. So how much do you explain?

When is it appropriate to start letting the kid see musicals with sad endings (or mixed ones like Rent)? Or how about when is the Wizard of Oz kid-appropriate? These are the real challenges of parenting. Media is all over and as parent of kids, I am the gatekeeper.

We've been listening to this book about how princess stuff is marketed to girls and it blows my mind. The hyper-segmented target markets with toys aimed at 3 year segments, as if childhood is split into discrete chunks that have nothing to do with each other. I worry that I'm falling for the marketing, or that I'm reacting to my mom's super censorship of "scary movies" that were really not at all scary. The line is super gray and I have no idea how to judge what will scare the kid and what will become her favorite.

The kid has been talking about how all Dizz-en-eee movies are for kids because they always have happy endings. I'm not sure how I feel about that either. Life doesn't always have a happy ending. Should all the movies she sees be sugar-coated? How long do we strive to hide the unhappy endings anyway?

I think we'll try the Sound of Music as her next musical. That seems safe for at least the first few hours.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Late night

I am up far too late doing school stuff and pumping so Little Monster gets fed and I can sleep.

While being the only one awake , here's what I've been pondering.

The baby is sick. We both have awful colds, the hacking discomfort kind. It just breaks my heart to hear those coughs and know there's so little I can do. I think that in the future, when I'm the boss, anyone telling me they're skipping the vaccine with whooping cough included, I'll play them the sound of a baby with it. So so sad that any baby gets a vaccine-preventable disease.

I've been thinking a lot about "leaving before you leave" and how I was clearly or at least in large part interested in teaching because of the decent-ish work/life balance that came with it. Few nights, no required weekends, same vacation schedule as kids. When I got there, to the real teaching part, I hated being belittled. I hated being bugged by parents that I hadn't updated the grade book in 12 hrs. I disliked having to teach to the test and having no say in how to teach a concept. It wasn't that I was a bad teacher. I left because I knew I would be within 5 years.

I'm back to the rotation roulette line of thought. I have ideas but I don't know if it will work to do rotations without moving. It's hard to think about it all with zero certainty. We know the spouse won't have the same job starting in June when the contract is up but with only one unsuccessful interview so far, it's hard to say what might happen. We really want to stay at least another year and hopefully 2 because we will go where I get a job and that probably means moving.

Tonight LM is swaddled in a large size Velcro blanket. It fits. The same one fit the kid at 5.5 months, and it was still kinda big on her then. It boggles my fragile mind how very different they are, those girls. Despite having the same due date they are very different both physically and in temperament.

Our dish washer is super slow. It takes 2+ hours to run one cycle. Arg. I miss my dishwasher. We should have kept it.

Childcare is up in the air and I hate uncertainties. If we have no income then we can have the girls home with the spouse and don't need the coveted infant spot. If we didn't need to keep it so badly we could skip summer childcare or scale back from full time. I wish there were other options. With both girls in full time childcare we spend less on rent in a month than childcare. It gets less spendy when the kid starts school but is still higher than our rent. And we have bargain priced childcare of fairly good quality, not anything fancy or in a center. I feel trapped by childcare costs.

In anticipation of being broke and soon, I'm applying for summer internships. I had really hoped to have the summer to hang out with the baby but it seems to be a dwindling possibility now. Le sigh.

I hope the rotten dishwasher is done running by now after 2.5 hrs. I should get some sleep.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The trouble with buying things for a girl

The Kid alternates between being keenly interested in "girl things" like My Petite Pony and "boy things" like Pokem.on. That's totally cool with us adults, since we encourage her to be interested in whatever she's interested in, no matter what other people think about it.

Recently in a fit of girl things interest, she demanded new underwear since the very first set she got is too small now, and she wanted the Ponies. I figured that since it's one of the better examples of friendship out there, and even though all the main characters are female, they're pretty varied. Two are stereotypically girly (one designs fashion stuff and one mostly flits about being rather ditzy and having parties) but the rest veer off from the "traditional girl" mold. My favorites are the one who is a researcher and the one who's shy but great with animals (yeah, that's pretty stereotypically girly, but it also shows that being shy isn't an insurmountable obstacle). I was glad to see that the set of little kid underwear had six pairs and there are six main ponies. One pair for each, I imagined.

But no. There are two pairs for the jock pony and two for the super girly, giggly pony. No researcher pony. No shy pony.

Boo on the designers who felt it wasn't important to include all the ponies. I get that the realm of what characters are on my kid's underwear is probably not a huge deal, and yet... And yet, it's the small things that contribute to kids' understanding of what matters. The researcher pony isn't even important enough to be printed on little girl underwear. What message does that send? That researcher isn't something my kid should aspire to, at least in a small part. That same small message, that it's better to be athletic than smart, gets repeated lots of times. It sinks in. Girls get told so much that they are pretty and so little that they are capable and that it's cool to know things.

Maybe it's just a little thing, but at the same time, every morning my kid announces which pony will be on today's underwear (and is upset if it's not available). She thinks about those ponies once a day when she gets dressed, at a minimum. And now she thinks about the researcher and the shy pony that much less often, sees fewer examples of being successful and having friends even while not being stereotypically ideal versions of female.

It's a sea of little things that shape the big things. Isn't it always?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Weeks 7-9 of Little Monster

Yep. I'm behind. Whoops!

Here's a quick update on what Little Monster has been up to. Hint: she's getting too big too fast! Sneaky baby!

Do email me if you'd like the password (unless you're a robot, then no. No password for you.) at mizfuturepharmd at gmail (dot) com because I'm bad at blogger and finding email addresses from comments. I'd figure it out, but I do mean to eventually move le blog to its new wordpress home and I'm lazy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shiny new legal rulings

Did you see that a federal judge has ruled that emergency contraception should be legally available to any person of any age? How neat is that! It's also nice to see the authority of the FDA respected, since part of the ruling basically told off the Secretary of Health and Human Services for squashing the FDA's decision to let it be sold to any one of any age since it's safe.

I'm fairly excited about it because I think that fewer unwanted pregnancies is a good thing. Working in pharmacies, I've filled plenty of prescriptions for prenatal vitamins for 15 and 16 year old moms-to-be. Maybe a couple of them were excited or married, I didn't ask and I don't recall handing out the prescriptions to anyone but the patient. From when I was in high school, I knew of 6 girls who became parents (and one guy who would own up to it, and one husband who wasn't in school anymore). One of those pregnancies resulted in an adoption, 4 in parenting (one is a mystery as she was 8 months pregnant at graduation and left town). One of those couples is still together (they chose adoption) and has another 4 children and they seem relatively happy. I think that only 1 resulted in finishing high school in a timely manner.

I personally am pro-life. I personally get to make that choice about abortion for me. If someone asks me what I think about their choice on abortion, I'd tell them that it's between them, their doctor, and their Higher Power.

I take my job seriously as a future pharmacist. My job is to provide healthcare. Not healthcare that I agree with. Not healthcare that I am fond of. Not healthcare that I am happy about.

So I guess I get irritated with laws that allow healthcare providers to opt out of providing care they have personal opinions about. It makes some sense to me that if you own a pharmacy, you can opt not to carry some medications. This past summer when I had a sick kid while on vacation I went to three pharmacies before finding one that carried what she'd been prescribed because it was unusual strengths, only used in children. I get that. I strongly disapprove of entire chains getting to opt out of carrying birth control because it's against their corporate policy/feelings/they are afraid of loud boycotts if they do carry them (giant blue box retailer, looking at you). Why? Because sometimes there are no other options for hours. I recall again an injury while on vacation, where Giant Blue Box was the only pharmacy in town, and we drove 90 miles to the next nearest pharmacy because I don't shop there unless it's a serious emergency. Pain pills for a broken wrist weren't an emergency.

If we follow the logic of "I am morally opposed to your behavior/reason for needing a medication" means I don't have to dispense it, then do I not carry antibiotics used for gonorrhea? Do I ask why people are taking an antibiotic before I give it to them, in case it's for syphilis? Do I ask HOW someone got HIV before I let them have their HIV drugs? Can I refuse to carry medications for COPD because 90+% of COPD patients got it from smoking cigarettes, something I'm personally morally opposed to? It's a slippery slope. I don't like it.

I worry that if we take away reproductive rights from the fertile crowd, we may end up taking them away from those suffering from infertility and loss. What if the pharmacist in town says no drugs to induce a medically needed abortion (say for a molar or ectopic pregnancy) in addition to no emergency contraception? What if a woman is going to lose her much-wanted pregnancy but the fetus still has a heart beat and the only doctor around refuses to perform the abortion? Should she have to wait in the hospital and risk dying of complications like women have?

Yep, big rhetorical hypothetical scenarios. Except they happen, could happen again, could interfere with your life. That's why I hope we reform "personal conscience" laws that let healthcare providers opt out of procedures and dispensing that they personally have an opinion against for some reason. The oath that we take as pharmacists mirrors the Hippocratic oath, and one important point stands out to me: first do no harm. It harms women if they need the emergency contraception pill and no place within 90 miles sells it. They need to find a way to travel that distance or live without it and live with the possible pregnancy. In my view, that isn't cool. You knew what was coming when you signed up for being a pharmacist so no slacking. Do your job or find a niche where you won't be dispensing stuff you oppose (veterinary pharmacy is certainly an option).

I am excited that maybe, just maybe, it will be easier to prevent unwanted pregnancies. NO this medication doesn't cause abortions. That's another med entirely. It prevents ovulation and fertilization, but it MIGHT stop implantation (very big question mark there). Maybe. It doesn't stop implantation if it has started. #science!

Why am I excited about fewer unwanted pregnancies? I'm excited about fewer abortions, more high school graduations, more college degree completions. I'm hopeful that maybe we will turn a corner in the recent "squash women's rights to decide things about their bodies for themselves" trends going on in America. It needs to stop. Women are people and can decide things themselves. Abortion is icky and agonizing but I am not the boss of anyone else's morals. I personally don't like them for faith-based reasons. But I will fight for every woman's right to decide for herself, with her doctor, if one is right for her. Wonky personhood laws keep cropping up and threatening families who are using IVF. I sternly oppose these too because they aren't based in science but in fear.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Today my heart aches. It isn't broken per se, because hearts are muscle and muscles don't break. They get crushed, they can tear or shred or even rip. I feel like mine is crushed because life weighs heavy on my heart right now.

Friday one of my good friends (and also a classmate) found out that after 15 months in remission, the cancer is back. Stage 4 this time (that's the worst stage, where treatments extend life rather than curing anything). Her kids are 11 to 3 years old.

I haven't said anything to her or anyone about it yet. It's been too much. I've been rattling around, looking for the right words, but there are no words. There are no words for stage 4 cancer with 4 kids. Words don't capture staring mortality in the face as it creeps into your friend's features.

Yesterday I was immeasurably saddened to hear about the bombing at the Boston marathon. It crushed my heart some more. I appreciated all those who shared that Mr. Rogers quote about looking for the helpers when something bad happens. The spouse is always listening to the news radio station. I'd meant to request that the news be silenced before the Kid got picked up from daycare, but I forgot. They talked about the news of the bombing a little bit, and then an ambulance passed the car. All on her own, the Kid announced she would count the vehicles she saw that were helping. It boggles my mind that she thought of that all on her own. She remembered it probably from some earlier traumatic event.

I know that the chances of remission once the cancer hits stage 4 are low. Very low. I know this means it's time to start talking about death with the kid. I'm not sure there are words though. Are there words to talk about how sometimes moms die when their babies are still little? Or will anything I say scare her more than is necessary? The reality is scary and sad. Already I can tell that death is something that worries the kid. She's lost 2 pets and a beloved great grandpa already, so death isn't totally new to her. It's just extra hard to explain that death isn't confined to great grandparents and elderly pets, that even moms can die, sometimes suddenly and other times in a long and agonizing march to the end.

Ugh. My heart is just crushed. I'll need it uncrushed so I can continue to function. I've spent a few days hiding from my email and pretending this isn't happening. It's time to face it all, sobbing and laughing and whatever else may come. None of us know for sure how much life we have left. It just aches when you know the answer to "how long do I have?" is "not long enough. "

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Break-up season

Most places have 4 seasons, at least to some extent: spring, summer, fall, winter. Sometimes spring and fall get abbreviated into a week between hot and cold when leaves either suddenly burst out or drop off the trees.

I grew up with another season, to some degree replacing spring and to some degree bridging winter and spring: break up.

Break up season has been in full swing around here for several weeks. Its name comes from the ice on the lakes and from the way people who live on the lake with no road access have to deal with the ice. In the summer, you take a boat to get home. In the winter, you can walk or snowshoe or ski (or drive your snow machine if you live in Alaska). During break up, the ice is too weak to walk on but still hanging around and blocking boat access. On a really big body of water (think ocean sized), really big boats just plow through the ice. For most people though, it means that you cross the lake with one foot in a canoe and one on the ice (or you can do some strange modified rowing).

The snow is melting and yet more snow shows up pretty often to replace it. The ground alternates between ice and snow and mud, so it's hard to choose footwear too. If you stick with warm snow boots, they get coated in mud. If you go with the rubber boots for the mud, you slip on the ice.

Spring starts when the first really good thunderstorm comes and melts the last of the ice and snow away. Sometimes the cycle of a little rain and then 6 inches of snow, followed by a sudden melt, some icy rain, and then more snow goes on for months. This year it's been several months that we've been stuck in this break up muddle of mud and snow and ice.

I've been thinking a lot about the break up season and how it relates to healing from the ALI journey. For me at least, I feel like achieving pregnancy is when you're right in the middle of that lake, one foot on ice that could break under you at any moment, one foot in a canoe that's a bit tippy because you aren't all the way into it. It's a liminal space where you are in transition and things are shaky.

But then, just when you think you've arrived and things are better and the baby has arrived and it's spring, right? And then it's right back to winter for a week or two or longer. The liminal space gets extended longer than you'd expect.

That, for me, is the nature of healing after going through all that ALI pain and suffering. It seems like it should be all better and it isn't, not forever anyway. You get dumped on unexpectedly and set back, then things improve just as suddenly. It isn't bad, it isn't good, it's just nature having its way with your life. It has helped me a lot to be reminded that healing is like break up season: non-linear (copyright SRB). I am then free to focus on today rather than imagining I should have passed some milestone and I should never be upset by whatever it is again. If today I'm sad that my spouse had to explain miscarriages to my 5 year old, it's fine. If I'm thrilled about baby leggings and garden plans, that's fine too.

It is freeing to know that break-up-like healing is normal and nothing to worry about. So be free. Play in the snow or the rain or the mud. Eventually spring will arrive. There will be peace with however your journey ends, if you let it happen.

In case you missed it, PAIL is doing a whole week of posts on healing and it's awesome. So far I really like this one but the rest are also awesome.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Snapshot: Giant butt edition

I'm featured over at PAIL today for the Monday Snapshot! Go check out other folks' contributions! (and there's another Little Monster photo over there for your enjoyment)

Here's a picture from the first couple weeks after Little Monster arrived, of her wearing her Little Monster pants. It makes me infinitely happy to get to dress her up in cute little outfits, although why so many feature African animals remains a mystery to me. What's wrong with animals from the rest of the world? Why elephants and not coyotes? Why giraffes and not pandas? Why zebras and not horses?

Anyway, here's the actual picture. Note the giant cloth diaper butt and teeny little legs!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In which ceding household duties was a mistake

So around these parts, when I started my pre-pharmacy classes, I stopped paying the bills. It was too much stress to be in school and pay the bills.

Most of the time I regret this decision because I am very spreadsheet-oriented and people to whom I am married are not, so things don't get paid in as timely a manner as I'd like. Balance the checkbook? HAH there's no record of what checks were written, despite us having carbon copy check blanks... I haven't reclaimed this yet but it's a close thing. I try to let it go, but it is really really hard. Yes, I am much saner now that it isn't my job to manage the bills, but there's a price too.

More recently, I have seceded from my "responsible for child event planning" territory. I assigned the spouse to make the annual physical appointments for the 3 of us and the 6 week old check-up visit for the baby. Eventually these things happened. Let's not talk about the 3 attempts at getting the 5 year old to her appointment it took because it makes me crazy.

So kindergarten. That's happening sometime soon. The spouse called to request a packet about it several weeks ago but never really looked at the thing beyond opening it. Certainly no event reminders for kindergarten round-up were put on the digital calendar, because... no idea. I didn't do it, so I  didn't skip that step.

BUT today I was thinking to myself, "Hmm. I know that kindergarten has a round-up deal where the kids go on tours and we turn in paperwork. I wonder when that is... but I bet it's on the calendar." It was not. So I went to the school district calendar and discovered that kindergarten round-up is TODAY and tomorrow. Our kid's appointment is tomorrow morning. Great idea, except NO SIBLINGS ALLOWED.

That irks me a great deal, that there's no district-offered sibling care. I take the girls to an early childhood class and there's sibling care provided for a couple bucks or sometimes nothing. But this, a mandatory deal for my kid to go to kindergarten and I have to find someone to mind the sibling (and somehow be available at 9:30am... don't most people work? What is this glorp?). And isn't it one of those things, that many or even most children who are 5 or 6 have siblings who might need watching while the parents focus on the future kindergartener? It's also a weird thing, that there's a real baby I have to either stay home with or find someone to watch so I can take the kid to a major life event.

Gotta say, I'm possibly more irked bordering on downright grouchy about the lack of notice. It was hard for me to let go of my control of the bills, and of the child scheduling, and SEE HOW WELL THAT WENT? It caused me to be irritated enough with the surprise kindergarten round up that I had to write about it IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Ooof.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baby blahs

I think I've had a case of something approaching the baby blues, but instead of crying or moping or anxiety, I've been pretty numb.

Now that I'm actually excited about things, I can see that it's been some time since I was this interested in anything other than hanging out with the baby. I was absolutely thrilled about Drug Monkey's new book being on its way. I was doubly thrilled about the arrival of Little Monster's cool new baby leggings today.

I actually think the purchase of the baby leggings is one of the few baby-related things I've been really excited about in a long time. We are so lucky to have an awesome faith community and a lot of very generous folks have given the girls clothes/gifts so LM is now a (highly PINK!) well-dressed baby. We had only 2 outfits in her 3 month size before all these gifts due to my baby stuff purge before we moved and general nerves about buying bigger stuff for her before her arrival. However, this generosity and us shopping at thrift stores for the rest of her clothes has meant that I picked out none of her clothes (or picked the least offensive option) except her coming home ensemble.

Maybe baby leggings aren't a big deal in the grand scheme but it's nice to pick out clothes for my own baby girl. It is small but choosing 4 pairs of leggings was so much fun, and more fun than I've had in weeks or months.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm done holding my breath and waiting for the big bad thing to happen to Little Monster. She's here and she ought to get to wear something cute I picked out for her. I have today and I'm going to do my best to live in it. I can enjoy Little Monster napping on me right now. I don't have to wait for some magical line where there's some theoretical guarantee nothing bad will happen to her to celebrate her tiny awesomeness. All we have is today to live, and I hope I can let the worries about all the unknown tomorrows go completely.

So hopefully the corner has been turned and the blahs will be gone for good now or soon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reclaiming me

Since the Kid was born, I haven't really felt at home in my body. I lost all the weight I gained while pregnant but it didn't stay off when I quit nursing and when I broke my ankle (double reduction in activity/metabolism that those were about the same time).

Then I felt particularly betrayed by my body that it was so lousy at staying pregnant, then getting pregnant at all.

Now, at 6 weeks or so postpartum, I've lost the little weight I gained with this pregnancy but this is not my body anymore. I'm all stretched out in strange places and my endurance is awful. I'm also reminded that if I don't get and stay in shape, the consequence is dying young of heart disease. For some silly reason I practiced calculating my 10 year risk of a cardiac event (heart attack or stroke) and it's quite high for someone my age. Not good. My aunt and my dad have heart disease and were diagnosed young.

So I decided to set myself a goal and get into shape. Fair warning: there may be upcoming posts about my feeble efforts to get into shape. My goal is to run a marathon after graduation, 2 years from now in May. To get there, I plan to run a 5k this summer, a 10k in the fall, a half marathon about a year from now, and some other race between that and the big marathon.

I'm starting small with a 5k training group 1 day a week and walking at least 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Next month I'm going to work on my diet if all this exercise is going well.

It is high time to feel at home in my own skin. Hopefully this exercise helps with that.