Mommy Calls

It has been a long night. Most nights are this way now. But thankfully (or not) dawn has arrived and I sit here with a cuppa while The Little Man sleeps on his papa.

I think back to my days as a rotating resident in general surgery. The night shifts. Doesn’t matter which part of the body you decide to hack up for a living, the initiation is almost always by general. I won’t get into the arguments of which surgery is hardest and other trick questions like that, but general is by far the most busy with ortho coming in a close second. Of course, this depends on the kind of hospital you work in.

You go in, all prepped for the night. Meet the guy/ girl from the previous shift in whichever bay/ area/ bathroom/ OR/ closet/ cafeteria that he/ she wants to meet you in. After the hell she has been through, she earns the right to choose the meeting area.

You sit for a mere fifteen minutes or so and try and absorb the barrage of info that she assaults you with. Meanwhile the wretched bleep on the table goes off about 5 times (on a good day/ night). She wraps up her “endorsement” and right at the end casually throws in the fact that apart from the last five bleeps, the four before that are also mine. You are welcome!

The night passes in a haze of pressing abdomens, probing arses and squeezing pus from all sorts of nether crooks and crannies of the human body.

(Thank God I deal with Head and Neck in my world!)

On good nights, you  may see the bed in one of the on call rooms. The operative word being SEE. You see it, and you wish to sink into its hard, noisy springs. But you just sit on it for ten minutes or so and type away pending charts furiously while the bleep/ pager goes berserk next to you. All you bloody wanted is to hide away for five minutes, gather you ragged breath, steady yourself and get the darned charts updated. Damn you surgical gods!

As the night progresses, you get into The Zone. You go into auto- pilot. Your senses are heightened, your concentration is at it’s peak. You don’t have to think, you just do.

As dawn approaches, you are almost experiencing a high. You know the end is near. At the appropriate hour, this shall be over. The burden shall be offloaded from you to another. (of course, there are still incomplete charts, pending cases, rounds..). You look forward to your cool shower and warm bed later.

I try and get through my mommy calls similarly. I prep for the night, gather all my supplies and mentally grit myself for what lies ahead every night. But there are no endorsements, no handing over. No end. THIS. CALL. NEVER. ENDS. Save me lord.

Some nights, we (aka MR H and I) tag team and therefore things are a tad easier.

I am a sissy mother, who does not sleep train her children willingly. I rock, sing, bounce, sway, soothe, cuddle, nurse my baby to sleep. I put him to sleep by ‘whatever means necessary’.

My first born was the same as a baby. And I can now tell you folks that I did not ruin her for life by doing so. She sleeps on her own and stays asleep, until morning of course. So I guess there is hope, but not in the near future.

As the night progresses, you get into The Zone. You go into auto- pilot. Your senses are heightened, your concentration is at it’s peak. You don’t have to think, you just do. You change, nurse, bounce, rock, sing automatically and do whatever it is that needs to be done.

But, the thought that this call does not have an end hour, is utterly thought defeating.

The main difference between the hospital calls and this is the loneliness. And the bright lights. There is a buzz around you in the hospital. Here, I move around in dim lights,  half- awake and not quite asleep, soundlessly (lest I disturb the older one) while I try to do whatever I need to do to put the baby to sleep and keep him that way.

Won’t lie to you folks, some nights I am at the threshold of insanity and want to pull my hair out and run out into the streets of Doha in my spit- up soaked pyjamas, bellowing profanities into the universe. Just like I sometimes want to do when I’m dealing with stubborn/ weird/ drunk patients or unreasonable, know- it- all nurses on a particularly bad call.

However the night goes, the first rays of sunlight brings hope. I’m not sure why, but things always look less bad when looked at from the other side of dawn. I know this too shall pass. And unlike the first time, the utter dejection and the constant worry of “Is my life f*&^ed for ever” isn’t quite there.

I am tired folks. So, so, so very tired….

Oops, I think I dozed off. There goes my pager again. The human one.

Till next time.

Dr J

Running vs Lifting

running lifting
Source- pinterest

Let’s talk some serious business today. Very serious. My new fitness goals. My current obsession. My new thang. My joie de vivre.

Like you care about it. HA!

Still, I shall trudge on and bore you for a few mins.

Or maybe you are utterly bored anyway, and that is why you are here. Either way.

If you were not aware, I am a small person. Have always been. 5 feet 2 and something inches, possibly 159 cm or 160cm. Always weighed under 50kg except three times in my life. 45 to 48 kg being the norm. Lowest point was during my first pregnancy, when I was diagnosed with hyperemesis and literally vomited my insides out. I was a tad under 42 kg then. Seriously.

I have run practically all my life. Was in the school long distance team, and the relay teams. Got into marathon training and shit at 16. Ran mostly half marathons and ONE SINGLE marathon by age 23. Ran every single 10K that was ‘runnable’ then at Bangalore, with very good times too. I liked the 10k, it did not bore me to death like the half and full marathons, and also I recovered quick (almost no recovery time needed) and did not need any super intensive prep or training.

I also danced, secretly. Did some choreography for and competed in college and school competitions. At one point, during my undergrad days, I took weekly thrice aerobic classes at an apartment complex (for some ‘pocket cash’) which was mostly attended by grossly unfit, moderately pudgy, super busy homemakers some of whom were constantly asking me to change my class hours because it clashed with the airing of their favourite ‘serial’.

Occasionally I dabbled in weight/ strength training because my running coach kept whining that I have a horrendously weak upper body. Later on, I tried it because I realised I needed a bit more strength (though I still believe surgical technique is more important) to compete with the guys in my program, surgically.

I have accumulated hundreds of miles and about half a dozen or so injuries in the past twenty years. Most pertain to my wonky knees, aggravated by my sometimes poor form. By the time I started paying attention to my form, I had already done decent damage to my poor joint. I also had/ have ITBS aka iliotibial band syndrome. We’l talk about it another day. For today all I want you folks to know about it is that IT IS ANNOYING AS HELL.

By the time I hit the big 3 0, I was bored and tired of running. I could not do the long distances and the fun challenging stuff with my creaky knees so what was the point anyway. I did not want to be that sissy runner in fancy gear who did a 10 minute half- arsed jog and called it a workout. I wanted the blisters and the chafing and mind- numbing boredom of the hour and half runs.

I slowly started losing my running joy. I got into HIIT for a bit, especially during my surgical trainee days at a small village town in South India. It was fun, and I could baby my knees. Abs became my obsession.

The HIIT, coupled with my crazy hours at the hospital made me startlingly lean. Weight wise, I was still hovering around my average weight mark, but I looked skinny, thanks to the predominant loss of fat and a little bit of muscle build up. I was a stick figure, with a gaunt face and hollowed eyes. I was also living away from home, and ate rubbish because that is all I could afford time wise. But I felt super- fit and energetic. Almost achieved the wash- board abs (which looks crappy in drapy Indian clothes let me tell you) and my cardiovascular system was in good shape. I also, still went on weekly long runs, just for old times’ sake.

Then, I had two children. With the first, I was at peak fitness when I found out I was pregnant. I had hyperemesis gravidarum like I mentioned, and so was confined to a dark, odourless, soundless, person-less room for almost five months. I wanted to sink into the earth and perish, cease to exist at that time, so forgive me for not making exercise a priority.

I got my arse back on the track (literally), at about 7 months pregnant, when I started to feel human again. Albeit a waddling, gassy, belchy, motion- challenged human.

We walked, for long. Everyday. Almost jogged. Walked so long, that the husband needed to take breaks while I huffed and puffed along.

Baby Z arrived, and the little baby weight that I managed to accumulate (which was nothing to write home about) melted away in a matter of weeks. Don’t get my wrong, I am not talking about fitness, only the number on the scale. People (you know, the “aunties”) congratulated me on my swift ‘return to shape’ and asked what the secret was. I smiled and bull- shitted. But I knew the truth.

The second time, things were different. Without even trying, I put on weight steadily as the pregnancy progressed. I again had a very ‘puky’ first four months. But later on, I ate like a horse or whatever other animal eats a lot for it’s weight.

I filled out. And surprise, I liked the slightly filled out person that I saw in the mirror. I never knew such a person existed. Subcutaneous fat did wonders to my face. Bloody hell, maybe I should have considered fillers long ago!

The Husband has been trying to tell me this for almost a decade now. That some “pudge” would help my gaunt appearance. Maybe he was right, after all. Damn you man!

So now, at almost four months post- partum; I have embraced my new found curves and plan on keeping them. I am seriously enjoying working out again. Lifting is my new jam. A month in, I can already sense a huge difference. I am 6 kgs away from my usual average, but I feel great. My jeans size may be different, but my endurance is returning. A different sort of endurance.

I do almost no cardio now. At least, no intentional cardio. Except the ten or fifteen minute warm up that I do. Occasionally, I run to relieve soreness. It sounds weird I know,   but it really does work for me. After a hard day of leg work, when I can barely manage to sit/ walk, a half an hour run the next day seems to pump out all the lactate.

So yeah, that is my fitness journey in short. Thus far.

This is a new and exciting beginning folks, let us see where this leads..

lifting
Would not bad mouth running yet, still I agree somewhat. But there is risk of injury with both.

Till next time.

Dr J.

 

P.S. By lifting I don’t mean monkeying about with 1 kg dumbbells like this.

girl lifting
source- dailymail

I mean this.

8-reasons-women-should-lift-image-2
Source- bodybuilding.com

The one with the changing bag

Any self respecting blogger with young progeny is bound to pen one of these posts. The one where they share their fine looking, perfectly packed nappy/ changing bag. I too have done one of these, about two odd years (maybe three?) ago. I am embarrassed to go back and read it, therefore I’m not going to link it here.

I used to think that children are so high maintenance. This was when I had a baby that never (really NEVER) spit up, did not take a dummy/ pacifier, hardly every pooed on the go, and of course did not take a bottle. Still, I carted around a decent sized changing bag with spare clothes, blankets, diapers, even a pacifier (?). The clothes sometimes were replaced weeks later, when she outgrew them. The diapers? I still have a size 2 diaper that I recently found in one of my old nappy bags from 2015. Yeah, so.

So, this time I thought I might downsize things a bit. My older one is three and needs almost nothing (except water every 15 mins) when we go out. She was potty trained (by herself, not by me of course!) eons ago and she is good with telling us exactly when she wants to go, and can even ‘hold’ things for a while if needed. On rare occasions, we have some water or gravy spill, that is about it. I assumed the new one would be the same as his sister.

I assumed wrong. Duh!

This one loves to poop (hallelujah!), and spits up like a pro. Dribbles like it’s nobody’s business and is mildly addicted to his dummy. Basically he is a boy 🙂 If my daughter left me not really knowing how to change a nappy outside the house, my son has given me enough practice that I can now do it one handed, in a jam- packed car, at a traffic stop. I now only have to master the art of doing it whilst he is in his car seat, without removing the straps. We’l get there.

I am therefore, forced to lug around a fair amount of “stuff” even for short trips out.

The bag is one I have spoken about before. I ordered it directly from the website. The shipping charges were about the same as the taxes, they negated each other as I did not have to pay taxes (Storksak is a UK base brand, and I am buying it from outside the UK). The bag is as great as expected (better be, for the price) and if I were forced to find a downside, it would be the lack of outside bottle pockets. Also, I wish I got a deeper camel colour. The leather color can be lighter or darker depending on how it responds to the treatment. If I’d bought it from a physical store, I would have picked a darker shade of tan.

Okay, so let’s get to it.

My pictures are going to be raw, unfiltered. I have not cleaned out my bag before doing this. We have Lil Z ‘helping’ us and Mr A is staring at us from his playmat.

Disclaimer- Most days, the bag is packed better than this. I like to have it restocked and ready to go after every trip, because we do end up using a lot of things at every outing. But we have not had the time to repack it after the last time we went out.

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The Storksak Elizabeth in color Tan

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The newer models do not need separate stroller clips like before
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View from the top. Looks like a sturdy handbag, or a stylish weekend bag
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Eeks! Hope it ain’t too messy inside. The chevron and pink one is a ring sling that we used during our trip to the park.
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The huge pack of wipes was thrown in at the last moment when we leaving, as we had run out of the travel sized ones.
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I swear, it’s usually better packed
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Spares for the  kiddos
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Wipe central! Honestly we NEED all of the above.
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The mommy pouch that comes with the bag is useful to cart around bits and bobs like these. Recommend carrying paracetamol and saline drops. Breast pads if breast feeding.
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An inside look – well lined and plush. Tick.
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My little man needs a lot of spares, bless him! Recommend the bamboo swaddle-  literally use it as/for everything.
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Really enjoy the changing pad that comes with bag. 
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Is large enough, padded enough. Comes with in built compartments which I do use. So, if I need to change The A Man, I have everything I need in this handy little thing.
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A refill for the nappy bag dispenser (blue hangy thing on the side of the bag). The A Man has just reached that stage where he has started noticing the world around him. SO flickering screens, oddly noised rattles and these crinkly books are his dope currently. Of course, The Sister filches them away at the first opportunity and then they disappear for ever somehow!
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Though it looks unencumbered, the bag can seriously hold a lot of stuff.
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My trusty ring- sling (from Cookiie Pie) is a tad tired looking and faded, but still going strong.
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The bag comes with an insulated bottle holder, which currently doesn’t see much use. Special thanks to the desperate to assist assistant who demonstrated the extent to which it opens.

We do carry dummies/ pacifiers with us, did not have any clean ones in the bag then. Lil Z carries her own bag with a towel, water and snacks. Miss independent.

We have disposable changing mats, and toilet seat covers in the car which we rarely use.

What else would I suggest to a first time mum?? Early on, and for long trips it would be wise to carry a change of shirt/ top for yourself and your husband. By now I’m cool with walking around with spit up and milk stains so I can’t be bothered.

Yeah, so that’s about it I guess. I remember finding these sort of posts/ videos fun and informative when I had Lil Z. I hope this too helps someone, or at least helps someone fill 10 mins of their time whilst nursing at 3 AM.

Storksak bags are marketed as luxury changing bags. They are definitely sturdy, well made and stylish- but they do have their cons. This one is heavy (I knew that before purchasing) and does not have useable outside pockets. I usually carry a small cross body bag on me to carry my essentials. The husband and I have to often split up when we are out, the buggy is usually with them and therefore the bag too. Carrying my stuff (phone, wallet yada yada) on me is therefore wiser.

Till next time.

Dr J

 

P.S. If I ever felt like using a backpack changing bag, this would be it.

JOY-CROC-FRONT

Holidays

When I first started this blog, about three years ago, I never did have to think so much. I mean, I pretty much penned (rather typed) my thoughts on here, as and when they poured forth. As days became more rushed, the posts became forced. Now, we have reached a point where I sit in front of the laptop and wonder what would interest you folks. I forget sometimes, rude as it sounds, it was never about the readers. This was a pressure release valve. A place to vent.


I am off from work for a couple of weeks. Therefore I am at home with the babies- full time. I keep them fed, clothed, bathed and entertained (kind of). I make sure they are safe and comfortable at all times. Yet, when the dust settles (more like when the toys move from the carpet to the boxes) and as the day draws to a close, I feel like I have whiled away time and have accomplished nothing. I have not worked on my papers, or read up on anything. I have done nothing to better myself or the world. I feel like a lazy slob, who willed the day away.

Worse, even though I feel like I achieved nothing, I am beyond exhausted.

I deem myself to be an utter failure because I cannot get my 3 month old to nap for even an hour. Ha, not even 30 mins. Nor can I get my three year old to eat anything truly nutritious. I ain’t even one of those hip mums who has summer activities and playdates planned out. My idea of a playdate is a trip to the mall and playing peek-a-boo amid the clothes racks. We do make almost weekly trips to the beach, but the time spent in the car (with screeching baby and whining child) far outstretches the time spent on the sand because come on, it f*&^ing 50 degrees outside. Who are we kidding!

My ‘annual vacation’ is being eaten away by this mundanity, or so I feel. Of course, I enjoy the lie ins, and the late nights. I don’t have to set an alarm for a few days and I can veg out the entire day in my PJs. I appreciate these small mercies. Yet, I cannot for the life  of me get this irrational, stupid, annoying, nagging feeling out of my head. Of being useless.

The fault is mine. Entirely mine. Just before the start of this “break”, I had grand plans for myself. Of getting our schedules on point. Have the baby and child sleep and wake up at humane hours. Of working on my fitness. Of seriously getting some work done on my pending work projects aka research and review articles. Of maybe even attempting an exam or two, and get a couple of collegiate memberships under my belt. Of getting the three year old into some classes. Hahahahahaha…..

Even though, I’m not really ‘busy’ (with busy being a relative term) I am constantly on a short fuse because small, independent, outspoken humans are hard work. Battling the will of an intelligent, stubborn 3 year old is a lost cause. Add another smaller human attached to your body and constantly needing outfit changes into the mix, and a brain constantly telling you that you have so much to do- your fuse is about a nanometer long.

At the risk of sounding like a monstrous mother, I will admit that I am much better off as a working mum. I do so much more. I offer so much more. I accomplish so much more.

All the rushing, and I suddenly realise I have no idea how to relax. I truly don’t.

Also, if  time expands to fit the tasks at hand, it also contracts and becomes nothing when you don’t do much.

So, here I am. Venting, past midnight. A sleeping baby on my lap and me straining over him and typing on my laptop. A true picture of “a mum who doesn’t have her S*&t together”.

And oh, did I mention that my three year old had a McDonald Happy Meal for dinner.

To giver her company, I made instant ramen.

We sat in front of a screen playing Caillou.

But the kids are alive, the parents are fed, the home is livable, the bathrooms are scrubbed and the toys have found their night homes.

F*^& the other s%^t I say!

 

Till next time.

Dr J.

 

First world problems.

Forgive me if any of you folks are having a difficult time in life. Apologies if you have bigger problems. Please do no take offence to the fact that my current problem is finding a gym in Doha that opens before 6 AM. And please do not mention those hotel gyms that would cost me a minor fortune every month.

Most open at 8 am apparently. One fancy place I visited opens it’s grand, faux gold crusted doors for women at 10 AM! The lady at the reception looked at me with an utterly bewildered expression when I told her that my preferred time would be around 5 (or earlier) in the morning.

I like to get my exercise/ training/ runs out of the way early in the day. More than a decades experience has taught me that it is the only way to stay consistent. I want to get back to training, seriously again; all said though, the city might fail me.

Even the “Anytime Fitness” chain here isn’t quite open “anytime”.

I wonder why.

Till next time.

J.

Mindfulness

Long before it became a high- society fad, an old, grey haired, yoga teacher tried to instil this quality into my 17 year old self. I thought it sounded good, but dismissed it as something that old people do. Not sure why the idiot me thought that though. Being aware of one’s internal self, and being in tune with the present moment, should not just be a old person thing. Ugh, stupid teen!

Mindfulness is important, now more than ever. We are a distracted generation. Technology, social media and the “flattening” of the world has literally ripped our privacy to shreds and most of us never seem to have single moment in a day when we aren’t occupied with something. Our children have no idea what it means to be bored and our grandchildren will probably have wifi receivers fitted into their heads or something.

I sometimes don’t remember for sure what I had for breakfast. One day coalesces into the next, while we swim deep in the quagmire of posts, blogs, vlogs, news, chats, video calls..

I switch on the radio every time I drive. I put earplugs on when I work out. I am reading something when I breastfeed. Watching TV when I eat and youtube videos when I get ready in the morning. A bit pathetic I think.

We are afraid or possibly bored with our own company, when did it come to that?

Yesterday, I chose to train without my head phones (rather I was forced to, as I had forgotten them). I concentrated on each muscle as I used them. I found running on the treadmill extremely boring, so I tried to focus on and try a new method of breathing.

I paid attention to every niggle and was mindful of how one arm seemed to take the slack for the other while I did combined exercises.

I always knew my forearms sucked, but not until yesterday did I realise how much.

I found out that my legs were even stronger that I thought they were and I was grossly undermining them by not pushing them hard enough.

I strained my neck muscles whenever I struggled with finishing a set.

My breathing was out of whack and was messing with my efficiency.

Just paying attention to my body and breathing, taught me more than anything that a personal trainer or expert could tell me.

I was so fascinated, that I chose to not to put the music on when I drove back. I was so much more aware of my surroundings. As I walked back to my car in the dim glow of the street lamp, I wondered how easy it would be for someone to grab the distracted me from behind and run away with my belongings, or worse. I looked back instinctively and found nothing amiss.

As I sat in my stuffy car and took a moment, I concentrated on breathing deep and full, and felt each muscle group loosen and relax, one by one. I noticed the unique hum of the engine, and how it seemed to mirror my breathing as we idled at a traffic signal.

Like usual, I took the stairs to our apartment. Usually, I run up the five floors, the aim being to simply finish the task as quick as possible. Last evening, I leisurely stepped on each stair, realising that unlike the usual running junkie I am hamstring and glute dominant rather than quad dominant. My quads are in fact an embarrassment! I also realise how much easier it is to climb five floors after a good workout rather than after I stand the whole day (in the procedure room or OR).

To continue on this path of accidentally discovered mindfulness, I chose to not have any distractions during our next nursing session. No TV, books, iPads, laptops or phones. I stared into the brown- grey eyes of my three month old. His eyes are the most extraordinary color I realised. Not entirely brown, sometimes grey. Their intrigue and beauty enhanced by startlingly prominent limbal rings. He watched intently and seemed to converse with me, as we sat silently in our private bubble of contentment. I was mindful of my indescribable feeling of belonging and attachment to this tiny human and felt a strange sense of joy settling in. Sounds like a load of crappy mumbo- jumbo, but honestly I speak the truth and nothing but the truth!

There is something after all to this mindfulness brouhaha. And I hope to practice more of it in my day to day existence.

You folks too should give it a go.

Till next time.

Dr J.

Labour & Delivery @ Women’s Hospital, Qatar

To date, most readers who end up on these pages are those looking for information on the birthing process here in Qatar. A large share of the very large and diverse expatriate population here is mostly the younger demographic. Families that are still expanding. Women getting pregnant and delivering their babies in an alien land, away from the comforting support of extended family and friends.

Three and a half years ago, I was clueless about labour and delivery (the reality I mean, not the theory). I was also clueless about how things would pan out once I went into labour. The state funded healthcare system here is great but it is not without pitfalls. Considering how over burdened it is, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. It can be chaotic, very crowded and sometimes a bit too “clinical”. But they try hard and I appreciate that. I know how it is to be overworked in the healthcare sector. The labour and delivery service at the largest women’s hospital in the country is probably one of the busiest in the world. No kidding.

Let us start with my pre- natal appointments. Unlike the last time, where I was primarily followed up at the primary health centre, this time all my appointments were at the main hospital. Due to complications that Lil Z had, apart from regular OB visits, I also had regular appointments and ultrasound scans at the high risk unit- aka the feto-maternal unit.

The difference in patient satisfaction this time is incomparable. If I felt helpless and frustrated with my care the last time, this time I looked forward to meeting my doctors. I also went home after each appointment, a happy and optimistic woman. Content, grateful for the excellent care. I was even afforded some flexibility with the appointment times and was regularly given dates every month initially, and then every two weeks at the end. Compare this to three years ago, all I had was two appointments at the health centre and one at Women’s. All different doctors, and me a first time mum!

As far as the birth went, it was almost as good as it could get. I worked full time till the very end. On the day The Little Man was born, I woke up early with some discomfort. This was nothing new. I was in perennial discomfort by this stage. And had been barely able to stand for procedures the previous day. But I was about 38 weeks and I had a feeling that this was it . I’m more of a 38 weeks kinda gal.

I woke up, freshened up and walked around the house. Pottered around doing this and that. I bounced on the exercise ball, checked the patient list for the day, watched the news. Had some tea. Tried to not wake the other inhabitants in the house.

The discomfort turned to pain pretty soon. The pain was rhythmic and regular, and I knew by this time that the day had come. I felt eerily calm. Oddly, I did not feel hurried or anxious. I felt truly ready.

When things started to get a bit serious, woke the Mister up. We sipped tea, chatting about inane matters. It was entirely up to me, when to leave for hospital. It was about 0500 am and thankfully traffic wouldn’t be a problem for another hour or so. We got dressed, got the bag out and were ready to leave, whenever I felt like it.

By 0530 hours, the contractions were a little over a minute apart. We decided to leave, mainly due to the fear of impending traffic and also because we anticipated another quick one again. During the ten minute ride to the hospital, things hastened. There was a sense of deja vu, with me clutching the seat of the car, and huffing.

We parked at the far off parking lot and walked to the emergency room, stopping every minute till the contraction/ pain passed. I went up to the reception and offered my health card. I was clutching the railings and wall every minute by then. I sucked in and dealt with the pain as and when it came. Nobody took me seriously (why would they- screaming is the norm and I wasn’t even close to screaming), but I knew I was quite far along.

By the time I was triaged by the nurses and checked in it was 0630. And when the doctor checked me, it was about 0645. It was only then that the nurses and orderlies stared scrambling- I was 7 cm dilated, fully effaced (childbirth speak- the Mamas will get it). I was in a labour suite by 0654.

All this while, I was chatting up the nurse, telling her which was my best vein, calling my department secretary to tell her to find someone to cover my clinic for the day and get me off the roster from the next day. As I was disrobing and getting poked and prodded at by the nurses and midwife, a resident came by to take a quick history and offer me the option of an epidural. We said hello and made small talk for a bit. It was 0700 by then and I was 8 cm or more she said. I asked her to quickly break my waters and get things rolling, and stop brandishing the epidural candy. I’m not against epidurals, and honestly I was very, very close to taking up on her offer. But I also knew that I had already suffered through the worse, I was in “transition” as they call it and if all went well, the pushing stage would commence as soon as the waters were broken. I might even deliver before the anaesthetist could set things up or even if I managed to get one, I might deliver before it acts. Therefore, pointless.

There was gas and air of course, if I wanted it. Honestly though, I was past the point of any sort of pain control. And the thing with having no pain relief, is that I felt totally in it. In control. In the moment. Head, as clear as it could be. My own hormones and adrenaline doing what needed to be done. I knew exactly what to do and how. I even called my husband between two pushes as he was supposed to go and wait in the male waiting area. I told him, “Give me ten minutes, okay”.

Husbands/ men are technically not allowed in the clinical areas, female relatives can stay with the patient, but are not allowed in the actual delivery/ labour room/ suite. But the husband can be called in for a moment or two to the delivery room before they whisk you off to recovery once things are cleaned up (you, the baby and the room)- to say hello to the new entrant.

In short, by 0730 things were done and dusted, literally. Mr H got to meet The Little Man a few mins after and then we said our byes for a bit. Skin to skin is practised and they are quite good about that. You could also ask for delayed cord clamping if you want to. The midwives delivered the baby, and I have no problems with that, considering I was a low risk case. But the baby was considered high risk, thanks to his sister’s credentials and therefore the paediatrician was on stand by and a neonatologist also came by and ordered tests in less than a couple of hours.

I spent very little time in recovery. I had an IV line inserted as per protocol, but since I was eating and drinking throughout, I wanted it out as soon as possible. The nurses are more than happy to oblige as soon as your have your first wee in recovery. Again, I am aware of the protocols, and the reasons for them so I don’t feel the need to fight these things.

The hospital is pro- breastfeeding and even though the nurses are ever busy, they are happy to help you with any issues that you may have in this department.

As soon as a room is available (and after you have wee’ed), you are taken to the wards upstairs. You most likely will have to share a room with another patient. But there is adequate privacy, in lieu of curtains. The on suite bathrooms are clean and sufficient.

The nurses are efficient and the meals arrive like clockwork. I ain’t fussy with food, and therefore I enjoyed all my meals. Three meals, with snacks in between. You do have some choice in regard to you meal preferences. No complaints there.

You are expected to be in hospital garb during delivery/ surgery. But are encouraged to get into your own clothes in the ward. The uber useful giant pads and super comfortable mesh underpants are provided upon request. Diapers too are provided, but it does no harm to take some your own. Blankets and pillows are provided, even for the female attender who can stay with you overnight. Male visitors(including husbands), are encouraged to leave past 10/ 11 PM.

If all goes well, you will be discharged the next day (for vaginal births). As per the cultural norms of this part of the world, circumcision is offered for all male babies. You can take it or leave it. It involves a signed consent, some EMLA cream and a short 20 mins or so separation of you and the baby. This may prolong your discharge by a day or so.

We had to stay longer at the hospital as The Little Man too ended up having ABO incompatibility. We were better prepared this time, and I will not write about it in detail except that it all ended alright and we are doing well now.

In summary, things went as smooth as they possibly could. My labour in hospital was less than an hour in duration- half an hour maybe. It was my decision to labour at home for as long as possible. I had several reasons for it. But if you are less confident about it, or have other issues that make you high risk, I’d suggest you get to the hospital earlier. Also, ask for an epidural whenever you feel the need to. Request it early, as the anaesthesiologists in the unit are insanely busy.

I have been both the patient and doctor. And therefore my perspectives on things may be different. I get why doctors may sometimes seem rushed, or why the nurses many not immediately respond when I push the button. I also know that medication can sometimes be ordered “PRN” and therefore I will have to ask for it. Only you can feel your pain, so don’t be shy about it. I also know that it is good to be wary of unnecessary intervention and be aware of patient rights, but that doesn’t mean I kick and fight everything and doubt the highly trained staff at every corner just because Dr Google (or some internet “expert”) said something. Having a relaxed attitude, made my hospital stay easier, no doubt.

My final piece of advice, do your research but know when to stop. Don’t fall prey to the scaremongering and only base your decisions on the horror stories. Yes, you don’t want to be “that unfortunate case” but you need to understand that people usually come online to vent about their bad experiences. There are hundreds of “average”, mundane, regular stories that never get told online.

All the very best to all the soon- to- be Mamas. Am happy to answer any questions you may have about my experience (two in three years).

Till next time.

J.

Don’t wait.

We are a restless generation, I’m told. We are impatient they say. We cannot wait.

Nobody seems to get the fact that we CAN NOT wait. This is the pace that life dictates. If you haven’t noticed, every succeeding generation is more prone to impatience.

Why wait anyway? Our lives are most likely going to be short. Our productive life I mean. Not the cancer ailing, hypertension controlled, medicated life that is waiting for us sooner rather than later.

An old senior of mine, back from my undergrad days has been in touch with me in recent days. She is 37, an OB- GYN with a busy private and hospital practice. She runs triathlons and has a Great Dane named Albus and cat whose name currently skips my mind (I remember ‘Albus’ only because of the Harry Potter reference). Her husband is a 40 year old bodybuilder who also happens to be an orthopaedic surgeon (so cliched!). They waited to get married. Surgical training came first. They also waited to have children.

Everybody is entitled to make their own choices. I’m not here to berate or judge. In fact I have made some bizarre, downright stupid choices in life. And I have paid/ or will pay for them. But the choice to postpone our lives, to delay family issues in lieu of a surgical/ medical career is sometimes encouraged or indirectly imposed (poor maternity policies, stigma, patriarchal heads of departments, discrimination).

This triathlete OB friend has given me permission to write about her. She believes it the waiting that did it (science may not agree). She wants people to not wait. The public in general and the surgical trainees in particular. After 5 years of “trying” to have a baby and two more years of failed infertility treatment- they are disillusioned and tired.

She is almost a role model to me. A woman travelling the world acquiring special surgical skills. Publishing dozens of papers, when peers struggled to have one to their name. I was a teeny bit jealous too. I thought, not being encumbered by young children must be a great thing for her career wise.

She does not think so, not anymore.

I was acutely aware that my mommy- rants and constant whining about sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue might not sit well on the ears of a woman who seems to have everything except the one thing that she desperately wants. For the alpha- surgeon types being denied something makes one aggressively pursue it.

She and I both think that it is absolutely fine for a woman to chose career over having a family. That is her prerogative. We are not discussing them here. Here, we talk about those who do want to try a hand at having both but are forced to chose or delay one in order to further another. Our sincere advise to such women is- DO NOT WAIT. Go for both, it is possible and someday you will be grateful for it. That “someday” you will also wonder, how in hell did you manage all that sh%* together!

I seemed to have slowed my pace, while my male peers and colleagues are scurrying to attain training goals. But I do believe I will catch up. And surpass. Call it cockiness or confidence, I have to believe it to keep moving forward. (Our fraternity values confidence above all else.)

So ladies, do not wait. If you feel like it, go for it. Don’t wait. Train for that marathon, marry that gorgeous man, backpack across India, have that baby. Surgery will wait. Life will not.

Till next time.

J.

P.S. Cautionary warning- Yay for having a family and a surgical career. But let me warn you, the sh&^ will hit the ceiling on many days. Buy a long handled mop or wear a raincoat- that choice too is yours to make! 🙂

I never said it is easy, only possible.

Broody mornings.

It is 0433 hours. The early morn. The city has already began to stir. The morning runners have commenced their warm up, at the least. The construction industry is well and truly onto the workday. The morning shift nurses have to be at work in about an hour. The school buses would have been plying their bleary eyed wards by now, if not for the summer holidays.

We better start our days early here. By late morning, the soaring temperatures start to roast us out of our juices. By noon, we are done. We might still be at our schools and offices, but we ARE done. We sit in our dry, artificially cooled rooms and will the clock to take us to the hour that can take us home.

I ain’t a morning person, by any stretch. At best, I’m inwardly broody, at worst I’m outright snarky and irritable. I am pissed off. I am like a coiled spring, a whip waiting to lash out or riled up like an irritated lion at a noisy zoo. I have learned to live with it. It is a personality trait, not a habit that can be broken.

And the earlier I have to begin my day, the worse it seems to be.

Thanks to my default mental disposition, the early starts affect me more than the general Janes and those annoying morning persons who wake up with a smile on their face and a song on their lips. I get by most of the morning with a furrowed brow and a perpetual frown. It takes about 2 hours or so to find my groove in the mornings. Things are worse now, as I not only have to get my arse to work; I have other broody, annoyed small humans that have to be prepped and primed for their day before I head out the door. Damn destiny.

Lil’ Z seems to have taken after her mother. She hardly ever wakes up smiling, and is always slightly angry at the universe in the mornings. The Little Man, I am not sure yet. He may have escaped the Broody Morning Gene, I hope he has. He is young yet. I cannot tell for sure. I hope he has, for this household cannot handle another temperamental morning person.

You might think, I should have found ways to improve my morning mood by now. After all, it’s been three decades. The answer is yes and no. The average crappy morning feeling can be conquered, but some mornings are unsalvagable. It is almost as if, I am pissed off at myself for not dying in my sleep.

There are a few things though, that I find help me ward off the sickly feeling that seems to be engulf me as I drag myself out of bed each day.

1. Wake up early.
Rushing seems to aggravate the situation.

2. Eat something as soon as you wake up.
Maybe it’s just a simple case of acute early morning hypoglycaemia.

3. Morning run.
Probably the best solution. Almost always works. I sweat the annoyance out of me.

4. Music.
Almost as good as the run.

5. Get things in order the previous night.
Outfits, work bag, breakfast plans, nursery bags, keys- for me rushing about in the morning to get these things in order is like asking a math- hating, deprived drug addict to solve a calculus problem whilst blaring loud, clanky music that she hates. Ha, what rubbish analogy. See, I told you I am not a morning person!

6. Shower, duh!
I am a night shower person, but a morning shower always helps with my mood I notice.

7. Marry a sane, morning person.
This can work both ways. Over time, you can erode his morning vitality, or he may vanquish some of your darkness. But beware, this can either make or break your marriage 🙂

This post is dedicated to all my fellow broody morners (pun intended). I sympathise, and you are not alone.

May our tribe decrease.

GOOD MORNING!
Till next time.

Dr J.

Rundays are back!

Hiya folks. God it’s been long. I have just been going with the flow the past few months. The mission each day is “Survive Today”. And so everything except the bare necessities of family and work life have taken a back seat. No. Not the back seat, they have been kicked out of the room and in fact out the building and block even!

Lately though, even though I feel like I’m juggling half a dozen balls in the air whilst wearing a double eye patch and riding a unicycle on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon – I have been wanting to do more of the things that once made me ME. The true me. Not the mommy me or the surgeon me or the wife me.

Last time I did a runday post I had mentioned that I am quitting running. At that juncture in life, I had had enough of my rickety knees and the runs were getting mundane, uninspiring. I had lost the running mojo and forgotten how enjoyable it used to be. How liberating. How it could clear my head and help me make decisions. How challenging and rewarding.

Anyhoo, I have tapped the dust off my trainers and gotten back on the road. It isn’t going to be the same though. For starters I plan to run only once a week, and mainly for pleasure. Will not push my knees past their limits. I cannot spare a single day off, therefore I will willingly do nothing that even remotely jeopardises my well being.

Running once a week, will do nothing to rid me off my post partum jiggles though. For that, I might have to hit the gym. I am not really the gym rat, but tough times call for tough measures. We’l see ..

Till next time.

J.