Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Warmth: Weekly Photo Challenge

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Warmth.wpid-img_20140709_125953405.jpg

Nothing much warmer than a hothouse full of orchids.  One of my husband’s memories from his dad:  he inherited an orchid and that started our collection.  This bloom arrived in time for my daughter’s ninth birthday.

Hah Bumbug!


The Beadstork family is a bit eccentric. I will seamlessly offer proof in the form of a list of our Christmas Day activities:

1. My husband did actual billable computer work. On Christmas. He works EVERY DAY. And he fixed my Mom’s computer.

2. My father consumed an entire pound of homemade fudge between the hours of 9 AM and 7 PM.

3. My daughter’s favorite gift was a bow and arrow – a toy, but much better made and high tech. She spent the entire day shooting the suction cup arrow down the hall into the front door. By bedtime she had a blister.

4. We ran the dishwasher 3 times.

5. I gave my husband a sterling silver chain maille choker that I made, worth hundreds of dollars. He gave me a library book that he made my daughter wrap.

6. We spent a good part of midday creating multicolored polymer high bounce balls with a chemical reaction that occurred in our kitchen.

7. My father read me poetry out of his poetry book that he published.

8. We had an exhaustive conversation about social status and personal responsibility. Somehow it turned into a discussion about how longbows and crossbows had rendered body armor obsolete.

9. My mom Facebook messaged me from her computer upstairs to my phone downstairs : “So where are you spending Christmas this year? Ohio? North Dakota?” From downstairs I messaged back: “Um… at your house?”

10. An enormous Wile E Coyote wearing a Santa hat sat in one of the living room chairs the whole weekend.

11. My mom gave me this AWESOME “Happy Light” designed to treat seasonal depression that I can also use to make my jewelry. Bonus: she says she got it free with the purchase of a lightbulb that cost a fraction of the free lamp!

12. We drank 3 pitchers of Crystal Light lemonade.

13. My father spent the day reading my “gift” book from the library. He’s a quarter of the way through already.

14. My seventy-something mom showed us videos on her smartphone.

15. My husband spent the evening reading a book on beginning meditation. New obsession!

16. Mom turned the sound off for every TV commercial during The Grinch.

17. My daughter and my mom made the annual “granddaughter-grandmother” cheese ball from scratch – a tradition now spanning 4 generations.

18. There were exotic chickens roaming through our yard. The peacocks were off duty today.

19. We temporarily lost the cat.

20. We found a picture of my friend’s dad on Facebook that had a mysterious glow between his legs, and three generations giggled about “Christmas balls”

21. I tantalized my daughter with tales of a tongue twister that results in horrible obscenities if said incorrectly.

22. We schemed to take up money to buy the neighbor a new muffler, since the poor man clearly can’t afford one.

23. My dad would have eaten all the mint brownies, so mom had to hide them.

24. We discussed the pros and cons of collecting copays up front in a doctor’s office.

25. I taught my daughter about super-nummerary nipples. She asked me if I have an extra boob, and when I said no, she said “Aww… I wanted a special mom!”. I told her that I am way too special already without one.

26. We discussed the importance of protecting book spines and dust covers.

27. I ranted about super-conservatives who equate using the word X-mas with satanism because ” you’re taking the Christ out of Christmas “. I worship Satan because I don’t write the word out longhand on every box I put back in the attic? Honestly, I told my husband, it’s not like we’re replacing the word Christ with a SKULL or anything, at which point my husband said, ” Bwa ha ha! Merry Skullmas!”, which became an instant family classic.

28. I got an email notifying me that I made Delta Diamond Medallion. It’s good to be the queen!

29. We argued over whether or not Will Wheaton was in Stand By Me (he was – ha!)

30. Mom read aloud an entire article about 18 little known facts about the movie A Christmas Story.

31. My daughter’s second favorite gift was a huge hardback set of the Lemony Snicket books. She lugged the box up and down the stairs all day.

32. My husband picked all the nuts out of his fudge.

33. I ate my husband’s ice cream, which made him avow eternal wrath.

34. My mom’s tuner croaked Christmas Eve, necessitating that we stream free Amazon Prime Christmas playlists off my phone via a little bullet speaker. We listened to Straight No Chaser nine hundred times.

35. I spent, like, a whole lot of time searching for sterling silver letters I bought to make a gift bracelet. I SWEAR I brought them. I KNOW I brought them.

36. I gave my dad a beaded bald eagle I made to add to his beaded bird collection – he has four now. I stayed up late Christmas Eve because I HAD to finish it.

37. My husband took four or five fists full of vitamins every few hours because he is attempting to purge mercury from his body.

38. Mom and I went through ALL of my daughter’s school pictures, only to discover that she has three sets that I don’t. What?

39. I caught my sweater on some blinds and knocked over a window-worth of Christmas decorations.

40. We discussed how the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors changed the Mayan social caste system.

41. Also, my husband texted me AS ME on my own phone demanding hot Christmas sex.

42. I ate something other than yogurt today.

43. My daughter made a Lego set containing police alligators with red and blue lights, moving tails and (SCORE) mouths that really open.

44. My husband gifted me an awesome fossil ammonite pendant from his trip to Slovenia.

45. I don’t think anyone ever got dressed.

Last flight home to the North Pole!  A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

The Cynic’s Stages Of Pregnancy

1)  Thinking About Having a Baby:  has no effect on whether or not you will actually have one.  The universe will pregger you pretty much as it chooses,  (or not) any time that it chooses.  A general rule of thumb:  your chances of conceiving a pregnancy are inversely proportionate to how much you want to be pregnant.

2)  Conceiving a Pregnancy:  Did you really think I was going to give you instructions here?  I will say, standing on your head may be helpful.  If you need to have conception explained to you, call your mom.  And then enjoy watching her freak out.  Especially if you are older than forty.  The internet is jam full of very interesting videos (OK, porn) which will offer you limitless ideas for different approaches to conception.  Or gonorrhea.  You’re more likely to get gonorrhea.  Fact:  pregnancy IS a sexually transmitted disease.

3)  Finding Out:  First, you have to deal with the baffling intricacies of the pregnancy test.  Most people choose to pee on an average of at least 6 sticks before they accept the verdict.  The home pregnancy tests available over the counter are exactly as accurate as the much more expensive Doctor Ones.  I’d do them at home unless you are having problems.  You may get the dreaded “kinda pregnant” result with the little faint pale fuzzy line.  Just repeat in a week.  If still fuzzy, call your doc to get sorted out.

4)  The Response:  divides more or less into three camps, although they may intersect somewhat.  You will either be Team Ohhhhh Noooo, or you will be Team Yessssss, with Team Ambivalent hovering in between.

5) Telling Everyone:  may be as follows: The OMG So Excited Twitter FB LinkedIn Email Text Phone Call Billboard strategy, also affectionately known as The Drama Approach, b) telling your partner, your family and your close friends, also known as the Moderate Approach or c) telling only your partner until you hit 12 weeks and your risk of miscarriage is pretty much gone – which is a very smart approach.  Up to 1 in 3 early pregnancies may end in miscarriage – if something happens, do you really want to face the painful questions and watch your friends fumble to think of the right thing to say?  This is the Cautious Approach, and as an OB, I must say I recommend it.
6) Early Pregnancy: you will look like you are getting fat and letting yourself go instead of looking pregnant. It is possible that you may barf up your toenails your entire first trimester. Maybe longer. Your boobs will hurt really bad and you will want to assassinate your partner for merely dragging the bed sheet across your chest. Your refrigerator and your trash will smell so bad you will vomit, because your sense of smell becomes so acute.
7) Your OB: by now, you’ve probably found one. Your first visit will be interminable, you will be asked all sorts of embarrassing questions, and they will remove approximately half of your blood from your body for labs. The ultrasound is really cool, though.
8) Second trimester: you will actually start to show, and get a baby bump, thank goodness. Your raging hormones will chill out a little. You may actually feel almost normal. I will warn you, the “glow of pregnancy” is actually grease.
This is when strangers will start to touch your belly and ask questions. Because the national pastime is scaring pregnant women to death, they will give you wrong and scary advice, tell you horrible stories, and you will call your OB in tears multiple times. One major plus: you get to feel the baby moving. Sometimes your partner can’t feel it yet and gets really jealous. Another bonus: you get to find out the sex of the baby. Or you may argue vigorously with your partner about whether you are going to find out the sex of the baby.
9) Planning For Delivery: you will be terrified of the impending delivery until you are so uncomfortable near your due date that you no longer care – you just want that baby OUT. If you are gung-ho, you will most likely have read at least 8 books about pregnancy and delivery, all of which made you more terrified than you already were. If you are really intrepid, you may have created a birth plan, or you may have gotten a doula or a midwife to attend your delivery. This is all OK with us, but OBs have a cynical expression:  “Birth plan + doula = C-section.”. This is not because we want you to have one; we want you to be happy with your birth, but it seems that the universe always conspires to make those who really want a natural birth need a C-section, which sucks for us and for you.
10) Delivery: I won’t delve into this much because everyone’s experience is different. This is a good time to give yourself a pep talk about control. As in, you don’t have any. We happily try to accommodate you, but what we need to do in labor is completely dictated by the baby’s well-being and by what your body does, and you can’t control either. This will help you to accept that you will have no control over most of your parenting either, because kids are little people and they often have other ideas about how any given day may proceed. Also, during your delivery, your partner may or may not pass out.
11) Bringing baby home: a properly installed car seat is a must. Then there is that moment where you pull up your driveway with a whole new person and you look at each other and think, ” Holy crap, what did we just do?!? “. And so it begins…

Twinkle: The Daily Post

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Twinkle.”

Disco Dock

My daughter dancing on lighted steps at a dock in Stockholm,  Sweden

All Or Nothing?

The question was posed:  is it more dangerous to want everything or nothing?

I think desiring everything can be an indication of ambition, if what you want is intangible.  Failure to narrow down these aspirations make one the proverbial “Jack of all Trades,  and Master of None.”  Those of us with this issue of course refer to ourselves as “Renaissance” persons.  It sounds better.

I had no goals in high school.  Except to survive.

Desire for things is a  symptom of the commercialization fed to us every day; we are bombarded:  ads on TV, ads online, the lure of a glistening store.

The sellers know, the more we are dissatisfied with ourselves, the more we are likely to buy a product.  “If I just bought this wrinkle cream, I would look younger and more desirable.”  “If I bought this treadmill, I would lose weight and be sexy.”  It is human nature to desire to improve, fit in, and of course, find a “better” mate.  And society has persuaded us, tragically, that this results from conspicuous consumption, not from internal change.

Desiring many things can also indicate greediness, addiction, hoarding issues, and narcissicism,  where people may spend more than they can afford, landing themselves in debt and jeopardizing their family’s finances.

I confess, I do want everything. Things.  In my case, I want to improve my looks, and to fit in with my peer groups, and I have definite packrat tendencies.  I love to shop, and sometimes I engage in retail therapy.  I shop when I feel bad, I shop when I feel good, I shop because I love to bring home piles of lovely things to add to my treasure troves of clothing, art and jewelry supplies, books, stationery, eclectic decorating items.  My interests are wide.  And since high school, I have harbored the conviction that the more “cool” things I have, the safer from criticism and ostracism I will be.

Wanting no material things; that’s good.  We could use more asceticism in life.  A simple life is examined and confident.

But wanting nothing; that can be scarier still.  I realized one day, a few years back, that despite hoarding my precious supplies of material things, that I have no goals left.

I had a goal to go to college; I finished with a whopper GPA .  Check.  Next goal: have fun.  Did that in spades.  Overdid that.  Next stop, medical school.  Made straight A’s my first two years, and nearly that the second two.  Check.  Next stop, residency.  Chose a specialty and spend a grueling 4 years training, being hazed, overworked and psychologically abused.  Survived it, and I never let them see me cry.  Check, check, check, check.

I bought the car of my dreams, a Porsche Carrera, after graduating.   Goal met.  I wanted to get married.  Finally met and married my husband at the ripe old age of 35.  Goal met.  We wanted children, and I produced a daughter with frightening speed.

And one day, I woke up and I realized there was nothing left.  All those life goals, done.  What else is there?   What do I want now?  What life achievement is out there?

I’ve given this a fair bit of thought.

Many aspire for grandchildren, which would be nice, but it is not a goal for me.

I want to make more friends.  I guess that’s sort of a goal.

I’d like to simplify my life by divesting myself of these possessions.  But I don’t really want to.

I want to improve my jewelry techniques and make selling my work more of a career and less of a hobby.  It’s a dream I cannot realize, since the loss of income would be unacceptable. That would be a goal, but it is inconveniently imaginary.

I want to get in better shape, but do I really?  I abhor gyms; they bore me, and I don’t go.  Must not be much of a goal, if I’m not doing anything about it..

I would like to write a book.  It may or may not happen.  I know I do have one in me.  It’s probably the only true goal I have left.

What I really want is to quit my job.  Scarcely a positive move.

Not wanting anything is an abyss you stare into.  There is nothing at the bottom of it, at the end of it.  In essence, life is over.  I feel I should just cede what’s left to the next generation.

Not wanting is the end of the road.  It brings on an unsurmountable depression.  I am reminded always of Peggy Lee’s song “Is That All There Is?”  I learned it as a kid, but didn’t realize the sadness and truth in it until I was older.

If you want material things, at least you are alive in a small way.  You are moving toward something, persuading yourself that amassing collections is a vital “hobby”.

I’ve always felt I want too many tangible things, but that never gave me this sinking feeling that there is nothing left to achieve.  That is a special kind of hell.  A bottomless pit.  And when hope is gone, that is a very, very dangerous thing.  A person with nothing to lose is a disaster waiting to happen.

How To Survive A Trip To Your Gyn

This post may seem somewhat redundant, and rather lengthy.  I am putting this out there because every day a search term such as “do you need to shave your legs to go to your gynecologist?” is the predominant search that brings people to my blog.  Obviously people are desperate for information.
And you men.  I see you about to click out of here.  Not so fast!  A truly wise man will absorb the wisdom here so he can a) sympathize with a woman when she is about go through this frightful experience and b) look like a totally cool guy who pays attention to women’s issues, which may get you laid.
So.  How to survive a visit to your Gyn in a few easy steps:
1)  Decide to make an appointment.  This may seem obvious, because we women can come up with two hundred thousand excuses not to go.  You need to go.  Go.  We may catch something early that will save your life!
2)  Make an appointment.  Do not overlook this important step, friends.  Making an appointment is NOT “just popping by because you were getting groceries up the street.”. Dropping in will make your Gyn grumpy.  And you don’t want a grumpy pants poking a speculum at you!
3)  Show UP for the appointment.  Otherwise you totally wasted steps 1 and 2, and you will be put in the Gynie Book of Shame.  (Just kidding.  We don’t have that book.  But if we did, you would TOTALLY be in it.)
4)  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Literally.  We don’t care if you shave your legs.  We won’t even NOTICE that you didn’t shave your legs.  Unless you apologize for not shaving, in which case we will feel obligated to look.  It’s not your legs we’re looking at, ladies.  Also, don’t fret that it’s been a long day and “you’re not that fresh down there.”. This is a concept invented by the feminine hygiene products corporations.  And they sold you on it, didn’t they??  Unless you smell like a Tibetan Yak after a goat milk bath, which would be exceedingly rare, we don’t notice that either.  Last, don’t attempt to scrub away any “odor” with toilet paper.  It rolls up into little balls that get all tangled up in your pubic hair, and we have to figure how to work around them without embarrassing you by telling you they are there.
5)  We don’t care what you’re wearing.  With ONE exception.  If you are wearing leather shoes or boots without socks, your feet STINK.  Trust me.  And that smell can render an exam room unusable for a few hours.  PLEASE wear socks (plus, you can wear them for your exam so your feet don’t get cold – we’re not looking at your feet either) with any footwear, and try to avoid that pair of stinky Sperry’s you’ve been wearing all last year.
6)  We want you to tell us anything that might affect your female health.  If you’re a lesbian, speak up.  There are some health issues and screenings that are different, believe it or not.  You being gay is just a piece of information we need.  We are discreet.  We are NOT going to out you.  We will not put up a billboard.  I PROMISE.
7)  Please feel free to tell us about any of your sexual practices and habits that you think might be “unusual”.  Trust me.  They’re not unusual.  Unless you’re having sex with llamas, in which case, we need to talk.  We need to know because there is knowledge that you need regarding certain things that we do.  We aren’t fishing for information so we can tell funny stories.  Again, I promise.
8)  When it’s time to get undressed, the nurse will tell you exactly what you need to do.  If you’re confused, please ask.  Many doctors will leave your clothes on until we chat, because we know it’s a little disarming to meet someone when you’re stark naked.  We may have you immediately undress when you arrive if we know you, because it saves time.  But if you prefer to leave your clothes on until the actual exam, then ask the nurse.
9)  You are totally not expected to dress up for us.  After all, it’s not your clothes we’re looking at.  We don’t care if you’re wearing your best underwear.  We aren’t even going to see it.  Clothes that have at least been washed in the past week would be nice though.
10) We can’t do a very good breast exam if you leave your bra on.
11) Equipment:  if you’re just having your yearly, and not having specific problems, we don’t need much.  The main object of terror is the speculum.  Your friends may describe it as “the duck” or “the clamp.”. It is not a duck.  It kinda looks like a duck’s beak, I guess.  But there will be no quacking of any kind.  Now, about the clamp thing.  It is NOT a clamp.  It is the opposite of a clamp.  We just use it to hold your vagina open enough so we can see your cervix up there.  If you are clamped by a speculum, we are doing something wrong.
12) Other equipment:  if we are doing a pap, all we should need is a tiny brush and a jar to swirl the brush in.  On occasion, a q-tip may be used.  None of these are scary.  There is no cutting or pinching or whatever Gothic fear you may have about what we are doing up there.  We just sweep (in a circular motion) with the little brush.
13) Special equipment.  If you are having a particular problem, we may need some different equipment.  A lot of the time, the nurse will have these terrifying-looking implements laid out on a tray.  Do not look at them and panic.  Most of the time, we aren’t going to use all of them.  They are just there in case.  If you want to know what one is for, ask.  Some patients prefer to know NOTHING about what is going to be done.  If so, just say so.  I will stop the discussion about the Kevorkian biopsy forceps immediately, and I will distract you by talking to you about your cat, or your kid getting expelled from school, or any other topic you care to introduce.  If you are too terrified to talk, I will talk.  I will talk your ear off.  Many times my patients say, ” aren’t you going to use that q-tip?”, to which I will reply, “I already did.  While we were talking.” Gynies learn to be very good talkers, because a distracted patient is a more relaxed patient.  On occasion, I have a patient laughing so hard that I tease them that they are about to cause my speculum to fly out in my lap.  Which has actually happened on a couple of occasions.  Which was very funny.
14) You can bring someone in with you if they help you to relax.  Just be warned, I am going to assume that if you don’t mind being naked in front of them, you don’t mind me discussing things in front of them.  If that is not true, please let me know when I walk into the room.
15) I love to teach people about their bodies.  Unless you’ve been to medical school, there are TONS of things I can tell you about which will be really cool to know.  I’ll start with one now: the female parts on the OUTSIDE of you, the parts anyone could see if they just looked down there are called the vulva.  Not the vagina.  The vagina is the part on the inside.  That’s the part that we have to put something in there to see.  That’s where the tampons go.  Vulva = outside.  If it itches, or has bumps on it, it’s probably your vulva.  Because you can see and feel that part.  Vagina = inside.  You’d have to stick something up in there to feel it.  Now you will look really really smart when you next talk to your Gynie, and she will be very impressed.
16) Your Gynie should notify you of your test results somehow, by mail, or a lot of offices are going to email or web sites.  The old “no news is good news” system does not let you know if your test might have been overlooked or lost.
17) Some of the rules of testing have been changed.  You may be told that you don’t need a pap every year.  Don’t worry.  Be happy.  Same deal with mammograms.
18) More bleeding is usually more worrisome than less bleeding.  At worst, less bleeding might mean pregnancy or menopause.  Increased bleeding can be any number of things, some of them not benign.
19) We like to quiz you on which you hate worse, your gynecologist or your dentist.  People seem to be divided on this.
20) Please pay us.  I know people think we are rich, but we are paying the nurses, the receptionist, the coders, the billers, the phone people, the transcriptionist, the schedulers, the ultrasonographers…  You get it.  And we’re paying their health insurance, their 401k, our staggeringly horrifying malpractice, and on, and on…
21) Don’t panic!  We want to make this easy for you.  Also, if the receptionist was mean to you, or you had to wait 5 hours, please tell us (nicely) – we need to know.
22) Please no drama.  No fights in the lobby about whether the guy with you is the father of your baby, or yelling on the phone to your old man because he’s in jail, fistfights – we’ve seen it all.  And calling security is such a bummer.
23) We keep your information secret.  Not just because it’s the right thing to do, it’s the law.  We get fined around $10,000 if we give out any information.  A corollary to this:  we give you a form when you come in where you list the people we can give your results to.  If the person is not on the list, whether they be your husband, your sister, your teenaged kid (we are only allowed to give out a minimum amount of information, even though they are minors.  Otherwise kids would be too scared to ask for birth control, or tests for diseases, or pregnancy tests), we can’t tell you anything.  Not even that the person is a patient here.  We’re not being jerks.  If they sign that Mom can get all results, then we’ll tell you.
24) You’ll feel so much better when you’re on your way out the door!  Granted, you will have the icky gel stuff leaking out of you for the rest of the day, but your health is totally worth it.  I trust we’ll see you soon!

Things Your Doctor Really Doesn’t Want To Hear

1.  It’s been 17 years since I seen a doctor.
2.  I brought you some articles to read from the internet.
3.  I have a list.
4.  Sorry about all the blood.
5.  Isn’t there just a pill for that?
6.  Why do I gotta pay my copay up front?  Don’t ya trust me?  (No)
7.  I just got back from Liberia.
8.  What do you mean, herpes?  I’m married!
9.  I think I lost something in there.
10. I’ve already seen every doctor in town.
11. It’s all a conspiracy by the medico-political establishment.
12.  Hell, no, I don’t vaccinate my kids!  They might get sick from the shots and y’all are just trying to make money off us.
13. No, I can’t pay my bill.  I just bought a new truck!
14. It smells like road kill down there!
15.  Yes, I do feel like killing someone!  Like, today!
16. Why did I have to wait 3 hours?  I was only an hour late!
17. I hate doctors.
18. I may as well just tell you, I’m not gonna take these.
19. Sorry, I’ve had diarrhea and been throwing up all day.  (Why the hell did you come in for your yearly physical?)
20.  I think my ex followed me into the waiting room.  I’ve got a restraining order, but he looks really pissed.
21. I had to bring my 3 year old.
22.  Can you test me for everything?  (What?  No!)
23. We’re going to need like 4 people to get my mom up on the table.
24. She’s pretty calm in the group home, but if you piss her off she bites.
25. The aliens have been texting through Morse code even through my safety hat.
26. My other girl I got knocked up is right up the hall.  Can you make sure they don’t see each other?
27. I don’t believe in deodorant.
28. I think I’ve got them crabs.
29. That drug is dangerous.  I know because I googled it.
30. Can you put something in my chart so I can sue my other doctor?
31. Can you get the guard to just take these shackles off, doc?
32.  Hey, what’s that?!  What are you doing?!
33.  I’m not asking for me, I’m asking for my friend.
34.  I pass out when I get pap smears.
35. Can you tell if my daughter is a virgin?
36. Can you please tell my husband I haven’t been cheating on him?
37. Can you take me off work?  I can’t stand up at the cashier’s desk, seeing as I’m 7 weeks pregnant.
38. (At 3AM) Naw, I’ve had this about 3 weeks now.
39. I want all natural bioidentical hormones.
40.  I won’t put any chemicals in my body.  (Doofus!  Your body is MADE out of chemicals.)
41. I know I’m allergic, but today I really had to have some catfish.  Can you get the swelling to go down before my job interview?
42. I don’t have a phone, but I’ll give you the number for the guys down the street.
43. My pimp said you’d get me fixed up.
44. Hey, doc.  Can I just get a few lortabs for the weekend?
45. I’m allergic to the stuff you just put on me.  I forgot to tell you.
46. I’m pretty sure I’ve got poison ivy down there.
47. While I’m here, can you look at my toenails?
48.  I know I don’t have an appointment, but I just went ahead and came.
49. No, I don’t have my insurance card.  Why would I need it?
50. No, I don’t really drink.  Just a case or so on the weekends.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten

Dawn Brancheau

Dawn Brancheau and the Whale

I took this picture during a family visit to Sea World.  Not long after our trip, I learned that Dawn was killed by the Orca Tilikum, who had attacked and drowned at least one other person.  I also learned that her family begged that the whale be spared because that is what their daughter would have wanted.  The joy on her face is so haunting; she was doing the one thing in the world that she truly loved.  Yet later, one of those whales would seize her by her ponytail and drag her around under the water until she drowned.  I can scarcely think of a more terrifying way to die.  I am amazed at the grace that her family showed; the whale was spared and now lives in a private area of the park.

Perfect Parenting



My husband is apparently furious with me over a Facebook post I

made.  I know this because during our argument, he brought it up

and I could actually hear his teeth clenching.  He doesn’t usually get

that mad.

So here is what I said:  “I know this is awful, but I am so happy that

my daughter has finally gotten to the age where she wants to do

some things by herself in her room.  I’m sure I will soon be eating

these words.”

Why was he so furious?  I told him that at some time, virtually every

mother and father has probably felt like that.  That wasn’t the

problem.  He told me (through clenched teeth) that his problem with

it was that I had made such a NEGATIVE statement, and front of

EVERYONE.  He basically couldn’t believe that I had the temerity to

say it out loud.

What the hell?

Why not?

First, I told him I thought it was a positive statement – I was posting

about something that made me happy.  No.  It was NEGATIVE.  I

guess we can’t admit out loud that our little darling has ANY

annoying issues, because you NEVER are allowed to feel that your

children are annoying.  At least not out loud, apparently.


A little bit about my daughter.  Since the minute she was born, she

could not be put down on her own.  She had to be held at all times, or

she just cried.  Our final solution was to buy a sling that we could

wear across our bodies, so that she could look out and be held, and

we could have some hands-free time.

As a toddler, she could not be left with toys to amuse herself on her

own.  She had to be touching us, and she had to have her hands all

over what we were doing.

She is almost ten, and the “Mommy look, Mommy look” thing has yet

to be extinguished.  While I was writing this I was urgently

summoned to another room for something I HAD to see.  What was

it?  Her dragon game had accidentally put a dragon with the word

“butt” in it next to a dragon that had the word “head” in it.  Ha ha ha,

hysterical!  For that I was summoned away while I had a head full of

words that were in perfect order and needed to be written down

while they were still there.  I’m sure you writers can relate.

When she was a baby, my husband thought he could stay with her

and continue to work at home.  You can guess how long that lasted.

We had a brilliant idea!  An in-house sitter who could keep her as he

worked.  Know how long THAT lasted?  Yeah, we had to put her in

daycare, because we both had to work.  And I cried like some crazy

fool when we brought her there, because I never wanted her to be a

daycare baby.

As she got older, things didn’t get better.  Even with two adults in the

house, she so constantly demanded attention that we resorted to

hiring babysitters a couple times a week in the afternoon just so we

could do some things on our own.  We seldom left the house, but the

sitters saved our sanity.  And that was HIS idea.

Later, as we had yet another worried discussion about how she so

completely could not function alone, my husband thought that

maybe it was because we had so many sitters paying attention to her,

that she had gotten used to it.  No.  I don’t think so.  She was that

way when she started, which is why we were driven to hire the


You must understand that throughout her lifetime, we have fretted

over her lack of inner resources.  It’s not that my husband didn’t see

the issues.  It’s not that he didn’t think that her neediness was


So when I made the post, it was because in the last year, she has

gotten to where she wants to watch Minecraft videos, on her own, in

her room.  You have no idea what a relief this was, to have her come

home and not instantly glom on.  She gets upset when I go out to get

the mail without telling her.  I couldn’t finish peeing before she was

looking for me, even after I told her I was going.  “But it’s taking you

such a long TIME!”

And saying that was a relief was BAD?  How exactly?  Oh.  We

mustn’t admit that we don’t want to spend every waking minute with

our child.  (This from a man who constantly says he refuses to care

about what other people think).

I guess that wanting to get a thought in edgewise makes me a

horrible parent.

What the HELL? It’s not that he didn’t recognize that she has an

issue with playing alone.

And the thing is, I’ve never stopped accommodating her.  I feel that if

a child wants attention from a parent, and that parent has it to give,

that you should spend it with your child.  After all, they grow up so

fast, right?  So just like I dropped everything to see the Butthead

Dragons (had I known that was what was so urgent, I wouldn’t have),

I have spent my life with a kid treating every little thing as

important, because to them, it is.  I have lavishly praised

achievements, set limits, looked over homework, and made a point of

never refusing a hug, even with onions browning and chicken grease

all over my hands.  I’ve heard my husband refuse hugs:  in the

middle of something, busy now, carrying stuff.

So why can’t I say what I said?  Why can no one know?  Why can’t we

let others know about things that are real?  Is he playing the

competitive parent game?  Totally not like him.  Does he just not

want any chinks to show in our perfect armor?  Not really like him

either.  I honestly don’t understand, this time, what torqued him off

so bad.

Gentle readers, can you help me?  Am I a terrible parent?  Should

that awful thought have been stifled?  Please weigh in on this.  Am I

missing something?  Help!

Leftovers Sandwich: Never Discuss Religion…*

I must be a heathen. I’m sure that’s what my neighbors say, behind my back. I have committed the cardinal sin. I live in a state where not attending church arouses suspicions of, say, communism, or bodies buried in the back yard, or satanism, or worse, possibly believing in equality for all members of society. Actually, going to church is not good enough. It has to be a Southern Baptist church. There is literally one Jewish family in my “city” of roughly 70,000. I’m not really sure why they would want to stay here.

We were unacceptable weirdos when we first moved to the south. My parents were, until they retired, both university professors, which put them on the edge of society, to say the least. Mom was a practicing Catholic when she was younger, but she and my dad really weren’t going to church by the time I was old enough to remember. She said they went to Catholic church where I was born in LA (Los Angeles, NOT Lower Alabama, as our locals might believe), because the churches were cool and funky and had guitar music and actually seemed to be run by educated people. Mom said they tried to go to church when they moved down here, but that the clergy all seemed poorly educated, judgmental and inflexible. I am reasonably sure she is right. But where I grew up, even being Catholic was considered weird. There were a handful of Catholic families in my WSB (White Southern Baptist) school, and even they were viewed with some narrow-eyed suspicion.

I really only remember going to church when Mom’s relatives were in town, plus maybe Easter and Christmas Eve. Holiday Catholics. Catholic Lite – one third less guilt. The Catholic ritual made me nervous as I was never taught it, and all the crossing, dipping, genuflecting and eating of suspect germy crackers and drinking of stale grape juice made me nervous. I never knew when to stand or when to sit, so I just popped up and down like a cork and tried to copy the people around me. The rosary blew my mind. I felt anxious in church; it was a game whose rules were never explained to me. I never took communion, because I was never confirmed. Actually, I don’t believe I was even baptised. So I guess I am going to hell. But why do I find it so hard to believe that a merciful God would damn someone to hell for failing to practice a ritual that is only one of a million rituals performed by many, many religions and their variants? How could He allow there to be only one correct religion, and the rest of the people on the planet not be in on the joke? And why the hell do we always refer to God as male? I personally doubt that our Higher Power has any gender at all. Blasphemy! Gasp!

In the deep South, being Baptist isn’t even sufficient. Each church is deeply suspicious of the others: the Church of Christ, The First Bible Church, Pentecostals, Church of God, the footwashers, the revivalists, the snake handlers. They all believe that they are the one true church, and that everyone else is confused at best and damned at worst. Catholics are pedophiles, Episcopals are too wild, Methodists too wishy-washy. The Unitarians are considered atheist whack jobs. The word agnostic is neither known nor used, nor acceptable. You either is or you ain’t. And if you ain’t, then you don’t belong.

My husband and I actually tried to choose a church when we moved to our new town, both because we wanted to fit in, and have a social network, and practice religion, and because we planned to have a child whom we wanted to have educated in religion, because educated persons should interest themselves in religion. It is both a form of history, literature and art, and a good way to understand human behavior. When we first moved to my town, we had some discussion about what church we might choose. My husband was raised Southern Baptist, and was even baptised twice, once even on purpose, but he did not desire to attend Baptist church. His experience had been one of ignorance and intolerance. I wasn’t particularly into the idea of Catholic church, because of all the ritual, and also because as a human being and a physician who takes care of women (and other human beings), I believe the widespread oversight of pedophile priests who were shuffled from parish to parish is inconscionable, and the prohibition of contraception is just diabolically and willfully ignorant, given the overpopulation of the planet and the plight of the poor families and women with too many children to care for or feed. That rule was made in a day when many children died, many women died in childbirth, and many children were needed to run a self-sufficient village or farm. To maintain that law now is obscene and ridiculous. It is maintained for only one true purpose: to maintain power for the Catholic church by producing the maximum possible number of Catholics. I was also extremely pissed at the Vatican’s anti-endorsement of condoms for gay men – since they would not serve as contraception, surely the merciful thing for a church to do would be to recommend condom use to protect these men. But no. Basically their stance seems to be that gays are immoral and the more that get sick and die the better. Makes me enraged. So no Catholic church. (I will add as an aside that I think the new Pope is awesomesauce!)

We did actually attend a Baptist church for a bit, mainly because everyone that worked in my office seemed to go there. We never felt welcomed and it was a megachurch. Also, their literature suggested that those who did not accept their specific teaching and who were not “saved” by participating in immersion baptism would never be truly welcomed as members of the church.

We attended an Episcopal church as a compromise, and despite personally meeting with their priest to express interest, our attendance was greeted with complete indifference, all this despite the fact that it was a fairly small congregation. We tried, but…

We agreed that we would really like to attend Unitarian church, but the nearest one was in a bigger city about 30 minutes away. We agreed that we were unlikely to attend with any regularity, particularly due to the fact that my job requires me to remain within 20 minutes of the hospital when on call.

For some weird reason in a redneck southern town, we had Mormons. I actually looked into them, and met with a couple members of their congregation, but had real trouble with the suggestion that Christ migrated over to Utah, and rescued the settlers from a plague of grasshoppers with magic seagulls (although in retrospect, this claim is no more wild than any of those put forth by most other major religions).

Long story short, we gave up on church. My daughter actually attended a Catholic school for K-3 and K-4, mainly because it was one of the few full day nursery schools available in town, and I was pleased that she got some religious instruction, and they were very kind to her. But we don’t go to church. Since I was never raised to have church as a part of my life, I don’t feel the lack. You don’t feel emptiness where there is no hole.

My feelings on world religions are summed up by a brilliant parallel drawn by my father. He likens the relations of humans and their various religions to the parable of the blind men and the elephant. There were three blind men who encountered an elephant. One felt the ear and pronounced that this was a banana plant. One felt a leg and proclaimed the object to be a tree. One felt the trunk and was sure this was a snake. They began arguing and fell to blows about which of them was correct. Their perceptions were adequate based on the information available to them, but their conclusion that their view was the only correct answer was ignorant and narrow-sighted, and they failed to perceive the truth: that all their impressions formed just a part of the whole. In other words, all world religions are legitimate, each just describes a different part of the elephant, and humans, in their narrow and elitist manner, haughtily assume that their perceptions are the only true perceptions, and their piece of the puzzle is the only piece.

As a physician and a scientist, I also deeply resent the assertion of organized religion (looking at YOU, creationists) that science is ungodly and detracts from religious belief. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the Bible is at odds with our fossil record. Who says a day in God’s life is a day on earth? It almost certainly is not; believing that God’s day is an earth day is tantamount to believing that the sun must orbit around the earth. A day for God could be eons and eons for us. Also, why is evolution supposed to contradict the existence of a higher power? I would think any divine being worth their salt would create evolution, because, like a self-winding watch, a system was created that didn’t have to have a constant babysitter – evolution modifies the ecosystem without God having to hover – after all, He has other planets to watch, doesn’t He?

I must also say that I have more deeply felt a belief in God when studying science than at any other time. If these anti-science folks ever took a look in a microscope, they would understand the mindblowing, beautiful amazing things that are just out of our sight. Did these cells, with their powerhouses, and nuclei, and diverse functions really just happen at random? I don’t think so. I majored in biochemistry – all those lock and key enzymes and tiny machines at the molecular level – stunning. Mindblowing. Accidental? Hard to think it could be. Ever looked at an SEM of a bacteriophage? Seen how it works? Sometimes tears of awe come in to my eyes when I study these things. And for a gynecologist, there is the knowledge that there are millions of things that may come together wrong during the growth of an embryo, but yet, most babies are born perfect. Statistically, how could that be?

Bacteriophage:  this was no random accident.

I admit, my religious beliefs are more than a little unorthodox. I believe that at their foundations, all world religions have relevance, and if you look at their tenets, their laws are typically custom designed for the region of the world where they arose. Pork is verboten in religions that sprang up in hot regions where uncooked pork could kill you quickly. Washing rituals are different in regions in areas where water is more or less scarce. And most, when interpreted by nonzealots, are gentle and well-meaning at heart. Yes, even Islam.

I understand that people need organized religion to provide societal laws, norms, cohesion, and a belief that it isn’t over when it’s over – it hurts to think that the beauty that goes on in your mind and soul just comes to a stop and rots when the body stops. Where does it go? No one knows, but man clings to religion because they don’t want life to be for nothing. My daughter asks me, so many times, why we are born if we are just going to die. There are so many answers to that question, so many of them meaningful and hopeful, but she is only nine. So hard to explain. So hard to understand.

I am going to say something shocking. So shocking that I hope than none of my neighbors stumble onto this blog. I don’t think that I am a Christian. Did Christ exist? I really, really hope so, because he was an amazing man. Did he deserve to start a religion? If he lived the way they say he did, he really does. Was he a prophet? Maybe. Who am I to deny one of the parts of the elephant? It is not for me to decide. Did God create a son in the image of man and send him down to save us? I don’t really believe so – in the grand scheme of things, human beings are just not that important. Sorry. But I still can’t believe that a caring God would damn someone to hell for asking questions. The truth does not fear questions. Gandhi was an amazing man. Perhaps one day there will be a religion based on him. That would be cool. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man. Why do white southerners hate him so much? Is it sheer bigotry, or maybe a fear that the man was, well, maybe Christlike? Flawed, but so strong and so full of belief. The Dalai Lama is amazing. Another great, great man. Mohammad too. Why would we resent and distrust the possibility that there could be more than one holy man? Why should the existence of one amazing person be threatened by the existence of another? We need all the amazing humans we can find.

Over years, I have given a lot of thought to my religious beliefs. They are a work in progress. I distrust organized religion, because more evil has been perpetrated in its name than in any other concept. Wars break out constantly over wealth, and power and greed, and the need for food and water, but the worst horrors have been perpetrated in the name of organized religion. How could you pervert a belief in a loving, caring deity into an attack on other humans so intolerant, so cruel and so vile?

I am a Pantheist. I believe that God is in and of everything. God is the existence of life itself. God is all energy, and all matter, and all ebb and flow and every molecule in the universe. I believe that the law of conservation of energy is all the answer to an afterlife we need. When our bodies die, our energy must continue to exist in some form, because it is conserved. I believe that we have the honor of having our atoms and molecules and energy flow back into the universe, because these things are all part and parcel of God. God does not have a gender. God was not, and should not, be created in man’s image. Physicists tell us that we all contain the atoms of ancient stars. Isn’t that enough?

*This post was originally written about a year ago.  I was too afraid to post it, for fear the neighbors would find my blog and ride me on a rail, tarred and feathered, out of town, or throw me in a lake and burn me as a witch when I failed to drown.  I now say fuck them.

<a href=”http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/leftovers-sandwich/”>Leftovers Sandwich</a>


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