Mom Shop

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One of the things I miss most about being a new mom is shopping.  I used to enjoy leisurely window shopping on Saturdays, but since having children there has been nothing leisurely about my weekends.  I remember one particular outing, determined to buy some post-maternity clothes I loaded up our stroller with everything I could possibly need and headed out to some of my favorite stores.  My baby slept long enough for me to gather a number of garments and get partially undressed in the dressing room before waking with a ravenous hunger.  I sat on a hard wooden bench under the fluorescent lights breastfeeding him for thirty minutes, while the dressing room attendant frequently checked in to see if I needed any help.  After that, a diaper change, and spitting up all over me, I decided to suspend the shopping trip and surrendered my potential purchases over to the clerk.  Trudging home in my improperly fitting maternity clothes, I felt hopeless about shopping with an infant and resorted to online shopping for a majority of my purchases since.

The problem with online shopping is that I tend to get in a rut and find myself at the same websites over and over again, getting bored with my wardrobe in no time.  So when I recently found a site called Stitch Fix, where stylists help select items for you, I was hopeful that I might be able to reinvigorate my wardrobe.  The way it works is that you complete a style questionnaire online, including questions about your sizes, proportions, favorite colors, dislikes, and what body parts you want to highlight.  You can even create a Pinterest board with ideas for your stylist (see mine here).  Then, a stylist selects five items for you to try on in the privacy of your home and you have three days to make your purchase and ship back whatever you aren’t keeping.  Super easy!  My first box arrived this week and I was very satisfied with the selections.  Of the five pieces, I liked four of them, but unfortunately only two fit.  I made some adjustments to my style profile and I am optimistic about my next Stitch Fix shipment.  In addition to sending you the clothing, they also include a styling card for each item, to give you ideas about how to wear it and with what accessories.  I loved that they gave me suggestions for how to incorporate these pieces into my existing wardrobe and inspiration for different combinations.  The checkout process and return mailing was incredibly easy also.

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One my biggest wardrobe challenges as a working mom is that I often go straight from the office to daycare and need my clothes to be able to make that transition as well (I wrote about my work-life wardrobe balance over at Really Risa in 2012, here).  I need to wear things that aren’t out-of-place on the playground, allow me to appear professional at work, and are machine-washable!  My Stitch Fix stylist took on this challenge and hit a home run in terms of versatility!  I immediately wore the Pomelo orange striped shirt with a pair of khaki pants and loafers that I already owned, and with inspiration from the style card I added a turquoise and coral necklace that I made years ago.  I loved it and received compliments on it at work, and later at the playground, verifying that my first Stitch Fix was a success!

To get started with your own Stitch Fix:  https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3572908

 

[Disclosure:  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own and I have no affiliation with Stitch Fix.  I do receive a $25 credit toward purchases for every new Stitch Fix user who signs up with my referral code.]

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Bunny Gram

We have had a busy week leading up to Easter, full of bunnies, eggs, and candy.  The festivities started with an egg hunt at a local park last weekend and were followed by a trip to Bunnyland at Linvilla Orchards this weekend.  N has already asked if we could return to the park “where the Easter bunny lives” and while on the hayride to see the Easter bunny he inquired if “Santa would be there too.”  So we obviously have a little teaching to do about they mythical Easter bunny.  Regardless of where he lives and the company he keeps, the Easter bunny will continue to be a big hit once N wakes up to find the basket of treats that he hid at our house this morning.  I always try to make our Easter baskets have minimal candy though, so this year his is also filled with toys and activities like a slinky, bug magnifying glass, and fuzzy chick.  Although G doesn’t know what is going on yet, I didn’t want to exclude her from the fun, so she has a tiny basket filled with organic baby food.  Now that she is six months old, she is starting solids, which unfortunately for her does not yet include chocolate!  After church, we’ll be dying eggs and then having an early dinner with family and friends.  Perfect weekend.

Wishing you a happy Easter (or Passover, or Spring)!

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For last-minute Easter inspiration, including recipes, crafts, clothing, and decorations, check out my Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/mommycallblog/easter/

For Philadelphia Easter events for kids, including egg hunts:  http://www.phillyfun4kids.com/2014/04/easter-weekend-phillyfun-picks-april-18.html

For Easter brunch and dinner suggestions in and around Philly:  http://www.uwishunu.com/2014/04/roundup-our-top-picks-for-easter-brunch-and-dinner-in-philadelphia-as-well-as-fun-easter-events-happening-around-the-city/

 

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Just Feeding My Baby

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Breastfeeding my second child has been significantly easier than the first.  She latched immediately and has been adept from the beginning.  The lactation consultant who saw us in the postpartum unit said, “well she read the book on breastfeeding… no wait, she WROTE the book.”  After struggling with my first premature child and needing to pump after each feeding and use a nipple shield, the ease of breastfeeding my daughter has been a welcome relief to the chaos of being a mother of two.  When it is going well, breastfeeding is amazing.  I appreciate that this isn’t everyone’s story though.

The second time around, I also feel much less inhibited and as a result, breastfeeding in public has not been an issue.  Here are some of the places that I have breastfed G so far:

- a tea party

- the zoo

- a swanky restaurant, and a few not-so-swanky restaurants

- a public park, or a few public parks

- my office

- a hotel lobby

- a friend’s house

- a holiday party

When G was only 5 weeks old, I took her to the annual conference of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.  Wearing her in my Ergo and breastfeeding on demand, we attended full days of breastfeeding lectures, practicing what we were learning.  It felt empowering to be living what I preach to patients, while learning more skills to apply and pass along.

When I see new moms breastfeeding in the office, I give them support but not necessarily privacy.  I often start with the apology/disclaimer that “I’m going to get very close to you to examine the baby and make sure that breastfeeding is going well.”  I can then learn a wealth of information about the breastfeeding dynamic.  Whenever residents tell me that they aren’t seeing a patient because the mom was breastfeeding and they told her they would return when she is finished, I inform them that this is a missed opportunity for both the mom and resident to learn.  It also sends the message to the mom that breastfeeding is something that is only done in private.  If your doctor isn’t comfortable watching you breastfeed, then what does the general public think?  Now certainly if a mother ASKED me for privacy, I would give it to her!  But she should know that what she is doing is normal and that her doctor can often help (because it isn’t always easy!).

Although things were more challenging with N, we still persevered and I remember pulling out my nursing cover in a number of public venues, wrestling with it and him uncomfortably but ultimately accomplishing our goals.  N breastfed at my pediatric board exam and my residency graduation banquet.  I had advocated for myself and other moms that breastfed babies deserve to be with their mothers at all times, even at formal occasions.  So if I was to attend, so was he.  It works the same with G currently, hence why she has such an eclectic variety of breastfeeding environments.

There have been times when I have been told to breastfed in a public restroom, or that no place was available to sit to feed my children, but I have disregarded these ignorant comments and advocated for my breastfeeding rights.  If you don’t know what your rights are, make sure you find out:

Breastfeeding Law: Pennsylvania

Federal Health Reform and Nursing Mothers

Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding

One of the top reasons that women stop breastfeeding their baby is being uncomfortable doing so in public.  This is one of the main reasons that I am so passionate about doing so publicly, because we need to shift our cultural perception that breastfeeding is sexual or taboo and needs to be covered, hidden, or avoided.  Breastfeeding is normal.  So if you are a breastfeeding mom, join me when you see me… at the park, at a party, or at the zoo.  And if I see you in my office, get ready to get intimate as I watch your baby latch, auscultate his/her swallow, and adjust your positioning.  While it may seem uncomfortable at first, you will soon realize, it’s just feeding a baby.

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Working Mom Friends

Finding working mom friends has been crucial to my success as one myself.  I met one in particular before we were both moms, but one of our first conversations was about becoming moms.  We had just started our pediatric residency and as our careers intensified, we took time over tea to dream about our future families.  Hers started before mine, so she has been my road map for this journey.

Without my own children, it was hard for me to understand how difficult being a working mom was, but once I had my own I was amazed at how gracefully she had made the transition.  My own entry into motherhood was more messy.  It started when my water broke while 34 weeks pregnant, at 2:30 AM, while my husband was out-of-town.  So, I called this friend and in the middle of my sobbing I said, “I need to go to the hospital,” to which she replied, “I’ll be right there.”  She didn’t hesitate and didn’t even know why we were going to the hospital until she arrived at my door and I said, “I’m having a baby.”  She was with me until her shift at the hospital started that morning, and has really been with me ever since.

Every working mom needs someone to help guide them through this crazy adventure.  A few months after returning to work from my first maternity leave, I formed a group at our hospital for residents, fellows, and attendings who were “new” moms.  While the irony was that most of us were too busy to make it to actual meetings, it was still quite popular among its members.  It seemed that one thing was universal: we all struggle and we need to talk about it.  Some days it is with our careers, other days with our families, and usually with ourselves.  Hearing that you aren’t alone helps.  Recently, one of my college friends joined the working mom ranks and feeling a need for a physician working mom community, started a private Facebook group for this purpose.  What initially started out as a handful of her working mom friends exploded into a group of a hundred moms within a few days.  Again, working moms were eager to share their struggles with others experiencing the same.  My Facebook feed filled with discussions of sleep training while working, sick days, maternity leave, and gender roles in our marriages.  Together, we try to make this journey less challenging for each other by sharing our workarounds, shortcuts, and shorthand.

One of the best features of my current work environment is the number of colleagues who are moms.  Having other moms around helps to normalize my anxieties as a working mom (“oh you went through this too?”) and support my work-life integration (“of course you need to be at that school event!”).  After all the mentoring my friends have provided me, it is now time for me to pay-it-forward and I am enjoying all the new moms around me and hope that I offer them the same comfort that was given to me.

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Dedicated to my first working physician mommy friend… Happy Birthday, TW.  You are a role model to all who know you and I am thankful to have you in my life, whether near or far.

 

 

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Childcare Errors and Working Mom Guilt

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Childcare is one of the biggest stresses in a working mom’s life.  I have been fortunate to have a daycare that I love for N, and now G, but that doesn’t mean that it has been easy.  Anytime that something happens to one of my children in childcare, it hits the Achilles heal of any working mom: this happened because you weren’t here.

The first time N was hurt at daycare, he had only been there for one month and fell while pushing a truck on the playground.  He ended up with a cut on his face that warranted a trip to the Emergency Room for stitches.  I had no concerns about the daycare’s role in this injury, as I was actually amazed that nothing like this had already happened while in my care given how active N was/is.  Rather, my guilt came from feeling so far from him at a time when he was hurt.  Even though his teachers provided him with all the comfort he needed and he was already happy by the time they called me, I still felt sad that I wasn’t the one to give him a hug and bandage his wound.

While N’s injury felt like one that couldn’t have been prevented regardless of whose care he was in, G’s first daycare issue was a hazard that she could not have been exposed to had she been home with me.  It brought all of my working mom guilt to the surface.  Was I actually causing harm to my children?  Is working selfish?  In the end, I calmed myself down and realized that what I needed to do was problem solve how to minimize errors.  We do this in medicine all the time.  A mistake happens and we form a working group and perform a root cause analysis to address the problem and brainstorm solutions to prevent recurrence.  So, I did this in an abbreviated form with my daughter’s daycare and this allowed me to feel more comfortable moving forward.

There will always be a little bit of the would they be better off with me question in my mind.  Whether in the care of parents, grandparents, nannies, or daycare, none of us are infallible, which I often need to remind myself when my working mom guilt flares.  Then, N will come home counting in French and Spanish or I will pick up G in the middle of her class puppet theatre and I am appreciative for the enrichment that high-quality childcare can provide in children’s lives.

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