Saturday, April 30, 2011


I'm getting more and more excited about our summer garden when I see how much Judah loves playing in the dirt.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The truest statement I heard all day.

Talking with patient who are confused can often be challenging, but also occasionally amusing.
Case in point:

Me, to the fairly confused patient who came to our ER because he was threatening to hurt himself:
"Sir, do you know where you are?"
"Yes, I do. I am in an unfortunate place." (I got excited for a minute thinking he might actually remember where he was today.)
"What place is that?"
"The Saluda County Jail."
"No, sir, you are in the ER of Self Hospital."
He looks totally surprised. "You are lying. I'm not in the hospital."
"Yes, sir, you are. You've been here for 3 weeks."
"3 weeks?? No, I haven't. You better ask them out there. You are mistaken." He points to the nurses in the hall.
"If you ask them, they'll tell you the same thing. You've been here in the ER for 3 weeks."
Now to them: "Have I been here for 3 weeks?"
The helpful nurse responds: "Yes."
He asks again, "Solid?"
"I must be confused." At this point he begins to look for his pockets, obviously trying to find his phone. The problem is that he is wearing the type of paper jumpers we provide to patients when they are suicidal. They have no pockets.

I try again to assess his orientation. "Do you know what year it is?"
"It's 2000."
"No, sir, it's actually 2011."
He looks at me, incredulous.

"Well, one of us must be crazy."

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Easter was a little more meaningful to me this year. Unlike last year, when Judah was just 5 days old, I actually made it to church, even though I am working this week. But even more than that, I was given a very real and tangible reminder of the beauty of the day.

I watched as two of my patients died today. The first was an old man with a failing heart who was ready to go. The second was a much younger woman who came to our ER very ill and then proceeded to get sicker, dying in spite of our best efforts to save her. I put my hand on their chests, listened in vain for the regular thump-thump that was no longer there, declared them dead. Gone. Passed away. Easter is meaningless unless we recognize the horror of the reality of the life we live without it.

I watched as two families grieved the loss of loved ones, as they held each other and cried for their loss.

I prayed that they, like me, would remember what today means for them and for their loved ones. If they knew Jesus, it means that they breathed out that last, slow breath, and inhaled the sweet scent of heavenly air, awakening in perfect and new bodies to the presence of our Risen Lord. It means that although we grieve the ones we miss, because of what Jesus started on that Sunday morning so many years ago, we will triumph,  along with him, over the bleak despair of death.

Thank you, Jesus.
He is risen, indeed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Small Truimphs.

It's been a few days of small successes here around the Tell House.

1. Two days ago, I set Judah on the bathroom sink upstairs and bravely pulled out my hair cutting scissors and cut his hair. All by myself. With no one else there to wrangle or amuse. I'm proud to say that I didn't cut him AND his hair actually looks ok. Good, even. I think there are a few places where I could do a little touch up and take a little more off, but I straightened up the back and over his ears.

2. Ever since we've been married, I've been on a slow quest to increase the foods that Jeff eats. Although I mostly try to cook foods that I know he will like, I do regularly make things that I know he won't necessarily love, but that are good for him. I am an adventurous eater, and while I wouldn't call Jeff a picky eater, he's not as adventurous as I am.

For instance, when we first got married, he claimed that he didn't like mushrooms. This was unacceptable to me. So I cooked with mushrooms just like I always did. He quickly realized that he did in fact like them. He also didn't eat any kind of fish or seafood when we got married. I think this was mostly because his brother and dad are allergic to shellfish, so they just didn't eat much seafood growing up. I slowly got him to try things that I knew he'd like - bacon wrapped shrimp? yes, please. Now, of course, he loves shrimp and grits and has come to enjoy shrimp.

It's been a much slower battle to get him to like other seafood. I introduced him to fish tacos, but other fish he hasn't loved as much. I regularly make salmon different ways to try to get him to like it, but finally this week I found the best salmon recipe I've ever made. I found it on Annie's Eats, a food blog I like to read occasionally, mostly because the writer is also a doctor. Apparently panko bread crumbs + lemon zest + parsley = really good salmon that Jeff actually likes. I think his exact words were something to the effect of "Wow, Aubrey, I actually liked that." He also ate and enjoyed the collard greens I made at the same meal. Yay for healthy and delicious food!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Life after infertility.

I'm actually beginning to wonder if there ever really is something called "life after infertility."

In a women's bible study I was doing recently, I read something that I have especially found to be true in dealing with my infertility. The author talked about how sometimes we have a heart like an onion. (And now I'm imagining Donkey from Shrek asking Shrek how he is like an onion....) Even though there may be healing on the outside, there sometimes can still be hurt underneath. I guess I used to think that once I was pregnant, I would no longer struggle with the same feelings I had while we were still trying to get pregnant. Nope. Then I figured that once the baby was here, I wouldn't get jealous of women who could get pregnant easily. Also not true.

I can't say if this is true for everyone who struggles with infertility. Although things did change once I had Judah and all those feelings of inadequacy and jealously lessened, they didn't go away. They still haven't gone away totally. Maybe they will always be part of me. I pray not, because I realize that they are sinful. As often as they arise, I confess that they mean that I am trying to get my significance from somewhere outside of Christ. That I don't completely trust his goodness. Those wounded outer layers are slowly healing, but the hurt still exists inside. There are parts of me that I still haven't exposed to the healing hands of Christ.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about weaning Judah. He is a year old now, and my big goal when initially starting breastfeeding was that I would nurse him for year. But I don't want to quit. I know I don't have to, but I also would enjoy going away with Jeff for a weekend. I would love not to pump while I am at work. I think part of why I am struggling with it is because I have enjoyed it so much and I am worried that I might not be able to do it again. I guess I used to be hopeful that maybe I would be pregnant by this time and have something to look forward to.

My prayer lately has just been that I would find a new way to relate to my fertility and the monthly cycles that used to weigh and wear on me. I do not want to despair and mourn every month the way I did before Judah. I want to remember that we are not in a rush, that God has good timing, and that I should enjoy this time I have with Jeff and Judah right now. I find God has been faithful to answer this request - I am worrying about it less. Those thoughts are still there, but not nearly so overwhelming as they used to be. The sense of dread I used to experience is gone right now.

I am thankful for the wonderful gift God has given me in Judah - and also the gift he gave me when he made me wait and pray and hope and wait and pray. I do not know what the future holds, but know that God will continue to give good gifts.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


My mom's parents didn't leave much behind when they passed away. At least, not much of what the world thinks of as being an inheritance. There wasn't a big house, or lots of money, or an enormous trust fund. Instead, when my mom gets together with her brother and sister, they sometimes walk around each other's yards, pointing at different plants.
"These are some of the daffodils mom had growing on the side of the house."
"This forsythia came from a cutting from the one mom and dad had growing in the back yard."
"Do you have some of her irises? These are all irises that came their house."
Apparently, my grandmother and granddad both had green thumbs, a trait which definitely was passed down to my mom and her siblings. My whole life, my mom has had this enormous christmas cactus that is the most beautiful one I have ever seen. It also came from a cutting from one that my grandmother had.

Last summer, when I was in Tennessee with my mom, we hunted around my Aunt Kathy's house, digging up and dividing my grandmother's irises. I came back with a big stack to plant. I had totally forgotten about them until a few days ago when I noticed something blooming on the side of our house. A beautiful yellow iris. And now, there are more blooms - pale pink blossoms that make me smile each time I look at them and remember my grandparents.

It also always make me think about the legacy of their faith, which they have also left behind. Faith that started out small, but grew in both of them. Little clippings of that faith were planted in the hearts and lives of their children, and now grows in their children and grandchildren, like tiny yellow blossoms poking up out of hard soil.

I couldn't hope for a better inheritance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Birthday Pictures!

I am, historically, not much of a planner. But I did actually put a little thought into Judah's party ahead of time and was pleased with how well everything came off. (You might think that this would make me learn that when I plan, things go better, thus encouraging me to do more planning. Although I might hope that this were true, I'm doubtful it will happen that way.) Instead of a formal game, I just had some balls, bats, bubble solution and we got a little swimming pool at the last minute since it was such a warm day. My parents gave Judah a swing for his birthday, which also came in handy at the party.

I used a lot of red and blue decorations since that felt very baseball-y.
For food we had hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, and beans. I also made some caramel corn and had peanuts that people could shell and eat (Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks....)

I made two types of cupcakes (the same I did for Judah's baptism) and then made Judah his own baseball-shaped smash cake. (It was cute, and more importantly, round. No fancy cake carving skills required.) He quickly figured out how to scrape the frosting off the cake, but needed a little help figuring out how to get to the cake underneath.

We had a wonderful time celebrating and I was so thankful that so many of Judah's aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends were able to make it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Good company

Can I just say how much I loved hearing all your motherhood mistake stories?

It makes me feel better to know that I am not alone and am in quite good company of excellent moms who still sometimes do things like accidentally let their kids eat a bug. Or roll out of the baby swing.

Thanks for cheering me up!

And Jen Clary - if you are reading this - you should email me. I would love to hear more about what is going on with you!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I am an awesome mom.

I won a new prize in the awesome mom category today.

I have for some time been adding up points for all the ways that I am a good mom.
Cut his tiny hand on his fourth day of life when I was cutting off the hospital band: check (He still has the scar!)
Found rocks from our fireplace in his mouth: check
Set down a knife on the table within his reach: check
Turned around and found him holding said knife: double check
Found leaves in his mouth: check, check and check
Found him holding my razor, which I set down on the tub while he was in the bathroom: check

Today, though, I set a new record. I locked Judah in the car. With all the windows up.
See? Awesome mom, right here.

It was a total fluke thing where I was tossing the keys onto the front seat as I was getting out and about to get Judah out. As I closed my door, the keys fell off the seat and into the shutting door, which closed on the lock button on our remote. And just like that, in a split second, Judah was locked in.

Thankfully, we were in Seneca with my dad who actually has a patient who is a locksmith. He got there in about 10 or 15 minutes and was able to open the door fairly quickly. Poor Judah was drenched in sweat, probably mostly because of all the screaming he had been doing, but otherwise seemed fine. Thank you, Mr. Allgood Locksmith Man, for saving my baby.

Yeah. I'm awesome.

What have you all done that would put you in contention with me for the awesome mom prize?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Catch up.

I'm finally feeling caught up after a fun, fun weekend celebrating Judah's birthday. Lots of family was able to come, including Jeff's mom - all the way from Colorado.

Photos will be forthcoming, but right now I'm wrapped up in a game of Scrabble with Jeff and Sue. Be back soon.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Day 3: children's Museum

Chicago has an awesome children's museum. Even Judah, although he is still pretty little really had a great time. There was the firefighter exhibit:

The water exhibit:
And this really cool shadow exhibit.
And while we were out, we walked over to the "bean." I'm not sure what it's really called, but it looks like a bean. Or a red blood cell.
Chicago really is a great city to visit.

Chicago, Day 2: Cubs Game!!

A day filled with swimming, a train ride, and a baseball game.

This is Ian. What did I tell you about his cheeks??

I might be biased, but we make extra beautiful babies in our family.....

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Good Reads.

Since getting a kindle for Christmas, I've been reading a few more new books than normal. I used to wonder if I would like using an e-reader and wasn't sure that I would, thinking I would miss the aesthetic experience of reading an actual book. Let me tell you: I LOVE our kindle - being able to carry around several books in one small reader is fantastic. And I don't really miss the physical book at all, although I feel like if I get a kindle book that I just love, I might feel compelled to buy an actual copy to own. I also love that they are less expensive than an actual book. The only down side I see is that it is almost too easy to download new books and since you don't have to put in a credit card number or anything (you order through your amazon account) it almost feels like they are all free.

Here are some recent favorites:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: I have been wanting to read this one ever since I first heard about it. I feel like anyone would enjoy it, but especially as a student of science I loved it. It tells the story of the woman whose cancer cells became the first immortal cell line. All through college and medical school, I'd hear about research done on the HeLa cell line, research that has enabled scientists to discover many things and cure many diseases, but never knew anything about the person from whom these cells came. Now I do. This book is a really interesting study on medical ethics, research, and the complicated relationship many African-americans have with the medical profession.

Adopted for Life : This is a great book for anyone to read, not just people who want to adopt. Russell Moore writes beautifully about what our adoption in Christ means and how we are then called to adopt. I also really loved how he talks a good deal about fostering an environment of adoption within churches and how those who do not feel called to adopt can support this work.

Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father: Another exhortation to the church about why we should adopt, but this one is a little more theological than the first. Adopted for Life seemed to me to be very pastoral, which was excellent, but this one had several great chapters that even more fully described what it means to be adopted in Christ and how that should affect the way we live. Excellent reading.

The Book Thief: A very interesting novel set in Nazi Germany and narrated by Death himself. It is definitely sad (no surprise there since Death is not exactly an overly optimistic character and he's telling us about what happened during the holocaust) but has a happier ending. I think what I most enjoyed about this book was that the characters all seemed very real to me - no perfect heroes, no complete villains. I will say that in looking at the amazon page I discovered that this has sort of been marketed as a teen/YA book. There is some bad language so you might want to read before letting your kids at it. Because of the subject matter, I definitely don't think it would appropriate for younger readers.

Chicago, Day 1.

I think I'm just going to post some of my favorite trip photos as opposed to lots of wordy posts about it. But we did have a great time, as these pictures show.

Sam is a very, very excellent cousin to Judah.
Nana, of course, loved every second of being with all her grandbabies.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


There is a lot of blogging to catch up on - I'm laying on the couch right now, resting after getting home from a quick trip to Chicago. Thanks to an awesome fare sale back in October we were able to go and meet up with most of my family. There are lots of great photos which will hopefully be posted soon. Until then, here are a few things:

Judah got another tooth! Now we're up to 3.

Judah got to see a baseball game at Wrigley for the first time. He still looked adorable in his Cubs hat.

The Children's Museum in Chicago is awesome.

We met our newest nephew, sweet baby Ian. I cannot wait to show you the cheeks on this kid.

But for now, a little rest is in order....

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sewing fails.

Looking at craft and sewing blogs can be really intimidating. Everyone has all these pictures of these beautiful, pristine things and you think you could never be that good.

I don't want people to get that impression looking at what I sew. Sometimes I manage to make some nice looking things. Sometime I totally mess up. But the only way to get better at sewing is to actually, you know, sew. Here are some of the latest fails:
In addition to being so small that I couldn't get it over his head, do you notice what else is missing from this shirt? I promise there is a neck hole in there, somewhere. And here is attempt #2, made after a little pattern adjustment:

The neck on this one was too big, and it's long enough to be a dress. I wasn't sure how long to make it, and so I was just going to hem it after I did the rest. Oh well. I am excited to continue tweaking the pattern, though, because both of the shirts are actually made from thrifted materials. And this kind of shirt is much easier to get on over Judah's large noggin.

And finally:
Not exactly a total failure, since it is pretty cute in and of itself. I actually cut one hat out, realized it was too small, enlarged the pattern a bunch, cut and sewed a new one, and found it still too small. Sigh. I guess I'll hang on to this one as a gift, though.

So what I'm saying is that if I can sew, you can, too. I only started really sewing stuff while in medical school, so it's not too late for you.

Friday, April 01, 2011

A word about permanent sterilization.

And now for something completely different.... I feel like this post is sort of a non-sequitur, but then I decided this is my blog and I can post what I want. So there you go....

In my capacity as a physician, I sometimes advise patients about permanent sterilization. Pregnant patients ask about it during their prenatal care and occasionally men will talk to me about it. I feel like I've had several conversations about it recently at work and I find that generally people who are considering it haven't always thought it through.

I am not opposed to it, by any means. And certainly, many of my current thoughts about it are colored by my own experiences with infertility. It is hard for me to even imagine right now ever considering having this done, but that is mostly just me and my issues.

What I would advise, though, is not just to think about if you are through having children and if you are satisfied with the way your current family is. This is a permanent procedure and while it is theoretically possible to reverse, it is not an easy procedure and there is no guaranteed success. One of my attendings advised that we should make sure people think about some of the possible scenarios that could arise. What if one of your children dies? What if your spouse dies and you remarry? What if there is divorce?  Obviously we cannot see into the future and can't plan for every possible scenario, but I do hate for people to rush into it. I have seen several times women in their early twenties get a tubal because they have already had three or four kids by different fathers. I don't know what will happen to these women, but I wonder if they get their act together, marry, and have a stable relationship if they will still be happy with their decision.

I just hope that couples really think about this decision and pray about it. And please, please do not take this as a criticism of you or a loved one if they have had this done. Again, I am not morally opposed to the procedure. I have several patients for whom I thought it was a good idea, who struggled with severe depression during pregnancy and postpartum or had other significant health issues that made pregnancy more complicated. I know plenty of people who have this done when they were "done" having children, and I'm also not opposed to it in those circumstances either. Like with any big decision, this is one to ponder and pray over.

...stepping off soap box now.....