Friday, December 27, 2013

In Which Our heroine takes a big leap of faith

Hello Dear Readers,

I hope you are all well, and those who celebrated had a wonderful Christmas.  While I don't celebrate (the whole Jewish thing,right?)  I love the lights with which people decorate.  It's like a fairyland!  I may wax eloquent later.

For now, though, a small post about a large leap of faith.  I bought Baby Girl Surname a plane ticket home from California.  Jews, especially Ashkenazi Jews, especially Ashkenazi Jews who are baby-loss infertility fake pregnants, don't buy ANYTHING before the baby's born.  But we can't very well get stuck without a plan ticket.  So with great trepidation, we went ahead and purchased a seat.

That's the update for today.  Vacation is almost over, so I'm off to go enjoy it!

Shabbat Shalom -- there may be a later update on a new challah recipe, and whether it's as good as my current one.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

So, what else is new?

Enough (more than enough) about the difficulties converting a baby who isn't even born yet.  What else is new in the life of Mim?

Because I know you were all staying up nights wondering.

I hope not.  You might be disappointed.

So I will bring my vacation to you in brief scenes:

Scene one, Thursday afternoon: my beloved grandmother comes over for lunch.  Mainly she drinks coffee (teaspoon of Nestle instant and a heaping spoon of powdered creamer), reheated at regular intervals in the microwave.  I don't believe she's ever actually finished a cup in one sitting.  She tastes and proclaims good my coconut-milk based soup.  (I threw together onion, carrot, celery, cooked in fake chicken broth with cumin, cinnamon, ginger, etc, then added coconut milk and chopped spinach and red lentils.)  My attempt at imitating the Cheesecake Factory avocado egg rolls was slightly less successful.  Maybe next time.  Anyone have a good recipe?  And then we are in the library, moving Husband's double-sized desk into the alcove once a closet in the houses's former incarnation.  Except we're short about an inch on either side thanks to moldings.  So I find myself in the basement hunting for a hammer, and then my grandmother is attacking the moldings.  Score: grandmother 2, moldings 0.  Abridged is a description of the tumult once tucked neatly in the alcove, now spread over the entire floor of the library, including but not limited to every letter I've received since I was twelve and a milk crate full of photographs.  Finally, however, we have everything rearranged, electronics plugged in, and the room looks fantastic.  We take a step back and imagine how perfect it'll look with the armchair moved out and a sofa bed for our guests instead.

Scene two, last Monday afternoon: three siblings at the movies, watching Disney's Frozen.  My brother has the extra-large popcorn which passes between us over the course of the movie.  My sister's seeing the film for the second time, except she missed several bits the first time around.  I try to resist analyzing the plot and the animation, but -- English major.  We do that sort of thing for fun.

Scene three, repeated several times over: my basement treadmill (about the only article not in our basement for storage), Hopkins Internal Medicine modules (power-walk your way through hypertension and dermatology for the internist), and some great music.  The satisfactory post-workout sweat at the end of 5.75 miles is impossible to imitate. 

Anyway, just a few scene from my vacation.  Looking forward to another work-free week!

To everyone celebrating next week, I wish you a Merry Christmas (or a Happy Christmas if you're British) and to all, a happy and healthy 2014!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

34 weeks: Update, and asking for advice PLEASE IF YOU HAVE!

Hello everyone,

Hope you are all doing well.  Things are looking pretty good for us.  Surrogate just had a 34-week appointment (technically today is 34wks2days) and Little One has chubby cheeks, is vertex position (i.e. head down just like it should be), has plenty of amniotic fluid, and is practicing breathing!  I just hope things continue to go well.  I still worry every single day.

But now I have a new worry, for which I ask your advice, dear readers.   (If you aren't, Jewish, apologies for a rather long question below using terms you might not know.)

As Judaism is matrilineal, this Little One will need to be converted to Judaism.  And without getting into a very complicated discussion on religious politics, suffice it to say she needs an Orthodox conversion to be fully accepted as Jewish in all circles.  This may seem unimportant.  But try getting married in Israel without being Jewish by Orthodox standards.  And here in the States, too -- depending who she might one day want to marry, this could be a Big Deal.

One might think it then becomes simple: just get an Orthodox conversion and drop her in a mikveh (ritual bath).  Except the vaad harabbonim (council of rabbis) will not perform an Orthodox conversion unless the parents promise to raise the child in an Orthodox home.  And I am masorti, meaning Conservative.  I don't cover my hair, and while I dress relatively modestly, I do wear (appropriate length) shorts and I do wear pants.  And I use electricity on Shabbat although I won't shop and I don't intend to work once I finish fellowship.  And I keep kosher but I put things in the dishwasher (different sides) together.  And I plan to send my daughter to a Solomon Shechter Day School, not Akiva (the Orthodox school).  Actually, if you really want to know it's not keeping Shabbat or anything

What's a mother-to-be to do?  Dear readers, anyone out there with experience having a child converted to Judaism?   Anyone who wasn't frum succeed in arranging an Orthodox conversion?  And anyone reading from Israel (if there is someone), is it any easier through the giyur office?   We will visit, G-d willing, when the child is 6 months old for about two weeks.

And one last question: if I take the baby to the mikveh, I assume I cannot be nidah?  So I'd need to adjust my cycle?

It just stinks that this same child would be unquestionably Jewish if I bore her myself.  I love being Jewish.  But sometimes -- it REALLY gets frustrating.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Updates, and asking for advice

Thanks, K for the good wishes!  It was overall a wonderful Match Day with congratulations flowing between the residents.  Actually, even my kindergarten teacher sent me a congratulations on Facebook! I treated myself to my favorite artisan pizza (fresh basil and roasted garlic, and a mixture of sumptuous cheeses on a perfect thin crust).  Several of us in the third-year class met afterward at a local movie theater-bowling alley where I thoroughly embarrassed myself by bowling gutter ball after gutter ball.  But it was good fun.  Actually, we very much looked like a commercial for world peace: an observant Muslim girl wearing the traditional hijab, several Indians from various states (and probably castes too), and little Ashkenazi Jewish me.

So how will this fellowship work?  I will do seven months of consults (meaning, seeing patients in the hospital) followed by twelve months of research followed by another five months of consults.  Throughout, I will see patients in the Infectious Diseases clinic one half-day each week.  Mostly I will follow them for HIV, some for bone or joint  infections, and some for hepatitis C or confection with HCV and HIV.  I am so excited!  The program director is excited too.  And I have no regrets at all that I will be staying in my current location.

My enthusiasm is somewhat tempered, though, because a friend who applied for gastroenterology didn't match.  He is a hard worker, a great physician, and really should have gotten a position.  Worse, the GI program at our institution took another resident who isn't as strong.  It must feel like such an affront and I heard he is despondent.  I sent him a text message, letting him know I am thinking of him and his wife and that he is a wonderful physician and that I hope happier times are ahead and that I do believe things will eventually work out for him.  I didn't call because I thought he might not want to talk when so upset.  I might text him again in a few days.  But it sure feels unfair.  He really deserved a spot.  You can't be happy when you know other people are sad.

I have also had the challenging experience of leading "morning report" twice this week.  Morning report is a tradition in Internal Medicine.  Interns (i.e. first-year residents) or senior residents present a case from the hospital, while the rest of the residents (and sometimes students) are asked to discuss the case: differential diagnosis, workup, and sometimes treatment.  We have historically had an outstanding morning report.  The level of discussion, the faculty participation -- it's actually one of the reasons I chose Internal Medicine.  But a large part depends on the chief resident, who is the facilitator.  Those are people one year post-residency who dedicate that year to educational activities and administrative duties as well.  Our program added two junior chief positions this year, one for a second-year and one for a third year.  I was chosen.

I have always wanted to lead morning report.  It's been my dream since I was a third year student.  But teaching is NOT as easy as it seems!  And it is SO DIFFERENT teaching a large group from the teaching I do leading a small team on the wards.  I still haven't got the hang of it.  I learned a few things:  I summarize three key points from each case at the meeting's end.  I have a a question or two from an internal-medicine question bank at the end.  But I don't just want to be adequate.  I want to do as good a job as the fabled SH, former resident and now awesome attending.

How do I get there, dear readers?  Anyone in an educational field -- tips?  Because I could use them.

In baby news, things are, thank God, going okay.  We are thirty-two weeks and five days today.  Surrogate was diagnosed with gestational diabetes but her HbA1C (a measure of glycemic control over the last three months) was only 4.5, and her glucose readings have been very well-controlled with diet alone. She will soon start doing NSTs and more frequent monitoring, I guess because she is advanced maternal age now that she's thirty-six.  We will start looking at flights soon!  I still refuse to believe fully, but it feels nice to tell people.  And, I actually had a very fake-pregnant moment last weekend:  I was at a baby shower, and the mom-to-be received a copy of the book Love You Forever.  It's about a mother and baby, and the baby grows into a mom, who ages and becomes ill.  I have never been able to read it without crying.  My sister was at the shower too, and asked about the book.  I burst into tears.  Seriously!  Full-blown tears, over a book!  And I wasn't even reading it!  I thought you had to be hormonal for that sort of thing, but apparently not.

Anyway, we are off to a family friend's holiday party, so have a good rest of the weekend everyone.

Friday, December 6, 2013

ID? I do!

Yes, I have officially matched into an Infectious Disease fellowship at my top choice institution, which also conveniently happens to be my home institution.  I can't wait to get in the Gram stain game :o)

I'm not especially surprised, but I am still one hundred percent thrilled about this next step in my training.  The ID docs at my university are the best, and the current fellows are so smart that it will really make for a great training opportunity.  I do have small doubts about being "inbred" (i.e. doing all my training at the same institution) but I can't imagine a better program.   And yes, that includes what locals call "the U."

Otherwise, things are going well.  My loved one is doing well.  And so are Surrogate and Baby.  We're really getting close, now.  We still haven't found a name, though.  It's tougher than I thought!

I'm currently on Rheumatology.  It's very interesting and the pace is relaxed.  I will hopefully write more tomorrow,

Good night and shabbat shalom!