On Mother’s Day, Dog Mom-ing, Participatory Races, and the Emotional Impact of “E.T.”

Happy Mother’s Day to MY WONDERFUL MOTHER (love you!) and all my wonderful mom friends (fur moms included!) out there.

However, as wonderful as this day is, let’s not forget those who longed to be mothers, those who lost their mothers, those who have strained relationships, and those who mothers who lost their lives trying to become one.

Wait, did you just say lost their lives? Like they died in pregnancy, during childbirth, or post partum?

YES.

It is a grave, but true fact that mothers and babies are still dying (or coming close) in during pregnancy, childbirth, or from post partum complications. In fact, more women die in pregnancy and childbirth in the United States than in any other developed country. For black women, the statistics are even worse and YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST TO UNDERSTAND HOW TERRIBLE THIS ALL TRULY IS.

So, consider educating yourself and maybe donating to some excellent organizations that are working to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother (Every Mother Counts, Saving Mothers  to name a few). On the flip side, you could help someone become a mother by donating to someone like BabyQuest Grants or RESOLVE.

Seeing people become mothers – in both the earliest stages of pregnancy and at delivery – is one of the most special, rewarding jobs I can think of. I do not take it for granted and I’m honored that I get to do it.

On another note, I have become the dog mom I said I would never be. I’m an actual nightmare, but I can’t help myself. I freak out over everything with this dog and have created visions of bowel obstructions, garlic poisoning, and malignant tumors for my dog. I am THAT parent.

Sweet Magnolia threw up for the first time (with me). It was a large volume emesis and, of course, rather than considering that perhaps she ate something weird or that I gave her too much peanut butter, I immediately thought that she must have a bowel obstruction. Or maybe I accidentally poisoned her! Or, even worse, she has cancer (obviously).

Just so I can redeem some of my dog mom dignity, Magnolia did have a massive hernia and a mammary tumor. While the mammary tumor pathology was benign, I thought, of course, the pathologist could’ve been wrong. And, given her hernia surgery, I was totally afraid that she might have adhesions and a small bowel obstruction or maybe even an incarcerated hernia. She also had diarrhea (TMI, sorry) and was acting very tired/lethargic so, naturally, I thought the situation was dire.

I rushed my sweet dog to the vet where she got herself a nice little exam, some IV fluids (actually they were subcutaneous, but you get the picture), some anti nausea meds, and an antacid. I’m now giving her a special bland diet, which I may or may not have tried to spoon feed her tonight, in an effort to get her to eat. Turns out, dogs don’t eat like babies. And Magnolia thinks her mom is nuts.

Long story short, if I ever have human children, I’m in trouble. (Also, Magnolia appears to be feeling a bit better, but still not 100%).

On a different note, I ran a race last week!

I did so without drinking coffee beforehand, which wasn’t the wisest idea, given that it is my life force and probably 2% of my total blood volume.

I don’t “race” races so much anymore, but I do find great value in participating.

You will ALWAYS fun faster (and possibly farther) than you would on your own even if you aren’t racing. It makes you get up and get out the door. And, in last week’s case, you got to start your Sunday morning with Jock Jams.

If tomorrow goes as planned, this will be my 2nd week in a row at just above 20 miles (21 for anyone who is counting). I’m patting myself on my back.

Finally, last night I saw “E.T.” (check out Rooftop Cinema Club if you live in LA, NYC, San Diego, London, or Miami!). I’ve seen the movie before (albeit, a long time ago), but I was not emotionally prepared for what that little alien would do to me. When ET healed Elliot’s finger, I cried. When ET phoned home the first time, I cried. When ET got sick, I cried. When ET went home, I cried. Basically, I was very emotionally distraught over ET. Has this happened to anyone else?

On one (serious and seriously) final note, yesterday I also watched an excellent Netflix documentary on palliative care called “End Game.” It was filmed at UCSF (an extremely well respected medical institution, if you’re not in medicine), and does a really great job at portraying all of these tough decisions patients and their families must make. It also highlights how palliative care and hospice can really help terminally ill patients make have the best quality of life for the time they have left. They also highlight the Zen Hospice Project and Zen Hospice Guest House, whose philosophy I am very intrigued by.

I’m going to try to read at least 25 books this summer. I’m almost done with “The Vacationers” by Emma Straub and think I will start “The Woman in Cabin 10” next. I am VERY excited for Emily Giffin’s new book, due out June 26th (long time fan of her books!)

That’s all I have for now. For those of you reading this. Which is likely very few. But, thank you for reading!

I know it is customary for “bloggers” to leave leading questions for readers to answer. I don’t feel like coming up with any, but if you do have any commentary on anything I have written about (infertility, childbirth, dogs, races that you aren’t racing, crying in movies, end of life discussions, your last book you read), I would sincerely like to hear about it!

Isn’t that what this is all about? Community, sharing, the pursuit of happiness?

Until next time…

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On Social Running, Deep Cleaning My Carpet, and Reading

Hello friends!

I can’t remember if I mentioned it in my last post, but I’ve been in a bit of a running rut since moving to LA.

It is since occurred to me that I am primarily a social runner. I can deal with the rain (since it never happens here – ha!), but running alone too much and I start to lose my motivation.

I finally tried out DTLA Runners last night. Running is such an interesting common ground – I swear you can go on a run with practically anyone and you will find something to talk about, even if its how hard running can be.

Magnolia is a lot like me, I think. Maybe that’s why I love her so much. She LOVES to socialize while she’s out on our walks. In addition to buying her a dog puzzle for “intellectual stimulation,” I’ve thought about putting her in dog daycare for “socialization.”

Am I treating her too much like a toddler?

Magnolia has also made my blue and white rug very dirty. She can’t help it. She’s a dog. And, she HATES it when I try to clean off her paws with wipes after a walk. I’m now looking into the latest and greatest from Bissel on Amazon to clean my rug. #addtocart

Finally, I want to do some sort of book challenge this summer. Isn’t it ironic that in high school I sort of loathed the assigned summer reading (probably because it was assigned) and now I’m self inventing a book challenge.

If you have running club recs (in LA), know the best rug cleaners, or just read a good book, do tell.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Yes, I do have Verizon as my phone service.

And, oddly, there are surprising amount of dropped calls in DTLA.

What gives, Verizon?

Anyways, I got some email notification that my “WordPress domain” renewed. And, since I pay $24 a year (or something) to keep all of my banalities about running on the internet for posterity’s sake, I figured I should come back and write here.

Unclear if anyone still reads this, or blogs in general, but here goes nothing.

I got a dog. A rescue, as one does in LA. I swear everyone in LA has a rescue dog and if you have a purebred, you’re probably going to lie about it at the dog park.

Her name is Magnolia (full name: Magnolia Baxter Smith, so we can share initials, sorry I’m not sorry) and she was found in a horrid state. She was matted, with a massive hernia, a mammary tumor, and severely neglected. She snapped at anyone who came close to her and needed to be put on anxiety medication.

The first week I had her, she wouldn’t let me touch her back (only her head) and would show her teeth at me often.

Now, she is the best little love and would want nothing more than for me to rub her belly ALL DAY (and go on walks, she loves to go on walks). She likes avocado, peanut butter, exercise, and toys. She really likes her NYC pigeon toy, which makes me think she would like NYC, as I do.

I have become the full blown dog mom that I never thought I would be. I researched “dog puzzles” the other night as I think she’d like the intellectual stimulation. Dog puzzles. Think about that for a minute.

Magnolia has restored my faith in humanity.

Moral of story: get yourself a rescue dog.

Switching topics, I used to write here a lot about running. That is because I ran a lot. Now, I do not run a lot. I ran 18 miles last week, which used to be the length of my long runs. My, how times have changed.

I keep running, but it keeps being hard. Yet, I’m stubborn, so I keep lacing up the shoes several days a week. It is a vicious cycle.

If I was going to continue on this running endeavor, I told myself to give it “a few weeks of consistency” for running to feel good again. And, if it didn’t, I was going to take a break. And, lo and behold, consistency works, people!

A ran 6 miles yesterday and it didn’t feel like a death march. In fact, it was all under a 9 min per mile pace, which is something I haven’t seen in a long time. [Pats self on back]

Finally, did anyone watch Homeland this season and find it a little too close to reality? Russian interference in the US government? Aren’t we tortured by this enough? (Although, I did really love this season).

If you read this, thank you! I’m going to try to write more here (and if there is anything you’d like to hear about, let me know).

 

My top tips and tricks to survive your egg freeze cycle like a champ

SURVIVING NOT THRIVING? NOT THIS CHICK!

My top tips and tricks to survive your egg freeze cycle like a champ

Or, is it hen, since I “hatched” and froze eggs!

Anyways….Hello, internet friends!

Does anyone still read this anymore? Do I even write this blog anymore? [The answers are no and no, but I like to venture over to my old internet haunt every now and then.]

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may know that I recently froze my eggs! #iceicebaby #decembertoremember

Although IVF and egg freezing are part and parcel of my every day life, experiencing a cycle itself is something else!

While I can’t tell you if you should or should not freeze your eggs or if the eggs you freeze will ever make a baby (please go get a consultation with an REI if you are thinking about it!), I can tell you about my experience, my biggest surprises, and how to make the process as smooth as possible.

  1. TAKE ON “YOU GET WHAT YOU GET, AND YOU DON’T GET UPSET” MENTALITY

As a control freak myself, this can be a hard mentality to take on. Plus, you’re paying some serious cash to put your eggs on ice, which can be anxiety provoking in and of itself. Given the financial and time burdens of egg freezing, this can likely be the most challenging thing you will do.

But, let me give it to you straight – the two major points of control you have in fertility preservation are this:

  • The decision to freeze your eggs (and how many times to go through it)
  • The decision to use your eggs

 

Once you have found a doctor/lab you trust and have made the decision to do an egg freeze cycle, you cannot control your current age and egg quality, your ovarian reserve parameters, how you will respond to the medications, how many eggs you will get, how many eggs will be mature, and if those eggs will ever make a baby.

Bottom line: There are no guarantees.

Uplifiting, right?

Merry Christmas.

I found taking on the “laissez-faire” attitude towards my cycle really helped. I was happy with the eggs I froze, because I told myself that I would be happy with any number. I had two key mantras that I think really helped.

“ You are one of the lucky ones to be able to do this.”

“ Something is better than nothing.”.

Again, the financial commitment and time spent at a fertility office can make this exceedingly difficult to wrap your head around. But, just my two cents, I found this helped.

 

  1. DON’T FEAR THE HORMONES, EMBRACE THE ESTROGEN HIGH

The hormones you inject aren’t the ones that “make you feel crazy.” The hormone that does get pretty high (depending on your response) is estrogen.

Personally, all that excess estrogen made me a blissed out, happy go-lucky person. It was likely the least amount of anxiety I’ve ever felt in my life – I didn’t even made a to do list one week, which is very unlike me. You could have told me I was sorted into Slytherin and I would have been ok with it. I’m not sure what the kids would call that these days (chill? woke? extra?), but I felt more chill than frozen.

I can’t promise you that you won’t be emotional, upset, or have the same estrogen honeymoon effect like I did, but I wouldn’t be as fearful of the hormonal changes as you might be.

  1. POST RETRIEVAL IS LIKE POST PARTUM – DON’T FORGET IT IS PART OF THE PROCESS, TOO!

To be honest, I mostly thought of my egg freeze process as “get to the retrieval and its done.” FALSE. SITTING ON A THRONE OF LIES.

[Full disclosure – the day of the retrieval was fantastic. I slept great and one dose of toradol kept me pain free all day.]

The most uncomfortable I felt throughout the entire process were three and four days after my retrieval. Fortunately, the post-retrieval period lasts only a few days (by one week later I felt back to normal), unlike the post partum period, which I hear lasts 18 years.

I felt uncomfortable and bloated. My abdomen and pelvis felt so full of ovary that my bowel and bladder were…well, let just say it upsets those systems. I felt like maybe this is a primer for pregnancy…

If you plan to do it, might I suggest you also buy these pants .

All I could think throughout this process– giving yourself injections, blowing up like a balloon (my weight fluctuating 10 lbs throughout the entire process!), and so on and so forth – was how lucky men are. Seriously, as my BFF Jocelyn says, “If men had periods, tampons would be free by now.”

  1. CHOOSE YOUR CLINIC WISELY

 Do your homework! Egg freezing and thawing can be tricky business, and some clinics do more of it than others. Just like you, the patient, need to be taken care of, so do your eggs! Pick a place that you’re comfortable with not only the doctor, but also the lab.

  1. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT YOU SHOULDN’T ASK

I am an REI fellow and I still sent my nurse questions!

Thank to everyone who followed along on my Instagram stories and sent messages of interest! I’m glad so many people liked following along, even when I showed myself giving an injection!

Happy holidays, everyone!

 

Goodbye to all that…

I came to New York essentially a tourist, my nose plasterd to a window of the (newly opened) Gansevoort hotel looking desperately at the rooftop of the Soho House for a celeb siting (no luck). On a hot summer day in August of 2004, I moved into 35 5th Avenue, likely the nicest address I’ve had in New York, in the midst of the Republican National Convention, no less. More aptly, my parents moved me in while I sat fairly comatose wondering what I’d gotten myself into. This was pretty far from Tennessee, and Mary Kate and Ashley were no where to be found.
I became a doctor (only metaphorically speaking) when I learned the limits of medicine. I (in hindsight – foreshadowing into a career as a gynecologist?) likely ruptured an ovarian cyst after seeing “The Devil Wears Prada” at the Regal theater on 14th Street and vowed not to set foot anywhere near an ER unless I wanted “a CT scan, an EKG, and a 6 hour wait.” Working at Bellevue in another hot, sticky NYC summer, I learned not everyone is so happy to see a doctor, especially in the ER. And, weirdly, I still wanted to pursue this whole thing…
I became a New Yorker when I realized the public was my private space, I started saying “on line” instead of “in line” (much to my horror), and when I started to think anyone was crazy to not think this was the best city in the world.
New York – you’ve been my greatest love story, my confidante/friend/enemy. You saw me go from college co-ed with a dream to become a dermatologist to a full-fledged doctor pursuing a fellowship in a career I didn’t even know existed when I moved here. You took my all of my 20s and a lot of my money. I will miss you, dearly.
Meggie_Smith_0449Meggie_Smith_0883
They say (ps: who is they, anyways?) that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, right? Let’s test that out.
See you in LA!
FOR POSTERITY – MEGGIE AND NYC – A BRIEF TIMELINE: 
1998 – A 12 year old me sees “You’ve Got Mail.” Vows to live in NYC. Makes AIM screen name “ShopGirl186”
2003 – Mary Kate and Ashley apply to NYU. With the idea that, “if its good enough for them its good enough for me,” a 17 year old Meggie applies to NYU, thinking it is a public school
4/1/2004 – Receives letter that she got into NYU. Quickly realizes its not a public school. Entire family drives (the first of many) to NYC to check out the place “to make sure this is where you want to go.” Misses senior prom. Does not at all regret that.
8/2004 – Moves in. Really, my parents moved me in.
10/2005 – Starts first volunteer position at Bellevue Hospital in the pediatrics department.
6/2006 – Works in the Bellevue ER. Is not deterred by consistent and overwhelming smell of urine. Still wants to be a doctor.
7/2007 – Accepted to NYU Medical School
2008 – Graduates college and starts medical school. Thinks that “medical school is like drinking from a fire hydrant – hard” — IF ONLY SHE KNEW ABOUT AN OB/GYN RESIDENCY, she’d know how great this was
2009 – Takes up running, which becomes her 2nd greatest love story. Also, gets a twitter account, which she had no idea will lead her to her best friend.
2010 – Decides she does not want to be a dermatologist and, instead, a reproductive endocrinologist. Has “life crisis” because “this was not the plan.”
2011 – Decides to do a year of research in infertility. Takes first group fitness class (SoulCycle) and quickly realizes all of her extra money will go towards this (she’s an easy sell/addict).
2013 – Graduates medical school. Qualifies for Boston and still unclear how she did this. Starts residency. Enters “the foxhole” of residency.
2016 – Matches into REI Fellowship at USC
2017 – Graduates residency, emerges from foxhole. Moves to LA.

What Are Your Hours Like?

This is the #1 question I usually get asked as a resident.

“What are you hours like?”

What are my hours like? Great question.

So, the long and short of it is that if you were to add up how much I work, on average, it would be 60-80 hours per week (80 being the legal maximum as averaged over a 4 week period).

On a day to day basis, the answer is trickier.

On an inpatient surgical rotation (vast majority of my GYN rotations), we usually round between 6-7 and OR cases start at 7:30. We then “sign out” to the night team at 6 pm, which usually puts you leaving around 6:30.

There are three caveats to this:

  1. As an intern, you have to “pre round” on the patients, meaning you see everyone, write the notes, and are ready to “present” by the time the rest of the team gets there. So, that can mean some pretty early mornings – I saw a couple of 4:30s when I was an intern and also didn’t see daylight. Thankfully, that’s only one year of your life, so there’s literally light at the end of the tunnel.
  2. As a senior, you’re doing bigger OR cases….which can go later. So, that “sign out at 6” thing might not always happen.
  3. 5:00-5:45 pm is the ER witching hour. For some reason, a majority of consults come . at this time. And, this can often thwart said “sign out at 6” thing.

On an OB rotation, its a bit more “shift-work” so it’s usually 7 am to 6 pm….with sign out usually ending around 6:30-7 pm. The short caveats to this are that you round on post partum as an intern and antepartum as a 2nd and 3rd year…so depending on how many patients you have, you get there earlier than 7 am.

Then, we get to nights and weekends.

We have a night float system meaning that there is a dedicated night team Sunday night through Thursday night. You work from 6 pm until sign out the next morning at 7 or 7:30 am.

My longest stretch of nights was 5 weeks in a row. I began to question my sanity towards the end. For any of you who work the night shift as nurses, I throw you a hands up emoji. Living opposite of the world is hard.

Now, on to weekends…the fun part.

Weekends we have a “call” team. This confused a lot of people my first year – I would say I was on call and some people thought this meant I was at home with a pager. FALSE. Call = at the hospital working.

When it’s your lucky weekend on call, you work either Friday night (so you end up working 24 hrs on Friday) then Sunday day (from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm). OR you work Saturday for 24 hours (Sat 7:30 am to Sun 7:30 pm). The jury is still out on which of these is “better.”

Let me tell you — working for 24 hours straight is not something I’d wish upon anyone! It takes a lot of coffee and adrenaline to make it through. New moms – I also send you a hands up emoji.

My parents are continually confused – are you awake? are you asleep? They’ve operated the last four years under the pretense that “I’m always working….or working out.” My parents know me so well.

So, that’s the answer to one of the most common questions I’m asked.

Here to answer your burning questions – that’s what I’m here for.

Until next time…

Daily coffee tally: 1 …but its only 9:45 am so….TBD

NYC Half: Round 5

NYC Half – the great winter running motivator.

I’ve been lucky enough to run this half several times – I think this is the race I’ve repeated the most.

I went back and looked at my results on NYRR, mostly so I could accurately count how many times I had run this race.

Here’s a breakdown based on year, what I was doing in my life, how I felt.

2011:

Where was I in life? 3rd year of medical school, on clinical rotations, I think on my peds rotation, but don’t quote me on that

Time? 1:51:10

Any particular recollection? I was training for a marathon at the time and I know this was slower than my PR at the time (which I think was like 1:48…maybe). I remember being a bit disappointed because I thought I would run faster. I also remember it being fairly warm during the race and I was overdressed. However, I also remember it being extremely windy at the finish.

2013:

Where was I in life? 4th year of medical school (if you’re confused, I took a research year between my 3rd and 4th years). I was literally LIVING THE DREAM at this point. About to graduate medical school, one rotation left, lots of free time, and people basically congratulated me on living giving said impending graduation.

***Even more special, “Match Day” for residency was two days before this race. I got the program I wanted to go to so I think that high is was drove me to a PR. A mile 8, I remember thinking “OMG isn’t this the best! We’re at mile 8!” Normally, I’m like “omg, only 8 — we still have 5 more?!”

It was also 20 degrees at the start and I couldn’t feel my arms. Another reason I probably ran faster than I thought — to feel my extremities.

Time? 1:42:25 (still my PR)

Any particular recollection? An AMAZING day. PR. Just matched. No worries. 4th year dream world. Had Hu Kitchen pancakes after. Basically, I was a unicorn for a day.

This was also probably the best running shape I have ever been in my life. See also – BQ a month or two later. I will probably never have as much time to train as I did that spring. Thus, I’ve realized this was probably my peak as a runner.

2015:

Where was I in life? 2nd year of residency and trying to survive in the foxhole that is residency. This was also during my SoulCycle kick. See also, bank statements from this period and multiple purchases to SoulCycle, LLC.

Time? 1:50:29

Any particular recollection? I was really scared before this race because I really didn’t run that much before it. My longest run was definitely 8 miles max. I did a lot of SoulCycle so I knew I was in good cardiovascular shape, but was unsure how my legs would take the pounding. I survived and got a whole milk latte afterwards.

I also ran with Jaime during this race, which was super fun! And, we both did it for Every Mother Counts, which was also fun and meaningful.

I remember talking to Jaime a lot about how I was terrified I wouldn’t match into REI and how I might not survive residency. I think that run was mostly a therapy session for me. Thanks, Jaime :).

2016:

Where was I in life? 3rd year of residency and still in the foxhole. Preoccupation – resident research project to present, fellowship application. However, starting to see a way out of the residency foxhole.

Time? 1:47:39

Any particular recollection? Yes, I trained more for this race (running wise) than any other in residency. Meaning I ran long runs and workouts (mostly Mile High Run Club) and such. I remember being super exhausted on a lot of long runs but also having some really fast workouts. I was hopeful that maybe I could run under 1:45 if the stars aligned, but also knew that residency is a leech that can sometimes suck the life force out of you, no matter how much coffee.

I ran over 1:45, but under 1:50 and was pretty happy with that. Still wanted that 1:45, but at the end was like “I gotta go home – I start nights tonight!”

I also got hot chocolate and a blanket at the finish so that was all a win-win.

I did feel fairly fatigued that night and nauseous that morning. So, I checked some labs at work. My Hct was 36. And my cholesterol was 119. Booyah. [ie nothing is wrong with me other than being a resident.]

2017: ???

So, where does that bring us?

Well, now I’m a 4th year resident, getting ready to graduate! I will leave the foxhole! Although, to be honest, a little sad to do so. The foxhole has been very mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, but also a whole lot of fun.

My ultimate half marathon goal is to one day run under 1:40. I give myself about a 5% chance of that happening in residency or probably ever.

Not that I don’t think I couldn’t run a sub-1:40 with proper training — more that life is full, excitingly busy (as Ali likes to say), and that there are other goals I have right now that mean more to me than a 1:40. Might not stay that way forever, but for now, that’s the truth.

I’d love to run under a 1:45. I give myself a 10% chance of this happening.

I give myself about a 60% chance I’ll run under 1:50…if I modestly train.

That leaves about 25% I’ll run over 1:50.

Closer to the time, I can adjust these percentages based on what I actually did. It will depend how much residency and winter (really, winter) suck out of me.

So, if I’m giving myself these wacky percentages that are generally point to something that isn’t a PR. I bet a lot of runners out there would be like “then why train?”

I’ve thought that myself.

What I think brings me back to these races — despite the high mental/physical/emotional demand and profound exhaustion of an OB/GYN residency — is the feeling of racing.

I just want to feel like I’m racing – like I’m out of breath, that I’m trying my best, that I’m not sure I’ll make it to the next mile, and…well, you get it.

So, that’s the goal – to feel like I’m racing – and if thats 8:45/mile or 7:45/mile, that’ll be fine.

Given that my workout routine in residency is fairly capricious and mostly based on what’s going to make me happy at the moment, here’s what is making me happy.

STRENGTH TRAINING!

I train at a Crossfit gym (but don’t do Crossfit, actually) and it is so much fun. I train with Alex Silver-Fagan. She is extremely knowledgeable and knows her stuff. Two thunbs up or insert the hands up emoji. Or both.

We’ll see how this translates into racing.

I also still love boxing (Shadowbox) and Pilates (Flex). And, running, obviously — its my real one, true love.

Ideally my plan would be 3-4 days running and 2 days of strength training. It also includes 3 cups of coffee a day and the occasional “I’m too tired” day.

TBD. Who doesn’t love a good experiment?

Ideas, suggestions, comments welcome!

That’s all for now:

Daily Coffee Tally: 3