Didn’t someone once say something like “it’s funny how life works out”

I presented a letter of resignation to my new boss yesterday. I like my boss. I like my co-workers. I am not leaving out of frustration or angst or some long simmering feud. I will not return to brandish heavy weaponry to assuage a prior wrong done to my person.

The short and complete story is that it simply was time to move on.

This was my first career:

I was a dental assistant. I thoroughly enjoyed the job. I did not enjoy the employer. During that career I got married and became a stay at home mom which I loved.

This was my second career:

I was, and still occasionally am, a doula and childbirth educator. I loved this job. Unequivocally. This was the best career in the world. One that really fit who and what I am and believe about life and mothers and women and babies. I faced a conflict though as my children grew and this career seemed to want to sneak into special moments that I felt needed to be reserved for my children. I let this career go with much regret but one does what seems right at the time. I have however never quite been able to let go completely as every now and then I run into a couple who seeks my service.

Later, when the little people in my life had grown a bit it seemed time to get back into the working world again and again making the decision that seemed appropriate at the time, I went back to career number one. It actually was relatively easy to slip back into the dental office even after twelve years away. That return has guided two separate jobs in the last fifteen years. The last five of those at the position I just resigned. That position in an Oral Surgery practice was truly the culmination of a dream I had since attending dental assisting school way back in 1978. I loved surgery and I vowed that one day before all was said and done, that I would work for an Oral Surgeon. Through the keen eye of a fellow dental assistant, some luck and my wit and charm, I landed a position with one of the most respected surgeons in our area. This man had practiced for nearly 30 years and had a following to match.

I was in heaven. But this surgery was nothing like the extractions I had been doing for years as an assistant in a general dental office. This was SURGERY.  This was half dental, half medical, with all the trappings of an outpatient surgical practice and the need to be fully capable of saving a life if necessary.

Oh, the things I learned. The amazing surgeries I assisted with. The great staff I came to call my friends. The emergencies that I never expected but as a part of a trained team, handled rather well I believe.

Borrowed from Sclar Center, Cosmetic and Reconstructive Dentistry, Miami

Then the arthritis reared its head, or more appropriately settled in my hands and all that you see above was to be no more. Holding heads to maintain airways, holding and manipulating small sharp instruments, working with tiny parts and pieces became a part of my past. Thanks to some ingenious re-working of my job description, I hung on and was able to stay at the office turning into a jack of all trades.

Then my daughter announced her pregnancy, my original employer made the ultimate and this time final decision to sell his practice and slowly step into retirement and I had some decisions of my own to face. I knew I wanted to care for my grandchild. That was a given and an offer that I refused to turn down. I also knew that I was more than ready to stop being a full time employee. My hands were tired, changes were coming to the office and it seemed rather apparent that fate was standing in front of me telling me to take advantage of what was right in front of my face.

When the decision was made it felt right. An opportunity opened up before me and as I am a firm believer in grasping opportunity as it dangles right in front of your face, I am now employed in a part-time position which allows me to care for my granddaughter; takes the stress and strain off of my hands and in a rather ironic way brings me almost full circle in my career path.

So this is my latest and I believe my last career. Grandma and caregiver to this precious, beautiful baby girl:

and this position one or two days per week:

I will be doing hearing screenings on newborns at one of our local hospitals.

I get to be back in an environment that I love and feel so comfortable with: the postpartum unit of a hospital. I get to work with and educate new parents and most of all I get to interact, even only briefly with new babies. What could be better than that. This position allows me to manage myself, my interaction with families, develop affiliations with hospital staff and probably more than anything, have fun at my job.

It is time to say goodbye to surgery; to dentistry. It’s time to work a little bit less and have a little more time to be a student, to take care of myself, to enjoy my family and to just be. We talk a lot in sociology about “doing” social topics. Doing gender, doing race, doing group dynamics. It’s time to jump on that bandwagon. For the near future I am going to be “doing Debbie”, whatever that may be.

Maybe I’ll write a paper on that subject. The “doing” of oneself. The discovery of one’s personal reality in middle age.  Maybe I’ll just let things ride and see what I discover. I have all the time in the world and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.


And now…

Obviously being a grandma means pictures inundating the far reaches of the galaxy for any and all to see.



And Gisella’s dad tried his hand at photography. If you are wondering, she is in the cat bed.


Ending on a cuter note

More from the photo shoot

The photographer at Orrissa Photography just keeps giving us sneak peeks of baby Gisella during the photo shoot. Here are a few more as she works on putting them all together.




This one just melts my heart. I couldn’t stop looking at it yesterday.

Beautiful baby girl

Just had to share this

Gisella is having her first photo shoot today, obviously unimpressed with the entire thing but oh, so pretty in pink!

Baby care, food, socialization, and “doing breastfeeding”

After a few days away from Miss Ella, I had a voice mail from the son-in-law yesterday asking me to stop by after work. How could I not jump at the chance to see the granddaughter again.

Life with the newborn is having its ups and downs and at the moment it is a down phase. The new parents had an appointment with a lactation consultant yesterday. This was actually the first appointment time they could get as this lady is incredibly busy counseling new parents on the intricacies of breastfeeding.

What you ask? Isn’t breastfeeding natural? Don’t you just put the boob out in front of the baby’s mouth and mother nature takes over in a glorious and functional dance between mom and babe?

For some this scenario may be true. I tend to believe from all the discussion that has been happening in this household and among friends lately that the norm is far from this perfect scenario. I can attest to the fact that I didn’t feel like I actually got the hang of the entire process until it was time to breastfeed my third child. I struggled through the first one, who by the way is the new mom, continued to feel as if I was somewhat lost with the second child and finally with the birth of our last daughter could say that I was 90% comfortable with the knowledge I had gained in my earlier breastfeeding journeys.

What we seem to forget is that nature may design mom’s body to make milk for her child but both mom’s body and babies skills do not come naturally to the task of nursing. Of course some aspects are basic: the change over from colostrum to breast milk; some level of engorgement as this process kicks in; a typically natural rooting/suckling reflex within baby. What isn’t quite so clear or basic is how all this stuff works together, and sometimes it just doesn’t. No matter how hard mom and baby try. This process may be one of the very first encounters baby and new mom have with socialization and expectations around food in our society and we as a society, no matter how much we want to claim advanced technology and great interpersonal interaction do not provide adequate information to the new mom about this learned process.

It is a learned behavior for both mom and baby. Both of these key components in the process need to be schooled in just how to do breastfeeding, especially if it is going to be successful.

I will give credit to those new mom’s and exceptional babies who seem to get it right from the first latch on and never look back. I think those are few and far between though.

After this appointment yesterday the parents came away with a wealth of new information in which to tackle doing breastfeeding. They found that the long drawn out 48+ hour labor that was so hard on mom was also pretty darn difficult on Gisella, even though we assumed she had breezed right through it with fetal heart tones during labor that were steady and really outstanding; APGAR scores that were almost perfect; and a seemingly normal transition to life outside the womb. This little girl was tired, too darn tired even one week after birth, to nurse effectively. The ups and downs over the past week were Gisella’s huge efforts to learn this new job while trying to recover from a long, long labor, and as her parents can attest to and her weight drop clearly points out: doing breastfeeding was going to take on some clearly massive efforts to bring this little girl up to speed in the whole process.

I have to add and give credit to mom who has been so devoted to this child and to providing everything Gisella needs while still in recovery mode herself. She is now armed with information and tools to provide the best experience for her baby. Dad has been right there also and is even more a part of the process now as they both work with Gisella to master this new skill.

Without the help of the Lactation Specialist, Gisella and the new parents would have floundered in their attempts to figure out just what was needed. Even with my breastfeeding background and my role as an educator in pregnancy and birth, I was amazed at much of the information that was put in front of this couple. The specialist shared that she had spent longer and undergone more educational requirements to become a LS than she had when pursuing nursing.

These professionals spend hours learning the intricacies of doing breastfeeding, all the while knowing that each and every mom and baby is different and that their job is to dig and delve until they find a path that works for each individual and duo. They counsel, they teach, they nurture, they console, and they help mom’s and babies learn that breastfeeding is possible. It just often takes a whole lot of work.

They even sometimes bring into the picture that dreaded word that groups like La Leche League shudder at: formula.

I am all for LLL and their beliefs. I found information from their organization useful. They are mom’s who have successfully breastfed their children and learned what works. I also respect the message of the LS who understands that in some cases, while not promoting formula, it can be a tool for a short time. Ultimately, the suggestion of the LS are as individualized as her clients and her job is to bring about success in doing breastfeeding that is measured by a healthy baby and an educated, confident mom.

Gisella will figure out how to do breastfeeding, as will the new couple. The biggest downside is that it took over one week for this struggle to become apparent and move down a path to change. An early, initial encounter with a LS in the hospital left mom and baby with nothing more than a brief glance, a comment about not having any problems and a decisive dismissal that all would be fine. Thankfully the LS yesterday spent time with the couple and baby, asking and probing into the background and events of the past week. As the conversation was described to me last night, I could actually see the lightbulbs going off in the LS head as she heard about the struggles and efforts since birth.

I am thankful that this professional came into the lives of mom, dad and baby. They now have the knowledge needed to help grow baby Gisella into a strong, healthy girl.

A letter to an incredible woman

Dearest C,

Just over one week ago I was so privileged to witness the culmination of a turning point in your life. You became a mother for the first time.

The precious gift that you and C were pregnant presented to our family as a Christmas present just a few months ago was a moment that brought back so many memories of my first pregnancy with you. You had already accomplished so much in life and I was thrilled that your next accomplishment would be that of bringing your own daughter or son into the world.

You dedicated yourself to learning what was best for both you and your growing baby, making decisions and planning for the day when this little person would arrive. You reminded me so much of myself that at times it was like looking into a mirror.

Time passed and this little girl remained a stubborn force to be reckoned with while you held your ground and your beliefs. I watched you in the end undergo hours of determined struggle. At times it was easy to remove myself from the immediate realization that you were my daughter, not just my client. At other times it was all that I could do to stay as strong as you because you are my daughter.

I witnessed the birth not only of my grandchild, but of a powerful, strong and determined woman who when faced with unplanned decisions took control as is her style and new what was clearly the right thing to do. I watched you labor with a resolve to provide the best possible outcome for your daughter and you succeeded. I saw strength and courage flow from your body and was amazed when looking into your face that the tiny little baby I had held in my own arms was now such a fierce and powerful woman.

After our precious Gisella was born I know that I told you how proud I was of you but those words weren’t enough to describe what was really in my heart at that moment and what has continued to fill me with wonder and pride every time I have sat with you and your daughter in the last few days. You shared words, and thoughts and feelings with me and if I truly helped in the ways you mention to create the amazing woman you are today then I have done what I set out to do as your mom.

It is your turn now. It is up to you to teach your new daughter how to be strong, how to inspire, how to be capable and I know you will succeed. I see those same qualities in every movement you make, during every touch you give to Gisella, in every decision you have made since her birth. She will have no choice but to grow into an amazing woman herself with you as her guide. I will always be alongside you as I am with your brother and sister. There if you need me, but so ready to simply watch as you journey down your own path.

To my baby, my daughter, and to an awe-inspiring wife and mother-I love you.