Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, baby. Oh, doctor.

Last week a close colleague of mine named Beth brought her three-month-old daughter, Emily Elizabeth, into the office. There were only two of us up on the 3rd floor and we were mesmerized by this little miracle of a baby. At first Emily was asleep, silent and still. But then, a little saliva-enhanced gasp and she was awake! Look at those dark blue eyes! She would stare and dribble and smile and we would melt. Even complete strangers fall for babies. Babies have some real power. But for all the power they possess, they are whiny and virtually helpless. Beth was describing how Emily had colic, a condition where the infant cries or screams for hours at a time and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. I don't think Beth slept much in the last three months. But even through those uncontrollable cries, there is still unconditional motherly love. Disregarding the colic, babies pretty much just eat, sleep, and poop--and yep, mama deals with it. We don't give moms enough credit. Please, let us thank our mothers.

I didn't get my mom a mother's day card or gift. Seeing baby Emily made me think about what my mom did for me when I was a wee thing so I gave her a nice hug when I got home. Then she told me a story about how she brought me to a work meeting when I was baby. I was making baby sounds and her intimidating, macho boss thought the sounds were coming from a kitten. The boss was fuming about the idea of a pet in the meeting and as he was about to blow, his eyes fell on little me, and then his anger was instantly quelled.

On the other side of the spectrum, my long-time pediatrician Dr. Levin died this week. He had some sort of blood cancer. This is the man who charted my growth, watched me mature. I remember he did a spot on Donald Duck impersonation. That's how I identified him. But I was frightened of him as a little one. One time he reached down to pick me up, but I clenched my small fingers around the leg of a nearby chair. Dr. Levin still proceeded to lift me, but when he did, the whole chair went airborne. I was a strong baby.

Dr. Levin was also the one who to make a diagnosis about my hair loss ailment. He incorrectly prescribed Nizoral, an anti-fungal shampoo. It just shows that you can only see what you are prepared to see. Dr. Levin never read the chapter about Alopecia Areata too closely, I suppose. I've learned since that the kind I have is more of a mental condition, and in the same family as obsessive compulsive disorder. It is something that defines my character. It's called perfectionism and sometimes it prevents me from trying new things. I always want to be perfect at the outset, so I tend to avoid bouts with imperfection. Because I know this about myself, I combat it by blindly signing up for adventures. My next adventure is a ten-day service trip down to Guatemala with my church. I leave on June 26th. I'll tell you all about it.

Life is short, sweet, beautiful, and fragile. Babies are born. Doctors die. And golly gee, go give your mom a hug.