Falling Off The Work/ Life Balance Beam

I almost made it.

Today was my last day of work going into a week’s vacation. It’s been a bit of a grind lately, with Hubby’s travel and work schedule, and it’s been a looong time since my last vacation. With all of that, I’ve been pretty proud of myself for not losing my cool. Meaning, not yelling at the kids, not spanking the kids (unless it was necessary, like when they were playing with the outlet or something), not throwing things at Hubby (like raw cookie dough), and not otherwise being a jerk.

But I somehow managed to schedule a day care visit at 3 pm on my last day at work before a week off. We’re looking into daycare for Babygirl, as Babyboy heads into Special Ed Pre-K, and the free time either of us has to go looking at daycares is pretty minimal. So I grabbed this appointment and hoped I could see all my morning patients and clear out my work queue (lab results, messages, charting, FMLA requests, prescription refills, etc etc) before, um, 2 pm.


I did my best to clear out essentials. But on the drive to the daycare, I got a call from my nurse. A test I had ordered the day before came back positive and what did I want to do? It was a test that you order to hopefully rule out a Very Bad Thing, and you only order it if your index of suspicion for the Very Bad Thing is low, because if the test is negative, you can be sure that you are not missing the Very Bad Thing. But if it’s positive, you’re screwed, because then you are obligated to order another bigger deal test to make sure you’re not missing the Very Bad Thing.

So it was positive, and we now needed to order the bigger deal test. We had this conversation while I’m in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the expressway. I asked her to order the test and prayed it would work out.

I met with the day care lady and took a tour. I went home to exchange cars with Hubby, who has to cover a late event tonight. I went to my mom’s and spent some time there with her and the kids. We packed up the kids and I brought them home. I got the kids dinner, which involved jelly, so there were sticky hands and lots of mess to clean. I shepherded sticky kids up to the tubby and got them scrubbed shiny.

Then, I fell off the work/ life balance beam.

Kids love to be naked. They do not want to get dressed. Now, this is fine. But as we were upstairs, I heard my pager go off downstairs. I’m toweling off two wiggly giggly bare-butt squeaky clean kids, and I know there’s a page for me that probably has to do with this patient needing this big deal test.

So I went into speed mode, and started grabbing all the things I needed to get the kids dressed- diapers, cream, PJs, which ones, these ones are too winter, these ones are too summer, um, let’s see….

And then I smelled something.

Now, neither of the kids has ever pooped on the floor before. There’s been pee. Yes, pee has happened. But I have never seen either of them squat and just let one slide out onto the floor.

And that is exactly what Babygirl did.

I gasped and froze. Babyboy gasped and froze. Babygirl looked at her handiwork and REACHED OUT TO TOUCH IT.

“AAAAIGH!!!!” I screamed, and grabbed her hand while also reaching for something to pick up the poop.

“POOPIE! POOPIE!” Babyboy’s jumping up and down and yelling and pointing.

I managed to restrain Babygirl, who then started crying, and I swiped up the (thankfully) formed stool with a wipe, and then stuffed it into the diaper pail.

Meanwhile, BEEP.

Ugh. My beeper. OK. I quickly wrestled Babygirl into her diaper and PJs.

Babyboy is usually easy to get dressed. But tonight, he was determined NOT to wear a diaper. It’s like he witnessed the free-pooping, and wanted to do it too. He turned and twisted and bent and giggled and I could NOT get the diaper on him. It was comedic: me saying “HOLD STILL” and “YOU NEED A DIAPER” and snapping the diaper down and then re-adjusting it and pushing it under his butt and trying to hold his legs and him laughing and giggling and wiggling away…

But that goddamned beeper. And it still smelled like poop. And I could NOT get this diaper on Babyboy.

Finally I snapped. I got right down in Babyboy’s face and I yelled as loud as I possibly could, like the loudest that is humanly possible, so loud my throat hurt: “LET ME PUT THIS DIAPER ON YOU NOW DAMMIT!!!!!!!!”

Now, Babyboy is autistic, and one of the things we have noticed is that he doesn’t react when we yell. Anger, even loud shouted anger, doesn’t touch him. He doesn’t really get it.

But Babygirl does. She was shocked, and started crying, in fear. THAT made Babyboy hold still for a moment, as he looked over to her with curiousity. And I put that diaper right on him.

I also realized that our windows were open, and the neighbors were outside grilling. So they heard me totally lose it over a diaper. Sigh.

We managed to get downstairs and I put up the gate and put on the TV and ran to my pager. I answered the page, it was the emergency room, because the patient who needed that test apparently ended up in the ED to have it done there. The ED doc was filling me in when:


“WAAAAAAAHHHH!!!” Babygirl started crying that cry that is real, like, Ouch! Help me, mom! and Babyboy ran away. When Babygirl cries and Babyboy runs away, it means he probably pushed her.

So I’m on the phone with the ER doc, and now I have to go to Babygirl, and as I pick her up and hold her, and she’s SCREAMING, both me and the ER doc realize this is not going to work. We can’t hear each other.

“Um, let me get her a cookie or something… ” I offered.

“No,” he said, “take your time. Call me back. I’ve got two little kids, and I’ve been where you are. No worries.”

“THANK YOU” I said, and with that I was able to hang up and soothe Babygirl.

After a cookie and a bottle and some of that annoying cartoon with the whiney Canadian kid and his sedated parents, she was back to calm, and I was able to call the ER doc back. We sorted it out, the patient would have her test there as it couldn’t happen as an outpatient due to logistics, and she was OK with that, and the ER was OK with that. We all hoped it wasn’t The Very Bad Thing.

And the rest of the night went OK, other than that I got a migraine and had to take a bunch of pills right as soon as the kids went down.

I figured I had about 20 minutes before the Imitrex knocked me out, so I pounded out this blog post.

I’m getting down off the balance beam, and heading to bed.

11 thoughts on “Falling Off The Work/ Life Balance Beam”

  • It must have been in the air: last night, the night before my last exam of year one of med school, my daughter also pooped on the floor. In my kitchen. I was studying and didn’t notice until SHE TOUCHED IT, smooshed it around, and squealed, at which point I finally noticed what was going on. EW. I finally decided toxic Lysol smell had to be better than than poop.

    • Thanks so much!!! Appreciate all your support, means a lot to me. I will try to be better about reciprocating!

      Sent from my iPhone

  • Oh god, I’ve been there. Not exactly THERE (my kids have not—yet—pooped on the floor) but that same insanity right when I’m dealing with a tricky work page. Oh its so hard with 2 littles, but hang in there, we will all make it through.

  • Oh BOY, have I been there. Scene: kitchen, I’m up to my eyeballs in dinner prep, grumpy/clingy kids, my husband and dad are kibitzing around the island. My pager goes off. The home health nurse is calling to report that my patient was circling the drain–we’d talked hospice in a family meeting a few days prior. Answered the page, leaving my husband and to corral the kids (spot the fatal mistake yet?) while I slipped into the bathroom to talk on the phone. My kids were pounding on the door, screaming for momma. It did not end nicely.

  • I am a MIM to be… I will be starting year one this fall! My heart goes out to you. Funny though… my son has already pooped on the floor and med school hasn’t even started!

  • Sorry you had such a rough night and I cannot imagine raising 2 small kids at the same time like that. That being said, I think we all have funny poop stories, though this story was linked to my sister. She used to climb on the toilet and sit on the side of the sink in the bathroom in order to reach the sink while i stood in front of it. well, under normal circumstances the lid to the toilet would be closed, but for some reason it was open this particular night. well my sis was wearing slippery tights and on a smooth toilet seat,,, naturally her feet slipped…. and went directly in the bowl.. which happened to be filled with her poop because she didnt like to flush the toilet. I laughed.

  • It’s so nice knowing that women are more vocal about the craziness and the joys of motherhood…and how it’s so hard to balance it all when you’re a mom in medicine. Thanks for sharing. I love the blog.

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