Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review: Mindset by Carol Dweck

Although I read it a while back, this book cannot escape my mind; I keep seeing it referenced in articles and hearing it talked about in interviews. Seems fitting to share with you!

In Mindset - The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck identifies two types of predominant patterns of thinking in our culture: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. While these ideas are difficult to define succinctly, here are some examples of thinking from each type:
  • Fixed Mindset - Your level of intelligence is very basic and cannot be changed much. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can't really be changed.
  • Growth Mindset - You can always change how intelligent you are, and you can change basic things about the kind of person you are.
Growth vs. fixed mindset people think as learners vs. non-learners. They are lovers of challenge vs. possessing a fear of failure.

"In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented."

Dweck then discusses the intricacies of the different mindsets, with real-life examples in chapters that cover major areas of our lives: achievement, athletics, leadership/work, relationships, parenting/teaching/mentoring, etc.

Fixed mindset thinking involves the need to prove one's self. Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or stupid? As you can imagine, this is a dangerous pattern that limits our happiness and creativity. Dweck provides a segment at the end of each chapter called Grow Your Mindset containing bullet point tips for adopting a growth mindset in the areas discussed in that chapter. She shows how a growth mindset translates to belief in effort, new definitions for success, and resilience in the face of setbacks. Those sound like things that we all need!

A small paperback with roughly 240 pages, this book is a quick read with lots of relevant examples and practical, thought provoking points. Have you read it or have you heard of these philosophies elsewhere? Share your thoughts here!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Beating Infertility

As I have discussed many times on this blog, infertility can be a stressful and difficult thing to endure. Infertility is shrouded in shame, and yet it is quite common in our society. As women choose to have children later in life, egg quality diminishes and leads to lower pregnancy rates. In addition, age and a longer period on this earth put us at an inherently increased chance for a medical diagnosis that could impact fertility. My infertility issues fell into both of these categories, but now (after lots of intervention) I am 21 weeks pregnant!

Heather Huhman has suffered repeated setbacks in her quest to become a mom, but instead of delving into despair, she decided to use her experiences (and those of many other women) to help others who struggle with infertility. She recently started a podcast called Beat Infertility, in which she interviews "success stories" in addition to women undergoing current treatments. She also publishes short expert interviews on topics such as infertility diagnoses and treatment techniques. Not only does this podcast provide inspiration for many women, but it also lifts the air of shame surrounding infertility by allowing people to openly discuss their experiences.

I'm proud to be featured as this week's success story! You can listen by going to her podcast website and either streaming or downloading to Itunes, Stitcher, etc. When I was struggling through failed cycles and two week waits, I wish I had had this resource. Check it out as a source of inspiration for proper self-care, even if you don't have infertility!

Monday, July 6, 2015

A New Kind of Body Confidence

As goal-oriented, driven people who are sometimes prone to perfectionism, body image can be a source of stress for many of us. Leave it to pregnancy to completely change mine!

I have always been known for my tall slenderness, a substantial part of my ego (for more on what makes up one's ego and how to detach from it, I highly recommend readings by Eckhart Tolle). I would be lying if I said that I haven't thought about how perception of my body (by others, by me) will change during this time, or about how hard it might be to return to a fitter state. Granted, at 17 weeks, I have only so far gone from this

to this

But I feel the change. I can only see part of my feet when I look down, and I'm sure they will be disappearing soon. My pants are tight, and my thighs are rubbing together. I have incredible fatigue that limits me from doing all but a fraction of my normal exercise volume, and what I do is done with great effort.

Yet I've never been more proud of my body as I am right now. Not even during my recovery from brain surgery. I love how it looks and I love what it can do. I love every protuberant curve, every tired muscle, every swollen joint. I'm growing a human being! There are two heartbeats inside of me! Everything I experience, she experiences as well. Although I feel weak a lot of the time, remembering this gives me incredible strength.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When Do You Disclose a Pregnancy?

I was 5 weeks pregnant and working in the spine room. Just as I finished my intubation and secured the airway, I turned to set the ventilator and administer some important medications. The surgery fellow started to position the fluoroscope near the patient's cervical spine, about a foot away from where I was working. "Please don't use the Xray right now; I need to put on a lead shield first," I said. "Yeah, ok... whatever..." he said, as he continued to fine-tune its position. Thirty seconds later he sighed, then started pushing some buttons and eyeing the screen. I looked at him sternly and said, "I'm serious. Don't do it. I'm pregnant."

Yes, this awkward moment happened during my first pregnancy last year. A very similar situation happened again at work during this pregnancy, but I was a bit farther along. Many people wait until they are out of their first trimester to disclose a pregnancy, mainly because there is an unfortunate  cloud of shame in our culture that surrounds miscarriage. But in certain situations, depending on your occupation, I would argue that it is important to tell coworkers earlier.

In my new post for Mothers in Medicine, I explain why. You can find the entire post here. Let me know what you think!