Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vacation, Baby! ( or Vacation..... Baby??!)

Apparently Brian and I are brave people (or incredibly dumb, we're not really sure).  For our two year wedding anniversary, I decided to tag along on one of Brian's work trips to Ft. Lauderdale and we added a weekend in Boca Raton on for fun.  We debated who should be brought along and in the end, we decided to bring Cameron and leave Mowgli with a good friend who also has a Westie.  Over the last few days, I've remembered some old lessons and learned a few new ones.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  • If you're not stressed, your baby won't be either.
Because Brian was traveling for work, Cameron and I flew down to Florida on our own.  Everyone has a horror story about babies on airplanes.  Deafening cries. Exploding diapers. Evil looks from other passengers, who you feel are judging your every parenting move.  I decided to approach this adventure with a level head.  You can only do what you can do, so I would prepare for and handle situations as they arose.  My mom drove us to the airport, helped us get checked in and stayed for moral support until I made it through security, which was the most difficult part of the journey.  Put purse and diaper bag in bin. Display liquids.  Take off flip flops. Remove baby from carseat.  Remove carseat from stroller. Collapse stroller.  Hoist carseat and stroller onto conveyor belt while holding baby. Walk yourself and baby through metal detector (THANK GOD we were saved from a pat down.  I endured that coming home from Seattle when I was in my second trimester.... not fun.)  Now, put everything back together without angering the people behind you.  Luckily, a lovely TSA officer assisted with this process and we made it through without incident.  Cameron must have sensed my relief because he promptly and obligingly pooped before we boarded the plane.  My sweet boy slept through take off and landing, only waking to suckle down a bottle and play with our seat mates.
  • Wear sunscreen!
One of my favorite things about summer is the first time my cheeks get sunburned.  The summer glow is better than any makeup.  That being said, I really don't want to get skin cancer or have damaged, wrinkly skin in the 30s. So, wear a moisturizer that has sunblock in it (50+ SPF) and apply sunblock liberally when you laze about the beach.  If you want a great glow, get to MAC and try their shimmer powder in Golden Bronze. You won't be dissapointed!
  • Some people do mean well... so just smile, nod and move on.
It took me awhile to pick out an outfit to wear to our anniversary dinner.  I settled on a sequiny tee from JCrew and a ruffle skirt from BR with a pair of great wedges I found in Chicago last year.  While we were waiting for our transportation, a gaggle of overdone, old ladies (self-admitted grandmothers) stopped to coo over Cameron.  Then, one of them said "And you're pregnant again, huh?  You two lovebirds aren't wasting time."  At this point, it would have been wise to smile, nod and move on.  But I didn't. When I indicated that I was still working off my baby weight, crazy old lady #1 asked me if I was breastfeeding.  I said no (I can't because of all the heart medication) and then, crazy old lady #2 gave me a lecture about how breastfeeding was healthy for me and my baby and I must find a way to make it happen.  I explained I was on medication.  "Then pump and dump until you aren't!!" they proclaimed.  Crazy old lady #3 chimed in and said "We're grandmas, we KNOW."  Finally the shuttle arrived to save us, but by this time, I was very crabby.  I do have more of a belly than I'd like, but until I go through cardiac rehab, I can't workout.  And seriously, who looks at a two month old baby and then remarks about your chubby belly?!!  B) - I don't appreciate being lectured by some stranger about how I'm raising my child.  Everyone has their own situation and you never know what someone is handling.  So - some people mean well. Just smile, nod and move on.
  • Time flies when you're having fun.
I cannot believe Brian and I have already been married for two years!  It seems like we just planned our wedding, enjoyed our wedding and found out we were pregnant.  During this next year, I am really going to try to pause and appreciate the great moments we have together. It's so easy to get caught up in the minutia and then you blink and two years have passed!

"I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know

That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest" - Ben Folds

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Love actually is all around - Heart Attack, Part I

In week 36 of my pregnancy, Brian and I learned that baby Cameron was breech.  Not even a little breech - completely head up and facing the wrong direction.  Most babies have turned head down that this point and it was clear that I most likely would need a c-section.  At the time, I was crushed.  Don't get me wrong - I was never planning to have a completely natural birth, but I definitely wanted to experience the excitement and anticipation of going into labor.  I was given the option to have my doctor try and turn the baby externally.... not my idea of fun! Over the course of the next week, I realized that safest/healthiest/most comfortable thing for Cameron would be a caesarean.  As it turns out, Cameron being breech was a blessing in disguise.  Had I gone into labor, it's possible that neither of us would have made it.

With a c-section, your time in the hospital is prolonged since it's considered fairly serious surgery.  Somehow, I lucked out and was given a HUGE hospital room.  This worked out well, because Cam and I had quite the parade of visitors.  Grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends and co-workers came to celebrate his arrival.  I also had the nicest nurses on the planet. (If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, here's my plug for Dr. Michael Chen and Missouri Baptist!)  Overall, my first few days with Cameron were brimming with love and I felt so lucky.  My incision was healing nicely, I wasn't in much pain and all of my vital signs were in the normal range.  We came home on Saturday, April 9th.

In my third trimester, I really began to worry about post-partum depression.  As I have felt the effects of seasonal mood swings from time to time, I felt particularly susceptible to this condition.  After speaking with my doctor about my concerns, I knew what feelings/signs to look for.  In the first few days we were home from the hospital, I made sure to talk to my husband and my mom about my feelings, especially the stress I was having from my breastfeeding struggles.  There are no books, conversations, DVDs or what have you that can really, legitimately prepare you for becoming a parent.  Sure, you can get tips and ideas, but becoming a parent is the fastest, most complicated transition I've ever made.  It takes time to get to know your baby's noises, to understand his patterns and to know what he needs.  And since you want to do all these things well, you wind up neglecting yourself a little bit.  But when you and baby "connect" or you find yourself able to take a diaper off without getting peed on or he's staring rather intently at you while he takes a bottle, it is MAGIC (Sidebar:  If you told me a year ago, I would be a blogger babbling about my baby, I would have bet you a significant sum of money this wouldn't be the case... who really knows what good things are and when they'll come your way?)  Anyway... I found time to squeeze in a shower in the evening on Tuesday the 12th.  Brian had Cameron and Mowgli under control, so I turned on the water and let steam fill the bathroom as I stood under the spray and thought...and thought, and thought.  I thought of my little family sitting on the couch falling asleep together and I worried about the future, about how to protect them and give them everything they needed.  I distinctly remember tearing up as I washed my hair, wondering how I could become this superwoman.  And then, I consoled myself with the notion that if I couldn't do all these things, that there were so many people in the world who loved my son already (many without even having met him), that they would take care of him.  It absolutely gives me chills/goosebumps/the willies now, but that night, standing in shower, I knew that if anything ever happened to me, my family would be taken care of by a huge network of support.  I enjoyed my quiet time in the bathroom until the water ran cold, then dried off and tried to get a little bit of sleep before I needed to feed Cam again.

When I think about that first week with Brian and Cameron home,  I can't help but think the universe was trying to show me every beautiful, perfect facet of itself.  There was no way I could have known what would happen less than 12 hours after my in-shower reflection.  But what I did know, and what I continue to remind myself of now is that there is SO much love in the world and you just have to let yourself be a part of that (even if you're like me and enjoy wearing your "crabby" pants sometimes).

To be continued..........

"There's moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you're gonna be. Sometimes they're little, subtle moments. Sometimes they're not..... Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. " - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Normal

Before we begin.....

A good, beloved friend (albeit a little mouthy at times) who has been following my blog pointed out my improper use of the word "thrive" in the title (it's not a noun, he says, it's a verb!).  I thought I would take a moment to explain. Remember back in high school or college when you took that Intro to Psychology class that sort of made you want to be a Psych major until you realized you would need MUCH more schooling that an undergrad degree to do something with it? At some point in that class, you studied Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs (see below).

Maslow's "radical" theory argued that the way people fulfill their needs is equally as important as the needs themselves.  It is the ability to survive and thrive that makes up the human experience.  So, for me, I guess it's not enough that I survived the heart attack (and am surviving the craziness of new motherhood for that matter) - I want to rediscover/find ways to enjoy my "new normal".  Thus, posts about "thrive" will most likely be about enjoyment - relishing the flavors in a meal, laughing in the company of good friends, stumbling into a new hobby, conquering a goal, etc.

So yes, "thrive" is a verb, unlike the rest of the topics in reBIRTH.  But, I'll make it work. 

In my last post, I promised to tell a heart story in my next post.  But sitting here today, a different story is coming out.  So, bear with me, the heart story will come.  Meanwhile:

At times, being pregnant for me was a bit like what I would imagine being body snatched by a tiny alien feels like.  For 28 years, my body was just mine.  I could use it in anyway I wanted and was the only person affected by my choices.  I sleep on my stomach, eat spicy food, turn cartwheels and spend plenty of time on the computer.  In my third trimester, I slept in the fetal position amidst a nest of pillows with a bottle of TUMS on my nightstand (I'm pretty sure dry toast could give me heartburn at this point).  I never saw the inside of my gym and my swollen, tingly fingers mispelled many a typed word.  I remember looking forward to a time where I wouldn't be pregnant anymore and could go "back to normal" - drinking wine and eating cheese in the middle of the week, being able to sleep comfortably enough to sleep in on the weekends, getting back to my exercise regimen, etc.  I'm not sure why it never occurred to me when I stopped being pregnant it would be because the baby had arrived and no one would be sleeping in again for the next 18 years..... there would never be a "back" to normal.  There was an entirely new mama normal to discover and settle into.  But I figured I'd have my body back and that would be that.

Having a heart attack means you are a lifelong cardiac patient.  My pill bottles and two pill boxes (one for day and one for night) line the middle shelf of our medicine cabinet.  In the event I experience chest pain, I carry nitroglycerin in my purse, along with information about my two stents and where they are located in my heart.  When I am able to exercise again, it will be in a hospital, while attached to heart monitors and supervised by cardiac RNs.  I have been put on a "preventive" heart healthy diet - think low fat, low sodium, low sugar.  For the last six weeks, every sensation I've had in my chest makes me anxious.  I am overly cautious about muscle pain, heartburn, hiccups and shivers..... now that my body is just mine again, it seems I do not trust it.

My new normal is spending time with my son every morning, listening to him coo as he stares at the sun shining through this green stain glass window in our living room.  It's taking my blood pressure, pulse, temperature and weight within an hour of getting out of bed.  It's making eight baby bottles at a time and loving the smell of baby milk breath and it's scanning the nutrition label of every item purchased at the grocery store.  I try to take Cameron and Mowgli on daily walks in the park but avoid hills so as not to put stress on my heart.  My new normal is feeling incredibly grateful that I'm still around for my husband and little boy paired with feeling incredibly frustrated that I can't just be a new mama because I have to adjust to being a heart attack survivor.  But how lucky am I, that I survived.  Just have to keep thinking about that.

"Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free . . . your true self comes out.  — Tina Turner

 "You play the hand you’re dealt. I think the game’s worthwhile."  — CS Lewis

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Baby Story

To understand where I'm headed, I suppose it helps to say where I've been.  So....

Here I am, the night before Cameron arrived.  My hospital bag was packed and I was enjoying my favorite night time treat - a single serving container of Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.

Brian and I were up before the crack of dawn on Tuesday April 5th.  It happened to be a voting day in STL, and I really like wearing (flaunting!) my "I VOTED" sticker, so we went down the street to exercise our civic duty.  All the poll workers were very impressed by our dedication (though it took FOREVER for them to find me on their list. I have a very complicated last name :)  ) While we were at our polling place, the hospital called to see if we could come early, as they had an opening. Since when do hospitals run early? Had a good laugh about that.

As Cameron had refused to turn (or didn't have enough room to rotate properly), I was scheduled for a C-section.  The anesthesiologist who did my spinal was a little nutty - when preparing me for surgery, she asked if I was really tan or this was my natural skin color... REALLY?!  My parents were even in the room... unless she thought they were really tan too.  When she was inserting my spinal block, she was complaining to the nurses, in heavy Boston accent, that her nanny had blocked her on facebook.  At this point, I did begin to wonder about this lady and if she should really be sticking needles in my spine, but we'd pretty much reached the point of no return.  My c-section started at 9:03; Cameron was delivered at 9:11.  Brian took this picture of me immediately after I first heard Cameron cry.

Cameron's legs were/are still a little jankety because he was breech.
We were expecting him to weigh in the high sixes or low sevens..... Our little chunker weighed in at a whopping 7 lbs, 15 oz.  Clearly, all those peanut butter cups I inhaled in my last month made a difference!

I was still a little woozy when we returned to the Recovery area..... But so excited for my little family! 

For those of you who know me, you know I am not a "kids" person.  I've never cooed over babies or enjoyed entertaining kids.  Don't even get me started on tweens.  I remember saying to my mom, somewhere in my third trimester "What am I going to do with a baby?!"  And then I had one.  This perfect, tiny human..... and I am responsible for him.  It's like a switch flips and EVERYTHING changes.  Everything I "knew" I was... I became much more than that. And everything I thought or assumed about myself went out the window.  The most amazing thing I'll ever send in to the world is here and I'll never be just me again.  There's some saying about how having a child is like deciding to wear your heart on the outside of your body.... I totally get that now.  Although, that saying means something TOTALLY different to me these days.  But we'll get to the heart part of the story in my next post.

"Every night when I watch you sleep
I want to watch over you forever
Keep you safe with me
And I wish I could promise you a beautiful world
That would never break your heart
Maybe thats what we are here for
We try and fix what comes apart
Love takes the best of you"     - Catie Curtis

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Started

Well, I never thought I'd have a blog.. but I never thought I'd have a heart attack at the age of 28 either, and here we are!  Today marks five weeks since I became a heart attack survivor.  I notice that every week I've been marking two milestones - Tuesdays are for Cam (he's a mature six weeks now!) and Wednesdays are for the HA.  While I love every minute I'm spending with the baby, I definitely look forward to the day when I can't automatically state how long its been since the HA.

As I navigate being a new mama and healing from my heart attack, I've decided to write about my journey.  In re-BIRTH, I will share a few aspects of my life - Baby, Inspiration, Relationships, Thrive, and Heart.  I hope you check in every once in awhile and enjoy what I have to say.  For today, I'll leave you with two quotes I really enjoy:

"Each moment in time we have it all, even when we think we don't."-Melody Beattie

"There will come a time where you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning."-Louis L'Amour