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


  1. I can't wait to read more from you. Inspiring!

  2. So... apparently I never got the memo about quitting the psych major. But, I am a big supporter of psychology in practice, and I'm an even bigger fan of you thriving!

  3. I love that you used a C.S. Lewis quote ;) And I am excited to 'follow' you on your journey