Sunday, August 21, 2011

After All

"Go ahead, push your luck
Find out how much love the world can hold
Once upon a time I had control
And reined my soul in tight
Well the whole truth
It's like the story of a wave unfurled
But I held the evil of the world
So I stopped the tide
Froze it up from inside...."  - After All, Dar Williams

It's funny how the universe sometimes pauses to answer your questions.  As a new mama/heart attack survivor, I've tried to balance both realities and it's not particularly easy.  I'm sure you've heard the frustration in my voice via past posts about life, death, normal and not so much.  The month of August reminded me that everyone has a story to tell - and it's funny how sometimes, you hear those stories when you desperately need something better to believe in. 

The story of secret helper #1:  I signed up for CPR training.  In hindsight, this was a horrible idea.  But at the time the opportunity became available, I figured that since I'd already been certified once, I should just go ahead and renew.  The first portion of training centered around what to do if you happen upon an unconscious person.  Piece of cake!  The second portion - all about cardiac emergencies.  I made it about 30 seconds into the introductory video of sterotyped actors (old, overweight) telling fake stories about their  heart attacks before I started to tear up and was forced to bolt.  I had not expected to have such an emotional reaction to training, but it happened.  Needless to say, I did not finish the training. 

Later than afternoon, a visitor popped by to chat.  This person found me quite brave for attending the training. BRAVE?!  At this point, I felt like a total weenie.  A corny Red Cross video caused me to run screaming in the opposite direction.  As it turns out, this person had lost his wife to a heart attack a decade ago.  After sharing the story of his own feelings of helplessness, he said two things that really resonated with me.  First, he missed all the things his wife didn't have the chance to do/be/bring into the world.  And second, a more palatable answer to why bad things happen to good people -because the world in which we live is an imperfect one.  In order to be at peace, one must forgive the world for being imperfect.

Listening to him speak almost felt like a challenge....after all, I'm still here and his wife is not.  So what things can I do to make the world feel less imperfect?

The story of secret helper #2:  The following day, I had lunch with a woman whose grandchild came into the world shortly after Cameron.  We were able to show off baby pictures to each other and swap stories.  Inevitably, the conversation got to a point where I had to decide to talk about the heart attack or not, and since I'd see more of this person, I decided to share a little bit of my experience.  As it turns out, she is involved with the local Go Red for Women movement and encouraged me to get in touch with this group to share my story.  I had previously attempted to get involved with the American Heart Association, but didn't particularly feel "close" to the efforts.  I hope I'll be able to share my story with this group and maybe, help save another woman's life.

The story of secret helper #3:  Later on in that same week, I caught up with an old acquaintance who I'd met through work.  Sixteen years ago, she adopted a baby girl after learning she wouldn't be able to get pregnant or carry a fetus to term.  Though I know many people who've adopted or fostered a child, I've never spoken about the process parts with anyone.  Prior to having Cameron, Brian and I had entertained the idea of perhaps one day becoming foster or adoptive parents, but had never considered the notion too seriously.  Hearing her describe this act as the best thing she'd ever do with her life, I couldn't help but think that one day, when the time is right - this could be the way we complete our family.  Cameron can't have a dog sibling forever (though Mowgli is an awesome big brother!).

There are times (VERY rarely) when I think it's good that all of this happened as it did.  Because it's made me think much more about things I may never have considered otherwise.  I've learned so much more about people who cross my path regularly and the complexities that life brings to us all.  And I appreciate both!

"So go ahead, push your luck
Say what it is you gotta say to me
We will push on into that mystery
And it'll push right back
And there are worse things than that.......
'Cause when you live in a world
Well it gets into who you thought you'd be
And now I laugh at how the world changed me
I think life chose me after all" - After All, Dar Williams

Monday, August 15, 2011

Four Months & Fabulous!

Well, summer is just FLYING by and my sweet boy has gone from being a wide eyed newborn to a squirmy, drooly, babbling infant.  Cameron hit the four month mark earlier this month.  He's in the 75th percentile for size - clearly, he does not get that from his parents!  He is starting to notice much of his surroundings - when Mowgli gets in his personal space, he tries to bat him away.  I've caught him watching me put food in my mouth and he tries to grab at toys.  It is so interesting to watch him thinking and putting the steps together necessary to grasp a toy or push a button. 

Here we are at the park this weekend.  Cameron was interested in grabbing leaves and branches as well as watching Mowgli run along the path.  This was a big step from when we took him to a concert under the Arch.  He was more interested in the street lamp than the fireworks!

Brian found a jogging stroller on eBay.  Cameron is still a bit too little to fit well, so we propped him up with some blankets while we strolled.  No jogging yet.......

Here he is getting some tummy time.  He doesn't appear to be too interested in rolling over yet, but I bet he will sometime soon.

Practicing sitting in the bumbo chair - letting it all hang out!

Morning snuggles are the best!  Cameron is a very happy baby in the morning, especially once he has a full belly.

 This weekend, we started solids.  Cameron is the only D'Souza (and Siebert for that matter) to turn down a meal.   He has yet to get the hang of swallowing rice cereal and rather, enjoys spitting/spraying/throwing the stuff.  I decided to taste it, just to see what he had to endure.  Decidedly not delicious, but if he can figure out how to eat this stuff, up next is fruit and vegetables!  We are going to make Cameron's baby food at home and I'm sure that'll be a whole new adventure.

Last week wound up being my first full one back to work.  I am beginning to really understand the idea of "running in heels" - working at Banana Republic on Black Friday does not hold a candle to being a working momma!  But, Cameron seems to be enjoying his time at daycare and is even making friends.  Daphne, almost one, is constantly monitoring Cameron's whereabouts - clearly she has a thing for younger men :) He has made "artwork" that hangs on his classroom's wall.  It is VERY adorable and I'm glad that he's getting to experience many different activities.

Though I feel like there is much juggling associated with parenting an infant, I am enjoying every minute, even the hard ones!  Long days at rehab then work don't seem so bad when I have my family to come home to!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Being a good sport

I think that being a good sport is a key life lesson that everyone should experience but that few really take to heart.  It seems to me that everywhere you look these days, there's an overwhelming number of sore losers....and sore winners for that matter.  Nothing seems to be going quite right for anyone these days - the weather is too hot, the summer passed to fast, congressional leaders can't get their act together (ARGH!), and worst of all, people are starving in a famine that has no end in sight. How can you be a good sport when the world keeps throwing these curve balls?

I was hoping to blog last week - Tuesday night actually.  If I had, I would have shared with you my excitement for Cameron's 4 month birthday and my adjustment as I headed back to work full time.  But Tuesday night, I wasn't feeling particularly well and chalked it up to "that time of the month."  When the aches and pains intensified, I began to worry that something bigger was happening.  Quite a collection of bruises littered my arms and legs from the cardiac meds and I even had some purple spots on my tongue (think Dr. Seuss!).... and then I nearly fainted in the kitchen on Wednesday morning.  Since my mom, a nurse, comes to watch Cam on Wednesdays, she was here and called the doctor right away.  Because of my medical history, there was only one thing to do... head to the ER. UGH!

After lots of tests and poking and prodding, it was determined that my syptoms had nothing to do with my heart. HOORAY!!!!!  Oh, what a sigh of relief.  But, I had a cyst that had ruptured and with all the blood thinners/anti-coagulates I'm taking, I had a fair amount of internal bleeding in my abdomen and intestines. FAIL.  It was clear that I'd need to be admitted for observation and had to keep my fingers crossed that surgery wasn't necessary (as if more bleeding was going to help anything.)

Happily, I had about a million doctors tending to my case (a cardiologist, an OB/GYN, an internal medicine doc, along with the ER doc and the hospitalists.... whew).  So, I did get my heart meds reduced to a more tolerable level (and no more coumadin!).  I only had to stay for a couple days and Brian and Cameron spent a whole day with me.  Cameron's been to the hospital to visit every time I've had to go.... and way more times than a baby should ever need to be there.  But, I'm SOOOO glad its me and not him.

So, as I was pondering my latest diagnosis, I began to get angry.  Because, seriously.  I'd like to think I've been a really good sport about everything challenging that's happened over the last few months.  I am enjoying my baby and my family; I have changed my diet and been diligent about rehab; I've tried to see my friends and extended family more and attempted to take comfort in little things.  I have followed all the rules set for me (well, I've bent the cheese rule a bit) and gone to extra lengths to ensure I am being as heart healthy as possible.  I am trying to balance work and life so that I feel successful in my role without sacrificing personal time.

So, why WHY can't things just be normal?!  Why can't a cramp just be a cramp or a bruise just be a bruise?! Or, can there just be no cramps and no bruises?  Can I enjoy spontaneous time with my family that doesn't happen on the telemetry floor at St. Mary's?  I feel like I'm really trying to adapt and the universe keeps throwing little kinks in.  Am I missing something?  I realize that all these things are so insignificant compared to all the craziness going on in the world (helicopters crashing, children starving, hate crimes, etc.)  But this is my reality and it's going to make ME crazy here shortly.

Here's hoping for a normal, boring next few months.... that will hopefully be full of normal, simple things.