Thursday, May 5, 2011

The new normal

Normal is always changing, it seems. The books call our new state of being our "new normal," and it's hard to argue--the daily realities of living on (not moving on) with a broken heart wouldn't be normal to, well, normal people but it's normal to us.

Let me back up. When Miles was in the hospital, we knew that his life would always be pretty medical. He would have multiple heart surgeries during his childhood. Even when he got home, we knew his daily life would be much more medical than most children's lives--but that would be his normal. That would be our normal.

And now, since Miles died, Mitch and I have another new normal. We live a new life that eerily looks similar to the one we had before but in most ways is quite different. My new normal involves a balance of happiness and sadness all at once (an indicator of emotional maturity, my therapist assured me!); it is a feat that I did not know existed before.  Simply you could be either happy or sad, I thought. And when I was sad that lasted all the way right up until I was happy again. Now it's both at once. There's room for joy in a broken heart...and that means enjoying each day as much as possible, seeing the joy in life because that is one of the things that Miles helped us to do and knowing that we are missing Miles every moment, knowing that the world can be tragic, knowing that it should have been different for Miles and for us. We should have been able to keep him. He should have had a full life. Yet here we are--knowing our love for Miles, carrying the pain, living on, keeping him in our hearts. That's the new normal.

Learning that I was pregnant with our second child added another layer to our new normal. It was normal to be joyful about expecting our second child, normal to be reminded of the joy we felt when we learned we were pregnant with Miles, normal to know how much happiness Miles brought to us during his four and a half months here, normal to be terrified over how little control we had over our second child's health, normal even to just hope that we will carry our second child out of the hospital, normal to grieve that Miles and his sibling will not be together.

And it was normal to immediately understand that it was news to share carefully. Mitch and I waited a long time to tell most of our friends and family about our second baby. We needed plenty of time to have the news just between the two of us, to feel all of the emotions together first.  And, most of all, it made me cry to know that already people were uncomfortable talking about Miles (though I thought about him just as often as I figure any mother thinks about her first child), that with time he was talked about even less because it was uncomfortable or because it was time to be "over it", and that talking about the new baby would become the easy go-to conversation (as if a new baby took away the pain of losing Miles and somehow made everything ok again). I wasn't ready for that. I wanted for everyone to be so happy that we were expecting our second child and to know that it didn't change our devastation over not having Miles here with us every day. Waiting to tell people didn't change their comments, their reactions...but it bought me time.  To be more ready, I guess, to live with the new normal. 


  1. It is so hard when others seem to expect your new baby to "fix" you - to take away the pain of loss and erase the trauma. Of course it doesn't, but it does bring joy and sorrow into a more "normal" balance and that is a great blessing. So glad you have this new happiness!

  2. I'm so sorry to read about the loss of your sweet boy. He was absolutely amazing.
    Congrats on your new baby girl soon arriving. I pray all is well with her.
    Best wishes!