29 December 2010

Color outside the lines

Live a gutsy, self-aware life.
Ignite the spark in your soul and lay down the
tracks to the songs in your heart. Define your reason for being; go deep, soak up your essence,
then honor your authentic self.
Break the chains that bind you.
Free yourself from your self-imposed restrictions
and be courageous towards all that you dread.
Don’t let the fear of judgment quell your spirit.
Proudly flaunt your humanity,
with all its exquisite imperfections.
Experience the edge of life.
Make mistakes. Color outside the lines.
Go to the brim of what is familiar and jump off.
After all, a vibrant life is filled with stops,
starts and stumbles.
Participate in your dreams and have faith.
You are standing on the edge of bliss.
Do it. Do that next big thing.
Become your own hero. ©

27 December 2010

the bottle

So yeah, the bottle.

Today is a bottle only day from 9-3 or so... we are working up toward full days. It turns out I don't have enough banked in the freezer to do a full day since I started pumping once a day not for banking but for bottle feeding practice, and the amount I was pumping in the beginning was so small it is taking the output of 3 or 4 pumpings to make one feeding.

So... my strategy (guess there wasn't one) wasn't one. So hear me people of the pump-- before you do the pump/bottle only transition as if you are at work again, make sure you bank more than a day's worth so you can make the transition AND have some left over for emergencies. Or you can do the transition on formula.

A confession: I am hating it. The pumping is a little persnickety-- got a GREAT double pump (Medela Freestyle) on super sale. Used cones that were too small for the first month. Got bigger cones and felt a little better. If the flanges are not exactly right, there is no suction which is evil and you have to take it apart and reassemble. I was pumping in the morning, Doug offered a bottle to Della, then I would finish by nursing for a while-- this was a great bridge for both of us-- feeding via bottle then soothing via nursing for both baby and mom. Then we moved to bottles and no soothing in the morning feeding. And today, bottles, no soothing, and I hate not nursing. I miss feeding her. Snuggling. I hate what it means (to me at this time) which is work is about to begin again.

Two weeks from today I start back at work. I am not sure how many days a week or if I will have a job at all. But. But I am thinking about options that support my/our highest and best, trying to imagine balancing our very real need for financial income with my very real need to not be drained emotionally and with my consuming desire for more time with Della. And I might get laid off anyway. So. I am just not enjoying this.

In fairness, I have a pre-existing hate relationship with pumping because of my experience in the hospital (no milk at all) then at home trying to increase my supply. It made me feel like a failure to see so little milk (or no milk) in those bottles after pumping. God. I hate it. It made me feel like I was failing at One More Thing. Damn IF sets us up for this incremental self (esteem) destruction. Everything that does not work easily or well or at all feels so symbolic. Gah. Add baby screaming while feeding at the breast and not screaming at all while taking the bottle and.... yeah.

Now taking fenugreek and blessed thistle, drinking mother's milk tea. reading the book Making More Milk which is excellent but hard to read (It should have caveats like: THIS IS REALLY HARD, and THIS IS TEMPORARY).

For all of you who have fought your way through to your own conclusion about this thorny issue, I hear you. This is one of the thorniest.

25 December 2010


I spend a lot of time thinking about gratitude, steeped in it, reveling.
Even with tears and hard times, I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing than this. Yes, even with the fumbling newness of me in this role.

I am beyond lucky.

I got a call from Boston IVF checking in on me (I called when she was born but apparently it was not communicated to my doc's office specifically) and I got choked up telling this perfect stranger about her.

What if they had not said yes?

Today we go to my beloved sister's to celebrate being together more than anything else.
Tomorrow a snow storm will complicate our travels.
And, believe me universe, there is no place I would rather be than this.

Happy holidays to all of you, however you celebrate, and even if you don't. For me this is about the return of light and gathering with loved ones.

Ands a sincere hope: May all your wishes come true in the new year.

22 December 2010


Just a short post today- new snow, big big moon and the nights (these darkest days) are flooded with light and magnificent shadows.

Lengthening days, ahhh, just believing it to be true is balm, but this, my friends, is based on belief, it sure does not feel that way and won't for weeks. Dark at 4:30 here.

A good OB appointment today, lots of questions answered. 6 months. Until pelvis stabilizes, until scars heal more fully.

Speaking of doctors , a new medication for Della for reflux. Ahh the ongoing mysteries of the crying baby. So very hard when she is Just Wanting to Nurse and can't. BUT yesterday was more peaceful. I am hopeful.

Me, today a haircut (6-8"!), lightheaded.
A rite of sorts, not sure what I am shedding-- weight for sure.

19 December 2010


First, an overdue link to the wonderful
Susan Mullen photos she has on her blog. Of the others that she has sent to us, I love so many... oh my. What you can do with talent and a mostly empty diner... for fun I chose just one for this post of Della yawning-- (prelude to a roar perhaps?)

Miss Della is doing wonderfully, lovely lovely, beautiful and very funny. She smiles a lopsided grin that is completely disarming and she does not give it up easily. Doug makes her smile more easily than I do, but she often smiles at me when I am not expecting it, and oh, my heart. She talks to us too, loads of vocalizations, and watches us so intently while we talk.
She's begun to drool and spit up after doing neither for the first 5 weeks. And she snorts. That's my girl.

On wednesday, I adventured out, meeting Baby Smiling In Back Seat for a three act event of craft fair, lunch and diaper shopping. Ever want to be humbled? Meet up with a now time-tested mother of toddling and delightful twins, while wrangling your own 5 week old and your own awkward if hard won new fumbling motherhood. Oh my. She is lovely (truly, as in beautiful) and was such great company-- patient, helpful, smartsmart, pragmatic, supportive, genuine. Her not-so-little ones are beautiful miracles, and I realized once again just how quickly time has passed, since I thought they were about 6 months old and they were born last October!

I survived, Della survived and we made it home and collapsed feeling vaguely successful.

Then, bravekate, I went out to dinner with my dear friend Tammy last night and brought Della, and it went fine. So, look at me! A big girl! Going out!

Good grief. I swear, it is scary although I am not sure exactly why.
Ok that's a lie.
I am afraid of failure and screwing up, I don't like feeling incompetent. But this is not a life stopper, just an awareness I have to work around. I am pretty sure at some point once I get the basics down it will get less intense.

And in the something-to-look-forward-to category, I might get to see Sprogblogger early in the new year! (WHOO HOO).

That's it for the moment, much more to write about (breastfeeding/bottle/pumping, my belly, more advice from a newbie), but must run. This post has taken two days to write. I am absolutely in the midst of the newbaby vortex. I am not sure I have ever lived so intensely.

13 December 2010

week 5, first snow

Today is Della's 5th week birthday and we woke to our first real snow of the season. yes, only about an inch, but lovely, and the woods are so still that it hardly looks real.
Snow brings the trees closer, and all of a sudden, my house in the woods feels like a house in the woods. In the fall, everything steps back, opens, but now, it feels like I can reach out and touch lichen on a tree trunk.

This weekend we did an overnight in Maine-- a last minute and perhaps insane trip that resulted in Della sleeping 4 hours or so in a row which was magnificent but a one time deal. And, because she has never ever done anything like that ever ever, I could not believe it was happening and spent a lot of time watching her, wondering if she was going to wake up soon.... so I got more sleep than usual, but she really did.

Saw my delightful friend Susan (our insanely gifted photographer) and yes, she took some photos while we ate lunch. Doug was wrangling Della in his easy made-for-this way, and I am so excited to see photos. (LOVED seeing her.)

But the trip itself, we just did it, we just packed up and went as if we could, giving ourselves every out if it did not work out. But you know? It worked out ok. But I confess: I feel I could go anywhere with Doug. He is magnificent with Della, and totally patient and does not flip out or assume difficulty. Changing the baby in a bathroom? You just do it, figure it out, no worries. WOW please god/goddess/all-that-is, please let his wonderful personality rub off on me, and please please let Della have gotten more of him than me in this way.

I am an all-that-can-go-wrong overthinker (not ultimately to the exclusion of all else, not terminally, but I confess, it is my nature), so it is really good for me to be with someone who just does things. They get done. No trauma, no duress. Options to change.

I nursed in public and it was not an issue at all, just need to remember that I am not ok with full boob (mine) exposure in public, so I went under rather than over, and had smartly arranged for belly coverage which also mattered and made me feel more at ease (and warmer!)
Anyway, things worked or they didn't and we adjusted (instead of freaking out) and it was all ok.
Only one regret: I did not take any photos of the ocean on saturday, but maybe I was meant to have it be a memory-- the sky and water the same color, with a slightly darker line at the horizon, and lighter along each wave crest. I am not sure I have every seen anything more beautiful.

Today has been designated a rest day after I felt like crap yesterday- just tired I think, and emotionally raw. I would hike but I need stillness today more than movement. But tomorrow might bring an adventure and I need to have my feet under me.

Tireegal, I live in Southern New Hampshire which is why the cold and snow and ice. But yesterday was balmy truly.
And I went on a mini adventure- no, not the coffee shop, but a solo with Della trip to get snow tires and an oil change, and we survived just fine.

Fear sucks ass, as does the presumption of failure/calamity/hardship/incompetence. I hope I can shake some of this useless stuff. It is like trying to run with really heavy shoes with no flexibility in the sole.

07 December 2010

heartache for Elizabeth

Oh my heart aches for my dear friend Elizabeth, who lost her husband Will to complications from acute lung rejection (he had CF and a transplant) on November 29th. In my more intermittent internet time, I just learned about it today.

There is such strength and love in all that she has written, including this most recent post. Please, if you can, go send love. I do not know how folks manage coping with the loss of a loved one after an acute or chronic illness, where you know loss is possible or maybe even probable, but fight every fight to keep it at bay.

I can only send love, which I am, which I do.

brown sugar and cinnamon

28 days since Della was born.
how is that possible?
I write a letter to Della every week, to try to capture some of the details of the week since she changes so quickly. But she is also so very much her own self in very stable and consistent ways. We are getting to know her facial expressions, and starting (slowly!) to understand her different cries.

Doug is singing to her right now, they are rapt in each other's attention.
Doug is a goateed fellow and kisses Della in a way that tickles on purpose to see her smile and laugh. Totally addictive.

Sparkle lights around the window make it dreamier.
I cannot quite believe this is real.
Yes, diapers, and laughter and tears and happiness and tired and tough moments, yes complexities, and expected radical life changes, but somehow, it feels a little like I might wake up from a Versed nap and hear a kind nurse tell me apologetically that I only had 2 eggs retrieved. Or something. And this whole thing was a dream.

Last night I spent mostly awake, uncomfortable with bladder and urethra issues, so I called the doc today, went in and peed in a cup. But I've been tested already since the delivery and there was no infection so I think it is just irritated. The catheter and I are not friends. Functionally? Absolutely. It was fabulous not to have to get up to pee that first day after Della was born. But physically? Not so much.
I'm on some numbing stuff and cranberry extract until the results come back (48 hours). Clean catch is much easier when not working around a giant pregnant belly.

I will write about my belly soon, but a different post I think.

I have been thinking, on and off, about details. They come back at strange times and in strange ways. Last night, shivering briefly in bed (I shiver when I am tired, and oh was I tired) I realized/remembered how shaky I was during the contractions, how I could not stop shaking once they got intense. How it was one of the first things Doug noticed when I woke him that morning.

I also was thinking, as I ate my morning oatmeal, of my first food after Della: oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon. God it was good. Manna.
Of course I had not eaten anything but apple juice for 2 and a half days by then so yes, it was really really good.

And one more thing before I go-
Ok-- a small unpaid plug here for a product we like: the power of email aside, there are some folks we wanted to send real live baby announcements to, like the Boston clinic and Dartmouth, our families, etc. Our baby announcements came today from tinyprints.com. Very nice quality, shipping as specified, and really easy to do (I had 2 minutes and had it done and ordered in that time). They have great customer service although a strange grasp of grammar, they had a suggestion for a change and sent me an e-proof that I was able to review and select for printing or not as I chose. They even called to make sure I received the email with the proof and were really, really nice about it.
The default finish is matte and is very nice (card stock, very nice digital printing).

And no, I did not go to the coffee shop yet. That will probably wait (more) until I have a sudden brave urge. I promise I will let you know how it goes!

05 December 2010

ice crystal baleen and international orange

So today I did one of two things planned: I hiked.
The coffee shop may happen tomorrow, we'll see.

I put on my bright orange vest and hiked up to the first overlook, much farther than I expected.

I left late and the sky was filled with low clouds and soft yellow light.

At the base of the trail, I watched my feet on the slippery oak leaves, the glimmers of ice on rock, and crunched my way across ice that pushes upwards, stalagmites, opening the soil and raising it-- amazing really. In some places this ice is so high and so uniform, it looks like baleen, striated curtains. I remember thinking this every year, rediscovering it, surprised by the power of the formation of crystals to move the earth.

As I climbed higher, I started to look up and out. The light was so soft. The hillsides are nearly totally bare of leaves, even the oaks are nekkid this year, only a few held any leaves at all. So the woods were open and the feeling as I made my way up was one of openness too- sky and empty branches. I loved looking out across through the woods, seeing so much sky even in the thick of it.

I made my way slowly, honored the budded blueberry bushes that are thinking about next year's fruit...
I stayed long enough to breathe, to thank my body for the journey thus far, to really look out, to see the familiar lump and roll of the land and hillsides as they fall away and rise across the little valley, and take note that the ice on the bog is actually visible from up there....

I knew Della was safely taken care of, and I did not feel that I needed to rush. But oh, I missed her. So coming home felt warmer even than usual. And I got home before dark.

I wrote to my mom to tell her of my adventure, and I just got this amazing, beautiful reply:

and there I was peering through the trees knowing that the
sky was glorious but only seeing fringes of the gold, peach
and slight grey and white and pale blue and and and....
but you were IN it !! How perfect.
so glad for your mini adventures.
xox momma

And I wonder: What will I write to Della?

baby steps (mine)

Kate at 9 months pregnant noticed things the unpregnant or not-quite-as-pregnant kate did not notice:

In the parking lot of a mini mall, a well dressed, well put together (clean) woman saunters by with a newborn tied in a mai-tai (baby hawk) carrier, looking totally comfortable together. Kate misses seeing the mom tie the baby carrier on, but the baby is peaceful and asleep, so much so, that the mom shops slowly and deliberately in the second hand store...

In the grocery or target or wherever, it seems millions of parents are there WITH THEIR BABIES-- most in car seats, some (once sitting) in nifty little germ protecting nests of brightly colored cotton... nearly all are peaceful.

Coffee shop-- women with babies, sitting and talking, their babies asleep in carriers or on laps or nursing or in car seats. How is this possible?

All of which I am now considering to be evidence of some serious parenthood MYTHOLOGY on the hoof.

Well, in my real life, I have a baby that does not like to be put down, ever, for longer than a few minutes... I cannot soothe her like Doug does unless it involves one of my (borrowed and enhanced) body parts... In the carrier, I need to be in motion. HOW do people do this?

So, the other day, to celebrate 3 weeks, I took Della out in the car. Just the two of us. I live in a drive-to place, since we live sticks (I envy Sprogblogger's walk-to city life sometimes).... so I bundled Della into the car seat, wrestled the car seat into my sub-compact for the first time with an actual baby in it (I have an old Scion Xa that has 5 doors. 5 doors = forethought no kidding, I really thought about the baby seat issue even way back when, but shallow back seat is NOT amenable to giant Graco seat base or seat, which will only get bigger as she does...)

We drove for about 45 minutes, around the block. There was some crying but none of it was mine.
Then home safely.

Last week, Doug and Della and I took a ride that required that I nurse in the car in parking lots, twice. And I needed to learn to tie on the mai tai myself while sitting in the passenger seat (awkward but not at all awful). Doug did the turbo cold weather back seat diaper change. We did take his bigger car since mine will not allow a passenger any comfort when the baby seat is in the car.
There was some crying, but none of it mine.

Today I am hoping to do this:
I am hoping to have the umph to bundle Della into the car seat, wrestle the car seat into my car, drive downtown (15 minutes) and bring her into a coffee shop with me (in my arms or in a front carrier), order something (tea? I am currently off of soy, and therefore also off of my occasional soy chai lattes to see if I can help Della's stomach be calmer). Back into the car and back here.

Friday, I will do a solo trip that includes nursing in parking lots at least once, and at least one diaper change ... and this is after our Dr appointment where I will do something similar but with Doug as my wingman.

Incremental baby steps, out into the world. Learning learning learning. I am not sure how long (if ever) it will take to feel comfortable or remotely competent or capable. This seemingly simple stuff is really surprisingly hard.

Days pass where I literally do not step out of the house (which for me is nutty).
So today or tomorrow I hope to take a walk alone, even though it is long underwear cold with a biting wind. Start the incremental treks up my hill that I somehow equate with mental stability. I don't have clearance to exercise but I can walk. So I will walk uphill. Slowly. Until I realize I need to stop.

B--although we have walked, I have yet to hike with Della since she does not quite have the stamina (nor do I, I bet). And even in the front mai tai carrier, I am not sure how to dress her to be warm enough but not too warm since our bodies are against one another. Hats and hoods just fall into her eyes (her hair is like teflon), zipped up jackets end up biting her under her chin.
And thank you for the moby offer, but I think we're good. I am open to a cast off Ergo carrier though-- anyone? Pretty much dislike the Bjorn, but love its simplicity.

I am stuck by just how much feels foreign. How do I.....?
But somehow, we do. We all do.
We figure out how to stick needles in our bellies. Over and over and over.
We chart.
We temp.
We learn new languages.
We show up for weird invasive procedures. And then show up and do it again. And again.
We use GPSs to find our way to new clinics.
We get creative with finances and debt.
We somehow do foreign and crazy things each step of the way, don't we?
And we do it. We just do. Because it matters to us so much.
We figure out how.

So, if I can just get Over It, and realize (with my actual non intellectual self) that this not knowing is a life long thing, and expected, and totally ok, and all will be fine....
just try it, figure it out, if the baby cries, you can leave a 2o on the table and walk out.
If the baby cries you can leave a cart full of groceries.
If the baby cries you can turn around and go home, make another choice, change your mind, adapt to the situation.

So I wonder why it is so hard to remember it?
It is because I have images of competent women mothering in the world and figured you either are or aren't and I fear I know what category I am in?
Thanks culture, I appreciate that.
Sort of a marthastewarting of the parenting process.
no poop just gold dust and (well arranged) flowers.
(It is not culture's fault really, it is mine for buying into it even a little, subconsciously, unconsciously, in spite of my advanced age and all that I know to be true- just enough to feel like I must be doing it wrong)

Isn't it interesting what mythologies we create for ourselves? What impossibilities we set out for ourselves to never be able to live up to? (dangling participles notwithstanding?)

So yes, finding my way. And yes, this is oddly about me. Della will be Della, she is not tied up in oughts and shoulds. Hope I can allow myself to move more and more toward her way of being, which is so blissfully unfettered and weighted down by expectations and assumptions. Her way of being is just that: BEING.

She may be my littlest teacher, but her voice is mighty.

03 December 2010

how we are today

Just another short hello--
I lose track of days, day of the week, day of the month- day and night I still have pretty well sorted, but now these short days, well, that could change.

Sleep happens in little pieces
but joy happens almost every moment, except the screaming, those moments/minutes/hours suck ass. But there is such calmness in this so much of the time. Sleeping baby, warm and heavy, laying across my body. Or tucked in to nurse. Or a smile (yes! already!) that is nearly heartbreaking and certainly breathtaking.

Belly issues are being dealt with with mylicon, or colic calm depending on how bad it is. If she can still nurse, I do mylicon. If she is too distraught to nurse, then colic calm (which I think has baby crack in it-- she loves it a little too much). We rock and jiggle, walk and sway and bounce.

My tenderness remains, and for all I know may always.
this kind of rawness, well, the only thing like it is acute grief, but this isn't that. It is not that soul sucking. But it is that surprising in the intensity.

Della is beautiful, Doug is magnificent, and me? I wish there was some way to just be home with her. Work looms, but in these moments, being here with her is all I need to do.

There is so much I want to write, and so little time to do so. I hope I can remember.
I hope I hope I hope.

01 December 2010

colic calm

Thank you, sincerely, for all of your sympathy, help, suggestions and honest disclosure. You all rock. I hope to write more soon, but for now...

just a short one -handed post to say:

Colic calm gripe water

hot damn
CVS $20 mysterious black liquid magic.