30 April 2011

another photo

So, hello!
This past week has been intense. The breast issue, work, shit sleep, then a crazy rush to get the house ready for photos with only two days warning- almost impossible and very stressful and crazy. Actually, it turns out it Was impossible to get it done so I rescheduled the photos to next week. It is very hard to do things half assed, but I know that I need to learn this- for sanity maybe, for just simply getting things done.

I am not a perfectionist, but I have high standards and it is hard to let myself do "enough" and not keep some bizarre expectation of "as well as I can"-- and I always suck at taking context into account.

I have a baby, a beautiful spirited wonderful interactive hands-on baby. This is not a put down in a playpen baby, or sit for longer than a minute in a bouncy chair baby. She is great in a front carrier, but front carriers are not conducive to carrying anything else.

So-- with this, my mom came and helped beyond measure by being with Della while I ran in circles. Piles of crap into boxes, into the basement, into some semblance of order. Push it back, neaten it up, clean the surfaces. Try not to freak out.

Like almost every project there is a mess making stage. You know the one, right? It happens in my painting, my writing, almost any project where ideas are swirling, and have not quite jelled. First there is mess making. Then, there is a reassembly, a re-creation, a putting back together. Thursday was a coming apart, mess making day. Friday was a little more of a coming back together day but my oh my there is so much left to do.

Today was an errands day
and now, a rest evening. I am wiped out. I realize that there are Things I Have To Do and there are a whole bunch of things that can wait. Right now I am trying to learn to let things that can wait, wait. I am trying.

Amazing lovely Della is asleep in this moment on Doug.
She is miraculous, sitting almost by herself, standing with very little guidance, blowing raspberries which is hysterical. This week was hard on her too with belly upset from my antibiotics and shit sleep as a result.
My Dr follow-up yesterday resulted in no more of those, since I am now happily clear and fine. Possible yeast infection in one nipple, are you kidding me? Time will tell. And we talked supplementation for milk supply if it does not bounce back. All I need to do is call if monday comes and pumping shows that supply is still low. (bless her).
But, as of today, happily bellies feel better, and I am hoping our night will be more peaceful. She is insanely beautiful, I swear I could just watch her all the time. But I think that sounds creepy. Honest? Absolutely. But creepy.

28 April 2011

gratuitous della picture

from today!
mom took this one-- 5 and a half months is all about curiosity...

26 April 2011

quiet resolution

Praise god/goddess/all-that-is,
I am better.

A day of rest+heat+Della+antibiotics= quiet resolution.

I quite expected drama when they released: explosion, firehose, fire extinguisher, whipped cream can thingy....
but, really, just quiet resolution, which is somewhat startling.

I did also get a cabbage, but know it can also decrease production and I am feeling very watchful about that right now.
Tomorrow I head back to work and pump, and we'll see how I do. I am hoping for more than yesterday, even if it is less than *optimal*.

I'm still not a high supply gal, just barely enough most of the time, and I am just going to have to stay calm about that.

I have a post brewing in my head about things that work and things I've liked...so with luck we'll be on to a new topic soon!

Seriously, thank you all- I look forward to visiting some new blogs (you delurkers) in the near future, but in the meantime please accept my gratitude.

25 April 2011

ductal hell, part deux

thank you for delurking to help with suggestions and kindness, how cool to see new names in my inbox! how cool to see familiar names in my inbox too! how crappy that ANYONE EVER has to have this stupid thing happen.

Here's the update: still blocked, iron boob, truly shitty painful terrible bad bad bad
Doc appointment this afternoon, and I am doing all the right stuff. No infection but now on anti biotics, just keep doing what I'm doing which is everything I can think of. Will stay home tomorrow to work on this little project since being at work is not conducive to extra pumping or any other anything including rest.

I just tried the jelly jar technique from kellymom. com. Wow. Simple, weird, did not fix it but will do it again. No pain, just weird. Low tech fun.

I'll be nursing the baby often enough so she'll be sick of it.
Pumping today showed a terrible decline in production (half) so that is scary and made me feel panicky.

Doc said that worst case (besides infection) would be that the ducts do not clear, milk would mostly reabsorb eventually, and those ducts would not be productive. Which would suck shit.

So-- with luck, this will clear by my next appointment which is on friday afternoon.

I'll keep you posted for sure.

Thanks again, truly, for all of the suggestions. I wish there were some outer evidence of the blockage, a blister or plug, but it is all deeper than that so far. I'll keep hoping.

24 April 2011

ductal hell

Hello! Thank you for the wonderful anniversary wishes. This weekend we actually did go to Maine friday for the day and night for Doug's work and but had a nice dinner for our anniversary. Saturday was cold enough to have been wedding weather!

I am having a seriously un-fun issue: blocked ducts. Please help me.
I have tried steaming, showering, soaking, warming, ibuprofen, massage (GOD AWFUL PAIN), expressing, pumping (even on max, nada), feeding the baby every hour or two, prayer...
I have no fever, no red lines. My breast is not hot, not red. But it has a lemon sized lump on one side (toward armpit) and another keylime sized one toward center.

I have dangle fed that baby, put both of us in insane positions to try to help. There is no obvious anything on the nipple that would indicate a surface obstruction.

So please, please help me.
What now? What next? I will call the doc tomorrow but would love some kind words.
This is seriously painful and frustrating and scary and a bit more than I can handle on top of everything else. This is now the end of day 2.

17 April 2011


Wind and rain and cold, almost like the day we married!

Want to see more? Now that we are not trying to be private here, here is the link to the amazing photos from the insanely talented and totally lovely Susan Mullen!

What a year it's been. Holy moly.
While there are (many) things I would change if I could, there are some things I would do all over again without hesitation,
standing on that bluff that cold day, snow spitting down on us...
bundled under my dress in a turtleneck, long johns and wool socks, and cozied with a big sweater and scarf, dang it was cold
there I was, pregnant with Della,
marrying Doug.
I would do it again in a second.

16 April 2011

paper airplanes

I just finished the second pile of paperwork for the house sale process, and I am feeling raw. So I am rewarding myself with you and chocolate chip cookies (gluten free but hey, still chocolate chip).

This makes my head feel swimmy. I hate going through the old papers, remembering how I felt when I bought the place. The fear and optimism.

here I am
fear and optimism.

So, on a happier note, a delightful networking meeting on Friday, heartening, heartwarming, hope-inspiring. No quick fixes, no one trying to save me, just knowing that a connection was made that matters.

Today was cold and windy, I wanted to play outside, in the garden, take a walk, MOVE but the cold kept me inside, and finally this afternoon I actually slept for a few hours.
I cannot tell you that I woke refreshed, that would be a blatant lie. I did not even feel better. But I feel better knowing I slept if that makes any sense.

The wind is still howling
but the pages are printed,
tomorrow they will be signed
and scanned
and sent
and somehow, this one step is just one more I do not have to take again.

I had sort of gotten paralyzed by this project, knowing it was going to suck. But somewhere I realized I could say "I don't know" and that was ok, that I was not going to get extra points finding obscure dates and facts for things that will likely be repeated (water testing for example).

Letting it go a little let me get on with it, and let me finish what I had to for now.

During my lunch meeting yesterday I relearned something important: when it is just me, I am willing to risk more, try more things, make messes, imagine things differently, but when I begin to worry about how I might be perceived, I freeze up, panic that my good will not be good enough. I am at my best when I am just being and am not playing stand-in third party critical observer at the same time. Obvious? Oh yeah, but what was not obvious is that I wear the third party critical observer like a parrot, like an angel, like a devil, like a weird sentient epaulet.

Tonight when I lie in bed trying to sleep, I will imagine the paperwork as kites, as maché, as paper airplanes, as peace cranes.

13 April 2011


Today it rained all day and was not cold, and I can almost watch the snow vanishing.
It was a heavy day, but beautiful, truly. Buds are swelling on nearly every branch and I can only imagine that one warm day it will explode in color. Already the buds are changing how the woods appear, thickening the branches.

Today I went out in the world with Della, twice... I acted "as if" I knew what I was doing, walked with purpose, held her in my arms not in the car seat.

I think it is amazing just how the feeling of not knowing what I'm doing persists. And I guess it makes sense to feel this way since I've never done any of this before. And yet, now I know that if jiggling and dancing does not work, then she is tired or hungry, and I just need to check my memory for which one was longest ago.
I know she likes movement, and things to examine. Now she likes things to hold and rumple. Cape Cod potato chip bags RULE (thisbagisnotatoy I promise she is never unattended).

Today was so many smiles and such intensity as she watched people, touched their hair, looked at the lights on the ceilings.

Remember when I could not imagine *ever* going out? Now I can imagine it, and now I know tricks to how to make it more successful. Even those tricks do not always work, but they do often enough to make me feel armed with potentially helpful information. See me? Doing this?

The past two days Della has rolled over, front to back, I missed it of course.
And today, she bounced and jumped and danced in her doorway bouncy seat! Total glee (for me and for her!) I still remember loving my jolly jumper when I was little. I do not care if it is a true memory or a photo-induced memory, I remember glee.
My best dreams, still, are ones where I can bounce really high.

Anyway, she has stood and swiveled in the bouncy seat before, but today, for whatever reason, she bounced.

I've been thinking a lot about infertility and how it changes us.
How I hope beyond words that I do not always feel somehow broken, somehow less-than, somehow "other".
I want Della to feel strong and capable and am thinking about my feelings and my own behavior and what I want to model for her. I want her to feel strong, not fragile. Whole, not broken.

I also am trying to pay attention to where my energy is going. And with that, trying to see if I can change where I am spending my attention, and what spin I am giving my story.
I've been thinking a lot about how challenges can become obsessive, even those without direct solutions. You know that snake eating its own tail? Ouroboros?

To kick myself out of the unending cycle of memory and regret and the whole roads-not-taken contemplation that can eat your soul with fava beans and a fine chianti...I've been actively reframing.
To wit: I've been thinking a lot about how amazingly grateful I am that I had the job I had when I had it so I could justify doing just that one last IVF (knowing I would pay it off someday, and I still know I will just maybe someday longer in the future) otherwise we would not have Della, which, truly is unimaginable. She is my heart. And, to be honest, I am grateful too, to have this time with her.

We might not all sleep through the night ever again. But you know what? Totally worth it.

12 April 2011

other people's gardens

In my "note from the universe" today, there was a sweet message that basically distills down to this: why spend your time wishing for and wanting what other people have when you can discover and tend what you have that is truly yours.

I drove into work today noticing that the snow was, rather suddenly, mostly gone after yesterday's crazy warm weather and a night of warm wind. The horses were out waiting for hay, all wooly from the long winter. Right now everything seems to be shades of brown, but when you take a closer look, all of a sudden you notice the rice paper leaves of the beech trees, or the russet branches in the apple orchard, the buds on the maples are rosy too, and the birch catkins are the palest cream. Willows are downright yellow, and in my garden? A riot of purple crocuses that look like the tiniest iris. And chives! Green fingers pushing up through the bad-mannered neighbor that is the creeping thyme.
So while there is mud and hibernating grass and heaps of fallen branches, sticks, twigs, acorns, oakleaves, and gravel covered stubborn heaps of snow.... there is color too. At 8 tonight the sky was light enough to see the outlines of the trees.

It has been a really horribly tough few weeks, but in between the crushing sadness, I have moments of something that feels like hope, and I want so badly to string those together to fortify my heart.

The house is not on the market yet, but it will be. I am up to my neck in paperwork, and if I never have to do another hardship letter in my whole life, that will not be too soon. I cannot tell you how awful that was. But
it was.
past tense. It is done.

Requests came today for more information, more things to fill out, more things to find.
It will get done, and I know it will not be a forever project.

There's a gift in all of this: losing the house means losing the reason I need to get a JOB, the all caps job that means long hours and bigger pay-- not that I was finding those options anyway with my weird niche expertise, my otherwise generalist nature, and my too-long-at-my-old-company. But now I am free to look at work differently, to look for something I want to do and can do well. Something or things I would enjoy. I am looking into consulting, into writing, into coaching, into...... who knows? Once the house moves on to its next owner, one who will love it for the obscene bargain it will be, I can move on too.

Della is 5 months old, laughter, light, babble, DROOL, wiggling arms and legs, pure and total delight. She is smart and strong and funny. She looks at me, into me, beyond me... she grabs and holds and drops things rather randomly. She loves things that rumple and crinkle, loves the taste of banana and oatmeal from my fingertips, she laughs out loud at her dad's funny faces, and her face lights up when she sees him. She is tender one moment, inadvertently maybe, a hand on my cheek, and my heart melts. Then she bites down hard during nursing, iron gums, and pulls back, and I swear and she cries and I feel horrid. She no longer cries when we sneeze, but looks alarmed when we laugh loudly. She talks and talks and talks which I love.

Me, I am under renovation. Half my hair fell out in clumps and is still coming out in wads that are alarming. I cannot tell you how shitty that is. I am having to have faith it will grow back. I am back in my old pants but lord, not my old shape. That's ok though, I figured the pants would never fit again, so it is like having a new pair. I am trying to do yoga each non work day. But it is more for strength than calm these days. Plank while wearing baby in bjorn. Strength under squish. Skin on face is wrecked from stress I bet, and I find I am healing slowly. I am sick again with razor throat then gloopy snot. I think though that this is part of some sort of old-life sloughing. As I move through this, toward whatever is next, I hope that there will be less sleepless obsessing, more time outside, more time breathing, more time creating again (not on the phone with banks please). I look forward to the garden, which is both my garden and someone else's. I will not plant new things here, but I will tend. And I will plant a container I think to put near the door, to leave for the next folks, or to bring with us if I choose, when we go.

As someone so wisely said a few posts back, it is impossible to hold on and let go at the same time, but I find myself trying to and rediscovering over and over that I have to let go.

08 April 2011


I'm blessed people.
And doubly blessed because I know it. I am blessed with friends and family whom I would chose. I have a far flung posse of wonderful supporters, folks who truly send love and wishes for peace in my heart and gently remind me to keep moving toward the things that make me feel the most fulfilled, the least depleted, the happiest, whole-est, most present, most kate.

I have friends, many of whom I have not even met yet all over this country and in the UK, who offer a kind of kindred spirit, soul food, uncomplicated love...

I wanted to write about the importance of finding your tribe, or letting them find you. There are folks who resonate immediately who you know are going to matter, about whom you feel a bit shy when you realize they are looking at you, paying attention, pulling for you... there are folks who come at exactly the right moment with exactly the right message... there are folks who call you out when you're doing self harm in the guise of unconscious habit brought upon by stress, not enough sleep, or anything else that brings old behaviors into current use like a broken down pair of shoes.

Yes, I am struggling right now, but I am being held up and held onto, I am being encouraged and loved, I am being encouraged to be as much of my self as it is safe to be wherever I find myself. And I need to keep moving toward what I know to be true, toward what I know feeds me and brings me joy.

So often, it is not that we don't know what we want, it is just so hard to give ourselves permission to do it. And sometimes, we also have to ask for help.


I want to paint more, so am looking for a simple and safe baby backpack-- anyone have an old one that you loved but have outgrown that you'd be willing to sell me or exchange for a painting?

Please keep reminding me of who I am, and that I am in here no matter what it may seem, no matter how high the heap-o-crap gets.

This house thing sucks ass. I mean it. I have been through worse, of course, and this will somehow come and go and I will not be destroyed by this. We will not be homeless. We will move together toward the next thing, and by stepping away from this, I will be able to step toward things that grow my heart and ease my soul, and I am fighting so hard to let myself feel hopeful in the midst of this sad, this disappointment, this bewilderment.

My friends, all of you, my family, all of you, thank you. I am so grateful for all of you. Truly.

06 April 2011

home base

How bizarre! this post just evaporated.
So this time, no preamble, just a gift from Laura to me, from me to you:

"All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost."
(J.R.R. Tolkien)
In other words:
So many of us are less confident on the inside than we might appear
on the outside, so despite what you see, remember...you're not alone.
Just because you're not exactly sure where your headed
doesn't mean you're not on the right path. Faith, trust, and short powerful steps rock!
Tending your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical strength is the best offense...
Because when you do, no matter what life throws at you,
you might wobble, but you will not fall down!
This week, Kate, your Life Leadership challenges are as follows: stay focused on home base (aka, you). If you feel lost, focus on what you do know, and ask for the next right step. It willalways lead you in the right direction, and there will always be another next right step just beyond that one, but you may not be able to see it yet! And always, always choose what will contribute to your inner and outer fortitude, and exercise those things every day, with every choice.
Wishing you focus, trust, strength and resilience this week!
Laura Neff, CPCC, PCC

1400 Oakdale Road, Charlotte, NC 28216, USA

02 April 2011

today? snow

Snowy day, with the biggest flakes falling
and rain
and tiny snowflakes
and rain
and snow again
I was up at 3am, until 4:30 trying to shush my busy and not-at-all-productive mind.
Yesterday I felt somehow resigned, today raw. I kept moving and kept feeling like tears were just below the surface, just below like one breath away.

I drove by dublin lake with its fresh layer of snow on the ice, and the wind has already made ripples and the melt patterns underneath were showing through, and it was so incredibly beautiful. And the sky! The north sky was dark and deep and moody like a july evening gathering for a thunderstorm, but all it brought was rain
and snow
and rain
and snow

I'm ok, just flailing a bit. More than a bit. A big, olympic flail.
Realtor wednesday, to talk about a short sale.
Our only real option. I feel like I'm watching myself break all my rules, one by one. It is an interesting exercise in redefinition.