One More Day {A Pumping Story}

image In case you haven’t heard, this is World Breast Feeding week.

Every year for the last three years, it’s rolled around and I’ve had many, many feelings.

But mostly, I feel shame.

Before my son was born, I planned to breastfeed. I took all of the classes, bought all of the nursing bras and tanks and Bamboobies and nipple creams. I even had phone numbers for two IBCLCs.

I was scared but determined.

I was ready.

My son was born at the crack of dawn and latched quickly. It hurt, but it was okay. He nursed all day and then into the night. Then he vomited profusely, covering my husband and me in colostrum and amniotic fluid. Then we all slept.

The next morning, he wouldn’t nurse. He was tired. I was tired. Sitting upright to nurse was extraordinarily painful for me, and I felt every ounce of the 3 liter blood loss I suffered during his birth.

That second day, I pumped colostrum and my husband fed it to our baby with a dropper. He perked up, but not much. Soon after, my newborn baby stopped breathing while feeding at my breast.

He turned blue.

As a trained medic, I knew what to do. I breathed for him. We called 911. He began breathing again.

The ambulance came. He stopped breathing again and continued to stop breathing every 10 minutes for the next 16 hours.

Our tiny baby boy had suffered a stroke.

Over the course of the next week, we would learn that a clot traveled through his body to his brain and destroyed cells in two areas in his right hemisphere. I would sit painfully upright in a wooden chair next to my son’s bed in a tiny NICU room where he teetered between heaven and earth.

And I pumped. Every three hours. I willed my body to make milk to feed him because when he decided to stay here with us, he would be hungry. That was a thing I could do. That was THE THING I could do.

The stroke left the left side of my baby’s body weak and slow to react. We did all of the home therapies the hospital showed us. I tried to latch him to my breast but he was unable to form a seal with his mouth because of the muscle weakness.

I was relieved. Deeply, shamefully relived. Because every time I held him to my body, I felt the terror of his near-death shoot through my body like ice water. Holding him to my bare breast sent me into a silent, self-loathing panic and all I saw was his tiny body turning blue.

So, I pumped. Every three hours around the clock.

When he had recovered enough muscle tone to nurse, he looked at me with fear in his eyes and screamed. He was terrified, too.

I passed him to my husband and pumped.

I accepted this breastfeeding failure. And the inadequacy began chipping away at my soul.

A few months later when he was diagnosed with a rare food allergy syndrome and it became clear that he would need my milk for many more months, I cried. Huge, selfish, shameful tears rolled down my face and onto my chest. I could not fathom pumping for another week, much less an undetermined amount of time.

As summer came, so did chronic mastitis. My boobs were done. I did all the things I was supposed to do to prevent it, but after 13 months, living on a 12 food elimination diet to keep my son’s profound food allergies in check and unrelenting stress, my body wanted to be done. But my baby wasn’t. I was still his sole source of nutrition.

Even if I wanted to quit, I could not.

I put a sticky note on my breast pump. It said “One More Day”.

That was my mantra in the morning during my first pumping session. It turned to “one more pumping session” and “5 more minutes of pumping” on hard days.

I watched my son grow as I sat on the couch and pumped. As my husband and friends fed my son the precious gold that came at a very dear cost to my mental, emotional, and physical well-being. I wanted this part to just be over.

And I felt the shame wash over me again.

My final pump session was not the wild, freeing, jubilant affair I believed it would be. After 21 months, I put that electric bastion of failure and disappointment in the closet and whispered “fuck you”.

Then I whispered it again.

Fuck. You.

To the pump.

To the closed closet door.

To my breasts.

To my kid.


To the stroke.

To God.

And then I put it all away.

This week, I opened up that closet and took out my pump. I looked at it with indifference. It was a tool, it was not my captor.
Then the ghost of the shame I’ve been carrying around all these many months reminded me that our story isn’t over yet. There is redemption in this. My pump made it possible to take exquisite care of my baby. It gave me a reason to continue living.

It was a literal saving grace in the midst of the most traumatic time of my life.

The shame is transforming, and transitioning into pride. I did that. Every three hours. Every damn day. For 21 months.

The “fuck you” has turned to deep, unspeakable gratitude. Gratitude for these breasts, that pump, and my healing, thriving 3 year old. Gratitude to God that I get to be his mom.

To all of you mamas making great sacrifices for your babies, no matter what those sacrifices are, you are unbeatable warriors and tidal forces of love. The world and your sweet babies are lucky to have you.

You can do this.







imageRecently, I was a part of a discussion about the body positivity movement. Men and women chimed in with a host of encouraging and supportive comments. But there was a surprising voice of alarm and concern that went like this:

  • It’s unhealthy if you’re overweight.
  • This is a dangerous mentality for obese people. We can’t lie to them and say they’re okay if they’re not.
  • Body acceptance encourages an unhealthy lifestyle for people who are overweight.
  • Adopting body acceptance will only add to the obesity upswing.
  • People will lose motivation to be fit and healthy.
  • You won’t find a partner because your body is too fat to be attractive to anyone except perverts.
  • Your partner will lose interest unless you’re average size.
  • You are setting a bad example for children.

You’ll notice they didn’t include any body acceptance concerns for average or underweight people. It’s not because the concerns don’t exist, but because they simply didn’t come up. Every concern voiced was about people who were larger than (the media subjective) average.

Several years ago, I lost a significant amount of weight. I gain weight easily due to PCOS and a low thyroid. But I took extreme measures to lose dozens of pounds. My hair fell out. My muscle mass deteriorated. My energy initially spiked but then crashed. I had to go to extraordinary lengths to maintain my lower weight and my cholesterol was still high and so were my inflammatory markers.

People told me how good I looked. They told me how pretty I was, and told me that I HAD to feel good being so thin. My husband must really be enjoying my new body because of course I lost weight to keep him sexually interested.

And the truth was, I was obsessed with every bite of food that crossed my lips. I berated myself for indulging in a beignet in New Orleans over vacation, or eating chips and salsa at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. I despaired at my new body that still failed to fit a normal, single digit size. I believed my husband found me repulsive, and that tanked our sex life for a minute. Sounds healthy, right?

To be clear, I was balding and physically weak at this moment in time. I gained 10 pounds in spite of myself and started feeling better. My energy started seeping back into my bones, and I was able to exercise and get strong again. My cholesterol lowered and so did my inflammatory markers. I got pregnant and was able to keep the pregnancy.

As soon as I had my baby, people asked when I was going to start losing my baby weight. I was stressed and feeding my newborn, who almost died of a stroke shortly after birth, around the clock and feeding myself poorly. But when I reached my pre-pregnancy weight within 10 days, I just received compliments and atta-girls.

Let that sink in for a minute: My baby was suffering from a severe brain injury and somehow my thinness was still a focus.

It’s sick. All of it. I was sick with diets for a long time, too. And what’s worse is I pushed this sickness on other people. (Sorry about that, friends.)

So, to Oprahs and Dr. Ozs and one million diet supplement and pill companies and programs aimed at making a fast buck off of my fat belly, I say this:


F*ck your outward standards of health.

F*ck your pressure to be average or smaller than average.

F*ck you for marginalizing bodies and making the acceptable standard so small that it is unattainable for many of us.

I’m not even mad at the Victoria Secrets or Abercrombies of the world (much). They are selling an image. You, peddlers of diets, are selling failure and inadequacy and shame wrapped up in tamper-evident bottles and tan-skinny-people-running-on-the-beach commercials. You are making a fortune off bodies you know nothing about other than it’s fat. THIS IS DANGEROUS FOR PEOPLE OF ALL SIZES.

So, how about we focus on true health and less on unattainable perfection? We ditch our addiction to skinny and embrace our bodies as lovely? And I say this with all the gentle kindness I have in my soft and powerful body:

F*ck the points. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. If you can’t tell the difference, find a support system to help you like a counselor or Overeaters Anonymous.

F*ck the special diets. Eat what makes your body feel good. Eat what you enjoy. If that’s paleo, vegan, pescatarian, omnivore, whatever. Eat that. Feel good.  The end.

F*ck the shame-based exercise programs that never work. Move your body. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Take a deep breath and move with gratitude.

F*ck the impossible standards. Your body is amazing. Wear that bikini. Swing those hips. Admire your perfect lips as you pass the mirror and feel pride that your body has brought you this far.

In the kindest, gentlest way, friends: Love that amazing body and f*ck your diet.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce



Once upon a time, I made a flourless chocolate cake.

And it turned out like this:


Super Martha Stewart, right? This is exactly what she pulls out of the oven on a holiday when she is completely responsible for making desert for the main meal.


For years, we will look back on that stupid, ugly, cracked cake and talk about what a wreck it was and how incredibly legit the flavor was, even if presentation was basic. Because life doesn’t always turn out Pinterest-worthy, even when our efforts are.

So, what do you do when you make something that looks a mess but tastes like the Virgin Mary give birth in your mouth? You add more sugar and salt to hide its minor imperfections and nobody gives a damn how it looks after the first bite.

I tweaked the recipe, turned down the heat in my oven, and played with a super-sweet, gooey caramel sauce to bring another layer of texture and flavor to this flourless chocolate cake. I also managed to make a cake that intentionally falls in the middle to create a perfect chocolate goblet for insane amounts of caramel and salt.
Ingredients for Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, cubed
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Ingredients for Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ stick butter, cubed
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions for Flourless Chocolate Cake

  1. In a double boiler (which is a fancy name for a pot filled with just a little bit of water and a glass or metal bowl that fits on top of it), melt chocolate chips and butter together. Stir frequently. Add vanilla. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the eggs.
  2. Crack those eggs. Separate the yolks and whites. With your hand mixer, whip up egg whites. Once a soft peak forms (you read that correctly), add the sugar. Continue whipping until there are very stiff peaks.
  3. Slowly add the egg yolks to the melted chocolate, one at a time, whisking continuously. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
  4. Gently fold the chocolate and egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. The idea is to keep the egg whites as fluffy as possible and still mix everything thoroughly. I know you can do this.
  5. Pour into a greased springform pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Cool completely. As it cools, the center will fall and create a reservoir.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-ish heat (6/10). DO NOT STIR. I know. It goes against all reason. But trust me on this one.
  2. Sugar will melt and bubble. Let it happen. Like middle-of-the night sex.
  3. In a separate pan, heat the heavy cream just a little bit, on very low.
  4. The sugar will darken, turning a lovely amber hue. It will start to smell just a little caramelized. Also, it should be noted that the difference between amber and burnt-as-hell is about 30 seconds apart. So, once you get the amber color, remove from heat.
  5. Add heavy cream and cubed butter and whisk vigorously. The sugar liquid will bubble when you add the butter and cream, so be a little careful. Add salt and vanilla and whisk.
  6. Pour caramel sauce into the cake’s reservoir. Sprinkle with flaked salt and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Be sure to remove the outer ring of the springform pan by sliding a sharp knife along the edge of the cake to make your presentation complete.

And if all else fails, slather a jar of caramel sauce on your cake and call it good.


this recipe originally appeared on Ravishly

Not-Quite-Pie Pumpkin Cupcakes {Gluten-Free}

imageFifteen years ago, I graduated from high school. I don’t remember much about graduation day. I kind of remember getting my diploma, I kind of remember going out to eat with my brothers, their wives, Best Friend and my parents. One specific memory sticks out to me, though. My oldest brother, who is older by 10 years, gave me one of the best presents I’ve ever received.

Now, before I tell the story, I need to tell you that Oldest Brother is brilliant, mischievous, adventurous, slightly irreverent, fiercely protective and independent. I have always adored him for those qualities. As a teenager and twenty-something, he wasn’t super affectionate or outwardly sentimental but it never bothered me. He is Oldest Brother. I’ve always felt safe and cared for and slightly in awe of him.

After the graduation ceremony, we went back home and I opened presents. I’m sure I got money and little tokens. But Oldest Brother gave me a very worn scrap of faded material. Everybody went very still and then got teary.

This little scrap was from my childhood Winnie-the-Pooh blanket. It was pale blue and silky and fit perfectly in my toddler fist when I sucked my thumb. It was fringed and worn around the edges. (My mom cut my large blanket into smaller pieces so I could always have it with me and never totally lose it. Smart lady.) When I was three, our family pediatrician had a heart-to-heart with me about the evils of thumb-sucking. I have no idea what she said, but it definitely worked. I went straight home, gathered up all my pieces of blanket and threw them in the trash. I vowed never to suck my thumb again and didn’t look back. Nobody thought to hang onto a piece of blanket for posterity.

Except Oldest Brother.

He kept that ratty scrap for 15 years; through an Alaska-to-Texas move, junior high, high school, college, marriage, several cities and apartments, and most of the 80’s and 90’s. His 13 year-old self salvaged and kept it safe in a drawer until he was ready to give it back to me. Few gifts hold as much meaning for me.

We share the same parents, the same Other Brother, and the same love for the outdoors, twisted humor and good food. Neither of us eat much sugar these days, so I wanted to create something just for him. His first love is chocolate, and normally I’m up for chocolate. But he can do chocolate on his own exceptionally well, and I wanted to create something different. His second love is pumpkin pie. I came across a similar recipe and it inspired me. These little bites of bliss aren’t completely pie, and they’re not quite cake.

So this is for Oldest Brother… Not-Quite-Pie Pumpkin Cupcakes, created with a tremendous amount of gratitude and affection. Happy Thanksgiving!



  • 1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk (or 1 cup cream if you don’t mind dairy)
  • 1 15 oz can 100% pumpkin puree (no additives)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or whole milk)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 40 drops NuNaturals vanilla stevia
  • 1 cup sweetener of your choice (I like coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, erythritol, almond milk, stevia, vanilla extract and only the cream from the coconut milk (It separates if you chill it slightly. Just skim it off the top and reserve the watery part for another use.)
  2. In a smaller bowl, sift coconut flower and combine with baking powder, spices, and salt.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour batter into lined muffin tins (you can fill them at least 3/4 of the way) and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. The tops will be slightly firm to the touch, but it will still be fairly wet.
  5. Refrigerate overnight, then top with whipped coconut cream flavored with pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract.

Hot Mama Cocoa

imageThis week, I have not been feeling so hot.  We’ve battled and won our first round of seasonal sickness, hormones are fluctuating, and I’m just not feeling like myself.

Can you relate?

I know what my problem is: Chocolate.  I’m not eating enough of it.  I read an article on the internet that said chocolate is a superfood.  (So is champagne, but coffee and red wine are more my speed these days.) And since the internet is never wrong, I was able to self-diagnose my biggest issue and root cause. I ran out of my favorite dark chocolate bars and they’re too pricey to buy when they’re not on super sale. And here’s the reality of my life: It’s not worth living without that chocolate at the end of the day.  Or in the middle of my day.  Or to start my day.

I’ve also been needing a little pep in my step. I don’t know if it’s the weather, lack of chocolate, the pitch dark that sets in at 4:00pm sharp, or what, but I also need a little more help with energy and, uh, sex drive.  Yep, I’m going there. Sorry.

After working long days taking care of a toddler and working from home, cooking up a storm, and just doing life, getting busy is pretty much the last thing I have energy for, TBH. So, adding spices to actually spice up my life and boost my mojo?  Okay.  Let’s do that.

Maca is a natural hormone booster, and cayenne pepper is wonderful for digestion and circulation. Cinnamon is warming and curbs sugar cravings.  So, this is my cocoa cocktail to get my hot mama mojo back.  Plus, it’s damn delicious.


  • 2 cups milk of your choice (I use coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a tiny dusting of cayenne pepper (a tiny bit goes a VERY LONG WAY)


  1. Combine all of your ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat on medium low.
  2. Whisk continuously until hot and well blended. (5 ish minutes)
  3. Pour into your favorite mug or thermos and sip.

So hot right now!