I’m A Shi**y Friend. {A Letter From An Overwhelmed Mama}

Dear You,

I am a shitty friend.

For 33 years, I showed up. I checked in when we missed connecting for too long. I saved  hard earned pennies to go to music festivals, embark on international adventures, and attend weddings, funerals, and graduations. Sometimes, I  hopped in my car and drove all night just to hang out with you because I missed you and I could. We cracked jokes. We talked deep for hours. We threw parties and planned adventures and surprises. We walked every step of our treacherous, joyful, fearful, conflicted, soul-seeking journey together. We shared sacred space in our hearts. Even when distance and difficulties stretched out between us, we always made our way back to each other


We became family.

I wasn’t always consistent. In fact, I can be a total jerkfaceasshole. And I really hate the phone, so that was never my strong suit. But you knew when your phone rang and I was on the other end, I would be 100% yours the whole time.

I wasn’t perfect. But I was all in.

When I got pregnant a few years ago, dynamics shifted dramatically. I puked my guts up for six months, and it took every ounce of energy to keep my part-time job and be a nominally decent human. I birthed an amazing baby who suffered a stroke, survived, and was given a life-altering medical diagnosis that made the most normal things ridiculously difficult. We were all thrust into chronic survival mode, became overnight experts on the medical system and waged a wild war to keep our baby alive and thriving. I was attached to a breast pump for almost two years. In truth, I have almost zero recollection of most of my mom-life. My brain and short-term memory have taken a blissful hiatus in order to continue the essential act of living. But of the sparse, dream-like moments I manage to recapture, I am painfully aware that I have been a shitty friend to you.

I’m sorry.

Motherhood has been magical and transformative. It has changed me in a million wonderful ways. It has also been an indescribable nightmare. PTSD, PPD, and PPA in addition to the normal physical/emotional/psychological challenges of new motherhood almost wrecked me. You listen with compassion and want to understand what’s happening. You want to be with me every bit as much I want to not be so alone in this. But there are no words for the challenges my family is facing. There is no way to bring you all the way to the core of this experience.  I can barely handle the pressure of it myself. I’ve had to hang on with all my might to keep even an ounce of that free-spirited, bright-spark, I-will-do-anything-for-you friend that you love. I know you miss her.


I miss her, too.

My grace, my energy, my bright spark – it all goes to my son and partner right now. I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon.

And here is my present day reality: If there is something left after all of the doctor’s appointments, therapies, fighting insurance companies and working during naptimes and early mornings and late nights to alleviate the unbearable financial burden this stupid syndrome has placed on our little family, I unapologetically take it for myself. Because I can’t do life if I’m an empty husk inside.


I miss you. I miss my freedom. I miss being someone you can count on. I miss showing up on your doorstep at 1AM to hug you when your heart is breaking and laughing until we’ve completely forgotten how we started to begin with. Those days will come again. In the meantime, that grace you posses…the ability to navigate life and stay connected and keep things moving so well with your own set of challenges? Yeah, that. Your super power. I could really use a little bit of it now. I know it’s not fair to you because I am not an equal partner in our friendship during this season.  But I need you anyway.


I’m on my way back to myself. I’m on my way back to you, too. I promise. It’s slow progress, but it’s happening one tiny step at a time. I still love you and you still matter to me, maybe now more than ever before.

And I’m still (always) all in.

Thank you for staying.


Your Shitty Friend



Blueberries and Cream Paleo Popsicles {Three Ingredients}

When you live in a region of the country that is poorly prepared for century mark temperatures, folks do everything they can to keep cool.  Kiddie pools, sprinklers, poorly equipped window AC units, movie theaters, cold foggy days on the coast, and lazy days spent on the banks of a lazy mountain river are just a few ways we choose to beat the heat here in the Pacific Northwest.

But few things bring immediate relief like a good old fashioned popsicle.

The other morning after breakfast, I pulled out my final popsicle to photograph it.  I had  previously devoured the rest during naptimes earlier in the week. Because I’m an adult and like to enjoy a treat without sharing.  But on this particular day, I made the monumental mistake in trying to get the picture while my son was awake.

As we started to swelter in the 100 degree weather in our south-facing second story home as our straining AC unit worked hard to keep up, I removed the final popsicle from the freezer. I stopped for a moment and let the frozen air fall over my face and shoulders, reveling that something could still be cold in this heat. I pulled out my camera and began searching for the right light to capture the cold, creamy, fruity essence of this frozen treat.

Enter E.

He wasn’t having it.

He didn’t care that mom needed to use the popsicle for work.

He didn’t care that it was the last one.

He didn’t care that I needed to take a really beautiful picture to share with you.

He. Didn’t. Care.

There was no stopping my tiny monster.  I turned on Jimmy Fallon.  I tried to distract him with his favorite snack. I pulled out the Tegu blocks, crayons, and even tried to give him my old phone to distract him. Nothing worked.

So, I went with it.

My first attempt to take a picture.
My first attempt to take a picture.
I tried to dodge him. He would not relent. “Me? This? Mama?”
Okay.  You.  This. Mama gives up.
Okay. You. This. Mama gives up.
Contemplating before annihilating.
The first taste.
The first taste.
No way will I be able to get that back from my toddler's death-like grip.
No way will I be able to get that back from my toddler’s death-like grip. This face is telling me not to even think about taking a bite.
Might as well keep him contained if he's really going to eat my post.
Might as well keep him contained if he’s really going to eat my post.

Here’s the recipe, even though the I don’t have Pinterest-worthy pictures to show for the effort.  I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!


  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pureed blueberries
  • 1/4 cup whole blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey


  1. Mix coconut milk, honey, and puree.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
  3. Drop a few whole blueberries into the molds, and then insert popsicle stick.
  4. Freeze until solid (2-3 hours), and enjoy!

You won’t be sad you ate this.  I promise.  And with very little sugar, these are ideal for low-sugar, refreshing summer treats.

Make your summer pop!

Salted Sunbutter Cups with Raw Chocolate {Paleo}

Sunbutter Cups Bite
Joy comes in a new, creamy, salty, sweet form.

Friends.  I’ve done the unthinkable.

I’ve given up refined Sugar for the summer.

No Salt & Straw.

No Petunia’s.

No sweet treats from Cascadia Bakery.

Because I have a problem.  Sugar means too much to me.  I can’t resist it right now.  I need to give it up for a while until I can use it responsibly.

Which might be never.  But I’m giving it until September, just to be sure. Because I don’t want the diabeetus.

One of my favorite treats is chocolate and peanut butter, but because of FPIES, we can’t keep peanuts in the house.  I love sunflower seed butter (aka sunbutter) as a substitute for peanut butter.  It’s safe for peanut and tree nut allergy peeps, and gives a comparable, creamy taste.  I don’t miss it peanut butter at all.  In fact, you can pretty much always find me with a spoonful of sunbutter in my hand when I get too busy and forget to feed myself.

I’m also pretty committed to using raw cacao nibs when possible.  Raw cacao is full of antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and can help fight heart disease and lift your mood naturally.  With a little bit of coconut oil for good measure, these treats aren’t just freaking delicious, they’re also super healthy for you.

Sign me up.  Twice.

I shared these with some of my best friends who are also trying to leave that jerk, Sugar, behind.  The consensus? We can no longer live without them.

Sunbutter Mini Cups

Ingredients for Chocolate Layer:

  • 1/2 cup ground cacao nibs (I use my nutribullet, but a coffee grinder would work, too.)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey, or erythritol
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Sunbutter Fudge Filling:

  • 3/4 cup sunbutter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey or erythritol
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions for Chocolate Layer:

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients until fully incorporated.
  2. Pour into lined cupcake or mini-cupcake molds, filling about 1/3 of the way.
  3. Pop in freezer for 15 minutes until solid.

Directions for Sunbutter Fudge:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together.
  2. Pour mixture on top of frozen chocolate.
  3. Freeze or refrigerate until firm.
  4. Remove from refrigerator or freezer for 3 minutes, add flake salt on top, and devour.

These stay good forever in the freezer, and several weeks in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  But good luck.  The sunbutter cups haven’t survived 24 hours in my house.  Maybe ever.

Open your heart and let the sunbutter in,


Peace in the Passing: Why My Early Miscarriage Was A Relief

I have a confession.

Last year, I had a miscarriage.

And I was relieved.

It feels amazing to admit that.  It also feels terrifying.  The world is full of opinions about women and their bodies and family planning choices, abilities, and desires.  I know that.  But I’m going to share this anyway. Because this isn’t about a reproductive debate, it’s about my family. It’s about me.

In March of last year, my husband and I had mostly-protected sex.  We used a condom, but not until later in the game.  Nevermind that we have had sex this way hundreds of times over the course of eight years without getting pregnant.  We pushed our luck and it (finally) pushed back. We conceived.

Within days, my boobs started to feel like sharp razor blades were protruding from the inside out.  Random nausea assaulted me. I gagged and threw up when I changed my baby’s diaper because the smell was so horrendous, which had never happened before. I gained 10 lbs in less than a week. But the clear giveaway was the bone-crushing exhaustion.  My husband and I were cleaning and doing laundry on a Saturday while our the-nine-month-old son napped.  When he ran down to the basement to switch over a load of laundry, I felt an overwhelming wave of exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks.  I went to our room immediately, crawled under the covers and slept for the next three hours without moving a muscle.

My miracle boy, nine months old, and with a life full of challenges.

I woke up, disoriented, with the sounds of my baby and husband playing in the living room.  I pulled the covers back, put my feet on the floor and took three steps.  Then it struck me like a lightening bolt: I was pregnant. The boobs, the nausea, the heightened sense of smell, the rapid weight gain, the exhaustion…all of it.  And where was my period?  I checked my ovulation tracker on my phone.  Sure enough, my period was a few days late.

I fell to the floor, the wind knocked out of me.  I kept falling, my face hitting the cool hardwood as debilitating panic and despair instantly flooded my body.  My husband came in a few minutes later, hearing the hoarse, dry sobs coming from my mouth.  He laid down next to me, stroking my hair, waiting for me to get the words out.

“I…think…I’m…pregnant. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

The next day, I woke up to blood everywhere.  I went to the bathroom where big clots passed through me, falling into the water below.  Having experienced an early miscarriage before I became pregnant with my son, I knew what was happening.  There was no joy in the passing, but there was peace. And I wept with relief.

The panic and despair that had flooded my body so intensely the day before slowly started to dissipate, along with the exhaustion, nausea, ultra-tender breasts, and heightened sense of smell.

Two months before the miscarriage, my son was diagnosed with FPIES.  I’ve talked about it here often, but at this particular moment in time, I was solely responsible for providing nourishment for him.  Because of his extreme FPIES allergies, he was unable to eat solid food.  His life was 100% reliant on my breastmilk, which required  me (and his milk donor in Texas) to eat a very restricted diet.

Pregnancy would have changed everything for us.  It would have put my son’s ability to thrive in grave danger.  We were already spending hundreds of dollars a month to ship diet-compliant donor milk across the country.  We were sinking into credit card debt to keep my son alive.  We had tens of thousands of dollars of medical debt from his birth, stroke, and stay in the NICU.  My husband and I were barely keeping it together.  Our marriage was cracking under the strain of daily demands. Life with a special needs baby is unimaginably challenging. It was a dark, dark time for us.

Another baby would have broken us all. Maybe irreparably.

I didn’t talk about the miscarriage much.  I shared it in passing with a handful of close friends. When people offered me their condolences, I shrugged it off. I changed the subject. I didn’t want them to know that I wasn’t sad. I didn’t want them to know I wasn’t upset. I didn’t want them to know I was more than okay. I didn’t want them to know I was relieved on a level I didn’t know existed and it seemed wrong to express that somehow.  Especially when some of my dearest and closest friends where experiencing profound infertility and wanted nothing more than the baby I despaired at having.  It felt ungrateful. It felt crude.  It felt heartless.  But maybe I was all of those things.

So, when it happened again last month, I said nothing. For weeks.  To anyone. Because the truth is, I still am not ready for another child.  My son is in a much better place now than he was a year ago.  I haven’t pumped since the end of February, and he has enough safe foods to no longer be dependent on my milk for growth.  My husband and I are healing and growing, along with our son.  We are digging ourselves out of the massive debt we accrued with all of the doctors and hospitals and extra measures we took to help our son heal and thrive during the first year of his life.

Getting pregnant this time did not induce a debilitating panic attack. (Although, it did produce surprise because we have been incredibly diligent about about birth control.) It did not send me into a downward emotional/spiritual/mental spiral.  But it did strike the same chord of relief when I miscarried.  Because I’m just not ready.  Life is easier but my son still requires loads of extra care.

When I finally started to share and the sympathy started rolling in, I deflected, changed the subject, and did the masking that I did before.

But I’m stopping all of that now.

I give myself permission to accept my reaction.

I give myself permission to feel deep relief without guilt.

I give myself permission to want another baby, but not right now.

I give myself permission to trust what is, and not what I think I should be.

It’s time to stop judging feelings as right or wrong.

It’s time to accept what is.

And this is what is: My relief does not make me selfish. It does not make me heartless. It does not disqualify my precious friends who are struggling profoundly on their fertility journey.  It does not mean anything at all. It’s just a feeling, and like all feelings, it will pass.  Something new will rise up in it’s place.

One day soon, I’ll feel grief for those beings who would be my babies.  I’ll feel grateful that they chose me to be their mama, even if it was only for a very brief moment in time. Maybe I will still feel the relief of knowing that life did not give me with more than I could bear. Or maybe I will feel all of those things at once.

But for now, relief is enough



Life With Food Allergies: How FPIES Made Me A Better Mom

May is Food Allergy and Celiac Disease Awareness month.  I’ve been avoiding the topic because it just feels too big and all-consuming.  This is something I deal with every single minute of every day as a mom to a toddler with FPIES, which in short, makes my son allergic to food.  He’s just a few weeks shy of his second birthday and has exactly 17 foods he can safely consume.

Eating French Fries
Eating potatoes with Dad.

I mention his food allergies often on social media.  I’ve written about it here and over on The Leaky Boob.  I sometimes get lost in the specific restrictions and frustrations FPIES inflicts on our little family.  I start to resent how profoundly  our lives are marked by this disease.

But here’s the thing about being a parent to a remarkable kid with special challenges: it has made me a better mom, and on a larger scale, a better human.

I take nothing for granted.

After nearly losing my son to a stroke 36 hours after he was born, I am keenly aware that his presence on this earth is a gift.  When his first foods made him vomit to shock, and he was restricted to only breastmilk and a little organic coconut oil for the first 12 months of his life, I wept with relief when he passed spinach at 13 months with flying colors.  It never occurred to me to be thankful for every breath, every bite of food that passes my lips, but he reminds me. His breaths, his bites, his life all serve as a reminder to be grateful.

Every breath is a gift.
Empathy is a second skin.

I’ve always been fairly compassionate and empathetic, but having a son with chronic allergies has given me a sense of empathy I never knew existed.  Any parent who has walked a rocky road with their kids can agree: You never look at a kid or family with special challenges the same way again.  It’s no longer a detached empathy.  It becomes personal to you, too.

Best buddies

I’ve become the anti-helicopter parent.

It’s counter-intuitive.  My son is allergic to food.  And guess what?  Food is everywhere.  Play dates, people’s houses, playgrounds, toddler music class, dog food dishes, restaurant high chairs and booster seats, trash cans, floors, walls, ceilings, shopping carts, faces, hands, mouths, toys…you can’t escape it.  I have to be a helicopter parent in social situations, especially when other kids are present.  He has so many restrictions, and when I have the opportunity to let my guard down in a food-safe place, I do.  I let my son roam within my eyesight, climb and test his limits, and explore to his heart’s desire.  I encourage him to play on his own and have age-appropriate adventures and only intervene when absolutely necessary.  After seeing him suffer more in two years than many will suffer in a lifetime, the minor bumps, bruises, and messes don’t seem to bother my son, so I don’t let them bother me, either.

Beach Adventure
This kid loves the ocean, even when it’s 57 degrees.
I put up a fight.

Before becoming a parent, I often felt nervous expressing an opposing view point, or challenging authority.  I feared losing friends (and even family) by becoming too opinionated or outspoken.  Having a child with severe allergies makes it impossible to not offend people.  I feel zero hesitation telling strangers not to touch or offer food to my son. I wipe my friends’ kids down with a wet paper towel before they play together. I speak often and loudly about respecting parents and their choices, allergies or not.  I openly advocate for causes I believe in without apologizing, even when I know it will turn some people away.  Most surprisingly, I don’t really care.

 E and Somebunny

I question everything.

I call food companies and inquire about any hidden, unspecified ingredients. I inspect every space that has been deemed “safe” for my son.  I question every test, procedure, medication, and diagnosis my son’s doctors try to administer, and generally annoy the crap out of them.  And I have no problem educating doctors about the specifics of FPIES because most don’t know about the syndrome, and if they do, it typically isn’t much. It’s not their fault.  FPIES is relatively unknown, and until this month, didn’t even have a medical diagnosis code.  Considering I’ve spent the last 18 months immersed in research, and am an expert when it comes to my son, I don’t expect the doctors to have a firm grasp on his condition.  I listen, I stay open, and I respect their training. Then I weigh the potential benefit and the potential harm and advocate for what is best for him.

My son with one of his favorite doctors.
I own my strength.

I pumped every single day for 21 months.  I fought post partum depression and PTSD while figuring out my baby’s food allergies and dealing with insurance and doctors and mounting medical bills.  I went on a Total Elimination Diet and stuck to it for a year in order to keep my milk safe and allow my son’s gut to heal, even though I dreamed about Eggs Benedict and wanted to submerge myself in a vat of guacamole. I had to be disciplined.  My son’s life depended on it.  I also fought to keep my marriage intact, even when the pressure of that first year nearly shattered us. Owning the hardship and vulnerable places allowed me to own my strength, too.

Pumping mama

I crack jokes ALL THE TIME.

I feel my feelings, and I can get stuck in FeelingLand.  Humor is one way for me to deal with the overwhelm.  I have fully embraced my snark and wit and unladylike bathroom humor.  Remember that quote “the only way out is through”? I choose to get through it with laughter and sarcasm.  Because it doesn’t matter HOW you get through it, it just matters that you do.








These are the ways FPIES and my son have made me a better mom and human.  I’ll take it.

Echoand Mommy

Eff you, Fpies.