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.






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!

7 Speedy Self-Care Hacks for Busy People

I loathe the term “self-care”.  I’ve never been a huge fan of it, but now as a mother, I super dislike it.  I support it. In theory.  Taking breaks to rejuvenate and come back to life as a better person? Sign me up. A massage? Sign me up twice. A long hike in a forest? I’ll get my boots! A getaway with my husband?  TELL ME MORE.

The ideal setting for the best self-care ever of all time.

But here’s the thing with self-care.  It doesn’t always look like a massage or pedicure or magical trek through the woods alone with only your (greatly neglected) journal and a Lara Bar to keep you company. And it almost never looks like a relaxing, kid-free trip somewhere else with my husband because it’s expensive and takes many elements of planning and, uh…it’s expensive.  It could happen, but the reality of securing childcare, paying said childcare, going on the trip, taking time off of work, paying for lodging and food and travel?  It’s pricey and time consuming.

The bottom line is this: Self-care can sometimes feel like a privilege instead of a necessity for mental and emotional health.

It doesn’t matter if you are in a committed relationship, a single person, a parent, a single parent, a grandparent, a circus performer, totally bankrupt, rolling in Kanye amounts of cash, worked to the bone, a teenager or college student, whatever.  YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Instead of carving out an hour, a day, a weekend, or any other difficult amount of time, focus on small things.  It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or spendy.  Taking care of yourself can be simple, free, and take 30 seconds or less.

  1. Pee first. Whatever you have to do, it can wait 30 seconds while you pee.  Screaming kid?  I get it.  Pee first.  You have to start dinner right this minute? Pee first.  You need to take a call? Send it to voicemail and call right back after you pee first.  Because peeing is important to your well-being.
  2. Slip off your shoes and feel the grass.  When was the last time you slipped off your shoes during your lunch break and stood in the grass?  Never?  Well, start now.   Let your kids play at the park or in your yard and sip your coffee with your shoes off for a minute. Enjoy the way the grass feels between your toes and the soft earth beneath you.
  3. Breathe on purpose.  Just take a deep breath, okay?  Not because you “need” it, but because it feels freaking wonderful to expand those lungs and breathe in deep, then exhale fully. (10 points if you take a deep breath while you pee barefoot. -10 points if you do that in a public restroom.)
  4. Massage your hands. Before bed, when you need a minute to refocus, or just because you like soft hands.  Grab your favorite oil or lotion, and be sure to gently pinch the soft spot between your thumb and pointer finger for extra relaxation.
  5. Add fruit to your water. Your toddler didn’t finish his apple slices?  Toss a few into your water bottle or pitcher.  Slice up a lime or orange while you’re at it and toss those in, too.  If you’re feeling super fancy and have it on hand, add a mint leaf or two.  Stimulating your taste buds can help keep your mind clear and connected to your body.
  6. Quote it. Find a short quote or poem. Read it. Twice. Return to it when you need to fuel your spirit.
  7. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter. Or sunbutter. Or almond butter.  Or Nutella.  You probably need the protein or chocolate fix. Go ahead and do that now.

If all else fails, drink that extra cup of coffee, or turn up your favorite music and dance. Or hide.  Yep, sometimes straight up hiding can be self-care.

Oh, and if anyone has any ideas about how we can abolish the term “self-care” and replace it with something more fantastically fun, go for it.  Let me know.  We will sprinkle that phrase like glitter from a unicorn.

Take good care,


Honestly Ever After {Part One}

Friends, meet Kelli Martinelli. She is a bright, innovative soul who I asked to write a guest post for you.  Kelli has a unique parenting and partnering style that defies social norms, and works for her family.  Something that I love about Kelli is her willingness to put everything out there. She never pretends that things are perfect or easy, but there is an inspiring warmth in her tone and outlook.  I’m excited to share this with you. While it is always easy to throw stones, especially when we don’t fully understand or agree, I encourage you to open your hearts and minds to Kelli’s story. She’s found a way to make her family and her life work and is brave enough to put it all out there.  Honestly.  Click here for Part Two and Part Three of her story. 


My daughter with her dad when she was 3, at the annual camping trip in California. This was the last year that I went.
My daughter with her dad when she was 3, at the annual camping trip in California. This was the last year that I went.

A few years ago I read an article titled, “Why Divorce Is Good For Children.” I was married at the time. I hadn’t ever imagined myself as divorced. I was in it to win it! What the win it part was, I’m still not sure. My marriage was 10 years old and bore 2 bright-eyed, articulate children who flipped my world on its head and made me see life and relationships through a new lens. “Why Divorce Is Good For Children.” Was it? Is it? Or is it just all SEO headlines and stock photos brimming with smiling, lightly tanned models plus a sidebar of recommended articles with click-bait titles? It was a HuffPo article, so it could go either way …

I’m a child of divorce. In fact, my parents believed in divorce so strongly they divorced each other twice! When they got divorced the first time I admit I didn’t really know what was happening, and I don’t recall how it affected me. I went away to Girl Scout camp, my mom was a troop leader, and when we got back my dad was living with another woman. His girlfriend had finches. And they were really loud. It was the first time I ever hated a bird. When my folks got back together I thought it was a bad idea, and when they separated again, but this time for realsies, I was relieved. Not grief. Relief.

So here I was, in my early 30s, married, and finding myself digging in to an article on divorce. I read it several times through, and then bookmarked it. It was hitting a nerve that I didn’t realize was even there, and it stung. More than stung. It collapsed me. Scarcely unable to keep my head up after 6pm, struggling with making dinner or tending to my brood, nauseous, whispering that word to myself to see if I could even say it … “divorce”. I would read that article no less than 20 times over the course of the next year as I wrestled with the first real re-introduction to myself by way of marital detachment.

The morning that I woke up and felt an urge to lace up my shoes and run a few miles, I knew I was a changed woman. I don’t run. I am not a runner. Do not ask me to run any kind of k with you (unless there are tacos involved, and then … there’s a chance). But that morning my body told me to run, and then my heart started to wake up, and I was afraid, but my body was collaborating with my heart which were together in cahoots with my brain, and I was for once able to recognize and see beyond the fear. Running, for the brief time I was suckered in to it, helped steer me to clarity. There was openness in front of me. I needed a new place to set myself down and re-ground. I took a breath and leapt with these words to my then-husband (who I will refer to as Mr. Swayze, cause he’d like that), “I am unhappy,” I said. And the trepidation with which I said those words and the Bassett Hound grimace on my face told him this wasn’t just dissatisfaction with the living room furniture. This was life altering, and with those words, “I am unhappy” a new world opened up in front of us.

Mr. Swayze and I separated. I moved out. I handled the transition with gentle words, but rough hands, which is as sloppy and misleading as it sounds. Mr. Swayze was mad at me for the way in which I left. He had every right to be. I saw what I wanted in that new openness and then recklessly pursued it. But as the shitstorm swirled around me ~ and I truly apologize for that visual ~ I put out an intention that I vowed to fulfill: one day this divorce would show itself as being good for my children, and also good for me and good for their dad.

Mr. Swayze is now re-partnered to an incredible woman, and poof, now he’s a dad of 4! Which is great, cause my uterus wasn’t going to give him 2 more children, I enjoy sleeping on my stomach far too much to be pregnant again. And now my children have 2 older siblings who are smart and adventurous and respectful and fun, and how could that not be a wonderful thing? Divorce expanded their concept of family! I have another mom to work alongside of, to share in the kid-shuffling, the homework-managing and the Mr. Swayze corralling. Parenting is a helluva job! It’s like constantly making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, blindfolded, with one arm tied behind your back, while riding a roller coaster, in a hurricane.

Click here for Part Two.

Garden Vegetable Frittata

FrittataQuarterViewI need to intentionally out myself here.

I am burned out with cooking. And a large part of my mission in life is cooking. Changing the conversation around food, around bodies, around babies and single people and periods and sex and family and allergies and wholeness and therapy and kombucha and…ALL OF IT.

I just have one small problem.

I want to flame my tiny pink kitchen down to the ground. Ignight it. Light it up and watch it burn down in a blaze of glory, a la Bon Jovi. (I will gladly let you film this spectacle as I stand in the middle of the flames wearing nothing but my mom jeans and an old leather vest that belonged to my grandma in the 1990s with my son’s pink ukulele strapped to my back in exchange for a lifetime of free Chipotle.)

Then I want to walk away, and never look back. 

This isn’t about food. This isn’t about my outdated micro kitchen. This isn’t even about my mission.

This is about self-care.

Last week, I started doing the thing where I eat trail mix for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Then I eat the same thing for lunch. I might grab a handful of cherry tomatoes or eat some cucumber slices off my son’s plate during lunch and start congratulating myself for making vegetables a “priority”. By the time dinner rolls around, I’m ravenous, have a terrible case of the bitchies and lose my words, so I groan and cry and end up laying on my bed in complete despair when I should be making dinner for my family. That is the moment when I want to douse my kitchen in gasoline, light it up with my Namaste candle and run away.

The trail mix is a bad sign, my friends. It means I’m giving up. I HATE GIVING UP. But sometimes I hate the process of not giving up more. It feels good to pretend I can’t cook. It feels like a whole lotta relief to plan to cook dinner and then say “eff it” at the last minute and orderThai takeout instead. It’s like a shot of heroin or the feeling you get when you cancel plans last minute because you want to stay home and watch Netflix in yoga pants and you have a legit, last-minute reason to do it.

Don’t get me wrong.  These food hacks are totally okay. We all hit our max, and sometimes we live at our max for extended periods of time without much relief.  There are seasons. I get it. I’ve been there.

But this isn’t it.

This is abandoning my commitment to taking care of myself.  So, now that the world knows what that looks like, here’s what maintaining my commitment to taking care of myself looks like.

(Note: It might look differently for you, so no judgment here.  Pound that trail (mix).)

  1. Hot breakfast.
  2. The end.

I don’t eat many grains because, with the exception of rice and sometimes oats, they really tear my stomach up.  Plus, I FEEL better when I eat a protein and veggie heavy breakfast during the rest of the day. I like the feeling of something warm in my belly, too. It reminds me that my body is served best when I care for it in small ways.  Plus, I don’t have to fight the trail mix bitchies.

What prep looks like in my tiny pink kitchen.
What prep looks like in my tiny pink kitchen.

Here is my plan of action: Fritatta. I make one large fritatta, portion it out into individual servings, and heat it up in the toaster oven while I get ready in the mornings.  This is all it takes to make me nice.  Well, this and a cup or seven of coffee.

This simple, humble little egg dish is great.  You can make a million different variations of it, but here is my absolute favorite. The fact that I can go outside and gather many of these ingredients from my garden is a total bonus.


  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup cheese (I prefer parmesan or asiago)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 lb of browned sausage or cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer mild Italian sausage, but you can skip meat altogether to make this vegetarian.)
  • 1 medium onion, sauteed
  • 12 oz chopped broccoli
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard or spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp of fresh herbs of your choice, or 1 Tbsp dried herbs. (I use rosemary, basil, and thyme from the garden)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (if not using sausage)


  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Mix in shredded cheese.
  2. Add protein and veggies, and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a large, greased baking dish, bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until the middle is cooked all the way through.
  4. Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Cut into individual portions and reheat in the oven or toaster oven for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.


My individual frittata portions are hanging out in my fridge, ready to be heated and eaten all week long. I blasted Bon Jovi’s greatest hits while prepping and cooking and cleaning up the kitchen to make this all a little more tolerable.  But I digress. I WILL TAKE CARE OF MYSELF THIS WEEK.  I hope you can, too.

Call Me Young Gun,