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September 2014

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I’ve had so much to say on this topic for the past year, but as soon as I sit down to write this post, I find myself staring at a blank screen. I’ve experienced such a huge range of emotions throughout this journey, I truly don’t know where to begin.

Before my son was born, I assumed I would breastfeed him for one year. Well aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of one year, I thought nothing of it—until he nursed for the very first time, and I immediately wanted to retract my statement. Holy…painful…experience! All I could think of was, “I just gave birth and now I have to endure MORE pain?! This is SO not fair!” After a few days of raw, bleeding nipples and toe-curling pain, I wasn’t sure I would make it another feeding let alone 12 months!

To make matters worse, I was dealing with D-MER, short for Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex. It sounds weird, but what it actually means is that I experienced extreme depression before my milk let down, which then lasted most of the feeding session. As soon as he was finished it would disappear, but it made nursing him very difficult and made pumping almost impossible. I’m extremely thankful that milk supply was never an issue for me, but then of course there are side effects of having plenty of milk. Goodbye morning workouts, or ANY workout for that matter, until baby was fed!

Even with a broken tailbone, I took only 5 weeks off from training, and 6 weeks off from my full time gig at the office. I had this twisted idea in my head that I would have a baby and then go right back to my “normal” life. Unfortunately it took about 8 months, 3 doctors, 1 husband (haha) and an extreme amount of stress before I really understood that I couldn’t continue on the way I was. I would nurse him most of the night (he wasn’t a fan of sleeping through the night at ALL), then teach camp, work my full time job, then train again in the evening. It was easily a 20 hour day, and with an infant and breastfeeding on demand exclusively, it was too much.

Incredibly stressed, suffering both mentally and physically, I needed to reassess my goal. I was at 3 months of breastfeeding, and knew if I had any chance of making it one more day (let alone 12 months), I would have to create a more attainable goal. With the support of my husband and friends and decided I wanted to get to the 6 month mark and then I could quit breastfeeding.

Luckily, reestablishing a smaller goal did the trick! I was able to reach the 6 month mark and after that, I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, it was never “easy” by any means. It just got “manageable”. In fact I heard a quote recently that describes breastfeeding quite perfectly,

“Breastfeeding is incredibly difficult, except for when it’s easy.”

Last week officially marked 12 months of breastfeeding and I feel like the most accomplished woman on the planet. I am still working 2 jobs (more than that, actually), and am still breastfeeding without ever having to supplement with formula. I actually worked my tail off to build up a nice supply in the first 4-5 months to ensure my LO would be able to be breastfed as long as possible regardless of how long I made it. With that supply, I was able to help a friend out by donating some breastmilk for her sweet baby. This donation actually helped me in meeting my goal. Knowing that I was blessed with a very generous milk supply and that there are other women who aren’t as fortunate, I felt it was my responsibility to keep going.

This entire journey has been incredibly difficult, yet enjoyable and memorable at the same time. As I look back, I remember crying when nursing, having to do anything to distract myself (lots of squats, usually, because the wave of depression was so intense I did anything to keep my mind off of it), and wanting to quit on a daily basis. I am finally “here” and want to jump up and down and throw my pump off of a tall building, but I can’t. I can’t because I am doing the most beautiful thing for my child. (Also that pump is freakin’ expensive and that would be a totally idiotic move.) I know I have the support of my friends and family if I do decide to stop, and a few doctors have gently suggested I consider it (for my own health reasons), but they are also incredibly supportive of my decision to continue.

I can’t describe the emotions that come over me when I contemplate ending this, and I know that most Mommas understand what I mean by this. I should be ecstatic that I have hit my goal and I should now be able to give myself permission to stop breastfeeding. But I can’t. But I want to. But I don’t want to. I feel selfish. I need to stop. Or do I? I do realize that my full physical and mental wellbeing will not be restored until I stop—but I can’t yet. The mix of emotions and hormones is overwhelming. One second I feel like I could breastfeed forever, and the next I feel like I cannot go on one more day. The amount of hours I have spent sitting still in a chair while my LO eats is insane. Those are hours I will never get back and for a Type A workaholic like myself, that was very difficult for a very long time. However, I thankfully grew to love that time together and as the end draws nearer, I cherish our moments together more and more. Thankfully, Honey Brown Photography was able to capture some of these beautiful moments on film. I will treasure them forever.

For now, I will continue breastfeeding. I no longer have a goal, now the plan is to continue on as long as I feel I can. I think part of my reward for hitting my 12-month goal is to no longer have a goal. There’s something really “freeing” about having hit the mark. I feel like every day I continue on is an extra special bonus for my little angel.

A very special thank you goes out to my husband, friends, doula and family for being so supportive. I’ve called you in tears plenty of times this past year asking for reassurance that if I quit before my goal I was still a good Mother. Thank you for all you have done to help me hit this milestone, I couldn’t have done this without you.

Peace, love, and breastmilk,

Melissa

 

It’s hard to believe, but my little angel turned one this past week! What an incredible, challenging and exhausting year it has been! We had his party this weekend and I was faced with the decision of what to do in terms of a birthday cake. I don’t want to be that parent who doesn’t let their kid eat anything “bad”, but I also am not ready to fill his body with sugar, dairy, gluten, etc., especially considering he has not yet been introduced to any of these potential allergens.

I elected to make him his very own CLEAN smash cake—free of all food allergens—using only foods he has been introduced to and we know don’t cause any adverse reactions. It was a huge success! In fact, almost everyone wanted to try the “clean cupcakes” just to see what they were like! I’ll consider that a win.

The recipe is below. Feel free to experiment with different proportions and different gluten-free (or other) flours. I personally started out just using quinoa flour but found I don’t really love the flavor, so I mixed it with a few others. Coconut flour on it’s own can be pretty dry and brown rice flour is okay, but mixing these together was perfect. We also have not yet introduced nuts, so almond meal was not an option.

I made these as cupcakes, but you could easily use a larger pan and make this a larger cake. Be mindful to adjust cooking times, and prepare the cake pan by lining with parchment paper or using coconut oil. On the other hand, if you use these as cupcakes, they make great breakfast muffins with or without the avocado on top!

Happy birthday baking!

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: One small cake or about 6 cupcakes/muffins
  • Prep time: 10 minutes (if you cook the sweet potato ahead of time, 50 minutes if you don’t)
  • Cook time: ~15-20 minutes

Ingredients

Wet

  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ baked sweet potato (no skin)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed

Dry

  •  cup quinoa flour (gluten-free)
  • ⅓ cup brown rice flour (gluten-free)
  •  cup coconut flour (gluten-free)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • A pinch of baking powder (optional)
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds (optional)

“Frosting”

  • 1 ripe avocado

Preparation

  1. COOK THE SWEET POTATO: You can do this ahead of time if you would like. Use a fork to poke some holes in the potato, wrap in aluminum foil and bake for ~40 minutes at 400°.
  2. FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 375°
  3. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine and mix dry ingredients
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well. If mixture seems too dry, add additional applesauce. If mixture seems too wet, add additional flour.
  6. Coat the cake pan with coconut oil (and GF flour if you’d like). You can also use muffin tins to make muffins/cupcakes.
  7. Spread batter into pan
  8. Bake for ~15-20 minutes at 375° (baking times vary per oven). Remove from oven when the cake starts to brown on top.
  9. Let cool, then spread avocado on top of cake. NOTE: If you attempt to spread avocado on top of cake too soon out of the oven, you will smoosh the cake. I actually baked the cupcakes the night before and stored them in the refrigerator overnight. The morning of the party, I removed them from the fridge and let them sit out at room temperature until the party that afternoon. I frosted them right before we ate to keep the avocado fresh.

Feel free to be creative with the ingredients! Pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds, and nuts (if your child is OK with nuts) are nutritious additions! If you’re making these for yourself or other adults, I might suggest adding some cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, (baking soda/powder if you want the cake to rise more) and possibly some coconut aminos if you want added sweetness. Also, I am very loose when it comes to measurements for this (and most) of my recipes. If you find you prefer more or less of something, please feel free to customize this recipe to fit your taste! Enjoy!

Peace, love and clean-eating babies,

Melissa

 

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~12 muffins (depending on the size)
  • Prep time: 12 minutes
  • Cook time: ~17 minutes

Ingredients

Wet

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp coconut nectar (or honey, or Grade B maple syrup)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed

Dry

  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup gluten-free quick cooking oats
  • ¼ cup sprouted pumpkin seeds (sprouted has more nutrients) (optional)
  • ⅛ cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  • A few dashes of sea salt
  • 2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 2 dashes of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional)
  • ¼ cup raisins (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 365°
  2. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine and mix dry ingredients
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well. If mixture seems too dry, add additional applesauce. If mixture seems too wet, add additional oats/almond meal. This mixture should be “wetter” than a typical dough to ensure the muffins are soft when they are done baking.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use a muffin tin with the paper muffin liners. (Or, omit liners all together, it’s up to you).
  6. Drop batter by heaping spoonful onto cookie sheet. Muffins/cookies do not change shape while baking, however they look when you drop them on the cookie sheet is how they will look when they are fully baked.
  7. Bake for ~17 minutes at 365° (baking times vary per oven). Remove from oven when the muffins start to brown on top.
  8. Let cool for a few minutes, then, enjoy!

Feel free to be creative with the ingredients! Nuts, seeds, raisins, etc. are all great additions, and if you don’t like something, feel free to omit it! You’ll notice that most of the dry ingredients are listed as “optional”. Also, I am very loose when it comes to measurements for this (and most) of my recipes. If you find you prefer more or less of something, please feel free to customize this recipe to fit your taste! Enjoy!

Melissa