Food + Wine, Fun

Upside Down

I’ve had a rough couple of days.  No, scratch that.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but the past several days have been testing, for sure.  Many of you know that I’m breastfeeding my 4 month old daughter, and anyone who has nursed a baby knows that it can be as rewarding as it is difficult at times.  When my son was an infant, I nursed him for a year and although I had the usual hiccups here and there, for the most part it was a fairly easy process.  Nursing him could solve any problem.  He would eat anytime, anywhere.  Then my daughter comes along and, during her first couple of months, showed no signs of feeding problems except for the fact that she does so very loudly.  (Simply put, she has latching issues).  But then recently she started to get extremely fussy and impatient when she wasn’t getting as much milk as she wanted, as fast as she wanted it.  It would take all the stars to align to get her to finish her meal.

When we took her for her last check-up, the doctor informed us that she wasn’t gaining weight and that I needed to nurse her more.  I crumbled.  Isn’t that what I’m already doing?  Nursing her more?  I felt utterly helpless and disappointed in myself.  My one job is to take care of my children and give them whatever it is that they need, and I suddenly felt like a failure.  So for the past couple of days, I’ve been trying to really make sure my daughter is getting all the milk that she needs.  I haven’t left the house because I’ve done nothing but try to feed her.  But she is just so very hard to nurse.  People have told me that I should supplement, my family included.  But I don’t want to and I don’t think I should need to.  Is that just my pride getting in the way?  Or my motherly instinct telling me that it will soon work itself out?

After a rough night (one of many rough nights) with my baby, I woke up hopeful that maybe today will be a different and better day.  But the morning was, again, rough.  When I’m feeding her, I want to be able to relax and look down on her, knowing that she is exactly where she needs to be.  I just want to feed her without it being so stressful.  But she screams at me and she gets startled whenever anyone makes the slightest noise, and it has slowly become something that I haven’t been able to enjoy in a very long time.  My guilt about that statement has turned me upside down.

My son has remained a trooper through all of the tears, noise, and anxiety.  But I feel bad for him because I can’t be with him when I’m having to feed her (or try to feed her) during her every waking moment.  During a particular rough moment this morning, he asked me if he could go to his grandmother’s house.  And I broke down in tears.  He doesn’t like me anymore!, I thought.  Again, I’m failing at my job and again, I am sinking, upside down, into a dark tunnel.

After I put my daughter down for a nap (fingers tightly crossed), I decided I was done with the tears for today.  I needed to buck up and move on.  So I asked Cover Girl for a little help.  See, I will not shed a tear if I’m wearing eye make-up.  Won’t do it.  It’s such a waste to me.  So whenever I want to stop crying about something that doesn’t seem to be getting any better, I will whip out the mascara and the rest of the day will be a dry one.  From there I decided to put on some clothes that didn’t have an elastic waist band.  (I hadn’t been in my closet in so long, I almost got lost.)  From there, I walked over to my jewelry box.  Dangly earings and my big turquoise ring from Mexico started to help as well.  By the time my daughter woke up, I was beginning to feel like a new person.  We all three went out window shopping and, just when I felt my stress creep back in as I was wrestling with the older one to get into the shopping cart as the younger one was strapped onto my chest, an older woman stopped me and said,

‘Excuse me Miss, I just had to tell you that you have two beautiful children.  
Boy, what I wouldn’t give to go back to when mine were that small.’

I paused for a long moment, looked at her, with the beginnings of a tear in my eye, and said,

‘Thank you’  

I kissed my babies and swallowed that tear, because I knew at that moment, while I was feeling like my life was so hard, she was looking at me with a little bit of envy.  What I can’t possibly know now is that these are those precious days I will look back on when my babies are full grown and no longer in need of me, my milk, or my hugs to get them through their day.  And I will be shopping one day at Old Navy, trying on a cardigan, and look over to see a frazzled young mother, with too much mascara on, fighting with her children to sit down, stand up, or stop crying, and I will make sure she leaves that store knowing that no matter how upside down she feels in that moment, she should cherish it.
(This recipe is one I’m very proud of.  It’s my ode to Pineapple Upside Down Cake, with a little something special.  It’s a cake that can be served for a brunch, as well as a dessert because it’s both sweet and savory.  I was inspired to write this recipe by my family’s favorite Thanksgiving side-dish.  It’s one of the easiest and quickest cakes I make from scratch.  Enjoy!) 

*Pineapple Cheddar Upside Down Cake

-Preheat oven to 350.
-In a 9inch round cake pan, place 1 stick of unsalted butter and place in the oven as it’s preheating to melt.  (This will take about 5 minutes.)
-Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle 1 cup of light brown sugar over the melted butter, stirring it a bit so that the sugar is evenly melted into the butter.  Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt over the brown sugar. (Omit this step if you’re using salted butter.)
-Drain 1 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple and reserve the juice for later.  Pour the crushed pineapple over the brown sugar/butter mix and spread evenly.  Set aside.
-Grate or shred 8 ounces of EXTRA sharp cheddar cheese into a small bowl.  Mix with 1 TB of flour* and set aside.
-In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of whole wheat PASTRY flour (all purpose flour is fine as well) with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt.  Set aside.
-In a large bowl, beat 3 eggs with 1 cup white sugar until creamy.  Add the juice from your can of pineapple and a splash of vanilla extract.
-Fold in the cheese until it’s all distributed evenly.
-Pour your batter over the brown sugar/butter mix in the pan and place your cake pan on top of a foil-lined cookie sheet to catch the over-spill that will definitely happen.
-Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the center is no longer jiggly.
-Cool on a rack for 10-20 minutes and run a knife around the edges of the pan, breaking any seal that has formed.
-Carefully invert the cake onto a plate.
-Serve warm with or without vanilla ice cream.  It’s delicious either way 🙂
(*adding the flour helps keep the shreds of cheese separate and from not forming one big cheese clump in your batter.)

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  • Reply Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen July 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Oh Abbey, what a touching story. It just makes me want to go out and say something nice to a stranger. You just never know how much it might mean.

    I'm so sorry you're having problems with your daughter. It sounds to me like you've got your head on straight and this will pass with time. In the meantime, have a big piece of that luscious cake and put your feet up and take at easy when they go to sleep.

    This comes from a person who has had only four-legged children, but I'll be thinking of you and try keep your spirits up. They grow up so fast it will all be behind you before you know.

  • Reply Anonymous July 28, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I had trouble breastfeeding (nursing seemed to MAKE him cry) that started after about 6 weeks. I had been putting off seeing the Lactation Consultant and when I finally did it was such a relief. She was really reassuring and worked with both me and the pediatrician to figure out what the problem was and get us straightened out. You've probably already tried that avenue, but I figured I would throw the idea out to you since it took someone else's suggestion before I got myself in gear to go the first time. Breastfeeding issues are so emotionally stressful. And pineapple upside-down cake is such a classic! I haven't thought about it in a long time. My great aunt used to make it for every occasion.

  • Reply Chef E August 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Oh I hope things have gotten better, I also did not have a good time breast feeding, seemed I had Irish twins who wanted to eat at the same time!

    Love this recipe, and am wondering how I missed it!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne August 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks to everyone and their kind words. Things are much better now (thank goodness). I hesitated before publishing this post because it was so incredibly personal, but then I realized how much better it made me feel once I finished writing it. So hopefully it can help someone else going through the same thing. Hearing comments from other moms with the same issues definitely helped me!

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