The Misery of Masticating on Mammaries

I have always planned to breast feed. No question about it. I am ample chested, my mother breastfed me, her mother breastfed her, I believe in being natural when possible, so on and so forth.

Sometimes life just doesn't go as planned...

When my baby was born distressed and overdue with low blood sugars he had to spend time in the NICU immediately. Because of this, we didn't get our initial skin to skin contact, or introduction to the breast. Instead he was bottle fed, when he would take food at all.

I asked for a pump at the hospital, and one was provided. However, I wasn't taught how to use it properly or told just how often I should be using it between trying to get him to latch when we were visiting him in the NICU.  As a result my milk not only came in more slowly, but not as fully as it should. Of course, him not feeding also inhibited it coming in fully.

During our hospital stay I saw three lactation consultants and had my breasts groped by more people than I care to recall, each with their own brand of advice. "You should hold him like this." "Hands go here." "No, hold your nipple this way." "Have you tried self expressing?" To the latter, may I just add that when one has tiny hands and DDD''s just hella hard to do, mm'k?

We also tried nipple shields which baby just flat out refused to have anything to do with. And I was sent home with a rented state of the art pump that a consultant insisted would help more and be better for me than the one I'd borrowed from a friend.

After I brought him home we saw yet another lactation consultant and tried a technique that involved a syringe of my breast milk feeding a tiny tube taped to my breast so he would associate feeding with gratification. I called it the baby camel back, you the backpackers use? Anyway. That of course frustrated him as well.

We learned that he could latch and was a natural rooter and that I wasn't doing anything wrong. The problem is that our son had not learned to suck properly. He simply doesn't know how to use his tongue. The consultant suggested a physical therapist, that naturally didn't take insurance.

I stared at this woman's contact information for days, deciding when I would call her. Meanwhile pumping every time I woke up to feed him no matter the hour, and never getting more than an ounce of milk between both breasts.This equated to about a third of the food he needed in a day.

During this time I also tried the copious amounts of Fenugreek that one nurse had recommended. I tried a marathon of pumping every hour that had worked for another friend.

After the first week it also became clear that my husband wasn't going to be able to help with night time feedings. Suffice to say he's not an easy person to wake up. Even when he wants to help, he's barely capable and I literally cannot stir him. This made my time awake even longer, and my nerves even more frayed. 

To top it all off I began to feel guilty. What type of mother was I, that I couldn't even feed my child? How bad was I for giving him formula, which contains soy (something I try to avoid adamantly and believe is unhealthy)? Why couldn't I do this simple thing when so many others could?

I know I'm not the first and far from the only to feel this way. What gets me is how few talk about it. You always hear people talking about the benefits of breastfeeding and the pride in doing so. But I've rarely heard anyone talk about their difficulties with it, or the associated guilt and depression with the inability. Which makes it twice as hard when you are one of those that cannot.

I found myself crying every time someone posted something about how good breast milk was for a baby. Getting more and more depressed every time I offered my son my breast and all he could do was chew on my nipple and get frustrated with the poor amount of milk and his lack of ability. 

It finally took my husband and both mother and mother-in-law to convince me that I was not a terrible parent and that giving up the pumping and letting myself dry up might save my sanity.

My breasts still leak and ache. And at times it seems like a cruel reminder of what I can't do for my child. But looking back at how hard we tried, I know I'm not a bad mommy. That really doesn't make it easier. I still wish I could do things differently for him. The difference is now I'm more aware of my support network and I know I'm doing well for my baby. As my mom aptly pointed out, children have survived far worse than having to eat formula.

And before anyone suggests it. We have looked into alternative things like organic formulas. Sadly none of those claiming to be organic are truly enough to make me comfortable. Some are even worse for the processes they use. And we did consider goats milk, but would have to then blend in other ingredients to make it nutritionally sound and that would sadly be too expensive as well as difficult to keep up with. 

Baby is now getting Gerber Good Start - Soothe, and seems to be plenty happy. He's up to nine pounds. A far cry from his skinny little NICU self!

These are not the jowls of an underfed infant ;)

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Latent Labor, The NICU, and Other Nightmares

My son is almost a month old now, and I'm just now getting around to writing about his entry into the world. Understandably, I've been just a touch busy. Where to begin...

I did not know about latent or prodromal labor, so when I wound up being in labor for six...yes six days, it was an unpleasant surprise. My contractions were what I'd deem relentless and painful, but weren't dilating me quickly enough. To top it off, the pain prevented me from sleeping for most of the week. Everything culminated in a day in the hospital where they monitored me for incredibly high blood pressure, but  wound up sending me home because I could not dilate past 3cm and they were very busy and full. A call that the doctor on hand wound up regretting later.

They sent me home with an ambien and told me to come in at 7am the next day. Now, many of you know that medications and I are not the best of friends. But I thought, "Hey! It's a sleep aid. How bad could it be?" Well, let me tell you...I hallucinated...a lot, and lost full function of my limbs. Dreams became meshed with reality and for some reason I began to dream that my contractions were my husband fixing furniture. And I was the furniture. Totally logical right? He says I asked him why he was touching my wiry bits at some point. I explained that I'd thought I was a bench. Mmhmm...totally normal. I was also convinced he'd painted the door with polka dots.

I made it until about 4am, at which point I wound up waking my mom and mother-in-law and telling them I really needed to go back to the hospital. My blood pressure was some ungodly number in the 200's over I don't recall what. And long story short they wound up admitting me.

God bless epidurals. I was not scared or worried about the needle by the time I got it, I was so thankful to have something for the pain. I believe I proclaimed Chip the anesthesiologist to be my new BFF. For one, it lowered my blood pressure and two, it let me sleep for the first time in what seemed forever.  I cannot say I felt the same amount of love for the IV in my arm. Between it, the blood draws, and the constant blood pressure readings, my arms were black, blue and green. They also started me on pitocin and by the afternoon I was well dilated.

Delivery itself seemed like NOTHING compared to the week of labor. Of course the pain reliever was helping contribute to that fact, but even with it wearing off by the time I was pushing, it was a relief in a way. I am not a fan of the "hold your breath while you push" school of thought though, I must say. It made it harder, and made me feel like passing out. By the end I was ignoring my poor nurses and grunting and crying out with the contractions and doing better for it! I threw my nurses off with my good humor, too. When they told me I was about to push him past the ring of fire, I had to make a crack about Johnny Cash and my husband sang a bit of "the" song.

At one point, they realized that Milo's chord was around his throat and did some saline injections to try and get it more loose. They also had to break my water at the start and said there was meconium present. Because of that and possible issues they had some of the NICU staff on hand for his delivery once we got closer.

Once he crowned they told me to stop pushing, but my contractions were pretty intense and before they could even get the doctor in that was supposed to be present my husband told me, "He's here." I asked if he meant his head and he said, "Nope, all of him." Out like a watermelon seed.

After that everything became a flurry of activity and heart wrenching anxiety. I didn't see him before they whisked him away to clear his airways. It was taking longer than I thought it should, and he couldn't breathe well so he wasn't crying. I could only see the backs of the NICU staff.

It seemed like hours rather than minutes, when they finally put him in my arms. I got to hold him for less than a minute before he was being put in a transport and they were telling Jon he could follow them down to NICU. He was so tiny and so beautiful, I sobbed. I cried all the harder when they took him away, and my support beam as well. I wasn't told much, but that they were worried something might be wrong with his diaphragm and he needed x-rays amongst other tests. After all the pain and stress, to feel that empty was heart wrenching. They let my mom in after that, and bless her heart she tried not to cry, but when she saw me crying and I told her they took my baby away, she couldn't help it.

I really have to be thankful for the awesome staff where I delivered, especially my primary nurse. She let me know things the minute she could (and perhaps sooner than she should have at times) and really took amazing care of me.

Things turned out to be much less terrible than expected once they got a look at him. There was nothing wrong with his diaphragm. However, he did have very low blood sugars because of the hard labor and the fact he was likely a week overdue.

I was only able to stay in the hospital for 48 hours, while he had to stay in the NICU for a week. Another thing that was terribly hard. But again, amazing staff. The nurses that took care of him in the NICU were like wingless angels in scrubs. We knew he was getting the best care he could and was safe. That of course, didn't prevent me from breaking down occasionally before we got him home.

After the week was up, and his levels were as well, we were able to do an overnight stay with him at the hospital and prepare to bring him home. Such a relief! 

The pictures I'm going to share, I haven't anywhere else yet. Mostly because I haven't been able to look at them without crying. And he looked so vulnerable that for awhile I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep them just to ourselves. 

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Polka Dot Cake - Tips

I can't really call this a tutorial as the original idea was not my own. But I'm here to offer a few tips on how I did my own, as well as link to the original inspiration.

It all started when I saw this floating around facebook:

Someone mentioned it was done with cake pops and I thought, "Hey! I could do that I bet!" 
When I got more serious about making my cake I found this tutorial from Once Upon a Pedestal to be very helpful picture wise.

I was never really on the cake pop bandwagon. I mean, don't get me wrong, they are adorable! But they were also so much work for something that I didn't think was that tasty, but rather a lump of sugar. So I was a bit behind the times and hadn't seen the pans for making them without icing mixed in. 

The "As Seen on TV" pan is supposedly decent, but I wanted my pops to be a bit smaller so I could fit more than one layer of them into my cake layers. I also wanted a pan that was a little more affordable, and one that didn't need clamps to hold it closed. The answer for me was a smaller Nordic Ware pan. In retrospect, I would definitely buy two of them however, because waiting for each batch to bake when I made so many took an hour or more. 

Once I had my cake pop pan in hand, I realized that none of the cake pans I owned were going to be deep enough for what I wanted to do. Way to think ahead, I know. So with some quick research I came upon the Fat Daddio brand. Let me just say, amazing! I chose to go with 8 x 4 inch pans.

Now for those promised tips...

You could make your own cake for this, but I opted to go store bought since I was already putting a lot of time into the prep work and making. It took four white cake mixes and a whole lot of egg whites! I went with pillsbury's super moist because it was both cheap and dense.

I did not find that I needed to do anything fancy with pudding mix in the cake or anything like that as some people have done when making these. I simply beat the mix by hand (no electric mixer or kitchen aid) and it was very dense and moist.

I'd never really baked with deep pans before, so that was the toughest thing for me to master and figure out.
For my 8 x 4's I set the oven to 275°F and both the test cake and final product baked for about an hour and forty five minutes. Depending on your oven and your pan size you may want to adjust the time, but the nice low baking temp will keep the cakes from drying out.

Some tutorials suggest using cake towels around the sides and other such things. Again, I didn't bother with that and turned out just fine!

I used two of the cake mixes on the pops alone. Just to make enough balls to really fill up the cake pans with lots of layers. Because of this each pan then took an entire additional cake mix to be sure there was enough batter to cover the balls. I only put a thin layer in the pan to begin with to start setting them on then let the rest trickle between them all.

These cakes turned out so heavy that they flattened themselves out on the cooling racks and I didn't even need to use my wire to smooth them. 

Oh, one last tip! Invest in Pam baking spray, the one with the flour. I had to wipe out my cake pop pan and respray before each batch. It's easy for the little buggers to want to stick.

If you want your cake to look super smooth you can use fondant, but honestly I cannot stand the taste of it. And taste was more important than appearance (at least on the outside) to me. So I used a basic cream cheese frosting. The polka dots were simply Wilton Candy Melts that I turned "bottoms out" and pressed into the frosting. Wilton also makes some really big confetti pieces that would be cute. 

I also saved the trimmings from smoothing out the cake balls and keep them frozen, and they work really great for homemade "funfetti" inside a white mix! 

The best thing about cakes like this, at least to me, is people's reactions. They don't expect things on the inside. So have fun with it! I want to try making dots of different flavors sometime myself .

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Dear Grandpa,

I don't talk to you as much as I should, but I think about you an awful lot. I wish you were here to meet your newest great grandson. To play the same games with him that you had with me. To tell him stories, and tickle him with your beard. Maybe he'd be another Pipip for you, he is likely to be as stubborn as I am after all. And he'd grow up knowing that the smell of love is sometimes a mix of peppermint, sawdust and diesel.

We had the hardest time naming him. There were names I was attached to since I was young, that my husband absolutely hated. And most of the names he came up with, I didn't feel much better about. Those we did agree on weren't terrible, but they were just lacking something. And then one moment it just hit me, what his name had to be, even if Jonathan was reluctant.

He is Milo.

It's a good name, I think you'd agree. I can't picture him with any other.

He may not get to meet the man he was named after, but he will know you. I'll be sure of that, and his grandparents will be sure of it, his Aunties and Uncles. We all carry different pieces of you.

And if I am terribly lucky he will be another piece and inherit your intelligence, your kindness, your silly humor, and your gentle caring nature.

Thank you for everything you taught me and everything you are going to teach my son.

I love each of my Milo's.

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Verse Play Poetry

Back in the day I took a poetry class, since I love writing the stuff. It opened me up to some forms I'd never heard of, one of the most interesting being Verse Play. When creating a verse play piece you simply choose two things: people, characters, inanimate objects. Then you hold a conversation between them. There are a few that I was rather proud of and some I thought I'd lost. This is one I was awfully sad that I lost, but just stumbled upon again.

I'm not sure where in my head some of these things come from, honestly. I can tell you this one in part comes from an interest in psychology I've harbored. At the same time I've held very little respect for certain figures. No offense to the Freudians out there, but he's just not my cup of tea!

Anyway, I'm beginning to you have Tickle Me Elmo and Hitler.

Tickle Me Elmo and Hitler sit at a bar…Hitler depressed he has lost his conquest, Elmo boozing up (how do you think he stays so happy all the time?)…suddenly Elmo laughs, Hitler feels insulted …

E: hee, hee, hee

H: was Sie dummes kleines rotes Tier wünschen
what do you want stupid tiny red beast?
(Hitler glares at Elmo)

E: hee, hee, hee

H: Sie lachen bei mächtigem Hitler!?
you laugh at mighty Hitler!?
E: hee, hee, hee, Elmo tickles
H: was ist Tickle? Hitler war einmal großartiger Diktator, fürchten ihn!
what is tickle? Hitler was once grand dictator, fear him!
E: hee, hee, hee,
H: Das gleichmäßige kleine Rot, das ein respektieren stört nicht mehr, Hitler.
Even small red annoying one no longer respect Hitler.
(He orders another drink becoming more depressed)
E: hee, hee, hee, Elmo loves you
H: Ich danke Ihnen kleine Geisteskrankheit gerittenes Rot Eins
I thank you small insanity ridden red one
E: hee, hee, hee
H: Ja ja wird Energie nie... Sie wissen dieses auch...
Yes, yes, power is never know this also...
(Hitler Sighs Heavily)
E: hee, hee?
H: Möglicherweise zusammen könnten wir gesteuert haben die Welt...
Perhaps together we could have controlled the world...
E: hee, hee, hee, Elmo wants hug
H: Nien! Nien! Kein Umarmen des Fuhrer…
No! No! No hugging the Fuhrer…
E: hug elmo, hee, hee, hee
H: (Head darts back and forth, makes sure no one is looking)
Sie sind so weicher haariger Monster wie Freund
You are so soft hairy monster like friend…

Suddenly a man grabs Hitler by the shoulder….

Freud: Now Hitler, what have I told you? This does not help you get past the emotional fear of castration you have. We must blame your mother and six year old girls for all your problems and this tiny red symbol of safety can not help you.
H: Ja, ja….
Yes, yes…
(Hangs his head.)
E: hee, hee, hee…

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Life, Death and a Blood Red Rose


Everything comes
And everything goes

Blooming and wilting
Joy and woes

Ever this cyle
No repose

Life and death reflect
In the blood red rose.

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Gramma-Gramma's Rice Pudding

Simple and comforting, like wrapping up in a big blanket on a chilly Sunday morning. That's how I feel about fresh rice pudding, especially still warm from the oven. Store bought varieties cannot compare, but worry not, it's nearly fail proof to make yourself.

What You'll Need:

- 1 cup white rice
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk -or- 2 cans of coconut milk (not light)
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. salt
- a 3 quart dish

Yup, that's it! We're being thrifty!

Put all your ingredients into your 3 quart pan or casserole dish.

Now, this is going to sound kind of strange. But fill the rest of the dish with water up to about 1 to 1/2 inch from the top.

Mix again and pop that sucker in the oven at 350°F.

After about 1 hour your pudding should form its first skin. You're going to mix this into the pudding and let it keep baking.

After about 30 minutes your pudding will have been productive and made its second skin. You're going to laugh at its attempts and stir this in as well.

After another 15 - 30 minutes you'll check your pudding for a last time. It should have formed its third skin. This one you're going to leave in place.

Remove the pudding from the oven and let it cool, then proceed to shovel into your feed-hole.


Just like great grandmother used to make! Enjoy!

A minor edit because I forgot to mention!  My hubby likes to sprinkle nutmeg over the top of his serving sometimes. Other people like to bake raisins into it, but I personally cannot get behind the use of humiliated grapes. 

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Coming Out...or Standing Proud

Sometimes it's funny. How even someone that considers themselves a writer, a poet, an open and sharing spirit...can find themselves at a loss for words. And at times, my words are a crutch. It's easier to sit and think out what I want to say than to find the voice and courage to speak the words to someone's face. My voice can stammer and stumble, my resolve can falter. But my fingers rarely do, even when they have difficulty finding the right things to set down.

I have spent years, finding numerous ways to attempt to define or express just who I am. And no matter how close I come to doing so, I can't help but think I have failed. There is always something held back, cowering inside. That little bit of self that worries about judgment and acceptance. No matter how confident I become. No matter the armor I build up. I feel like I'm an odd mix of personalities. Logic sits upon one shoulder and emotion on the other and they often debate amongst each other leaving me lost in the middle. Logic will tell me that I don't' need the acceptance of the entire world, that I should be proud of who I am. Emotion leers at him and reminds me how difficult the world can be when everyone is looking down at you. So I remain, all at once, shameless and shamed.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt said that, and boy do I love throwing that quote at people. And yet I play the hypocrite, empowering the small minded. Perhaps, because until recently I have not accepted myself. How then, could I have expected others to? I've fought my own multitude of inner demons for years. And I've finally come to a point in my life that I am no longer in denial. No longer self loathing. The past two years are the first I have felt as though I can accept myself.

See, the thing is I'm not straight. And some people would say I'm not gay (that's another discussion). Which leaves me in some form of middle ground. A place often frowned on by both sides of the spectrum. My heart speeds up and my fingers shake even typing the words now. And logic sits on my shoulder again telling me I may not even have the courage to share what I write now. But, at least it's cathartic. And I'll say it for myself. I'm bisexual.

I ignored it for years, denial is an eager friend when you seek him out. Looking back now I really have to laugh at all the obvious indicators to myself. Things easily dismissed. After all, they say all young people explore all sides of their sexuality at some point in their childhood. But I digress...

My sexuality hit me like a brick to the face some years ago when I realized I had romantic feelings for a female friend. I tried to explain it in all manner of ways, like just "really close friendship". Even when I was with her, I refused to label myself. I told myself, “Oh I'm not bisexual. I don't find every woman attractive, just this one.” Like I find every man attractive, right? Real smooth. It ended badly and because of that I pushed things back into the closet again.

My life eventually provided more handy excuses. "I can't come out, people will question my marriage." One of my biggest fears is that what I am will reflect poorly on my husband. I mean, let's face it, people almost always jump to the worst conclusions. "She must be running around on her husband." "She must be a whore if she likes both genders." But I adore my husband. He's supported me when I didn't even support myself. He accepts me. He is my rock, and I respect and love him immensely.The other side of that coin is, "Well you married a boy, so you aren't gay." "You chose the right team in the end anyway!"

I feel as though I'm rambling, or my thoughts are scattered. Trying to get it all lain out like this, but I need to do it. For myself.

Another thing that's held me back is my faith. I believe in God with all my heart. But I was always taught that alternative sexualities were a sin. A large part of why, for years, I struggled. I couldn't overcome the immense guilt, even when I loved someone. I've come to the point however, that I'm able to say, I don't know if I am right or wrong. But, the Bible says the most important thing in the world is Love right? So how then, can love be wrong? I believe wholeheartedly that, each of us can only live to the best of what we believe is right. And if I am wrong, God will judge me. It's no one else's job. Nor is it mine to judge anyone else on their lifestyle. I have friends from a wide array of walks of life, and each of them is beautiful. None of us should have to hide. I am tired of some of my best friends with the most gorgeous hearts having to hide who or what they feel they are for fear of not just judgement, but because they live in a super conservative area...even death. Is that really what faith should be spreading...guilt, fear, hate, loathing and intolerance? “Your morals aren’t as upstanding as mine.” “I’m right you’re wrong.”

And to those people that say anyone chooses to have a nontraditional sexuality? I can't force you to believe otherwise, I simply can't. But think about it, please... Who would choose to be looked down upon, hated by strangers, friends and even family? Who really wants to have less rights than the general populace? Who wants to be bullied? If God is as petty as the masses and will forgive a murderer for his actions, but chooses to burn me for having a fondness for breasts, well so be it I suppose. I've come to the point in my life where I can accept that as well.

I know many people will disagree with me. I'm fairly sure some of my own family will be among them. I know they'll always love me no matter what, but I don't expect them to always agree with me. I'm sorry I couldn't tell more of you personally, and part of me feels cowardly for doing it like this.

But I'm not a coward. I know that now as well. Everyone comes to terms with themselves in a different way, at a different time. This is my time, and it's been long coming. I will be proud of who I am, and I will love myself.

And if I have the courage to share this I'd like to say to those that take the time to read it, thank you. Whether you are supportive or not, you empower me.

It's difficult to explain why something like "coming out" and sharing one's sexuality feels important.

For me, I think a great deal of it is....admittance. To yourself more than anyone else, that it's ok. And maybe if you can accept yourself, you can show others...that it's alright to be yourself. To not have to hide who you feel you are. Keeping something hidden eats away at too many of us when it’s an integral part of who we are. It places that thought in the back of your mind that, “If I’m hiding it, there must be a reason to be ashamed. There must be something wrong with me.”

And if enough of us realize that we don’t have to live with self doubt, we can begin to inspire others. Maybe hearts will be opened. Maybe minds will be opened as well. Perhaps those are lofty goals and it's simpler to say that maybe, just maybe...people will talk and it will lead to change.

And I don't know about anyone else, but I want to bring my child up in a world that can embrace that change. I never want my child to have to worry about being different. To fear judgement, or to judge others.

So I will stand proud...

My name is Telitha Aann Gildersleeve, and I am sister, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend to those who will accept it. I am a poet and a dreamer. I am a Christian, and a believer in freedom and rights for all peoples. I am creative, colorful, spontaneous, over emotional, loving, a touch neurotic, a little OCD, and plenty unbalanced. I just also happen to be a bisexual.

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Welcome to my little corner of the crazy. I can't promise I will always have something intelligent to say. Or that my wit will always leave you laughing. But I can say this much...what you see is what you get. I am me...and I'm going to endeavor to share that uncensored. So, pull up a seat. Enjoy yourself and if I perhaps entertain you feel free to...

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