Latest Mixtape:

Shop the TK market: Coffee + Vinyl Pairings Subscription (Recurring)

Buy it now

Chicken Meatball Minestrone: Here goes.

The first ‘test’ of being a good mother, it turns out, is how well you are able to feed your baby. If you discover that you are not a natural Earth mother like Angelina Jolie or Josie Maran or Alicia Silverstone (even if you do bake granola and purchase all-natural, green diapers which are really just overpriced trash bags made out of dehydrated green beans), you begin to torture yourself beginning on day one. Am I a horrible mother? Am I harming my child? Am I inadequate? Is something wrong with me that I am unable to succeed at something so fundamental to being a mother? The thing is, I had always thought that breastfeeding was my duty as a mother; a duty I would fulfill and love and one that I would have no problems fulfilling.

As it happened, my plan to exclusively breastfeed my baby was foiled only hours after we brought Neko home from the hospital. I was horrified to find myself nursing for hours and hours on end only to discover that not only was my body not producing enough milk to sustain her, but I was enduring incredible, nonstop pain, regardless of how many lactation consultants (did you know there was even such a profession?) tried to help. To say those first few weeks of motherhood were as blissful as some mothers, bloggers, and celebrities would like you to believe, is a very, very serious overstatement. I’d like to go so far as to call it a bunch of lies. The fact is, unless your child is perfect, and you have absolutely zero problems with your physical and emotional well-being, being a parent is hard! Not only is it hard those first few weeks, but I imagine it’s hard for the rest of your life. I gazed lovingly at my little nugget that I loved so much already, and then cried as I tried to cope with my own feelings of inadequacy.

While I haven’t read Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, when a friend mentioned I might be interested in her take on breastfeeding, I made a mental note of picking it up. Considering my brain was running on 1-2 hours of sleep/day, such mental notes were generally lost. But, coincidentally, I came across an excerpt from the book — presumably the one my friend had referenced — on a mother’s group and I found myself immediately comforted. I hadn’t laughed at my ‘situation’ like that in weeks. Despite the many, many emails, calls, texts and battle stories so many mothers shared with me upon hearing my woes, I was still unable to let go of the guilt I was feeling for having to supplement Neko’s diet with a lot of formula while Matt and I ate organic chicken and kale for dinner. That mother’s guilt people talk about — people, that feeling is REAL. I imagined myself sitting in a coffee shop, pulling out a bottle filled with water and a can of powdered formula and being gawked at by the upper-middle class ranks of women who view formula-feeding as the most horrible thing you can do to your child. I, a woman who makes yogurt from scratch. A woman who has never smoked a cigarette in her life. A woman who was not breastfed herself and has the most wonderful, close relationship with her mother (and few would call sickly). I began to read up on the merits of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, and the comments on articles such as this as I continued to nurse and pump with fervor.

As someone who swore that I wouldn’t even take the bottles of formula the hospital would try to send me home with, I’ve found myself feeding more of the stuff to Neko than breast milk. The harder I tried to overcome my body’s apparent failure, it felt, pumping and nursing and pumping and taking supplements and guzzling fluids — the less milk I seemed to produce. The more people told me to ‘relax’ and ‘take it easy’ the less relaxed I felt! How was I supposed to stress less when the problems persisted? I want to take my ‘Williams Sonoma tit juicer,’ as Tina Fey called it, and throw it out the window. There is one thing worse than watching tiny droplets of milk descend into collection bottles at an alarmingly slow rate: and that is having your child breastfeed and then proceed to cry. All this is to say that I look forward to the day that I can feed Neko chicken meatball soup. And summer peaches. And crisp cucumbers. And fresh-churned vanilla ice cream. I cannot wait to share everything I love with my little girl and I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that it hasn’t all gone according to plan but I’m doing my best. And with the people you love, doing your best is what counts.

We always welcome comments on Turntable Kitchen. However, please be aware that this is a deeply personal post for me and one that I share with a bit of fear as I know how contentious the breast vs. bottle debates are (unfortunately so, as I feel that this is such a private family matter and there is no wrong or right way to live your life). This is my personal experience; in no way is this a political statement or a tirade about the benefits of one method of feeding your child versus another. If you would like to leave a comment, please keep it positive. I will not tolerate hateful, hurtful and/or offensive comments directed at me or anyone else who chooses to chime in. Thank you for being here, friends. I promise things won’t always be so serious here.

Chicken Meatball Minestrone with Ras El Hanout and Israeli Couscous
*adapted from Bon Appetit

We doubled the meatball recipe and froze half of our meatballs for later use; they’re delicious. I happened to have some Parmesan rind on hand which I highly recommend using (if you’ve got it). Adding some to your stock can really enrich the soup’s flavor.

For the meatballs:

1 pound of ground chicken
1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs (Premium ingredient featured in the September Pairings Box)
2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of ras el hanout (Premium ingredient featured in the November Pairings Box)
2 tablespoons of thinly sliced green onion
1 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste

For the soup:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 leek (white and light green parts only) sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
4 cups of chicken broth
3 cups of water
3/4 cup of Israeli couscous
1 cup of carrots peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 1/2 cup (packed) baby spinach or baby kale
1/4 teaspoon of red chili flakes
Parmesan rind (optional)

Parmesan cheese, for topping

1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and use your hands to mix. Form mixture into 1/2-inch-diameter rounds.
2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches, and cook until they are golden (about three minutes). They will finish cooking in the soup. Transfer meatballs to a plate and set aside while you prepare the soup. If you’d like, you can reserve extra meatballs for later use (we froze some to be eaten when we first had our baby).
3. Add leek slices to a large saucepot and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften. Next, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
4. Add the broth, water, chili flakes and Parmesan rind (if using). Bring to a boil before stirring in the couscous and carrots. Add the meatballs, then dial down the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until couscous is soft, carrots are tender and meatballs are cooked through.
5. Stir in the spinach or baby kale and cook until the greens just begin to wilt. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
6. Divide soup among bowl, garnish with Parmesan and serve with crusty, toasty bread.

*This recipe makes a big batch and freezes well.

Musical Pairings: Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams + Chicken Meatball Minestrone with Ras al Hounout and Israeli Couscous

More on the Turntable.

Print this recipe

Let's Meet up… in your inbox.

Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • I hate the debate around breastfeeding/formula feeding – it seems to unnecessarily divisive and designed to make women feel bad about themselves at a time when they’ve just done something pretty darn incredible (which you have).

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had such a tough time with it though and that it hasn’t gone as you hoped. At the end of the day though, you have to make the best choice you can both for you and for Neko. And all she really needs is a mother who is happy and not beating herself up over something that she can’t control.

    You guys are doing something amazing, never forget that xo

  • LB

    Lovely post. Honest and sincere. While I’m not a mother, I am a woman, and all I have to say is, read Bossypants! I have, three times now. It will just make you feel better in general.

  • Thanks for writing this. As someone who doesn’t have children (yet) but has a sister and sister-in-law with new babies it’s so useful to read things like this si I can be helpful and understanding to them. I remember a doctor friend of mine saying to me before my sister gave birth “she will get given the impression that breastfeeding is the be-all-end-all by many people but make sure she knows that the majority of mums have problems breastfeeding and then end up really guilty – she should never feel guilty if that happens as it’s totally normal.

    Have you read Orangette’s blog posts about post natal depression? Not because they are even linked as problems but because she is similarly honest about the reality of being a mum vs the way it is portrayed and the comparative silence on anything remotely sad / tough about it.

  • ps. and how on earth you manage to blog AND be a mum I have no idea…but respect, and I’m glad you do. x

  • Casey, I’m totally impressed with you for so many reasons! Your vulnerability and honesty totally resonate with the way I felt after my first was born. That first year was the hardest of my life ( while still filled with unimaginably fierce love for my boy.) And the fact that you are able to write (and cook) beautifully is herculean, as I remember barely finding the energy to wash my face. Re the whole debate about breast feeding vs formula… I’m still shocked by the way mothers criticize other mothers. What a shame that we can’t just support each other.

    Sending good wishes your way, E

  • elalderson

    Oh Kasey, big hugs to you. I watched one of my closest friends go through something similar and the struggle she had with herself. I think honesty is greatly under-appreciated, especially when it comes to children. I do love your outlook, however, for being able to share all your favorite things with her eventually (and that day will come).

    Sending love and good juju your way. XO

  • Kasey, This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your truth here. I hope your experience can help mothers and mothers-too-be everywhere to know that there is no one way to raise a child, and that not everything comes easily. We all struggle in different ways with parenting, and you are brave and wonderful for sharing your story. I know that your family will have so many great days ahead–little Neko is lucky to have such a loving mother.

  • Oh, Kasey. You are so brave. I have heard from SO MANY WOMEN that this happened to them, too. I’ve almost assumed I won’t be able to breastfeed at this point — it’s just not an easy thing! — so you have nothing to feel inadequate about. But the way you wrote about it here? That’s something nine out of ten women wouldn’t be able to do. Bravo to you for using your gifts and telling your stories. I love the honesty.

  • “I’m still shocked by the way mothers criticize other mothers.”

  • Ashley

    This is exactly the kind of post that needed to be written. I felt duped by women after I had my babies. There was so much stuff that goes unsaid – of course there’s joy and love in it all but there’s also physical pain, raging hormones, constant feelings of inadequacy. I wish I could say it gets easier and partly it does. But you’ll learn to embrace the challenges as they mold you and change you into a deeper and more loving person. I thank my children all the time for making me who I am – I still have so much growing and changing to do but I’ve come a long way thanks to these little kidlets.
    The other thing that we women (speaking to myself here) should be better at is reaching out for help. This post, I’m sure, has given a lot of women freedom and courage in seeking help and being honest themselves.
    Thank you for your bravery. You are doing very well my friend. She’s so loved.

  • Oh man, oh man, this one brought me to tears to my eyes, Casey. “All this is to say that I look forward to the day that I can feed Neko chicken meatball soup. And summer peaches. And crisp cucumbers. And fresh-churned vanilla ice cream. I cannot wait to share everything I love with my little girl…” You are already one incredible mama and Neko is more than lucky to have you. My two closest friends had similar experiences to you. It hurts my heart, the feelings of inadequacy, the loud opinions of others, and the unwarranted smirks. You are more than adequate! Sending an enormous hug your way!! To you, to Matt, and that sweet baby girl.

  • Nicole | Eat This Poem

    Oh Kasey, what a post. I just wrote an entire paragraph and deleted it because all I really want to say is I’m grateful for your honesty today. Parenting is hard, breastfeeding is hard, and there is no one-size-fits-all manual to go by. It’s a brave post, and I’m glad it’s out in the world.

  • Molly Wizenberg

    Sending a big hug to you, Kasey. This stuff is HARD(!!!!). But your honesty and candor is going to help a lot of other new moms feel less alone, and if your experience is anything like mine, I have a feeling that the comments you get on this post will make you feel less alone, too. You are an incredible mother already, and I promise: no matter where her food comes from, Neko knows that she is loved. xx

  • I am so proud of you for posting this, Kasey. The “breast is best” campaign has such a long way to go to compensate for all of the unnecessary tears shed by mothers like you, and me, and everyone else on this thread who has been made to feel like we were failing our children when we were doing nothing but our best. Everything you are is enough for Neko, You are her mother, and no one else in the world is doing a better job than you. xoxoxoxo

  • sarah kieffer

    Kasey, your honesty is beautiful and so important. I breastfed both my littles, but it was so.hard. – something no one clues you in to. I’ve had several friends switch to formula after weeks of trying and trying, and I just want to say it’s okay, and you’re okay. I wasn’t breastfed as a baby, and I am a healthy adult with a positive relationship with my mother.

    And, so many hugs to you. A few weeks after my first was born, my husband looked at me and said ‘this is as hard as it gets. It’s just going to get better, every day, every small step.’ I clung to those sentences for two years, and it was true. It got me through some very hard hours. Love to you.

  • Deanne

    I am not a parent but this is a really wonderful sentiment – and encouragement – for the future. Sure it’s nice to read about all the good things that happen when children are born but it’s also reassuring to hear about when everything doesn’t go right and that it still turns out just fine anyway. Judgemental mothers not withstanding 😉

  • You already know how much I love this, but I’ll say it anyway: your words are beautiful and important. We need to hear more honest stories about parenting and relationships and life, but it is so hard to tell them — thank you for voicing this one. And I love what you said about all that you’re looking forward to sharing with Neko, because this is true: you will be feeding her your whole life, and THAT is worth remembering and celebrating, to be sure. And with the way you and Matt care for and love her, it’s already true. xo

  • Mie

    Kasey, thanks for sharing. I think sharing stories are the most important and powerful things we as mamas can do since there is so much “this is the best and only way” sentiments around. And now that I have 2, past their baby stages, I know that details can and will vary, and there is no absolute right way. It’s the consistent love and support that a kid needs most. Just being mama, loving her as she is, is what counts most. Really.

  • Megan Gordon

    Beautiful post, Kasey. I’m sure this was a very difficult one to write, and you’re so brave to put it all out there. Thinking of you today — and you’re right: someday, this’ll be a little blip as you’re making Neko homemade pasta sauce, ice cream, roasted beets, homemade granola … (can you tell I didn’t eat breakfast this morning?). Miss you + looking forward to talking very soon, m

  • And I can’t spell today. *Kasey…thankfully I found the edit feature.

  • I know it’s so weird for a guy to be telling you that it’s great that you’re sharing your experiences… but a lot of my friends are going through the same thing. On a separate note, I wasn’t breastfed as a baby (I was adopted), and I think I turned out ok (though I guess that’s still up for debate). 😉

  • Amy Blasberg

    Kase- congrats on getting this out there. In the words of an (awesome) feminist, Ursula LeGuin- “Offer your experience as your truth.” I think it’s so valuable for there to be real life examples of women going through normal experiences that everyone has but few people talk about in a public way. So, thank you.

  • Elizabeth

    You are perfect in every way, no matter what. And I have no doubt Neko is showered with massive amounts of unconditional love, the most important “food” she’ll ever need. xo

  • Elizabeth said it best. Yes, parenting is hard. It doesn’t get easier, it just becomes a different kind of hard. But there will be a day that you look back and the hard parts will become overshadowed by more happier moments. Reading your post brought me back to when we had our first daughter – nursing was not at all our forte, for either of us, in the beginning. But I want you to know that each child is different, and with our second he ate like a champ (and maybe it did help that I knew what to expect). With each challenge that parenting brings you, take comfort in knowing that you are doing a great job and Neko loves you no different or less 🙂

  • Nicole

    Oh, Kasey, how I feel for you. You must know that Neko thinks you’re the bee’s knees already and will grow to love you more and more. I can see in the pictures I’ve seen of your little family that you and Matt have the biggest smiles ever. Neko is one lucky little girl. I can only imagine how hard the process has been, though. Please be kind and patient with yourself while we all root for you from the sidelines!

  • Coming from someone who doesn’t have children, I still appreciate reading this. I hear so many stories about breastfeeding and it does seem that people are so dang judge-y about it. but the truth is – it isn’t for everyone. some people have no trouble with actually being able to do it and still choose not to – we all make choices for different reasons, but we shouldn’t be judged for them. thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  • Sarah Wilczak

    Thank you for sharing this! You are the first in a lot of things in our little circle, I appreciate your honesty and your reflection in how it feels when things don’t go as planned. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are doing everything possible to be the best parents you can to Neko. This is the first in an endless line of parenting decisions that you and Matt will get to make. While everyone will always have an opinion, you guys are the ones who know what is best for your little one (and for you!) You never need to justify a choice. Don’t forget that.

  • When I was pregnant with my first kid, I assumed that he would just come out and latch on immediately because that’s what all babies do, right? Wrong. I was so clueless that I didn’t know the excruciating pain and resulting black and blue welts weren’t “normal”. We did finally get things figured out, but it was not easy, especially when completely sleep deprived and hormone addled. After that miserable experience, I was astonished when my second kid knew exactly what to do right from the get go, so maybe next time (theoretically) it will be easy (though that may not what you want to hear right now).

    Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby, but there are a million other ways to achieve the same goal, and actually, not breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding full-time), might make it easier for her to bond with your husband. As long as you give her lots of cuddles and kisses and skin contact and lullabies, she’ll turn out fine. There are so many different ways to be a good parent even if you’re not following some kind of rulebook of ideals.

  • Also, the fact that you’re even thinking clearly enough to write a coherent (let alone though-provoking) blog post is a pretty substantial feat. I could barely write a two-line email until my kid was at least six months old.

  • Janet

    What a great, honest post, Kasey! You’re a great mother because you love her – *that’s* what matters. Love to you all!

  • Heather

    I feel that women can do a huge kindness to each other by being authentic. Somewhere along the way we all started to believe we should be something we are not, some impossible ideal. It is a disservice to every woman and a false front. We are stronger, smarter and more evolved as humans by a simple ability to offer nutrition to our children in more than one form. Cheers to you for sharing a simple truth.

  • Love this post, Kasey. So raw and brave and honest. But really – who needs breast milk when Neko has chicken meatball soup and fresh produce and vanilla ice cream to look forward to? 😉 Sending so much love to your little family.

    PS – have you heard of breast milk banks? I’m sure you have. But a woman I used to nanny for used a bank exclusively to feed her first daughter because she wasn’t producing milk (although she had no trouble with her second child). Kind of a crazy concept, but I love the idea of women coming together and donating their surplus to help those in need.

  • Gail Swedroe

    Couldn’t have said it better myself Sarah. Thank you for speaking your truth and in the process giving voice to the truth of many others (all while validating the other side).
    Love you Kasey.

  • sara forte

    go, girl. Proud of you for being true to how you’re feeling. There may be fear in that, but never regret. Believe me, there will be other mothers or future mothers who are or will feel empowered by you sharing the tough stuff. Thinking of you and your little babe and hoping the adjustment is going smoothly as it can. I’m positive you’re a wonderful mother. Always come back to these nice comments if you doubt it for a second!!

  • Sonja / A Couple Cooks

    You are awesome, Kasey 🙂 Thank you for this, and for giving such a real and honest picture of motherhood. Since I’m not one (yet!), I don’t have much helpful advice, but I thank you for showing those of us who hope to be one day a glimpse into what life might be like. And, randomly, due to a medical condition (long story) I won’t be able to breast-feed when the time comes, so I’ll probably have to hit up one of those breast milk banks Ashlae mentioned. There’s no judgement in that — or formula, even for natural organic foodie moms 🙂

  • Molly

    So. Here goes: I think our daughters are just about the same age. I don’t know Neko’s birth date, but I did notice this past summer you were due about a week after me. I was due on January 16, but Lilli did not make her appearance until January 25. I had been told, long before there was any Lilli in my future, that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed for medical reasons. The doctor warned me that even after I accepted the fact that I had to raise my baby on formula – which I would have to make peace with – that the hardest part would be the comments from complete strangers telling me that, “Breast is best.” I do feel a little embarrassed in public. My goodness, my baby is in a cloth diaper and I’m feeding her formula! So I understand exactly what you’re going through. Nearly all my mom-friends had a terrible time with breastfeeding and brought in specialists, too. I promise you you are not alone.

    I’ve been comforted in knowing that there were entire generations that were raised on formula. My sister’s wife, Phi Beta Kappa at Smith, Fulbright and Harvard for her PhD, was formula fed. So our daughters will be in good company.

  • Molly

    Our daughters are just about the same age, and I was told from the beginning that I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed for medical reasons. I had been warned that even if I was OK with it, that the worst part would be complete strangers coming up to me and telling me that, “breast is best.” It’s hard when I’m with a group of mothers and they are all breastfeeding, and I’m getting out formula and bottles. I understand what you are going through and you’re not alone. In fact, nearly all the moms I am friends with had a heck of a time breast feeding and brought in the lactation consultants. I can’t wait for my baby to hit 6 months so I can start feeding her all sorts of wonderful foods. Can’t. Wait.

  • Molly

    Sorry for the double posting. I wasn’t sure if the first comment made it.

  • I am so glad you were brave enough to write this post – it can’t have been easy. But at least to me it served as an important reminder to not judge. Just on Saturday I went for lunch with a friend, his girlfriend and their 4.5 month old baby – I live abroad so this was the first time I met the girlfriend and the baby. When the little one got hungry she proceeded to feed him a puree from a jar – no breastfeeding, no home-made baby food. And I immediately had a number of thoughts running through my mind (she is on maternity leave for a year why isn’t she still breastfeeding him or at least making her own babyfood?). But I didn’t say anything, because I know I am in no position to judge never having had any babies and knowing full well that every mother I have met so far tries to do the very best she can for her children at any given moment, whether that be breastfeeding, using formula or buying babyfood. Having read your article, I am so glad I didn’t say anything – not only have I no right to judge her choices but I also know nothing about what motivated her choice. Besides, her little one is an absolute cutie, thriving, incredibly alert for being so tiny, so clearly she is doing everything right, just as I am sure you are doing for little Neko, and that is the most important thing.

  • I am so glad you posted this! Your perspective is refreshing and I really appreciate your honesty. I’m glad you found encouragement in Tina Fey’s writing. My sister’s first born is almost two and she’s about to deliver her second. I can’t tell you how many tearful phone calls we’ve had with me trying to encourage her during difficulties like these. It might help to think that you will blink your eyes and she’ll be eating solid food- time goes so fast. This is just a blip of time in the big picture, and you’ll get through it. I’m sending warm thoughts your way!

  • Kathryn, I completely agree that this insane focus on how we as individuals feed our children is ridiculously and unnecessarily divisive. Let’s all just respect the hard work it takes to RAISE A HUMAN BEING! Thanks for your support and encouragement. xo.

  • Thank you! I have heard from so many people that I must read that book. It’s on my list!

  • Thank you! I wish I had read more honest accounts about motherhood before I had a child, and I’m glad to see so many women without children commenting here. I have read Molly’s post and found it incredibly powerful and comforting for mothers, and women, everywhere. We should all be more gentle with ourselves. We try!

  • Truth be told, I prepped this recipe and photos before I had the baby and it took me days and days to finish this blog post. Writing is therapeutic for me so I found it important to squeeze in time to write (as opposed to taking a nap) but it’s certainly different these days!

  • Erin, wow, thank you for your sweet words. It’s amazing how much we forget. Already, those first few weeks, while I remember them being so incredibly difficult, are being overshadowed with new challenges. We can only chug on and appreciate that with the challenges come a great many heart-melting moments. It’s sad that some of the toughest critics are fellow moms but it’s been amazing to see so many of you fellow mothers reach out and rather than criticize – offer invaluable words of support and provide much comfort.

  • Thank you, Erin! It seems we all know someone who’s had a difficult time. I wish I had known than earlier which is why I didn’t want to pretend it’s all rainbows and sunshine over here (though there are definitely rainbows and sunshine, too!). Solid foods are only a few months away…can you imagine how soon I’ll hardly remember feeding her white stuff from a bottle? Lots of love.

  • Elizabeth, as one of the first people I shared my story with, you have been immensely supportive and I can’t tell you how much that means. It’s humbling, as someone who has judged fellow women and mothers, to find myself in a situation where I feared being judged. It has taught me to be kinder not only to myself, but to fellow women, who all struggle with different things. We are lucky to have kind, understanding people around us.

  • Thank you, Shanna. I am only as brave as every other woman who has faced a challenging time in her life and tried to attack it head on! I wish these things were more openly talked about and I hope that with this post, some other new mothers will be encouraged to paint a more accurate picture of both the good times and the hard times.

  • Thank you so much for the comment and the support, Ashley. I think you are one of the few bloggers/mothers out there that have so candidly shared their own experiences with motherhood. I remember reading your posts after you had Ivy..your words were raw and inspiring. I’ve been so touched by the many wonderful women who have reached out to me during this time and if/when my friends + acquaintances deal with similar struggles, I too will lend my support. I am so glad that you think my post will give women the courage to reach out and be honest with themselves. It is very much my hope! So much love to you.

  • No worries, friend and thank you! It’s amazing how many women go through similar experiences and how much pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect…to prove some kind of point…to ourselves, mostly. We’re all ok, though. And we will be!

  • Thank you, Nicole! Honesty is the best policy 🙂 I’m glad these words are out there, too. For myself and for others.

  • Molly, your bravery really inspired me and I appreciate you reaching out and sharing your story with me. There is no reason why any of us should feel alone in our struggles – while they are different, we all experience these realities of parenting. The best we can do is be kinder to ourselves and to others. Love and hugs to you!

  • Amen, sister! I agree that ‘breast is best’ – if that’s what works for your family! But for so many women, whether out of necessity or by choice, breast isn’t always the right choice. We live in a free world and no one should be made to feel like a lesser parent so long as they are providing love, support and nourishment to their child. xo

  • Thank you, Sarah! Those husbands…they’re pretty damn great, aren’t they? Matt has been an incredible rock for me and has continually reminded me that these times, they too shall pass…We’re all ok! xo

  • Hi Deanne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I wish I had read more encouraging posts before I had Neko…it would have helped me be kinder to myself earlier on.

  • Thanks, Stacy. It was really nice to chat with you the other day and I so appreciate you reaching out to me at this time. You are lovely and kind and I am so glad to know you! It’s so true – I have many years to feed Neko…these few short months will fly by. xo

  • Mie! Thank you. Beautiful words. When it comes to parenting, there sure are a lot of people who think they know what’s best…for other people. You’re right, though, what’s most important is the consistent love and support we provide for our children. Love isn’t just food.

  • Thank for all of your encouraging emails, the granola, the virtual hugs…it has all meant so much to me, Megan! These days of bottles will be brief, I know. Heck, she is already 6 weeks old! I miss you, friend.

  • A male opinion is always welcome, Brian! I think men spend much less time thinking about this stuff and frankly, I think it’s for the best! My husband said – who are you worried is going to judge you? If it were me, I’d hardly notice a woman feeding her child a bottle, no less think twice about what’s inside. We all turned out ok- whether we were breastfed, formula fed, raised by one parent, two, a grandparent, etc… x

  • Thank YOU, Amy! I love that quote…what a way to live. No one wants to constantly hear about the trials and tribulations of other people’s lives, but I do think it’s important to be honest…with yourself and with others.

  • Aww, thank you Beth. So well put! Much love to you.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience, Liren! I have heard that it’s different with every child and that every baby is different. I don’t think I’ll know if our issues had more to do with me or with Neko, but I know we are a good pair for life, with or without this little hurdle 🙂

  • Nicole, thank you! That means a lot – we are certainly very smitten with our little girl and I know that my feelings come from a place of deep love. It’s hard to remind yourself to be patient…with yourself, but oh so important! It’s nice to have supporters on the sidelines 🙂 xoxo

  • I think you’re so on the money – it’s not just about those of us who haven’t been successful at breastfeeding…plenty of women don’t want to and no one has the right to judge that decision…it just doesn’t always work for people, for different reasons! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • I’m glad I’m paving the way and I hope that my experience offers comfort to any new mother who finds herself in a similar situation. It’s hard to feel certain of decisions that are so very new to us but as a parent, you are right, we have to just go with what’s right and not look back. Love you friend!

  • Gail! Thank you. Love that you and Amy both mentioned ‘speaking your truth.’ I am so glad I made the decision to not keep my experience in the closet. Love you!

  • Thank you, Camille, for sharing your story. It’s amazing to read through the comments and hear from so many mothers who went through so many different trials and tribulations. I have heard it’s different from child to child but I will not allow this hurdle to taint these early weeks with Neko. Our family bond is stronger than ever, even if my boobs have nothing to do with it 🙂 If there was an end-all-be-all parenting manual out there, we’d all be boring and the same.

  • Thank you, Janet! Feeling the love and back at you!

  • Why do we women do this to ourselves?! Paint these ridiculous pictures of lives that are perfect in every way, instead of being authentic with ourselves and other women. Let’s all be more real. I completely agree with your comment…Thank God someone invented formula – that’s the simple truth 🙂

  • Thanks so much, Ashlae. I have heard of breast banks! I haven’t looked much into them but I agree that it’s a pretty crazy cool concept for women who want to provide their babies with breastmilk but are unable to. There are lots of options out there, and we should be thankful they are available to us!

  • Thanks, friend. I did fear this post, it’s true, but I have no regrets, especially reading these comments – I feel like there is so much goodness and light out there. For every judgmental mother, there are so many others who are supportive, warm, and understanding. I know I will appreciate this post and these comments for many years to come. xoxo

  • Sonja, I am so glad I published this post. The number of women sharing their experiences in such an honest way in the comments is just wonderful. We all have to make do with what we’re dealt, and frankly, we’re lucky to be granted the gift of life and love and the opportunity to have children if we want to/are able to. Everything else is just icing on the cake. I completely agree with your sentiment – there is absolutely no judgement in making a choice OR having to do what needs to be done in order for your baby to survive and thrive. xo

  • Molly, thank you for sharing your story! Of course there is a whole generation of doctors, lawyers, college professors, and Nobel-prize winning scientists who were all raised on formula. Doing things the ‘natural’ way is great – if it works for you and your family – but that is not always the case. Regardless of whether the choice is yours or not, we should be proud of the biggest accomplishment – giving birth and raising our babies into real people. A big hug to you and your sweet little girl!

  • Thanks for sharing your story here! The truth is: we’ve all been judge-y about something. Like you, I looked at women who didn’t breastfeed or fed their babies canned baby food with my nose turned up a little. Boy have I been humbled. We should be kinder to each other and realize that we are all just doing our best- for ourselves and the people we love – and that’s what’s important.

  • Jess, thank you for stopping by to share your story. If we all knew how many tears we’d cry before we had babies, we’d stock up on a lot more tissues, and schedule a few therapy sessions to prepare ourselves 🙂 You’re so right – the time goes by FAST and these moments, they are fleeting. That feeling of heartbreak and sense that ‘the world is ending’ is already a memory, but one that I hold onto to remind myself that these are just moments in time, and we can and DO survive and are all the better for it…for ourselves and the people we love. xo

  • Amy Blasberg

    I guess great minds think alike. 😉

  • Laura

    Kasey, you’re such a fierce and courageous lady. Your honesty is always (ALWAYS) appreciated. All of this heady stuff in life to center on with a little one–it’s wonderful in the grand scope, but certainly not easy for everyone in process. Your voice rings so clear and positive here.

    And I’m glad that you’ve found a bit of comfort in some tasty soup + Tina Fey’s overall amazingness. Hugs to you and your sweet little fam! xoxo

  • Oh Kasey, this touched me. I’m not a mom myself, but I can understand through your words how hard (and sad) it must be when you want so much to do something and it doesn’t work out as you’d hoped. And even if you know you’re not alone, that does not necessarily bring comfort. But I know you love your little girl so much and are doing everything you can to make sure she is nourished and safe, which is the main thing. Best of luck to you all.

  • Matthew O’Grady

    My wife went through everything that you have gone through. I know that for myself it was incredibly difficult to watch her go through that pain every day. I went with her as often as I could to those lactation consultants. Our daughter had mild jaundice in the beginning too and it was so disheartening to hear these “professionals” act like it is the most easy thing in the world to do. They were not there to help her outside of the hospital, they didn’t have to watch the woman they love suffer so much. Our daughter is now 2-1/2 and is healthier and happier than any other kids her age and she is turning out just fine after having been supplemented with formula.

  • Oh thank you, Laura! I’m so glad this post resonated with so many people – mothers and non-mothers, women and men. Life isn’t always black and white, but we’re all the better for it. Hugs to you, too!

  • Thanks so much for the sweet comment, Nicole. It’s true that it’s easy to beat yourself up over these things, even when you know you’re not alone. But, I think it’s important to focus on the good stuff: having a wonderful family and friends, and a solid support system that helps you find the light 🙂

  • Matthew: my husband would probably very much relate to your sentiment. I could see how emotional the process was for him, too. After all, the hardest thing is watching someone you love go through pain -whether it’s physical, emotional or both. I hated how easy the lactation consultants made it seem: ‘just relax!’ ‘have more confidence!’ Their words of ‘support’ made me feel like I was failing at something that I should be doing well. It’s great to hear how others have persevered in the face of similar challenges. We are all just fine in the end.

  • JenJF

    Before my son was born, I swore he’d never sleep in my bed. By his second night, he was in my bed because he refused to sleep otherwise, and he stayed there for the next year. And you know what? It was fine! He was fine! You are a good mom, and you are doing the best you can. I’m so sorry you haven’t had the feeding experience you hoped to have with your daughter, but I so hope you can be kind to yourself about this. She is being fed with love, and I have to believe that, above all, matters most.

  • Brigid

    This is one of the most honest posts I have ever read on breastfeeding. I went through almost the exact same thing, and it wasn’t until a lactation consultant was done poking and prodding me, that she picked up my screaming (he was starving) 3 week old and proceeded to pry his mouth open and say to me nonchalantly – “maybe there is something wrong with his tongue” WHAT! I have not slept in 3 weeks, my baby doesn’t ever nap because he’s always hungry. I feel like a failure and I’m not even enjoying my newborn (which is something I thought for sure would just happen) and now you are telling me there is “maybe” something wrong with his tongue, very “no big deal” about it?? After I paid her $200, I packed up my pump, put it in the closet, pulled out all the bottles I got at our shower and told my son that we are doing this OUR way. From then on in, I breastfed about 3-5 times a day – or whenever I felt as “full” as I possibly could, and formula fed the rest of the time. He started sleeping, I started kinda sleeping, and today he is 7 months old and PERFECT. No one tells you you might not be able to do it. Everyone says “you can do it, if you want it bad enough”, well sometimes you can’t, and in the end you have to do what works for your family! Also, congrats on your beautiful baby!

  • WithStyleGrace

    Thank you for sharing something so personal. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but it gets better. Don’t let the negative views/comments discourage you, you’ve got to do what feels right for YOU and if it’s formula, great – you’re feeding your beautiful baby! You’re a wonderful mother and I’m so happy for you!

  • Jess

    Hi, my dear. I’m so sorry for your stress and anxiety. Please know (and it sounds like you do) that there is no one “right” way to do things. You keep doing what feels right for you, your body, and your family, and Neko will have everything she needs, and more. Sending love and hugs. xo.

  • We all have a lot of strong opinions about how things ‘should’ be but when push comes to shove, it doesn’t always turn out the way you planned…and that’s ok! We’re all fine 🙂

  • Hi Brigid, thank you so much for sharing your story. I feel similarly about my experience with lactation consultants (at one point they suggested cutting back on the formula – for what? so my baby could starve while I tried to perfect the art?) Anyhow…I’m about to return my pump and I’m packed away my Brest Friend. And that’s ok! I continued to BF as long as I could but when the well was practically dry, it felt like it was just time to move on. I don’t regret it for a second and that’s how I know it was the right decision. I’m sure you felt similarly.

  • Thanks, Lisa! I knew I had to – for myself, and every woman out there who has struggled with this same issue and ever felt alone. Thank goodness for formula! x

  • Thank you, Jess! The good news is that this story is behind me, and hard as it was, it was my first lesson as a new parent to accept that some things you cannot change, but you must accept and just do the best you can. Already, I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders which reassures me that our decision to move forward with our lives was the right one. Much love to you!

  • gail

    it sounds like these lactation consultants could use some training in how to be a counselor/therapist. Way to validate someone’s concerns! Ugh.

  • Emily

    I had my first child this year as well, and breastfeeding is HARD (which no one warns you about!) I cried through many of those early feedings. For me, it hurt – A LOT, and once you factor in sleep deprivation, a screaming baby, and cluster feeding, I almost quit a number of times. Breastfeeding did end up working for us in the end (though pumping in an office setting while managing a full workload is also a way bigger challenge than I expected.) Still, different women have different challenges, and you need to do what’s best for your baby (and it sounds like you are!) Sometimes, you have to put your needs first to make sure you’re able to meet your baby’s needs. I think I have to relearn that about 10 times a day – mom guilt is no joke! Women are way to quick to judge each other, and we all need to accept that there are different, but equally wonderful ways to raise a child. You’re a mom, so you are already a superhero – keep up the great work! xoxo.

  • Thank you for your sweet words, Emily. I agree that different women have different challenges and it’s hard to know what you’ll face before you go through it, but it would be nice to be warned about what we might expect! It’s sad that mom guilt is so prevalent because the kids are all right – we give them so much more than we give ourselves credit for. x

  • Amanda

    I’m sure this was a difficult post for you to write! I love your writing and the recipes that you share. Keep your chin up!! As a mother of two boys I remember how fragile those early months were. I don’t know you personally but your heartfelt post shows that you are a good mother. I can say that it does get better! It really does!

  • Hi Amanda, this post was a tough one for sure, but it was therapeutic for me and I’m so glad that I put it out there. I’m so touched by the number of comments it has received and by the real, raw, and honest experiences others have shared a result of this. Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement. I’m holding on to each and every one of these comments!

  • jg

    Thank you for posting this. I went through exactly the same thing with my son 7 months ago. We tried everything to be successful at breast feeding, but he just wouldn’t take to it. Tina Fey helped me laugh through some of my feelings of inadequacy and guilt as well. I also felt like someone would tear my face off when they saw me feeding him a bottle of formula in public. I still feel like I wished it could have all worked out differently, but feeding him solids has made it all so much better. Squash, salmon, quinoa, kale…he loves it all and I love to watch him try each new food for the first time.

  • It’s so ridiculous that anyone should have to feel that way! I’m sorry to hear about your experience and I’m glad you’re past the guilt and enjoying delicious foods with your son.

  • Sarah

    I went through similar issues, with the exact same feelings. The one thing that helped was talking to and hearing from other women with the same struggles. I felt that I spent more time with my pump than with my baby! It was somehow comforting to know that it didn’t come naturally to everyone. 7 months later, and my struggle is now balancing all parts of my life. And once again, the one thing that has helped (aside from that perfect little smile that makes everything okay) is talking to other women and learning how they dealt with similar struggles (even moms that I would have sworn had it all together!). Thanks for the post, it’s exactly what I went through but said much better than I ever could.
    I wonder if I could use the crockpot for this soup? Always looking for ways to make good dinners faster and easier in the evenings! And this looks amazing.

  • Sarah, thank you for the sweet comment. I agree with you that one of the most important things is knowing that you are not alone – regardless of the nature of your struggles. Balance is an elusive thing these days; we can only hope to do the best for ourselves and our babies. I actually don’t do much crockpot cooking so it’s hard for me to say if you could make this soup in a crockpot, but I imagine it might be worth a try! All the best, on the soup and the babe.

  • So much honesty on motherhood here, Kasey, I love it. I can’t chime in with any personal experience with the subject, but my mom couldn’t nurse me, either, and I’m healthy and kicking! Tell Neko happy two month birthday for me. 🙂

  • Ditto, Kathryne! My mom was only able to nurse me briefly and like you, I’m doing all right for myself! We’ve been enjoying the book you sent us! I try to read Neko a bedtime story every night and that one is one of our favorites (well, my favorite right now haha). 🙂

  • Tara Wirth

    Hi Kasey,
    Thanks for sharing your story. We miss getting to be a part of your lives — the ups and the downs — or your new little family. I wondered how all that was going for you. I struggled with low milk supply after Jasper’s birth. Many of our generation weren’t breast fed. Most of our parents generation weren’t breast fed. The vast majority of adopted babies aren’t breast fed. And its not critical to whether they turned out fine or not. Big picture, how lucky is Neko to have you two smart, loving, adventurous parents? SO lucky! And she looks to be flourishing. Pretty soon you’ll be on to solids! We did the Baby Led Weaning approach, which I’d repeat in a heartbeat except with more attention to potential allergies. It can be confusing so if you ever have any questions feel free to get in touch.

  • Hi Tara, thank you so much for your very sweet comment! I love hearing about your life in NJ – it sounds like Jasper is thriving and your little family is doing well in your new surroundings. Everything you say is so very true, and I am very much looking forward to solids (so soon!). It’s incredible how quickly this time passes, and how easy it is to look back and say, ‘hey, it wasn’t so bad.’ We’re all ok, is the bottom line.

  • First, this minestrone looks delicious!
    Second, I find it so hard to let go of mommy guilt and feelings of loss when things don’t go the way I wanted them to, but it’s possible! Time passes, and writing helps. I had an easy time breastfeeding my baby, and I loved sharing that with him– but he got sick, and I never was able to get him back to the breast after that.
    One thing my first year of motherhood taught me is to go easy on everyone, myself included. We’re all just doing the best we can.

Get the pairings box:A curated food and music discovery experience


In season now:

Shop the TK market: Cookbook In A Recipe Box

Buy it now

Latest Feature:

Latest Pairings Box:

Recently on the turntable:

See all Stories from the Turntable > >

Recently in the kitchen:

See all Stories from the Kitchen > >

Get the pairings box:A curated food and music discovery experience


In season now:

Shop the TK market: Cookbook In A Recipe Box

Buy it now

Latest Feature:

Latest Pairings Box: