Entering motherhood blew my mind in the best way. As a former attorney, serial builder of (other people’s) businesses and executive director of a non-profit, I’d been used to living in what my shrink would call my “highly developed male polarity.” I immediately shed all that the second I became a mom, probably beginning with my labor and delivery. So many things I’d learned along my educational and career path, like being (ruthlessly?) direct, impatiently pressing forward toward a goal and quickly moving from one challenge to the next, not only didn’t serve me as a mom but were just naturally absent from how I showed up with our son George. And frankly, it made me a really good mom. Relaxing into motherhood meant slowing down, listening to instinct over intellect, letting go of expectations and control, and feeling time expand as I focused wholly on the needs of someone else with no agenda beyond being available and present. I joked that I had “postpartum elation” rather than depression, but I noticed that I sensed some shame about that when it came to sharing those feelings and especially when it came to re-entering the working world.
When I did re-enter that world, the abundance I experienced in nursing our son fell steeply and abruptly off a cliff. I remember pumping milk in the corner of a public library next to our San Francisco start-up office and in a public bathroom at Comic Con. In fact, on my first day back to work, I sat in a 5-hour meeting with our CEO and inconspicuously held down my leaking boobs, feeling as though I would burst but knowing that leaving the meeting would be frowned upon by the rest of the executive team.
Pretty soon, pretty suddenly my boobs got the message from my brain: “We’re back to that male striving stuff; our work is over here; pack it in.” And then when I could only pump one ounce per breast, instead of the 4-6 ounces I was used to supplying, I heard a strong message: “Erin, you can NOT have it all. Choose. Good mom, or the executive who’s ‘leaning in.’ It’s one or the other. Who will you let down?”
And on top of feeling sad and torn, I was also starving. I started thinking about my grandma “Nana” who would have helped me feel loved by offering a satisfying meal. And I just kept thinking, “I’d kill for a cookie.” I searched for a good cookie that would support healthy breastfeeding, but what I found on the market was as crumbly and bleak as my internal state.
When my milk production dipped drastically upon return to work, I made it mean something negative about my abilities as a mom and choices as a woman, and I got into a funk. Seeing other women facing similar upset, I created this recipe with my Uncle Robert, organic and whole food wizard and former COO of Mrs. Fields. The cookies are packed with healthy fats, proteins and antioxidants, in addition to ingredients that women have relied upon for years to increase milk supply.
I've been gifting these cookies to colleagues, friends and neighbors for years and have found that they've not only helped us meet our breastfeeding goals, but have also served as a source of comfort and fulfillment. After years of being encouraged to scale this for other women, I decided that I wanted to not only help women tackle their breastmilk supply issue but to help them feel as powerful and whole as they should during the sacred passage into motherhood. The cookies are the warm beginning of a movement to serve women more fully during a transformative time in their lives.
But this is just one part of one woman’s story. The biggest thing that’s hit me as I’ve gone on to have more children and to understand other moms is that each woman encounters a battle, but the challenges vary. There is, however, a common theme: we desperately want to take care of our new babies (not to mention our partners, our friends, our family, our colleagues) but fall short when it comes to caring for ourselves. Ideally, we’d be feeling an enormous sense of purpose and worth, but instead, many of us feel ashamed and alone. I want to launch a brand that offers community, resources and tools so that women feel welcomed, understood and ultimately powerful during this sacred time in their lives.