I was feeling like a really powerful woman there for a while. I had energy. I had spirit. And, while I still have these qualities, I only have them in very small and fleeting doses. Things are a bit altered and I suspect this is the way it will be from here on out.
I’m 39 weeks pregnant. That’s a belly full of baby. And, before last week, I was carrying a breech baby in my belly. If you’re not familiar with that term, it means my little girl was sitting upright with her head in my ribcage. I didn’t mind it so much. I thought of my womb as her cockpit. Or, as K suggested, I was sort of like a puppet she was controlling from within.
Nevertheless, I tried many tricks to turn her into the right birthing position. There was talk of a cesarean section and I was desperate. I took advice from anyone and anything about how to convince my bun that being head down was better for everyone. K burned mugwort over my toes every night. I had abdominal massages and acupuncture needles pricked into my baby toes and wrists. I turned myself upside down in yoga. I tried sifting a blanket or large scarf up and down my back. I even played classical music to her in an effort to lure her into the right spot.
After all of that, I still could feel her tiny head bobbing up and down at the very top of my belly. I resigned myself. No one around here will deliver a breech baby naturally and I was warned repeatedly of all sorts of terrible risks if I requested a trial of labor. So I didn’t argue. Instead, I pulled out the final card.
Have you heard of it? It seems sort of medieval in some respects, I’m sure. It is where a doctor turns your baby from the outside using, from what I can tell, sheer force, weight, and will.
We went for it and, although it was probably one of the weirdest moments of my life, it was also one of the most remarkable. I went to a special place in my mind where I relaxed as the man in the white coat loomed over me using all of his weight and effort to scoot my little girl’s bum up the side of my belly.
And, lo and behold, it worked on the first try. In just about 30 seconds, she was head down with her little feet in my ribs.
I cried. Of course.
Now, we are ready for the little bun to arrive and she can do so on her own terms. I have to admit, however, I’m ready. Her new position causes a great deal of pressure and it’s not something I care to live with for much longer. As such, I am talking to her daily about how wonderful it is here on the outside. I am told I can be quite convincing. I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, I’m keeping busy. I’m working on writing and cooking a lot. Sweet things are on the menu here as we really enter the thick of the holiday season. And, what could be more appropriate to share with all of you than an upside down cake with the flavor of fresh pears and cinnamon? I can’t think of anything. The cake is moist and airy. The Bosc pears are sweet, but not too sweet. Best of all, this upside down cake is super easy to pull together.
Today, we celebrate a successfully spun baby girl who will feast on sweet pear upside down cake spiked with cinnamon. I think it’s perfect for her impending holiday arrival. Enjoy.
Pear Upside Down Cake
11 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup maple syrup (substitute agave syrup)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium heat; add maple syrup and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. When mixture has cooled a bit, pour it into a 9-inch baking pan and arrange pear slices in an overlapping circle on top (or whatever works with your size of slices).
With a handheld or standing mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, continuing to mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with milk; do not over-mix. Carefully spread batter over pears, using a spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 45 to 50 minutes; a toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Let cake cool for 5 minutes.
Run a knife around edge of pan; put a plate on top of cake and carefully flip it so plate is on bottom and pan is on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: I cooked this in a spring form pan, which makes it easy to remove from the pan. If you’d like, you can watch the video for a brief demonstration.
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman