We’re getting these random hot days as Spring comes to a close and Summer flirts with full-time sunshine (well, as full-time as we get in our corner of the world). Last week we were gifted a day of persisting warmth and so, after Ben finished work and baby Joan had a feed, we headed down to the beach…
As I open the cutlery drawer to grab a spoon for breakfast, I find myself giggling over a few funny changes that have taken place since baby Joan was born. There’s the big changes, of course, like constantly having a little person attached to you, no longer sleeping for long stretches and having milk come out of your nipples, but those changes are groundbreaking and obvious. I’m talking about the little things, changes to my routine and habits that perhaps only myself or Ben might notice. I wanted to jot them down because each stage of this baby business sees so much growth, and you often don’t have time to reflect on that. Odd things become your new normal and you can’t remember that they were once odd. That you once got dressed without making sure your bra was padded and your top gave you easy boob access. Or maybe you did… Either way, here are some of the little, sometimes less spoken about changes that I have experienced over the past three months.
♥ While in the past a 5am wake-up call felt like a slap in the face, I now love being up at that hour with Joan (provided I’ve had some sleep overnight, that is. And usually I have). It’s quiet, her onesie is soft and warm, and her eyes are cozily dancing between open and closed. We’ll feed and snuggle in bed and watch the sun start to creep through the blinds, before snoozing a little longer.
♥ I now only eat from big spoons. Gone (for now) are the days of dainty spoons and fumbling with rice grains on a fork. Don’t even talk to me about chopsticks, instead please hand me the biggest spoon you can find, as I need to feed my face swiftly and reduce the chance of dropping muesli on my baby’s head, who is probably asleep on my chest. Soup and hot coffee are a no-go, obviously. Cool food and fluids are all I can eat when bubs is on me (which is most of the time).
♥ More to the above point, I previously favoured pretty bowls and plates, op shop gems with gold trimming. They are now living on the lower shelf, as I only reach for things that can be put in the dishwasher. True story, my brother came over when Joan was about 5 weeks old and I suggested we all take turns eating cake from the same plate so we could get away with dirtying only one dish. Based on the looks on my brother and husband’s faces, I inquired as to whether I’d gone too far. Apparently I had.
♥ A shower has never meant so much to me.
♥ I have endless podcasts backed up in my feed, ready to be devoured. Before our bubs came along I would hunger for the next episode of This American Life, Death, Sex and Money, The Longest Shortest Time, etc, but now I rarely get through a whole episode in the car or when on a walk because I’m too busy talking to Joan. I have seven Spilled Milk episodes to listen to! That’s a record.
♥ Baby poo is a legitimately interesting topic of conversation.
♥ I’ve become a super speedy ninja when it comes to putting clothes away and tidying our house. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in five minutes. It’s also amazing how a tidy house can make you feel like less of a sleep-deprived nutcase.
♥ Avocados are now, officially, the best food ever, combining deliciousness, convenience and nutrition. Eggs are a close second, followed by nuts.
♥ A cup of coffee has never meant so much to me.
♥ I now see my boobs as Joan food-bags and consequently have no qualms about whipping them out in public when she needs a feed. Pre-baby this behaviour may have resulted in an arrest but now, I’m the opposite of bashful. Normalising breastfeeding is important to me. I try to cover myself to some degree but I also don’t hide away.
♥ I must have snacks on me at all times. In my bag, next to my bed, in my pockets, in the car. All day every day, snacks.
♥ More to the above point, a jar of nut butter has never meant so much to me.
♥ My hand bag is now a nappy bag (this one – totally worth the money) and it weighs 257kg. Seriously, I must get better at packing light. But I kinda feel like I need 10 spare nappies per outing.
♥ Family dinner no longer means Ben and I sitting together watching an episode (or half) of The Wire with meals on our lap. Side note: I love the idea of a family dinner at the table, but during the week we’re totally on the couch. Currently, I’m happy if I cook one day a week and rely on the other days to be throw together meals. We assemble some sort of dinner, bring our plates to the couch and on goes The Wire. These two things are the same. But now, instead of 8pm we are eating at 6 or 7pm. The volume is lower and subtitles are on, as we don’t want Joanie to learn how to negotiate a drug deal. If Joan is peaceful and not hungry yet, we’ll pop her in the bouncer and she sits there like a happy cherub, watching the two of us eat. We usually get through a few minutes of dinner, constantly rewinding our show because we’re too busy laughing at what Joan is doing, before she gets sick of the bouncer and wants in on the fun. I’ll feed bubs while Ben finishes his dinner, and then we head upstairs to her room, put the salt lamp on and we begin the settling routine. I’ll finish my meal on the daybed in Joanie’s room while Ben burps and settles her, and then all go to bed in our room. In the future, I’m sure Ben and I will want to sit down for dinner and moment of “just us”, but right now we’re taking all the sleep we can get. It’s our new definition of a family meal and we love it.
♥ Getting into bed is such a treat. Lying down, arms free, back rested…it’s complete bliss, in a way I could never have imagined. At bedtime we always joke, “see you in five hours”, praying that we get solid block of sleep. You never know when your babe will wake for a feeding, some nights it’s after three hours and sometimes we indeed get a beautiful five hour stretch. Either way, those first moments of rest are absolutely A.M.A.Z.I.N.G, filled with the sweet, silly hope that tonight might be the night baby Joan sleeps through.
And there you have it. Just a few little thoughts, some funny little changes, all because of this little cherub…
I don’t now what it is about smoothies at the moment, but I’m absolutely obsessed. Perhaps it’s the sometimes sunnier weather here in Melbourne. We begin to drink our oats in “cheers”, while bidding farewell to hot bowls of porridge. Or it may be the convenience of a portable, drinkable breakfast, as I find myself at the whim of baby Joan’s morning musings and moods.
Whatever the reason, if I had my way I’d drink a smoothie every day. Time and a recent blender blunder means I am usually limited to a couple a week, but that’s ok. I more than make up for the lack of frequency by positively filling my smoothies with good and indulgent ingredients. Case in point, this cacao and oat smoothie, blended in my food processor this morning, giving me a stellar energy boost and tasting too ridiculous to not share. You’re going to need a wide straw here, folks. Or a spoon. Better go with a spoon.
Last Friday was my brother’s birthday. October 23rd. My family have now gathered for seven birthdays without my brother. This year he would have turned 33. 33 years ago my mum became a mum. As I hold my two month old babe in my arms and type this post, the reality of what my mother and father have gone through since losing their baby boy at age 25 cuts me. I’m struck by our loss in a new way. In a way I cannot bring myself to fully think on. Losing a child.
This year it’s breakfast cookies, because I needed another breastfeeding snack ready for midnight munchies. It’s a selfish choice, he’d certainly not have needed these cookies. But he loved me and would have wanted his sister to be supremely nourished for his niece. His niece he’ll never get to know, but who will always know and love her Uncle David. My brother would have been beside himself with joy at baby Joan’s arrival. He’d be the most doting Uncle, more than anyone, a fact my younger brother would heartily agree upon. He was a big love ball, my brother. At the heart of it all, our fights as teenagers and frustrations with each other, he was a sweet, sensitive, talented guy who loved to love. He never lost his childlike wonder, forever remaining the protective, proud, silly, loving older brother who welcomed me into his life as his little “Buddy”. And we miss him, now more than we have in a while. He should be here, holding his niece and marvelling at her. He should be here.
Things I don’t want to forget about these newborn days with baby Joan…
♥ The sounds you make when nursing, the gulps and sweet sighs of contentment.
♥ The way you look at the light coming through the windows with such curiosity and awe.
♥ Your exquisite execution when passing gas – you’ll grunt, move your head, lift your leg in arabesque and let it rip.
♥ The way you snuggle into my chest when you’re calm.
I’ve wanted to share some of the photographs Ben and I had taken of baby Joan when she was two weeks old. Looking back, our babe has grown so much over the past month. It’s hard to believe she was ever this tiny. What a precious, wide-eyed little cherub she is.
Here is a selection of photographs taken by Molly Heath, a gorgeous local photographer who came to our home and snapped these pics of our fresh family of three. It was so nice to be home, in our space where we’re all most comfortable. Molly has a gift of capturing light and love, and we couldn’t be happier with the photographs she took of sweet baby Joan, who simply would not sleep and kept staring at the camera. We’ve got ourselves a little poser, folks. She gets that from her dad, I swear.
It was always going to be a sweet one, my first birthday as a mother. My family’s birthdays are all within six weeks of one another, and already we’ve celebrated my thirtieth, followed by my younger brother and mother’s birthdays over the long weekend. All of them were sweeter than usual because our babe was here, gifting cuddles. Here are some photographs from our sweet Spring birthdays.
The morning of my birthday was slow and perfect, with cuddles and presents, followed by a walk and a brunch date where we ate eggs and coffee. The rest of my day was spent holding my almost 4 week old baby Joan and memorising her coos. In the evening my family came together at my parents’ house for a meal of my favourites: slow-cooked lamb shoulder with red wine gravy, roasted vegetables (including duck fat potatoes), and sparkling shiraz (mumma’s first tipple!). To follow, chocolate olive oil mousse. My mother spoilt me with the most beautiful meal. I didn’t realise when I became a mother that my own mother would nurture me even more dearly, but she has. Mum knew her most important role in these early days as Joan’s grandmother was to take care of Ben and I, with cooking and cleaning and shopping. It does wonders to your sleep-deprived outlook to have a clean bathroom and a full fridge. We would have managed without her, most certainly, but her selflessness has made these first weeks at home all the more special. Oh, but the most special thing on this day was seeing my darling daughter in an outfit my Nana knitted for me when I was as a baby. Baby Joan, you are the sweetest little cherub. How were you not always here? Thank you for letting me kiss your nose, cheeks, eyes and lips three hundred times more than usual on my birthday. You are so good to your mumma.
For my brother and a few of his friends on his birthday, my parents made scotch quail eggs (this recipe but baked like this), woodfired pizza and lemon curd bites. It was a perfect Spring day so we ate outside, all of us appreciating the sun hug. And then for mum’s birthday the following day, we ate potato and leek torte (with olive oil pastry) and savoured some moments in my parents’ garden.
Three perfect days, all of us so very happy with our present reality.
You know what I love? When friends serve spaghetti bolognese at a dinner party. It’s such an unexpected, cool move, like, “Welcome to our home, to our table and our real life!” It’s Tuesday night meal on a Saturday, with fancy plates and the good wine glasses.
Though I should say, the sauce my friends serve is a little more jazzy than the bolognese you might remember from your childhood. These folks are swish and slow cook things like it’s nobody’s business. There’s a richness to their recipes that is completely swoon-worthy, and one I cannot replicate. Yes, my bolognese is less fancy, though it has a few elements that make it “more than mince”. Over the years I’ve taken tips from my mum, friends and chefs I admire, adapting various ingredients and methods to create a dish that Ben and I favour. It’s rather heavy on the tomato (purely as a means of getting more serves out of the dish), and the herbs I use change seasonally. Our recipe is not overly complex in its layers of flavours, nor is it super rich. It’s more everyday, more Tuesday than Saturday night bolognese. But it’s comforting and wholesome and sits atop a pile of pasta, and that, folks, is everything I want right now.
We’re deep in a Joan love bubble over here. Ben and I have fallen hard for our little cherub, whom we call “Chub”. We call each other Chub also, an abbreviated form of “Cherub”. Across the room we’ll yell out to each other “Hey, Chub! Chub just did a giant poo!” To which the other Chub will reply, “Well done Chub!”. I suppose to outsiders it may seem like we’ve gone a little mad, and perhaps in those first newborn weeks you do. Anyone who’s a parent will know what I’m talking about. But it’s a sweet kind of madness, where everything this tiny little person does is magical and new and touches your heart so magnificently you think you might burst. It’s a time of learning how to take care of your baby and learning how to take care of each other, how to nurture your new parent, sleep deprived selves. It’s a blessed and challenging time. The three of us are growing in many ways and it’s exhausting and beautiful and hard at times. But oh, those sweet, soft, baby snuggles…
Here are some photographs from our first few weeks at home.
Ben goes back to work on Friday. Bless the guy for saving up his leave and staying in our newborn bubble for three weeks. I know he’ll miss Joan so much when he’s away, but thankfully Ben works from home at least one day a week so he won’t feel like he misses too much. I have a feeling Joanie will be making an appearance on his conference calls and giving her opinion on work matters. We should probably sort out an email address and some desk space. Maybe a mini computer too.
For now, we’re making the most of these sweet, slow days. In fact, we’ve rarely left the bedroom. This morning Ben bought up plates of eggs (slightly runny – booyah!!), scrambled with carrot, leek & rocket, with a side of thick-cut ham (double booyah!!) and avocado sourdough toast. Plus orange juice for me and tea for him. Joan had boob.