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.