After 40 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy, and 44 hours of labor (holy crap), Gus (as he’ll be known here) burst into our lives. He’s ten weeks old now, and is working so hard on sucking his thumb, and he thinks his mamas are HILARIOUS.
(Why Gus? It’s a funny thing for babies to have an online presence before they can even hold their heads up. So to protect his privacy, we felt he needed a nickname for the blog. And he was born in AuGUSt. So there we are.)
It’s an odd thing to be a blogger and announce that you’ve had your baby. I want to write everything! But of course, there’s no way to do that, to really capture this experience. It’s too vast, too jumbled. How can I avoid the cliches of describing my baby’s eyelashes, which get fuller by the day? His tiny feet? I can’t. But I can tell you some things I’ve had to re-learn.
You can find about three million posts on the Internet about the things you learn when you’ve had a baby. But for me, and this was a surprise, it was all the things I had to re-learn. Like how to drive with a baby. How to leave the house. Grocery shopping with a newborn? Oh my God. The first time Gus and I went to a grocery store by ourselves, he and I both cried the whole way home. The world felt dangerous and sweaty and his carseat baffled me and he could, I swear, smell my fear.
I wanted to cook again – I missed cooking, missed being in my kitchen where I knew what I was doing and I could feel sure of myself. The first time I baked, postpartum, it was chocolate chip cookies from a mix. If you’re new to this blog, you may not know this, but I cut my culinary teeth, as a child, on cookie mix. But as an adult? As a food writer? No.
But I’m here to tell you, right now, that those cookies were amazing. And the sense of accomplishment I felt – getting Gus to sleep, stirring ingredients in a bowl, cracking an egg – my God, a quick two-tap on the rim of the bowl, like I had been doing my whole life, like I was still the same woman I had always been – it was exhilarating. Heady. Those cookies tasted like triumph.
My kitchen groove is off, and so I’m re-learning, with every meal I make, every turkey sandwich hastily prepared while Gus sleeps, or fights sleep, or plays, or rests in a carrier, pressed to my body. I’m re-learning my groove as a cook, as a person. I’m learning how to be a mom, and (brace yourself, it’s another unavoidable cliche) how to fold that part of me into all the other parts.
Last night, I made cornmeal pancakes with a blueberry sauce I prepped days ago. I’ve watched a lot of Pioneer Woman here lately, and I’ve seen her make this recipe two or three times now, and I knew I needed it in my life. There was a beautiful moment when I plunged my measuring cup into a canister of flour, tossing the flour a bit, lightening it the way Ina Garten always says to. It came naturally, muscle memory, something I didn’t need to question or Google or fret over. Dry ingredients mixed with wet. Melted butter on a hot griddle. Pancakes flipped at the right time. Perfectly browned edges.
This is the reward for keeping the faith, for being patient and re-learning and finding a way through the haze of hormones and exhaustion, for finding my way back to my kitchen: a plate of pancakes smothered in sweet blueberry sauce and good maple syrup, my wife sitting across from me with the same blue lips I have, and our baby sleeping soundly in his bouncy seat beside us.