So I am finally ready to emerge from my pregnancy-and-baby blogging hiatus. Since becoming pregnant last summer, I haven’t really had the energy or the urge to write here. I haven’t baked or cooked very much at all – especially not during that queasy first trimester. And my energy was sapped just getting through the day. But now I can actually get a little time for myself, if only with my phone in one hand while she feeds, and writing here feels like a necessary part of keeping my brain working.
I thought I would start with a list of things that have made these first few hectic weeks a little easier. I’m not intending to turn this into a baby blog, but as this little one has inevitably dominated the last weeks and months, this is one way to restart. None of these are product placement, sponsored or solicited in any way. These are just the (food-related) things that have been helping. You might notice that this list doesn’t exactly represent a balanced diet (!). Be assured, we are eating fruit & vegetables too, but breastfeeding is an energy-intensive business, so anything that keeps you going is ok in my book. And when you are trying to compensate for sleep deprivation with calories, carbs & sugar are really what you look for.
One of the things I was advised (by mumsnetters) to pack in my hospital bag was a bar of chocolate, and when we were stuck in the delivery room at midnight, still waiting to go to the ward 4 hours after delivering, I was very glad of it. And since then, I have been relying on a few squares of good chocolate during a feed, or in the evening to give my energy a boost.
Fortunately for me, just a couple of weeks before my due date, I entered a competition on Amelia Rope’s Facebook page, and won a 3 month supply of her chocolate! I was a fan of Amelia’s salt-tinged chocolate flavours before. She combines fruit and citrus flavours with good chocolate to produce some delicious bars and little cubes. I am a particular fan of the milk chocolate, lime and sea salt combination – which sounds like it shouldn’t work at all, but is completely delicious. The salt and lime balance the sweetness of the milk chocolate, making it mouth-watering. And a square of dark chocolate is the perfect mid-feed pick-me-up.
Having meals in the freezer ready to re-heat is an essential for a new parent. I prepared a few things while on maternity leave – cottage pie, pork ragu for pasta. My parents and in-laws also provided meals, and some friends were kind enough to buy us a delivery from Cook, the frozen meal delivery service. My advice to those who are pregnant: make sure you don’t just prepare red-meat based things. Things like lasagne, cottage pie and chili con carne are easy to make in large quantities and freeze well, but I started to miss vegetables, fish & chicken. And make sure there is some space in your freezer for donated meals as well!
This is an unlikely one, but in the last 6 weeks at home, the hardest meal to get to is lunch. Breakfast can usually be grabbed while my Other Half is still in the house, and dinner is prepared during naps in the day (even if the extent of that preparation is just to defrost something), and usually eaten in shifts in the evening. But there often isn’t time to prepare lunch, even to the extent of making a sandwich. Quiche can be eaten straight from the fridge, and if it contains a good number of veggies, at least comes close to a balanced meal. A piece of fruit to follow and I can feel fortified for the afternoon. See also: pork pies and sausage rolls, but with less balance :-)
Supermarket deliveries have been my preferred option for some time, and this has only become more essential with a baby. I use Ocado, with a fortnightly box of veg from Riverford, and tend to order both from my phone. I also top this up with odds and ends from the shops in walking distance – it’s good to have a reason to get out of the house and take a walk with the pram. As an added bonus, they also deliver nappies :-)
At six weeks in, this isn’t quite so necessary – and in fact, can be a liability – but cake is another thing to grab for a quick energy boost. More importantly, it’s something to have on the afternoons with tea. Not that you will be drinking tea – hard to manage a cup of hot liquid in one hand with a baby in the other. No, the cake is really there for visitors to have when they come to coo over the baby. And as a beneficial side effect, you can scarf the leftovers before heading off to bed, leaving your other half with the baby and a bottle. One of the great presents we received was a cake box from Meg Rivers. This has long been my preferred present for new parents. Most people bring things for the baby, so it’s nice to get something that’s for the parents. Her cakes are made with real ingredients, keep well and are thoroughly delicious.
Over the next few weeks, I am trying to return to cooking and baking a bit more, and will be posting here when I can.