One year on

Monkey cakes for little E's first birthday

A year ago, I was just home from the hospital with our brand new baby girl. She was ever so slightly sallow from jaundice, but otherwise perfect, with a big mop of dark hair, and tiny hands which she loved to press against her cheek while she slept.

It’s such a cliché that it’s hardly worth saying but this has been a year of changes, big and small. It’s true that for the nine months of pregnancy, you think much more about the few hours of birth than the weeks and months that come afterwards. In some ways this makes sense – you have to learn as you do, and you also have to learn about this new human in your life, and their likes and dislikes: there is a good chunk of nature there being subjected to your initially hesitant nurturing.

I have learnt to stroll slowly with a pushchair, ekeing out a nap, rather than striding with a London-commuter bustle. I have learnt what you really can get done during a half hour nap (surprisingly little) and that sometimes the very best use of that time is a cup of tea and a biscuit. I’ve learnt the value of one-handed food that requires no preparation in the early days (quiche, sausage rolls and cake are excellent supplies to have to hand with a newborn). I’ve just a started to work out a pattern of cooking that keeps all three of us fed every evening without undue delays (the slow cooker and the freezer are a big help).

I have learnt that my sleep and her contentment come above everything else – a tidy house, a blog, reading, cooking. First, put on your own oxygen mask – looking after yourself means you have the resources to look after the baby too.

My daughter is fearless, bold, determined, intensely curious, delighted to be in the world. She knows what she wants, and is increasingly able to communicate it (by pointing, or going after it herself). She loves bananas, yoghurt, bread and bolognese sauce. I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the person she is becoming. I can’t wait for the next year – learning to walk, being able to stand next to me at a kitchen counter, watching the strawberries fatten in the garden. Happy Birthday little E. It’s been the most brilliant year so far, but I’m betting the next year will be better again.

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