he’s here to stay

My hand for scale. #avigram

Hi friends, hope you’re surviving February. That massive silence that followed my last post, the one where I told you about my favorite brownies and where I promised you a worthwhile recipe for leek and potato soup, that silence was us having a baby.

A blizzard baby to be precise. We did it. Avi is here. And he’s here to stay.

I've been drinking, I've drankin' ...

Avi was born on January 27, a Tuesday, at 3:15am. The night of January 26 into 27, we were told to expect a massive snowstorm in NYC, and Andrew being Andrew, and doing what he does for a living, insisted that we get a hotel room close to the hospital in case I go into labor and the storm is intense enough that getting a taxi from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan proves impossible. I complained about the expense, dismissing it as a frivolous waste of money, but the joke was on me. No sooner had I checked into our room and laid out our provisions: bread, peanut butter, jelly, tea, cookies, fruit, and so on, I started having contractions.

Andrew jokes that I don’t do anything half-assed; and that my contractions and labor were as efficient as focused as the rest of me. Four and a half minutes apart; a minute and eighteen second in length on average, I lasted about ninety minutes before we called a cab and drove to the hospital two blocks away. I was promptly admitted; given the weather and the fact that I went from zero to sixty in under two hours, the nurses saw that I was progressing rather fast. Some hours later, Avi made his entrance into the world.

Avi "Stormborn", first of his name, doing his best impersonation of a burrito.

Our own blizzard baby, which is only fitting given Andrew’s career and passion. And I loved learning that it was a boy at the moment of Avi’s birth. The wait was worth it.

Andrew’s colleagues wrote about the blizzard baby. People emailed us to ask if we were naming our baby Juno, after the storm. We stuck with Avi.

The last four weeks have been somewhat of a blur. If it weren’t for Andrew, my mother-in-law and my mom (who have taken turns staying with us), I wouldn’t shower, eat regular meals, or sleep as much as I do (which isn’t that much by the way). Avi is wonderful, changing every day, but there are hardships with newborns that you can’t even anticipate beyond what you may assume newborn care requires. Turns out newborns don’t just sleep, eat, and poop. They also fuss, spit up, fuss some more, refuse to sleep on their own, make old-man noises, fuss even more, and just when you thought they were done, spit up even more. There are various issues revolving around breastfeeding, pumping, what-have-you. By the time you’ve finished doing one task, you need to start on another, and before you know it, you’re back at the feeding again. A whole day will pass and you will find yourself in the same pose on the couch, unshowered, with spit-up in your hair, hungry.

Happy three weeks, little guy! We're excited to get to know you better. So far, your favorite things are eating, pooping, and sleeping. Currently, you're into this super soft blanket - and throwing your arms up in the air like you're celebrating.

I say this without even going into the emotional and hormonal aspects of recovering from birth. For me, it’s been particularly hard, and I’ve been lucky to have incredible support from friends and family. I’m told things get better. I’ve been promised that I, too, will emerge from the haze of new parenthood and will one day even revel in it. I look forward to that day. I’ve been told by some wise and seasoned friends that the first weeks, four to six to eight, are really all about survival. There are no rules. You do what needs to be done; what works for you. Any judgement anyone passes on you – shame on them.

What I miss the most is having a routine. A newborn means a routine is gone, blasted to smithereens for a long, long time, if not forever. I’m sure there’ll be other routines, but for someone who so heavily relied upon one, finding yourself bereft without so much as one certain constant, is daunting. I miss writing; I miss cooking. I miss having control over each and every little thing. This is as exhausting as it is humbling. It’s a pretty good blend of both things. The other day, I made this beef with tomatoes and garlic in a slow-cooker (all hail Deb, Gourmet Magazine (RIP), and Laurie Colwin!) and it was such a revelation, we made it again over the weekend. I added a bunch of chopped up carrots and a few sprigs of thyme. I threw everything into a slow-cooker because I had ten minutes to my name to get the show on the road. Ten hours later, we ate this immensely comforting and beautiful dish over buttery polenta (I made polenta!), and even though all I did was throw a handful ingredients in a slow cooker and walk away, it felt so good to be in the kitchen. I look forward to the day when I can cook a whole dinner while Avi naps on his own (and not on a human).

I’ve been asked what it feels like to suddenly become a parent, and I’m not yet sure what to say. I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for Avi. I want to take care of him; make him happy and safe; keep him well-fed and rested. I can’t quite get my head around parenthood/motherhood, and – as someone once wrote on their blog – it’s best I don’t think about it too much. The mere fact that I wrote this post; that Avi is four weeks as of today – is enough for me right now. My mom is holding him while he sleeps and I write. I hope to post a recipe soon. Stay tuned.


  • Brian

    Congratulations and congratulations for waiting for Avi to be born to find out that you were having a boy! Surprises are nice in this life. Enjoy!

  • Elissa

    Congratulations! He is beautiful,and it sounds like you are doing everything right. I think your love of routine will serve you well as a parent, as (in my experience) kids really thrive when they can count on some constants in the schedule. Hang in there–the newborn stage can be so difficult, but it is also such an amazing time of heart-busting emotion as you get to know the new member of your family.

  • Judi

    You care and you’re here; you’re doing everything right, in your own way. This beautiful little boy does not compare you to anyone else- all he knows is your love. You cannot lose.

    Stay strong. Seek help where you can. Absorb as much of these moments as possible, no matter how scary and overwhelming and new they seem. And congratulations on the monumental act of bringing a human being into the world!!! You’re amazing.

  • Aimee

    Welcome sweet Avi. And Olgo, the routines change so much at this stage, that it’s best just to take it a day at a time. Hang in there and enjoy as much as possible!

    Much love.

  • Melissa

    congratulations! he is beautiful!

    i remember those early days clearly (and also…not that clearly, ha). those days are HARD. and they will get easier. in the mean time, be kind to yourself!

  • Silvana

    Avi is so handsome! You’re in the thick of parenthood and there’s no right or wrong; only what works for you, Andrew and Avi. It really does go so fast—my baby boy just turned 18 today!!

  • Jen

    congrats! My twins were able to get on a schedule at 4 months. As a planner, or is life changing! Keep plugging away- it won’t last forever! The last 8 months have been like a blink!

  • Wendy

    Mazel tov! What a gorgeous babe. Pregnancy is a journey; motherhood is a journey. You will find your way! Enjoy.

  • Mariya

    Congratulations! What a perfect description of the first month! As Avi grows, there will be longer stretches of sleep, you will learn to sleep with him on your chest, he will take larger servings of food, spacing them apart. You will catch additional “free” minutes soon. The support system is key, use it as much as you can.

  • Karen

    Hi Olga, I don’t know you, and probably will never meet you, but wish you Mazal Tov all the same. Your son is beautiful. It really warms my heart to read you mention your slow cooker in the midst of all your chaos. My grandfather, Irving Naxon, invented the very first slow cooker, with the intent on making working women’s lives easier. And first time mothers are some of the hardest working women that I know. A tip for you, unsolicited… Steel cut oats overnight in the slow cooker. Magical. Will take you less than one minute to put together, and then you’ve got a week’s worth of breakfast, lunches, dinners, and middle of the night comfort. Ratio of 1 to 4 oats to liquid, use a liner so you don’t have to clean anything up, and your warm setting is probably better than low. Make a lot and store your leftovers easily in containers or jars in the refrigerator. And then just simply heat it up as you’re ready to eat.Congratulations again on your new family member.

  • merry jennifer

    I found myself smiling the entire time I was reading your post. I’m just so happy for you and Andrew (and Forrest, too, though he probably has mixed feelings). Being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but also the very best. But did I mention hard? It’s hard. And all those promises you keep hearing (those same promises that never made me feel any better when I heard them back when I had a newborn, by the way)? It’s true: It does get easier. And harder. But mostly easier. It’s just…always different.

    Survive, my sweet friend. That’s all: just survive. And give each other lots of hugs.

    (On this end, it looks like you’re doing a fab job of it all!)

  • Lisa M

    Congrats!!! I’ve been checking your blog every day and was so excited to see those beautiful pictures today. Enjoy every minute!!!!!

  • Claire

    Hooray and congratulations. It took me two weeks after the birth of my first child to even say to my husband that keeping him was a good idea cause I was so thrown by the birth and lack of control that ensued. And now we have four it still seems overwhelming at times. So there are no rules except love him – everything else stems from that. You’ll be fine. And he is gorgeous – proof that you bake everything well.

  • frances

    Congratulations, you will do just fine!!! Just like the commercial on TV, the first baby is a learning curve, the second one will be a breeze. Enjoy all the help that comes your way! Just found out i have a grandchild on the way this summer. Cant wait! Look forward to your future posts.

  • Barbara Lunn

    CONGRATS Momma & Poppa & WELCOME Avi. Such wonderful news to receive on a cold, grey morning. The day is bright all of a sudden. Oh what joys you have ahead of you !! Just love & enjoy each other, everything works out!! Brilliant news, so happy for you .

  • Michelle

    Congratulations. Look at all that hair your little guy has.

    You’ll get back into a regular schedule. . . . .someday :-)

  • Wendy Read

    Congratulations! Motherhood touches us all a bit differently, you make your plans and then live in the moment–your life forever touched by this beautiful new being that shares our DNA. I am so happy for you both :)

  • Debbie D

    That has to be one of the most gorgeous and adorable babies I have ever seen. Congrats and blessings. So glad you, family and baby are OK through all the awful weather.

  • Cheryl

    Congratulations. Beautiful baby, lovely post. I am a big fan of your writing and your blog, but all of that will be there when you get your feet back under you again. I remember being told that the first 3 weeks after birth are the “4th” trimester, in that the baby is really still so helpless. It can feel kind of thankless. It will get better once your baby can smile and coo and give back a little more directly. In fact, it will take your breath away. Some people immediately do well with newborns, and some do not.My mom told me she struggled some with the newborn stage (and she had 4 children in 6 years!), which helped me, when I was overwhelmed. Spend time with other new moms. Read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions.

  • Magdalena

    He’s beautiful, congratulations! My baby boy just turned 11 months and I kind of miss those newborn days now, but I remember being scared that I wouldn’t manage the day after we brought him home and I had to stay alone with him for a few hours. I noticed that things got easier at 4 months. My advice: get as much sleep as you can, forgive yourself for stress- and sleep deprivation-induced meltdowns, and accept help. I love your blog, by the way :)

  • emily

    It gets easier … and you will find a new “routine” soon…. and when he starts smiling and laughing and cooing at you, it makes it feel all worthwhile :) Congratulations!

  • ruhama

    Oh, congratulations~he’s beautiful and kudos to your hubby for the hotel room idea! I’m glad to hear you have so much support, too.

    I wonder about the loss of cooking when contemplating expanding our family–both my husband and I like to cook and I think we’ll both miss it dearly, as you have experienced. Fortunately, though it feels like forever, I bet the time will be over in the blink of an eye and you’ll be back to the cutting board soon enough!

  • Jennifer

    Congratulations!!!! He is beautiful, and your new-parent life is completely normal! I’m at home with my third baby, and it is so much easier than the first time around when your whole life feels out of control. Hang in there!

  • Emily

    Congrats, Olga – what a darling beautiful boy. I remember after having my first that a friend told me it wasn’t till her baby was 6 weeks old that she even felt human again. It’s a disorienting, delirious, wonderful roller coaster of experience and emotions and as so many have said above, it evens out and gets much more manageable.

  • Juli

    Congrats on your beautiful son! Reading your post and smiling because of its familiarity I keep thinking, “yep, that’s motherhood of a newborn.” Keeping expectations low for what you’ll be able to accomplish will help keep your frustration level low as well! It’s a whole new world! May it be filled with joy and blessings.

  • Dianne

    Thanks for taking the time to write to us. I LOVE that braised beef recipe by Deb also. The slow cooker tip on steel cut oats put up by a commenter is genius. i make the baked oatmeal recipe thats been floating around the interwebs lots — I think Heidi may have put it out first from 101 cookbooks. My twins (2.75 now) love that. It does get easier — they break you in, the kids that is, lol! Try to keep your sense of humor, and don’t worry if you don’t enjoy every minute. I remember desperately arranging a hair cut to be “away” for a while and then feeling totally lost at the hair appointment without the babes. The pictures are gorgeous. Hang in there, and welcome to the mama club!

  • Fran

    Mazel Tov to you and your family. Your son son is beautiful. He will be a very lucky boy to have a Mom such as you, who is a great cook, food writer and tester. I have raised three children and have four wonderful grandsons. You will revel in the day to day changes.
    Love your blog and missed it. Lots of good health and good luck.

  • Meg

    Congratulations on Avi! He is precious. Hand in there! My first little one is about to turn 4 months. You are right, the first several weeks are the hardest. Our little one cried nonstop when she was awake and not eating. It wasn’t until her 2 month appointment we found out she has reflux an food allergies (milk and soy – which I had to omit from my diet). Everyone told us she was just colicky. So, if your little one cries all the time, perhaps get him looked at (I wish we had sooner). It gets better! Not easier, but better. Soon your little one will smile when he looks at you and he’ll babble. I haven’t found any extra time though. I choose to wake up extra early (4am) to have a little me time = shower and eat. Motherhood sure isn’t glamorous! You are doing great!

  • Rika

    Longtime reader, first time commenter; so first, a big congratulations on your little boy! We have a little girl (18 months) and I remember those times when breastfeading is a full time job and nights are oh so short. Hang in there! Also, I want to recommend a great podcast series called The Longest Shortest Time about the early months of parenthood. The creator, Hillary Frank, does not sugar code it which is strangely comforting. Here’s a link: http://longestshortesttime.com/2011/06/04/my-newborn-the-ahole/

  • Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek

    He is beautiful. Congratulations. Way to go Andrew on thinking ahead.

    I am very much a routine person myself so trust me,you will have routine back. The most important routine is bedtime. Make it the same every night. We did bath, pj’, feeding and then bed.
    With our first we thought that he was a “night time” baby because he would be so active until 11:30 at night. Then my sister explained that when babies are overly tired they act hyper. She suggested the bed time routine. The next night he was in bed at 7:30 and it stayed that for YEARS. Of course he would wake up crying and need to be fed .

    I recommend something safe for him to sleep next to. Maybe a small stuffed animal or blanket.For a few nights you sleep with it (next to your skin) so that it has your smell on it. It makes them feel like your right next to them.

    Oh, how I miss those days. I do however remember that they are physically exhausting…..now at 11 and 12 years old it is more emotionally exhausting.

  • Prema

    Congratulations!! Baby looks gorgeous. More reasons to keep cooking and reinventing recipes.

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