Mama's Kitchen Story
I often still think about the first meal I had after my daughter was born. I had very dedicatedly planned a home birth with altars everywhere, a birthing tub, candles on every surface, the perfect playlist, crystal bowls, drums and magic tools all around and of course, food. My mom who lived five minutes away was cooking around the clock for us and brought over chicken piccata, spinach enchiladas and mac n' cheese during early labor per my request. My sister brought over cacao energy balls in three flavors. My fridge was overflowing with bone broth I had just made, soups, and a chocolate cake as I had read about in "Birthing From Within" by Pam England.
So I was a bit thrown when after 48 hours of laboring in my home, my midwife told me it was time to transfer to the hospital. In our scramble to prepare and leave our warm little nest on that cold February evening, I didn't eat and we didn't bring any food. I wasn't allowed to eat once I arrived at the hospital and labored another 24 hours surviving only on the soda and water they would let me have, since we had run out of coconut water and bone broth. The whole thing felt like a massive joke, and I was immensely relieved and exhausted when after I had pushed my little girl out, and she was safely sleeping on my chest, my mom came in with a giant plate of warm chicken piccata and mac n' cheese. I can still remember the absolute joy of the first bite, the tang of the lemons and the sweetness of the sauce and the warmth and life flowing back into my exhausted and depleted body.
The next few days unfolded in an exhausted blur of healing, learning to be a mother and getting to know this tiny human who was now in my care. Although food is usually something I think about all day long, I found I didn't have the mental capacity to put any thought into it. I just asked my husband to bring me whatever was easiest and quickest. 72-hours in, our meal train began. A friend had organized this for us, asking friends and family to sign up to take turns bringing us a meal every other day for the first month after our daughter was born. We left a cooler on the front porch and a loving person would leave food in it and text us it was out there, no need to talk or interact or see other humans before we were ready. I can't remember what the weather was like or how many hours we slept or diapers I changed or who came in to meet the baby when, but I do remember every single meal from the first few days.
Warm and spicy turmeric and veggie soup with meatballs, sweet and soothing coconut curry soup, hearty shepherd's pie, cheesy and comforting lasagna- I still remember these special homemade meals and how I ate them with one hand while I held my tiny daughter in the other. Every bite was magic, infused with the energy, care, hope, and prayers of our friends and family. It was the most nourishing and sweetest part of being cared for my our community.
While pregnant I had made and froze a lot of food for myself (which I highly recommend) but then also found that in the postpartum time I really wanted freshly cooked and prepared food. I also found that it was even challenging to think about what to thaw out and how to get it done. I felt that in that precious postpartum window I wanted to spend as little time in my head and planning mind as possible and to be in my body as much as possible, going with the new flow, feeding, napping, feeding, napping, feeding myself. For me one of the best parts of my day was going to the door and finding fresh, hot food waiting for me there.
I feel beyond blessed that I had two full months of meals delivered to my door along with the food I had prepared. I have thought a lot about how most people in this place and time don’t have the support that is so needed during this formative and tumultuous time.
Fast-forward 18 months and I have a vivacious, adventurous and extremely cuddly toddler who is as in love with food as I am! She eats everything from burritos to broccoli and is right at home in the kitchen with her mama. She is now learning to help out from her perch on a chair at the counter and her current specialty is scrambling eggs!