lilia and lentils

It’s been two months since our lives were changed forever.

Lilia Rebekah Frels arrived on October 24th at 7:15pm, after 48 hours of emotional and exhausting labor. She was 8 lbs, 12 oz of “juicy and cheeky” goodness upon her debut and was a sure favorite of the hospital staff for her angelic face and alert eyes.

From induction to discharge, we spent an entire week in the hospital in order to welcome her into the world. But we couldn’t complain. We had an army of caring nurses, lactation consultants, midwives, and pediatricians at our constant disposal to ensure we started off parenthood with our best foot forward. [You would seriously be shocked by our newfound swaddle skills].

lilia5
5 days old and ready to go home!

We still have no idea who she looks like, but we’ve been assured of her adorableness despite her propensity for dramatic frown/smile combos and grumpy old man burp faces. She is, after all, her mother’s child [read: EMOTIONAL] and named after her maternal great-great grandmother – a woman remembered for her creativity and beauty – and her paternal grandmother – a free spirited smarty pants who has the ability to find the joy in any circumstance. [Don’t even get me started on all of the other Rebecca/Becca/Bekah role models she also has to look up to.]

As is the case with all new parents, our first two months with Lilia have been wrought with sleeplessness, unsolicited tears, and unimaginable love.

They have also been met with several observations, none of which are revolutionary in the grand scheme of parenthood online forums, but they have been our reality going on 9 weeks now. Here are a few worth sharing…

Every sentence begins with “maybe”. As in, “maybe she hates flat surfaces,” or “maybe she’s allergic to something I’m eating,” or “maybe she hates me,” or “maybe we’ll never sleep again.”

 

Every day feels like a week. A weeklong marathon, that is. The baby changes so often, you’ll find yourself saying things like, “That’s so old-school Lilia.” When, in fact, she did that thing not but 3 days ago.

 

Naps are a double edged sword. At least when she’s awake, you know what to expect [ie – crying or eating]. When she’s asleep, your whole world is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. My inner dialogue during nap time goes something like this…

  • 8:30am: “Okay, I need to feed the dog, do the dishes, and wash my face. If I get through those things, it will be a successful day.”
  • 8:40am: “Okay, did that. Now I’ll try to pump. If I can do that, I’m winning.”
  • 8:55am: “Done pumping? Holy crap, let’s try to fit in some quiet time!”

Until, of course, she begins wailing in the middle of said quiet time. Or you spend the majority of quiet time petting the dog and rocking the child. At least you tried, though, right?

 

Preparing for the worst sets you up for success. No joke. Go into the night preparing to get 2 hours of sleep tops. So when you get 4, you consider yourself lucky.

 

Love is not always at first sight. Some parents are blessed with a magical feeling tied to seeing their baby for the first time. Unfortunately, we were so tired and distraught from the entire labor process [and blood loss!] that we were simply relieved she made it. Since then, we’ve come to calling her our “cherry on top” – a gift we feel blessed to call our own. About a week after her birth, I remember crying uncontrollably at the dining room table after a truly difficult day and telling Jason through the deluge of tears that “I think I’m getting attached.” I’ve been a goner ever since.

 

The reward comes later. The first few months of parenthood are HARD. They honestly suck and we refuse to put a big, beautiful Instagram-worthy bow on it. The reward is a slow, simmering undercurrent just waiting to boil over after several months of elbow grease and not running away. Only now are we beginning to see semblances of rewarding reciprocation manifest themselves, from her big beautiful smiles to her longer stretches of sleep at night.

 

It really does take a village. When they say “it takes a village to raise a child”, they aren’t kidding. We would not have survived the first month without the many meals supplied by our neighbors, family, and friends. [We didn’t cook a single dinner during the entire month of November, people!]  Because of this extraordinary community from near and far, we were able to concentrate on our little one without having to worry about our next meal. We existed solely on homemade curries, chicken tacos, pizza deliveries, pho fixes, fried chicken runs, comforting casseroles, heart-warming soups and salads, and straight-to-our-door Freshly meals. And it was amazing.

We also wouldn’t have made it through the emotional pitfalls of first-time parenthood without the other mothers and fathers out there who were there to remind us that we are not alone in our journey. They were the ones who gifted us with the type of encouragement known only by fellow parents — to take that first walk around the block, or that first bike ride around the neighborhood, or that much-needed nap — all while they kept an eye on the baby or vacuumed our house. These were the greatest gifts of all, as they reminded us to fight for our humanity and our happiness. Without either, we would be worthless as parents.

To all of you – thank you. WE LOVE YOU.

Lilia’s new posse

Needless to say, this little girl has rocked our world and is already surrounded by an unbelievable posse of admirers. To this day, we still stare at her in wonder and awe, frequently reminding one another that “we have a baby!” She is ours, and we are hers. Our adventures are her adventures, and her milestones are our milestones.

Here’s to witnessing her growth and journey in 2018 and beyond.


Indian Lentil Soup

This adapted Tanya recipe gave us comfort before and after Lilia was born. We ended up doubling the recipe so we could eat half of it immediately and freeze the other for later. Soup is good for the soul, and Tanya’s soups never fail. 

Ingredients
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 inch slice fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 c. red or brown lentils
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 lb. fresh spinach, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 lb. fresh kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 c. coconut milk
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and green onions to serve
  • Plain yogurt to serve
Instructions
  1. In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil to medium. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger and fry for a couple of seconds, until aromatic. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion starts to brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes, lentils, and stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook soup until lentils are very tender.
  3. Add sugar, lemon juice, spinach, and kale until greens wilt.
  4. Add coconut milk, salt, and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in garam masala and garnish with cilantro, green onions, and yogurt. Best served on top of rice!
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