Exactly two weeks ago, after waiting 9 long months and holding “big family” aspirations for decades, I held her in my arms for the first time. People would ask, “how many?” I would say 3, but in my heart I knew it was 4. And now she is – that magic number – all whole body stretches, suckling dreams, 20 inches of her. My beautiful last child.
Labor started slow and ended fast. While my husband and I walked the halls of the hospital, hoping for labor to progress, I was reminded in small ways of the birth of my first child, Linnea. This time, Chris didn’t need to stop every two minutes to massage the tension in my lower back, but we did spend the day – like before – alone with each other and our private jokes in the crowded hospital. Romantic, almost. Mostly because an impending birth always brings fear. I try to breathe through it, deflect by calling it a natural body process, but it’s there, waiting for me to face and conquer. Hopefully, that occurs with a dose of serenity and also kindness for the nurses that always seem to catch the right cloud in to attend to me.
There were no complications, just the tricky breathing and mind games through the transition stage and the pushing – which came in a rush – versus the marathon of a first child’s birth. We called it “Linnea Light.”
And so our baby Ren Inez came to be. She’s kept me underwater a bit over the last two weeks, managing nursing and sleep and endless diaper changes – and oh – the rest of the family.
Chris took a week off and then went in late for a week, all to help me. Romantic, for real.
Just today I managed it by myself, fell into my old tracks of school drop offs, child care and extracurricular activities. The magnet in me gripped the road with enthusiasm. I could feel the slow ascent from the valley and am now catching a breath before bracing for another loop-de-loop.
That breath gave me time for the one thing that I will always make time for…COOKIES! Also, I needed an easy reason to announce the birth of my baby. Because this is a baking blog, I figured the baby pics had to accompany something that spent time in the oven. So I made a chewy favorite.
While I am quite fond of the decorated variety, my husband won’t touch them. He prefers a chewy cookie, slightly under baked. Because this basic recipe is easy and a loved by many, I made them. And because this time, they’re in honor of Ren, I coated them in a girly-pink blackberry sugar before baking (1/2 cup sugar mixed with juice from frozen blackberries. Don’t saturate. Mixture should feel like concrete.)
The blackberry sugar is completely unnecessary for the cookies, but then I was never one to leave an accessory in the jewelry box…
Chewy Almond Poppy Seed Cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.
2. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg and extracts. Mix until smooth.
3. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until combined.
4. Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden and just set, 8 to 9 minutes. Cookies will appear underdone. Immediately remove the cookies from the pan and let cool on parchment on wire racks.