It is a muggy August evening here in Port-au-Prince. The fan is fighting a losing battle to keep us cool as we wash dishes together at the sink. Madeline’s bedroom door is open, and we hear her quiet hiccups as she sleeps. It is hard to believe that this time last year we were cooking in our Pittsburgh kitchen, planning our baby’s birth in a country we had never before visited. Madeline will be 7 months old next week, and each day her little personality gets bigger. She is a warm and pensive little baby, who adores her sleep. Madeline has figured out that the world is best when put in her mouth, and this week mastered crawling. This month has also marked Madeline’s introduction to solid food, and our excited creation of her first tiny meals. Her hands down favorite flavor combination is beet watermelon puree, with Paul’s Massaman curry a close second. Her least favorite; her papa’s attempt at a spicy potato leek soup. As people who love to cook, it has been thrilling to see Madeline’s world expand with every taste. Dorky new parents that we are, we both sit with rapt attention for each new bite: there’s a squint of her eyes, a slight cock of the head, and a furloughed brow, her tongue slowly rolling the new flavor around her mouth…and the moment of decision: food, or not-food. Luckily for us, Madeline has all but once given our weird concoctions the benefit of the doubt. To the joy of first tastes.
Food and Thoughts of 2016
We catapulted into 2016 in a new country, jobs, and language. Learning Haitian Creole together had moments of both frustration and hilarity. We practiced our new vocabulary at the maternity clinic, when two months after we arrived in Haiti, we became parents! Paul reflected about becoming a father to a daughter, pondering some of the global challenges that girls and women face. Madeline could not have a bigger ally in her proud papa. This year, our first as parents, we have felt deep gratitude and joy for our little daughter. Along the way we also started trying our hand at Haitian cooking, learning to make some of the iconic sweet, savory & spicy dishes we had learned to love. And through it all, our little baby kept growing, and so did we...
I turned 31 today, ate cookies, watermelon pie, and ribs, and I had to change my clothes three times because our daughter's outdoor play got unusually messy! It was a great birthday. Two years ago on my birthday, Rebecca and I were living and working in Pittsburgh. Last year we were new parents, in a new country, in new jobs. And this year we are expectantly waiting. Rebecca is pregnant, and due to a complication in the pregnancy, we are both working remotely from the US during this last trimester. If all goes as well as it can, our baby will be joining us about a month ahead of schedule towards the end of June.
First Days in Haiti
Our first taste of Haiti has been sweet. We have had a warm and supportive welcome, with friendly, generous co-workers, delicious home cooked meals, many helping hands to get us set up for prenatal care, and mountains of patience from everyone around us as we make our first faltering attempts at speaking Creole. We have been loving our first meals in Haiti. A favorite, today's lunch, was a rich and savory pumpkin soup, called Soup Joumou; a justifiably famous dish often served for Haitian Independence and New Years Day. We will be staying in the guesthouse above our office (pictured above) for a few more days until we head to the countryside, north of the capital in Desarmes, for a three week homestay; an immersive experience that will help to jumpstart our Creole and introduce us to rural life in Haiti.
Stay tuned over the next several weeks as we share some delicious recipes we prepared before we left the US.
Third Trimester, Malaria Fevers, & The Ocean
We're back from a relaxing Christmas in Jacmel, a historic town famous for its artists on Haiti's southern coast. It was a chance to get away and unwind after what has been a fairly uncomfortable third trimester for me, with pretty non-stop nausea and vomiting (sadly, a reprise of my 1st trimester). Thankfully, our little baby is resilient and has been doing well through it all, and we are just a few weeks away from meeting him/her. Paul has been an incredible support through my many nauseous mornings, afternoons and evenings, but it turns out that I didn't have the market cornered on stomach issues. Paul ended up driving the winding mountain roads from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel in the midst of malaria fevers and chills, interspersed with rounds of vomiting. After four hours driving stick with steep hairpin turns, I've never seen Paul so happy to get out of a car. Our first taste of salty ocean breezes and fresh seafood seemed to have done us well. Once we were feeling better, we perused Jacmel's famous paper mache artists, took in the historic architecture, and went swimming in the ocean. Below are a few pictures from our trip to share the flavor of the place.
We have a daughter! It’s a surreal thing to say. We are blissfully happy to share that after weeks of on-and-off contractions and gestation in three countries, our beautiful baby girl, Madeline, was born at 1 am yesterday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, weighing in at a healthy 7 pounds. Madeline is a lively little newborn, and both she and Rebecca are doing well. It’s hard to put words to the feeling of being parents for just a few short hours; joy, relief, shock and happiness. We have been finding ourselves bursting into giddy (exhausted) laughter quite a bit since little Madeline arrived. We will be taking the next month off from work to get to know our new daughter, and look forward to introducing her to her family (even if virtually in many cases), with her first introduction to both sets of grandparents when they arrive in Haiti in just a few weeks!