February Coffee Date - 2021 - Skillful Cook
Our recipes, your inbox. Sign up

February Coffee Date - 2021

It feels like we've lived about ten years in the last three months (maybe you too?), so today I'd love to play catch up with you and share a little bit about what's been going on for us in our personal life over the last few months.

Lindsay's at home kitchen.

Hello! HELLO!!

It's been a while - like, a few months a while - and it's so good to be back!

Last time we spoke, I looked like this:

Lindsay with kids on the back patio with snow.

And now, four months later, I look like this:

Lindsay holding her new baby taking a photo in the mirror.

OMGEE we had a baby!

This little munchkin is baby Lena.

(here she is at one month)

A baby in the hands of Lindsay with her other child in the background.

(and here she is at, well, yesterday)

Smiling baby

SQUEEEE! She has VERY squishy cheeks and a super easy smile and an incredibly cute double chin, and we just adore her. And I am wearing some very obscure, everything-else-is-in-the-laundry pajama pants in this picture. Thank you for understanding.

I have been out on maternity leave for the last few months, and besides the amazing Plant Powered January series that I put together with our team before my leave, you haven't missed any other updates about our life with her. I am JUST NOW finding enough margin to even write this post.

It feels like we've lived about ten years in the last three months (maybe you too?), so today I'd love to play catch up with you and share a little bit about what's been going on for us in our personal life over the last few months, most of it centering around - you guessed it - the new Teeny Tiny Squish we've added to our family.

A Short-Ish Birth Story

As with all birth stories, please skip over if you are squeamish, uncomfortable or, really, just not wanting to read this for any reason. ♡

Lindsay in the hospital talking to new baby after birth.

In building our family, we've experienced three births.

Afton's birth was traumatic and devastating. Solvi's birth was full of anxiety, and then relief, and then carefully measured doses of joy along with a little more anxiety.

So I guess things could only go up from there, but it's still worth saying that I think Lena's birth was the most happy birth experience of the three.

The day before my scheduled delivery, I was totally restless. I couldn't sleep, I was feeling more frequent contractions, and I just felt off. Because of my medical history with Afton's pregnancy and birth, my doctors made it pretty clear that I would never be allowed to have a trial of labor and would always need to have an early, scheduled C-section for the safety of both the baby and myself. So as I'm feeling these contractions, I'm thinking... uhh, this isn't supposed to be happening, and I probably need to make sure that everything is okay.

I kissed Solvi goodbye and anxiously drove to the hospital alone (!!) because the contractions were picking up rather fast and unexpectedly, and Bjork needed to wait until his parents could get there before he could leave Solvi.

TLDR: Once we got to the hospital, the doctors confirmed that it was time for this baby to come out, one day shy of our scheduled delivery at 37 weeks. Bjork scurried over with our half-packed hospital bags, my doctor generously came in to the hospital on her day off (♡) and a few hours later, we had baby Lena in our arms.

What was so incredible about Lena's birth, and it makes me tear up even now as I think about it, is that she was the only one of my three babies that I was able to hold skin-to-skin immediately after she was born. They didn't take her away to the NICU, they didn't clean her up or wrap her - they just placed her up on my chest, next to my heart, just brand new to the world and right there with me. I had seen photos or video clips or photos of this - you know, that powerful moment where the mom gets to hold the baby right after delivery, the one they use in those diaper commercials to get you in the feelings and therefore inspire you to buy those amazing diapers - but I had never experienced it until Lena. And the commercials were right. It was so special. The stress leading up to her delivery, the nerves and tension of being in the operating room, all of it washed away as soon as she was there, curled up right next to my face. I am having trouble even finding words to describe it and it's hard to not get emotional again just remembering it. It was one of the most golden moments of my life.

As I was holding her, she started rooting around, wanting to nurse, and I panicked - like, I want to feed her but I also I'm like, still in surgery? But amazingly, the OR staff helped prop her up on my chest and she nursed for the first time right there on the operating table while the doctors continued stitching me back together. What in the world.

I'll never know what it's like to have a natural birth. And I'll always have a complicated and kind of sad relationship with the birth process because of what happened with Afton.

But Lena's entry into the world was so beautiful and special and it redeemed a little bit of what birth means to me. ♡ I'm so grateful.

Lena's First 3 Months

Lindsay holding the sleeping baby.

Coming hot off of that tender and lovely birth story, here is a brief summary of the last few months of our lives:

Facepalm gif

Speaking very honestly, the adjustment from a family of three to a family of four has been extremely hard. Outside of grief, this has been one of the most difficult seasons that we've ever been through as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

What's Been Hard:

  • Lots of Crying: Lena has, we think, silent reflux - things have gotten so much better with medication, but for the first 2 1/2 months, there was a distressing amount of screaming, writhing, squirming, grunting, and crying. Both Bjork and I have spent so many hours bouncing this little peanut on a yoga ball, walking laps around our kitchen table, swaying her in deep lunges just to get her soothed... it's been extremely difficult, mentally, physically, emotionally. Poor girl, poor us.
  • Very Little Sleep: I know all babies keep their parents up at night, but Lena seems to be extra-good at this. For the first 2 1/2 months, she could only sleep if we were holding her (see point number one about silent reflux). Like, not normal newborn sleep - I'm talking about all night holding her, and every nap holding her. She would be up every 20-30 minutes ALL NIGHT LONG and the only way she would settle was by Bjork or me holding her. There were no 3 hour, 2 hour, or even 1 hour stretches of sleep for a good long while there. Even now, at four months, we are doing 4 hour stretches at night on a good night. We would take shifts all night long to hold her in a chair or in our bed to sleep - things I had previously said I would *NEVER EVER DO* and things that you really shouldn't do if you are following safe sleep guidelines. We were (are?) just so desperate. I know you might be thinking, “Well, you have to just try putting her down more often or let her fuss a little bit to get her used to sleeping on her own.” I know this because I used to think this way before Lena! LOL. After raising one baby that was a fairly easy little sleeper and thinking that I may have had anything to do with it, this experience has totally humbled me (baby girl already doing her job). As we now know, some babies just cannot sleep when laying flat and/or on their own, and it's not anyone's fault, and you might never know why, and it's so exhausting, and everyone just needs a shower and a hot meal and a lot of grace.
  • High Anxiety and Loneliness: The icing on the cake is that Covid and quarantine restrictions have made an already hard season even harder. A few weeks after Lena was born, I called my parents on FaceTime and just started crying as I talked through the what-are-we-going-to-do decision map yet again, knowing that Bjork and I were both losing our minds trying to care for a newborn and a toddler 24/7 inside the confines of our house (thank you, winter), but also feeling so worried about potentially exposing our brand new baby to Covid via our various childcare options, OR exposing our parents or caregivers to OUR exposures, right when things were peaking here in Minnesota. We were desperately needing support but feeling unsure about who we should be seeing or not seeing. Some of that anxiety was normal, and some of that anxiety (hi, it me) was not. As Lena has gotten a bit older, things have gotten better. We have a best-as-it-can-be-right-now situation for childcare and that is incredibly helpful. But I miss my friends. I miss my family. As I'm sure many of you are feeling - Covid + pregnancy + baby + honestly, just ALL OF LIFE = hard.

What's Been Wonderful:

  • Sisters: The day we brought Lena home from the hospital and seeing her together with Solvi... even running on minutes of sleep and being in some crazy state of mind, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. My heart was so full. Solvi was so gentle and sweet, and curiously tried to poke Lena in the eye - the start of an excellent sibling life together.
  • Baby Smiles and Cheeks: Lena smiled early (thank goodness, we needed it) and she smiles a lot. Way more than Solvi ever did at this age. It is wonderful. And she has mega squishy cheeks that are just so fun to play with and / or nibble on all day long. No? Anyone? Baby cheek nibbling? This is what quarantine has done to me.
  • Learning Patience and Compassion: As a final high-ish point, being in this really difficult state for the last few months has given me a new appreciation for the challenges of all kinds that we all face in our lives. Again and again, we have said: what is this like for people who are single parents? for people whose kids are terminally sick? for people who don't have enough food? for people who don't have family or friends nearby? After losing Afton, we know deeply how lucky we are to have the ultimate thing which is a living baby at home with us, and yet even with that perspective, I have really, really struggled in this season. So I hope that one of the gifts of this struggle is that I am learning patience and compassion for myself and others in a new way, because everyone has their hard season, and as a general rule of thumb, people just need a lot of love.

Food That Has Been Saving Me

Baby with bowl of food

The photo above was taken on the *one day* in the last three months that I made myself a really good, photo-worthy lunch and had time to a) take a picture, and b) eat it before things went south, so don't be fooled.

Mostly I haven't been cooking at all. I'm doing pretty well if I can shower, put on real clothes, and brush my teeth. We're eating lots of cereal, frozen meals, takeout, and leftovers. This is not an exaggeration.

That being said, I did a bit better in the cooking department BEFORE Lena was born, which is pretty much what we have been existing on for the last few months. Here's a screenshot of the recipes I made on maternity leave, most of them being from our Freezer Meals post.

A list of freezer meal ideas.

That stash lasted us from the end of October through about early January, which was such a lifesaver. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my 8-months-pregnant self for having it together much more than my current 3-months-postpartum self.

The one thing I *have* made during my maternity leave is about 100 batches of these apple muffins. Solvi loves them, they're so easy, and they're nutritious enough that I can let her eat like 5 of them per day. So that's going well.

So What's Next

Lindsay working from home with baby in her lap.

Actual footage of editing this post - thanks to Bjork for sneaking this photo. That pile of baby wipes on my desk is a metaphor for everything right now.

This is baby season at POY! In addition to Lena's arrival, we have several POY team members who are also adjusting to or preparing for life with new babies right now (yay!!). We are going to be pressing pause on new content for Skillful Cook for a while to give a little time for the dust to settle on all the reduced work hours, maternity leaves, and personal life adjustments.

With that in mind, here's what you can expect to see this spring:

  • February: a content break
  • March: spring essentials from the archives
  • April: back to it with a brand new recipe series!

I have already started working on the April series and I'm going to keep it under wraps for a little while longer but just... you should GET EXCITED. If you are a person who often finds yourself struggling to get a dinner on the table, a) I am WITH YOU and you wouldn't even believe how many boxes of frozen sweet potato tots I've gone through in 2021 already, and b) this is going to be really awesome for both of us.

Sage Says

A good doggo

Sage says: No I will not sit still for you to take photos of me.

Sage also says: It's okay to be whatever you are in this moment. ♡ You are doing a great job. You can just be where you are. Radical acceptance and permission to be human. Or dog.


Is this a terrible idea of a great one? I welcome your recommendations.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for sharing food and life. You're at the heart of this space.

See you in a bit! xo

Filed Under: Blog News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats!! Lena is gorgeous and I love her name so much.

    The exact same thing happened with my second baby. It is mentally destroying to have an inconsolable, reflux-y child. I would approach night time with dread, truly. You are understood! My daughter lived in the baby bjorn facing out- that seemed to make her tummy (and everything else) happiest. Now that girl is 7 and is the most easy-going, happy kid. 🙂 And she and her sisters are best friends!

    Welcome back but take all the time you need to rest and care for yourself and your family!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Congratulations! I’m so glad for you 🙂
      I’m following you since Afton’s birth and saw both difficult and joyful moments… I’m happy to see your family growing and this real present life gives you! 🤗

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you so much for this comment. and YES, we finally found a hybrid carrier that she likes and she faces out and it is life-changing! Total freedom! 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I also had a baby like Lena and couldn’t figure it out. Bless the nurse who lived near me and said reflux. From there, I got used to life without dairy, putting on a sling or the Baby Bjorn like it was clothing and only 4 hour stretches of sleep. The best part of it was seeing and hearing her experience the world. The moments are tough but kids with reflux also tend to be tough too- my now 9 year old is truly amazing! Good luck and stay kind to yourself! Also – the Rock n Play sleeper from Fisher Price was a god send- for sleeping or just hanging out when I needed a shower!

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      Congratulations! Your little one is beautiful. I’m glad that you can slow down and enjoy your time with your family.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations! Your beautiful girl sounds EXACTLY like mine was at that age! I SO feel for you! My daughter cried (really, screamed) all day and all night, sleeping only for about 15 minutes at a time. It was such a challenge for my relationship with my husband and was really hard for my older daughter, who was 2 at the time. We changed pediatricians several times because no one took me seriously when I told them that something was wrong, that this was not “normal” colic. Finally, at a year old, I found a bed who took me seriously and tested Julia for food allergies. It turned out that she was allergic to EVERYTHING– she was literally for every single food she was tested for (all of the top 10 allergens). She was breastfeeding and had just started solid foods, so she and I both had to completely change our diets. It was hard but everything hanged almost overnight. She is 12 now and is now only allergic to nuts and dairy. Just wanted to share in case your bed hasn’t thought of testing for this. Big love to your beautiful family and hugs to you, tired Mama!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    As a first time mom of a baby born in April – I could not resonate more with your post. THANK YOU for your honesty and openness. It’s so hard at times and I’m learning that you can be both grateful for what you have and also feel like it’s really, really hard. <3

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    First, congrats! Your daughter is SO cute and precious. I’m thrilled for your family!

    Second, our first daughter had so many sleeping problems. It was one of THE most humbling experiences for me. I have nothing but sympathy for you! I will say an extra prayer for you all. Hugs! 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Our second baby suffered from the same thing…and we all suffered. I felt horrible for her and her obvious pain but also felt so guilty and horrible for how it was impacting my first born. My energy wasn’t split like I had anticipated…it was depleted and all I had to give was next to nothing some days. But they are 12 and 9 now…and they do not remember those days. So give yourself grace and hang in there. They love your pajama pants and tired smiles.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations to you and your family on your new baby! I just wanted to say I so respect the pause for you and your coworkers. I am also postpartum with a baby born this fall and a toddler and am try to focus on the luck of these 2020 babies while also giving myself grace for this time! Will look forward to seeing new content this spring!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oooooooh honey. I know EXACTLY how that is with a baby who won’t sleep laying down. I too said all the same things and had to swallow those words FAST. We had to adjust to reality quick after becoming so sleep deprived that I just sobbed.
    You are doing a GREAT job and she knows how loved and cherished she is. <3

  8. Skillful Cook Logo


    Thank you so much for these updates! I appreciate your honesty when it comes to parenting. I have a toddler, and I was amazed at how lonely and isolating the newborn time was (and that wasn’t even in a pandemic!) Other people made it look so easy and effortless that I thought I was surely doing something wrong. I struggled with admitting how hard it was while simultaneously being so grateful to have a baby after infertility; it felt like some kind of betrayal to say anything negative. Thank you for this space, and I look forward to your March and April content!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations on beautiful Lena! She’s gorgeous! I am so happy for you!!!! I remember crying after I read Afton’s saga and now I can cry with you in happiness with your new princess!!!!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh Lindsay, I’m sending you a big hug through the internet. Having a baby during this pandemic is no joke! I have a 6 month old and a 3 year old and it’s so exhausting and terrifying and endless. But it’s also beautiful and magical and so special. Motherhood is such a dichotomy. I hope your baby starts sleeping better and you start feeling more like yourself. I’m over here in my corner of the world cheering you on, while covered in spit up, and going through your recipe archive because it is SO GOOD. I really love POY!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats! My son, who is now 18 months, was a sleeper just like Lena. It broke my heart when others made me feel like it was my fault as a mom that he wasn’t sleeping, especially since I knew it was uncomfortable and just needed us. He’s still not a great sleeper, but we’ve found things that work for us!
    Hearing that Solvi was a good sleeper gives me hope that maybe if we have a second, it won’t be the same. 😀

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      If I could guarantee that I had a good sleeper, I might be more willing to have a 2nd, but going through it once was enough for me!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I had a lactation consultant suggest that “maybe your nights are bad because of how you are handling them.” It was very discouraging in an already low time. Just as you said, we’ve been trying to focus on making sure she’s comfortable, and a lot of the time right now the place she can get comfortable is with us. ❤️ And as for the second baby thing, a very good friend of mine had a super difficult time with her first baby, and her second (6 years later!) is incredibly easy-going. You just never know with these little people!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        A lactation consultant told you that?! I am so sorry! First, does anyone “handle” nights after a newborn? It’s like survival mode! Second, what baby has difficulty when parents are doing *everything* possible to make the bebe comfy? You are doing awesome! My first was a crying champion on all categories-length, volume, frequency. Gold Medal. My pediatrician was extremely nice, called me a true pioneer woman, and said not all babies do this. He was right. Take care!!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations! And from our Gimli to your Sage—YES GET THEM TO BUY YOU THE DOGGIE BOOTS (you’ll walk a little funny at first, but you’ll have so much more confidence outside in the cold, ice, and salt, or at least that’s what my mom noticed).

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Can I ask what brand you have? I’m also looking at getting a pair as our temps are sub zero and those poor paws!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay! Congrats on your beautiful new addition! Thanks for the wonderful update and I wish you all the best xo

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats to you all-beautifully written letter. It sounds as though you’ve had a rough go and you seem as though you’re doing it with grace and tons of patience. I think you’re amazing and things eventually get better.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I cried reading your update because as a new mom of an 8 month old this season in a pandemic has been so hard and everything you said resonated (c sections, the exhausting covid decision trees, fussy babies). Thanks for being so open and honest and normalizing the way I’m sure so many of us in the same position are feeling. Congratulations on your beautiful new addition!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Our first baby was just like Lena in the sleep department. I remember being up one night at 4 am, hold a screaming infant and bouncing on a yoga ball. I had not slept in weeks, my husband was asleep after having taken his ‘shift’ from 12-3 am’, and I felt like the only person on the planet awake at this cruel hour. I vividly remember bouncing for hours with tears streaming down my face and repeating out loud “this too shall pass. this too shall pass. this too shall pass.”

    And it did. That baby just turned six. But when you’re in it it feels like a lifetime and it’s hard AF, and I am sending you so much sleep mojo and so many good vibes. You’re not alone, and “this too shall pass”.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for catching us up with your story. I am sorry it’s so hard right now but glad you can at least see progress being made and know that the hard times will pass. I haven’t read the rest of your story, about Afton in particular, but I know it was a very hard moment for you all and I feel for you.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ahh sorry to hear about the reflux/sleep situation. We had the same with my now 18 mo old. Medication was a life saver and I hope you see some relief soon!!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations! So nice to ‘meet’ the new addition to your family. She is beautiful. And no judgments on little Lena sleeping with you. As parents, we all do what we have to do. And personally, I think getting all those extra cuddles in far outweighs the totally blown out of proportion risks. You’re doing a great job!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you! And not opposed to safe bed sharing! ❤️ I just didn’t feel comfortable with how we were doing it, which included propping her up on pillows in our arms while sleeping to keep her upright.

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh congratulations! Sisters are wonderful!

    As a mom of six, the last three (yup triplets) coming early when their big sister was not quite 2, I think the very best advice – Sage already gave. Do the best you can, which will be wonderful and just right for your family!

    Good luck and blessings!

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh, the reflux!!! Our third son had it. It was exhausting. I remember putting two toddlers on the rug in front of the TV with Dora on telling them that anything off the rug was hot lava so I could catch a 30-minute nap with the baby who was finally asleep. Your post brought all that back. That baby, Philip, is now almost 16 and is happy and healthy. So, I hope that is some consolation! You will survive. A vibrating bouncy seat was our savior. Anyway, congratulations on your little squish!

    As far as dog booties, they are kind of a nightmare to get on. However, be ready with a video if you get them on because doggies in booties for the first time are hysterical- Google it. In general though, we have never found any that stay on so I’d say it isn’t really worth the wrestling match to get them on. We use a balm on their feet and limit their time outside. Hope that helps.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      The floor is lava! LOL. Using that immediately. And I just had Lena in the vibrating bouncy seat this morning! Thank you for this comment and perspective. ❤️

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Booties from Ruffwear stay on perfectly! All the avalanche dogs at our local ski resort wear them.

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Dog booties are great! Our pup has muttlucks and once we’re out the door, he loves them. They allow us to go for walks even if the snow plow hasn’t come through our neighborhood yet.

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    What a beautiful post to start my day! So grateful for the redeeming places you experienced with Lena’s birth! Savor the moments! Enjoy this season!