Catching Up on Life.

It has been eleven weeks since our baby joined us earth-side. He smiles, laughs and coos now. His arms flap in excitement and his legs kick like crazy. He makes his presence known and cries when discomfort or boredom strikes. He can also tolerate chilling in a bouncer or his high chair for a few minutes. Right now he is asleep in his cradle in our room while I type this on the sofa. That fact alone is a revelation. We embraced the fourth trimester to the fullest – but I won’t lie and say that coming out the other side isn’t a little bit sweet. 

It’s hard to describe how quickly time is passing. His body is growing and he is all cheeks and double chins. His hands are fat and his rubber band wrists are deepening by the day. Before I had a baby I knew that it would be hard. I was prepared for the crying and the discomfort and the ‘babies be babies’ unanswerable questions. I was prepared for the love too. It’s the kind of love that makes you involuntarily grit your teeth because it’s all so cute it hurts. I wasn’t prepared for the monotony or the boredom or the loneliness. Babies are sweet but they are not good company. I am the first mama of any of my friend groups and at the breastfeeding meetings I feel a generation younger than everyone else. Husbands and house-hunting are not really on my radar right now. (Though if I win the lotto house-hunting is top of my list…just pass me the ticket!) 

We named our baby Tadhg Cian – Cian after my cousin and Tadhg because we liked it. We call him Tiger-Tadhg. Every day we love him more. He likes to be cuddled and kissed and having his face rubbed. 


It’s been 17 weeks since our baby was born. Six weeks since I wrote the above thoughts. I had no recollection of what I wrote, or that I even wrote it. Just like I rarely remember what day it is or if I brushed my teeth this morning (I did, today, for the record). Babies will do that to you. They are all consuming little beings.

I can’t even begin to unravel the past four months. How did I feel when my baby’s hot, damp, heavy body was placed on my chest for the very first time? It was a lifetime ago. I hardly recall how much it hurt and how I cried as soon as I saw my own mama, the weight of the past 14 hours suddenly washing over me. Who was that girl crying desperately in bed, wishing it would all be easier, wishing someone else could just feed the baby, just once? My body felt more foreign than ever before. And yet, I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world. It has all been the making of us. 

“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”  
– Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things.

Cheryl knows a thing or two about new mama-hood. 

Our days have a rhythm to them now. I won’t bore you with the details but yesterday I got two solid chunks of ‘nap-time’ where Tadhg slept in his crib and I got to revel in the gloriousness of being alone. Right now he is screeching at me from his bouncer, a grin spread across his face. He smiles so readily. First thing in the morning when he mooches and groans all I have to do is say ‘good morning’ and look into his eyes and he BEAMS at me. Rich tries to get his attention and he complies with a flashy grin but quickly returns his heart eyes to his mama. After waking multiple times a night to feed and comfort him, I have to admit, it feels pretty good. 

It is still lonely, and it is still strange to stay at home every day. I think the only way this would all feel perfectly balanced was if I had two bodies and could send one to work and leave the other at home with my boy. That’s not going to happen anytime soon and so I’m practicing making peace with the present. 

There are Two Ways to be Rich

I bought this print years ago and had it tucked away in a drawer – waiting for the day I could afford to have it framed. Professional framing is not something that is in my budget right now but oh how nice it would be. In the time since passed it has lost some of its aesthetic appeal (so many typefaces!) but the message speaks more to me now than it did years ago. 

I decided, after a couple of weeks of moping in the lead up to pay day (coupled with a rather fat bill from the US taxman…grrrr), that I needed an attitude adjustment. Our financial situation is unlikely to drastically change in the near future and so my attitude towards it must. Rich is a relative term and I can’t help but feel equal parts frustrated and humiliated when I lament our low bank balances while still able to fill our fridge, drive our car and pay our bills. And so herein lies the need for a change of perspective.

There are two ways to be rich: earn more or want less. A new house motto. 

An entrepreneurial nature coupled with a fondness of babies lead to me a lucrative babysitting career early on. Chasing toddlers and reading bedtime stories fuelled my teenage spending habits. It afforded me new outfits, foreign adventures, college trips and much more in between. I saved and budgeted where needs be – but I had no true expenses beyond clothing myself. Almost all of my spending was discretionary now that I think about it. 

Thankfully those years of earning and saving and spending within my means prepared me for the sudden thrust into the world of full on adult responsibility. But being prepared doesn’t mean its all fun and games. I wander aimlessly through aisles, running my fingers through racks of soft cottons and linens. I eye up cute baby shoes and squish wooly cardigans – wishing I could just take it to the till without a second thought or hit that ‘purchase’ button without hesitation. Part of the frustration lies in that I can’t wear anything I want to. I am so frustrated with this body for doing its job so well. I am tired and grumpy and swollen and so unbelievably ready for it to be over. I want to lie on my front and sleep without needing to pee every ninety minutes. 

And then I look into my fridge full of food, my freezer of meals prepared and tucked away, I feel the warmth of the room when I walk in from work and I relish in the heat of the shower as it hits my skin at a pressure more desirable than most and I know that I have more than enough. My baby kicks and wriggles and jives inside me and I know that I am fortunate. I don’t have to climb into a boat and risk my life because my home has become unbearably dangerous. I don’t have to starve or worry about where my next meal will come from. I have clean clothes, a dishwasher, a place to sleep and a person to figure out all this adult shit alongside. 

The extraneous stuff can wait. I will earn and grow and achieve more than I know possible at this point in time. I will one day sleep on my stomach again. It will be worth it.

Learning to want less is not about being mean or cheap or a martyr. It’s simply a shift in focus, a minor attitude adjustment and a leaning towards creativity in place of consumerism. I think for the most part I am up for the challenge. 

Spreading the News.

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This is what it looks like when you tell your best friends from college that you can’t go travelling with them next year because you’re going to have a baby.

Fiona in Vietnam, Kirstyn in Knocklyon, Nicole in Monaghan, and me in Berkeley. Four friends in three different timezones and four very different places. 


I found out I was pregnant on a Saturday morning in Berkeley, California. I glanced at the test casually, assuming it would be negative because I must have been paranoid and it was just a weird feeling after all.

I nearly lost my legs when I saw the plus sign. I freaked out, heart thumping like a drum in my chest. I showered, got dressed and took a photo of myself in the mirror; a strange compulsion to document the moment overrode my initial panic. I promptly went back to work at the table and watched the entire series first of Grey’s Anatomy in one sitting. Denial. Evasion. Whatever. 

Rich was at work. He text me to tell me he was going to be late and I played normal. I honestly didn’t know what he’d say. This was something we wanted some year soon but not exactly something we had intended for right now. 

When he got home I thrust the test at him and burst into tears. I’ll never forget his face. It lit up with pure joy. Moments later the panic and fear and complete thunderstorm of everything washed over him but that first split second of joy told me that everything was going to be perfectly OK. 

I cried a lot. I was really angry and scared and frustrated. I felt sick and anxious and shaky for days. I couldn’t think straight or function clearly or focus on anything. I started waking up at 5am, nauseous and exhausted.

We talked about all of our options. I told my bosses and friend in work and talked to them about every possible potential outcome. It felt empowering to know that I had a choice in this situation. Even though I am 100% pro choice in every sense of the word, I never thought that I would have or want an abortion. But the reality of a situation is different to the theoretical and that is why having a choice is paramount. It felt good to know that we could choose if we wanted to go down this road or not and that it was going to be OK either way. I felt incredibly supported but still completely confused. I went out to look for pregnancy books and instead bought Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly; I needed some guts.

I started going to acupuncture. It felt like part needle sticking and part therapy. The acupuncturist’s partner was also pregnant and so he knew all the right things to say and questions to ask. I relished the time on his table to voice the running stream of chatter in my mind. He told me he thought that our baby just couldn’t wait to be ours. That maybe we weren’t ready but that the baby might be. 

We decided to have the baby. We agreed that while we didn’t plan the pregnancy, we could plan for the baby. And that was enough for us. 

We love each other and we’re going to love the hell out of this baby.


Now I am 30 weeks and the countdown is on. Our baby punches and jabs my insides, lodging parts of himself in my ribcage at the most inopportune times. I almost fell asleep at my desk on Tuesday and was in bed my 9pm. I am knitting and cleaning and constantly frustrated with how no matter how much I tidy and clean, the kitchen is perpetually messy. I  try and to do too many things in too short a time and burn myself out. I am ready for it to be over. 



New York

Some days it feels like we never lived in California. Our life here is so far removed from anything we experienced there. Walking to walk, damp and drizzly, trying not to slip on Dublin’s cobble stones couldn’t be further from my hot and sweaty cycle through Oakland’s colourful neighbourhoods and along Jack London’s stunning waterfront. I get flashes of it all sometimes and it feels more like a weird dream than a true memory. I often find myself thinking ‘we did all that? How crazy.’ 

We flew to New York City at the end of October. It was a sort of mini break before diving head first into our new (old) home in Dublin. Rich had never been and I was excited to revisit, especially in Autumn. All that awful first trimester nausea had finally subsided and I was ready to stretch my legs and adventure for a few days.

We walked everywhere and ate our weight in everything. It was so sweet to wander and talk and have one big long uninterrupted date. We ate Shake Shack and nutella crepes and dive-y pizza and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches from Chelsea Market and amazing cookies and maybe Shake Shack again and about a million other things in between. We walked the entire length of The Highline, took the Subway across the water to DUMBO and walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked to see the Flatiron and rushed our way through Times Square (not for the claustrophic, crowd hating, slow walking averse!), we walked along the waterfront and visited Ground Zero. On our last day our paths crossed with a friend from home and we found ourselves ducking in from the downpour for pints in a pub as if we were back in Dublin. It was busy and bustling and the weather was crisp and autumnal. We had a ball and can’t wait to go back some day. Here are some photos if you’d like to see… 

It’s good to be Home.

We flew into Dublin airport on a Thursday morning. Two weeks ago today. Rich spotted a Dublin bus from the air as we landed. We revelled at all the green fields and trees and grey drizzly sky. Though it was nothing compared to the torrential downpour we left behind in New York. A whistle stop tour in which we walked and ate and walked and ate and walked some more. In other words, the best kind of tour. I’ll post some photos if I ever find that roll of film we shot. 

Rich kept saying he wasn’t sure if he was ready. Was this ok? Were we right in coming home? [did we have a choice?] All good things must come to an end and I gave him a firm ‘yes.’  I had no doubt really. This is home. Nowhere else will ever be that. The streets, the people, the smells and sounds,  the familiar clouds in the sky—together they make up our home and my place in this world. The place I want my baby to know and love [keep reading, I’ll get there]. I feel comfortable, even though our situation is anything but right now. Precariously living back at home—and someone else’s home at that!—after year of independent bliss is challenging. To say the least of it. 

We came home with excess baggage in the form of five suitcases, one large cardboard box, a bicycle, helmet & skateboard, two backpacks and an unborn seventeen week old potential somebody. Surprised? Tell me about it!

We surprised my brother on his doorstep at 10 am. Tears sprung from his eyes upon seeing us. It was worth the lying and the butterflies. My niece hugged me with her chubby little arms spread wide and showed Rich everything in her bedroom, pointing and laughing. That was all the confirmation I could ever need. Our people are here and this is our place. 

One day soon I’ll write about all the things I learned and all the ways we grew. There will be time for photos and sharing and keeping track of what’s what. For now we are home and that is enough. 


I scribbled this out one day as a response to ‘show me love’ [an assignment for a poster making class]—it lived above our bed for a year; an often necessary and worthwhile reminder.