Espen from Curt copy

I come to you from the trenches.  Deep, deep in the trenches.

It is boggling my mind every day how much an instant can change your life.  Yes, there was an entire pregnancy and then labor to facilitate the transition into motherhood, but really there was no transition at all.  You’re different while pregnant, but your world is basically the same, and you, your identity is fundamentally the same as it has been.  And then there is this moment when a tiny squirming little person that you’ve never seen before and yet is so familiar is placed on your chest.  BAM.  No time, no preparation, suddenly everything is different.  All the old scraps and remnants of your previous world are still there sure, but the axis has shifted and your orbit has taken on a whole new shape.  One for which there is no way to be prepared.  One that has become geared in every way toward serving the needs of this brand new life.

I spend some time every day at approximately 5 pm crying because it is bewildering to have most things around you look and behave the same when you yourself feel so thoroughly changed.  I keep trying to think it through to make some sense, however vague, of it all.  This, of course, is a pointless endeavor.  There’s no sense to be made.  It’s not a cognitive thing.  That’s something kind of hard for a person like me who likes to think, and dissect, and make sense of, in order, I suppose, to achieve some illusion of control.  But, any mom, I imagine, can tell you that there is no control, or sense, or predictability that can be achieved through thinking, at least not in the first weeks and months.  It’s all physical and emotional.

Espen from Shirleen 2

Espen from Shirleen 3

So physical.  Sheesh.  Poop and pee and spit up and milk everywhere.  You can’t think your way through all that – better not to try.  Nor through the cycle of feeding, burping, changing, soothing, repeat, repeat, repeat.

And then there’s the mess of feelings.  A maddening pile-up of opposites, of utter bliss combined with total desperation.  You wouldn’t think it possible to be so happy and feel so destroyed at the same time.  The sleep deprivation and its effects really are something, especially when your little love is not really into sleeping lying down but would much rather stay sound asleep only if held in your arms.  (And who could blame him really?  A mattress is a far cry from a womb.)  There have been a good number of nights in these last three (almost 4, whoa!) weeks where I’ve only gotten an hour or two of sleep.  And even those one or two hours may have been stolen while sitting, propped up by pillows in a big safe chair.  How long  is it that you have to go with no sleep before insanity can legally be used as a defense for you in court?

Espen from Shirleen 1

If I’m being quite honest about the whole thing, it has some elements of torture – being kept awake walking back and forth making shushing sounds when you are so bone tired you wish you could dig a hole into the ground to curl up in and sleep for a year.  But you are a slave, and the moment you hear that cry you are completely awake and there, to do whatever needs doing.  There is certainly a part of me at 3 am that wants to run or hide or rewind or do anything to get away from the responsibility.  But there is another deeper, more powerful part of me that is happy to serve.  Because my heart isn’t mine anymore.  Because I melt when I see my little babe, when his little hand reaches up toward me and accidentally thwaps my nose, when he coughs and screws up his face like a little frog, when he snuggles into my chest to sleep, when he smiles as he dreams.

I’m looking forward to the day in a year, or whenever it will be, when the intensity of these early weeks have melted away leaving just  a montage of lovely, happy scenes.  We’re digging in and surviving.  But at the same time, I do treasure these moments as trying and exhausting as it all is.  I was folding Espen’s teeny tiny newborn sized onesies, clothing that was too big for him when we brought him home from the hospital, but which is now tight enough that we’re graduating him up to size 0-3 months (such a big boy!), and I could tell that I really actually was going to miss this time, when he was so very small, and needed us so very much, and fit so perfectly up against my chest or in the crook of my arm.

tomato cobbler 1

These weeks have also made me fall in love with my wonderful, supportive community of friends and family all over again.  It takes a village to raise a child.  But, in that child’s first weeks, it is the new mother and father that need that village to embrace them and hold them up as they falter forward, finding their way into their new roles as parents.  We are so blessed to have that village.  The kindnesses of these weeks have been too many to count, from the visits with champagne and cookies, to a surprise  piece of cake delivered from a favorite restaurant, to holding the baby so we could eat with both hands, to responding to my SOS text one night when Joel had to work to come and soothe Espen and give me 3 consecutive hours of sleep.  And of course all the meals!  In the last three and a half weeks, I’ve only had to cook dinner for us 3 times.  On all the other days, a parade of nourishing food has been brought to us and sustained us.

I’m still too underslept to be terribly inspired by the kitchen, but I can feel the desire to cook starting to creep back in.  I look forward to it. For now though, I have a recipe for you from right before Espen arrived.  Actually, we made it on one of the days I was in early labor (it took a couple of (uncomfortable) days – oof).  The cherry tomato cobbler idea is from Joy the Baker.  A friend brought her version of  it to a potluck at our house right before we left Boston, and I’ve been itching to make it ever since.  Our garden finally yielded enough cherry tomatoes, so cobbler it was.  Rather than blue cheese biscuits, I decided to make extra cheesy goat cheese biscuits for the topping.  It’s absolutely delicious.  I know tomatoes are basically over for the year, but I thought I’d share the recipe anyway, so as soon as you have enough cherry tomatoes next year, you can make it!

tomato cobbler 2


*All the baby photos except the first were taken by our amazingly talented friend and photographer Shirleen.  Thank you Shirleen!!!*


5.0 from 2 reviews
Cherry tomato cobbler with flaky goat cheese biscuits
Serves: 6
  • For the biscuit topping:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan
  • 6 tablespoons cold, salted butter, cut intp ½" chunks
  • 1 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (chevre)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • For the cobbler filling:
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 lbs. cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh basil
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  1. To make the biscuits, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Use your fingers to quickly rub in the butter until you have a sandy mixture with lots of pea-sized chunks of butter left in it.
  2. Stir in the crumbled goat cheese and buttermilk until everything is just combined, then use your hands to gather all the dough and press it into a ball.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, press the dough out into a rectangle that's ½-inch thick. Fold the dough in half, and press it back out to ½-inch thick. Fold again, press into a rectangle that is between ¾ to 1 inch thick, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
  4. Heat your oven to 375F.
  5. To make the filling, heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat until the butter is foaming. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes to brown the onions, then turn the heat down to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are well caramelized, 15-20 minutes, adding the garlic for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.Toss the onion-garlic mixture, with the balsamic vinegar.
  6. In a large bowl, toss together the cherry tomatoes with the basil, 3 Tbs. flour and red pepper flakes. Stir in the onion mixture, then transfer to a baking dish.
  7. Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge, and cut it into 2 inch squares or circles and lay these over the tomato filling. You may have some extra biscuits - you can bake those up on the side, or freeze them to bake later.
  8. Bake the cobbler until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, and the tomatoes are bubbling, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker and The Bojon Gourmet.


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15 Responses to Cherry tomato cobbler with flaky goat cheese biscuits

  1. Amanda says:

    Hey, I saw this post come in and I just wanted to reach out with support. I have a daughter just over two and I still remember how hard this time is. I cannot express how difficult it was, at least for me, to adjust to a “no schedule” schedule or always being available on demand, never sleeping, being unable to do nearly anything for myself – its a hard hard time. The worst of the sleep deprivation should pass in a few months. If your little one wants to be held, I strongly recommend you place them in the carrier of your choice and just wear it all the time. I started out using a Moby wrap and then gradually moved on to an Ergo with an infant insert. The Ergo was just way easier for me to put on by myself (in my sleep deprived state.) Anyways, I think for me the feelings of grief for my previous way of life (I missed cooking in the kitchen, eating out, frankly small things that ended up meaning so much to me once they were gone) didn’t really start to pass until I became totally adjusted to my new life. For me this was probably closer to a 1 year to 1.5 year mark. I had to give up cooking as a primary hobby except when I had extra help or after the baby went to sleep at night. Once you get a full night’s sleep again things start to feel more do-able. I also had to find new “baby compatible” hobbies like long afternoon walks. I found my child would fall asleep quickly in the stroller and if I kept walking I could get quiet mental time. Anyways, the only other thing I wanted to say is watch out for your blue periods. If they start to increase or stay the same as time goes on, please consider talking to your doctor. Post partum depression is very difficult to objectively spot for yourself. With everything so different, so little sleep, so much stress, etc – its easy to not to realize that perhaps you need some extra help. I think that looking back on things I was very depressed but because I was able to function very well, it went untreated.

  2. LaReesa says:

    You write so eloquently and honestly! I love reading your words. Congrats on your bundle of joy (and stress) and I hope things settle down soon 🙂

  3. Aunty Kathy says:

    Wow, what a beautifully expressed post. You are such a good writer Emily. I’m glad you are in such a supportive community.

  4. Gloria says:

    Beautifully expressed, Emily. I think all mothers can relate to that joy of just holding your newborn and enjoying every little move they make. It’s wonderful you have the support of family and friends. I love your photos. 🙂

  5. Leigh says:

    What a wonderful post, you totally had me at “Cherry tomato cobbler with flaky goat cheese biscuits”, but then you had to go and post pictures of your most amazingly beautiful baby. I am just 8 weeks pregnant today. I know that is to early to spill the beans, but if you or anyone else has been through 3 years of infertility hell, you tell everyone, and your friends are there to encourage you, hug you, and pray for you, and it is way better than feeling alone. So thank you for blogging about what you are experiencing. And, after I get my kitchen unpacked and settled into our new house, I am so going to make your Cherry tomato cobbler with flaky goat cheese biscuits recipe, and eat the beejeezus out of it.

  6. amanda says:

    I feel like I’m supposed to comment on the baby and though I liked reading about him, I’m going to comment on the cherry tomatoes. I have two plants. They are both very tall. They flowered very late. Neither one made any cherry tomatoes. Does anyone know what i did wrong? I love cherry tomatoes and I really want to make this recipe

  7. I can SO relate, as my little one will turn one month old tomorrow. In fact, I wrote something similar on my own blog last week ( if you want to commiserate). It’s amazing how much this period really challenges you physically, mentally, and emotionally. But those good moments? Oh, they are so sweet, aren’t they? It’s hard, hard work. I’m glad you have such a loving, supportive community to help you too. That makes such a difference. My parents have also been wonderfully helpful. And your little Espen is absolutely precious. I hope you’ll share more photos of him as he grows up! In the meantime, hang in there momma. I’m sure you’re doing a stellar job, and they do say it’ll get easier. Here’s hoping anyway! 😉

  8. Devi says:

    Well done and congratulations!!! Your new addition to your family is so beautiful and does look quite content and happy with his world, even if its at the cost of your sleep. Eep!

  9. What a beautiful essay on motherhood. You will be glad to have this journal-like record when it does become a blurred memory. Thanks for the most gorgeous piece of prose I’ve read in a long time, and thanks for sharing such an intimate time in your life with us.

  10. Nancy says:

    Amanda is a wise woman. It’s been 19 years since the birth of our baby. She just went off to college, another very happy,so sad experience. Go talk to a professional if the turmoil continues – sleep when the baby sleeps and get some exercise. Except all forms of help. This is 100% of his life and a tiny bit of yours. It was 4 months after birth and suddenly our daughter and I were making sense together. Cooking? There will b time. I like control. Perhaps these changes hit those of us who expect we r in control

  11. Lauren says:

    I’m a new mom, too, but thankfully past those first few weeks. They are the hardest – I was mourning my old life while also loving this new little creature. You expressed that moment of change so well…there is no way to prepare for it. Boom, it hits you. I wanted to reach out to tell you that it really does pass and it does get better. Being a first time mom, I think the hardest part is that you never think the present stage is going to end. I still feel that way when a hard few days sneak up on me. But I am learning that these are all phases. I feel your sense of loss of control…I am (was) a professional who often measured my success by accomplishing a list of things during the day. Order made me feel comfortable. And a baby definitely doesn’t allow for too much order. It took me awhile to recognize I was missing that order…and now that I have, I am moving past it. My little girl just turned six months old. Everyday is getting more fun and I’m forgetting that life without her and starting to dream of what’s to come with her in our life.
    Wishing you sleep – and peace with your days. And soon those smiles will come and sleep and coos and giggles.

  12. What a beautiful baby you have. He is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing those deep feelings of yours and the love you have for your son. Take some time out and get some sleep, some of your family members will take care of your treasure. My mom always tells me how my grandfather would pick me up when I cried as a baby and walk me around until I went back to sleep. My grandfather is long gone, but the love he had for me is still with me.

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  14. Gabrielle says:

    I made this for dinner with friends a few nights ago and it was a huge hit! Definitely going to have to make it for guests again.

    On another note, it’s amazing to see this post and how little Espen was compared to how much he’s grown now. You made it through this tough time and from what I can see on the outside you’re a great, loving mama!

  15. […] think Emily at Five and Spice described the “utter bliss combined with total desperation”… so perfectly. Being a mom is hard. Honestly, much harder than I ever could have imagined. […]

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