Friday, February 25, 2011

peanut noodles and the new mother

A staple of weekday meals at our house is Asian peanut noodles.  We eat it at least every week or two.  I used to make a recipe with Hoisin sauce and tomato paste among its ingredients but in the past few years, I’ve become partial to a version prepared by my friend Natalie.  I think it’s because of the memories tied into this particular recipe.

After Burrito was born (read the story here), I was completely spent.  I had envisioned a beautiful couple of weeks with just Hubby, Burrito and I at home, bonding and forming our new family.

I didn’t reckon for going without sleep for days while working harder than I had ever worked in my life.  I didn’t count on struggling with nursing (oh, the pain!  the blisters!).  I didn’t realize how little sleep you really get as a new mom.  And I certainly didn’t plan on recovering from a c-section, still being in pain and having a doctor force me to have a catheter in for TWO WEEKS (and let me tell you, that just ain’t natural). 

I was absolutely exhausted.  I was spent emotionally.  The lowest moment I remember in those days was when Hubby had to run over to church to do something right after we had come home from the hospital.  I accidentally emptied my catheter bag on myself and the floor.  It was devastating.  When you can’t even pee for yourself and then it ends up all over you, that’s the bottom of the pile.  Hubby came home to find me and Burrito on the bed, both simultaneously wailing.  He didn’t know who to help first.

If my mother hadn’t come, I don’t know what I would have done.  Now, to understand this story, you have to understand that my mother doesn’t travel.  She doesn’t like to fly or drive places.  She was a missionary for a while and I think she got all of her traveling out of the way then.  Any trips require planning of every little detail, if they happen at all.  (Mom and I are both notorious over-thinkers.)

But when my labor and delivery was so traumatic, when I had a c-section, when I was emotionally and physically broken, I think “Mama bear” kicked in for her and even though she hadn’t planned to come right away, she got herself there in just a couple of days.  It’s one of the best gifts she ever gave me.  I was able to hang on those couple of days at home because Mom was going to be there on Saturday.  She came with a family friend and they cooked and cleaned and Mom sat up with Burrito at night so I could try to rest.  I felt much safer and calm with them there, and oh so grateful.  They were so kind and so understanding.  I felt such a sense of panic when they drove away the following week.

But I was able to hang on a couple of days again.  Because Natalie was coming.  My friend Natalie is one of the most gifted and busy people I know.  She always has about a hundred balls in the air.  She is accomplished and professional and I don’t know when she sleeps.  But when she heard about my ordeal, she wanted to come too.  She drove 6 hours to our house to stay a few days and cook and clean and help. 

She prepared the most fabulous, comforting meals.  Chicken with gorgonzola, arugula, and garlic.  Three or four kinds of homemade pizza (Thai!  Chicken Sausage!).  Beer bread with tons of butter baked and crusted on top. Homemade pound cake with raspberries.  She froze her delicious cooking and I think we ate it for weeks.

The first night she was there, she made me the previously mentioned peanut noodles.  I remember her arriving with bags and bags of groceries.  I remember her asking me if I was hungry.  I sure was.  Ravenous.  She made these delicious mildly spicy noodles, glazed with peanut butter, laden with vegetables, with chicken in a Hoisin sauce on the side.  And I sat and drank a little wine.  Not too much and carefully timed between nursing times, but it was the first wine I had had in 9 months and it tasted so good.  I think it was one of the most comforting meals I’ve ever had in my life.  It was a difficult time and it would be some months before things would begin to at least somewhat turn around, but we weren’t alone.  The uncertainty, the pain, the sadness, worries…at least a little of it began to fall away as I sat and ate a big plate of noodles and chicken. 

So, I still make these peanut noodles, and I think every time I prepare them a little bit of that spirit of comfort and togetherness comes back to me.

Thank God the people in our lives who remind us that we are not alone.


  1. And thank God for the way he can use FOOD to comfort us. I like Natalie and I don't even know her! :) Can you send me this recipe?

  2. I love you, Becca! You're worth every moment, especially after bringing such a beautiful baby girl into this world!

  3. Wow, what a great story about comfort food at its best! Thanks for sharing. Ever since having a baby I have felt that a hot meal is the best gift a new mom can receive. (Actually having time to eat it is a bonus!)

  4. Thanks, Natalie! You are one awesome lady!

    Annie, I totally agree...I have never had so many times when I didn't eat enough or on time as I have as a mom!

  5. Those look delicious, and I love it when food carries connections to good friends.


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