Ari Marquez Keenan

From the first moment, we were both new.

Meet Ari. It’s been one month since our boy came into the world and all the cliches about time moving too fast are proving very true.

He was born a healthy 7.7lbs at Hospital Garcia Da Horta at exactly sunset on August 5th after about 12 hours of active labour. He arrived in a way that is at once magical and at the same time oh-so-ordinary – heavy and hot and both impossibly small and yet a complete, perfect human being.
Life right now is all nappy stations and muslin cloths and frantic googling and cuddles and breathing in his smell and dozing off and feeding and the hurried wolfing down of breakfasts, lunches and dinners and watching old movies and swaddling and just staring at his beautiful face.

The highs are impossibly high, and I’m trying so desperately to soak it all in. His soft skin. That crop of fluffy duckling hair. The adorable faces he makes when stretching. The way his bottom lip quivers right before a cry. The contented expression he wears as he falls asleep on me after a big feed. 

I’m so excited to see him grow, yet I feel teary when I put on a babygrow and it’s that little bit tighter than it was the last time he wore it.

We’ve started venturing out, and have definitely found that wearing Ari beats subjecting him to the bumpiness of a pram over Lisbon’s cobbled streets.

My wonderful doula Angela talked about new mothers existing in two wavelengths: one in the bubble with their baby, and one in the ‘real world’ and I feel this is so true. I try not to spend too much time in either – I could lose myself in hours of holding and feeding and rocking and soothing and breathing in his intoxicating baby smell but I know I need to come up for air (and, you know, food and showers). Similarly, trying to cram too much real-world stuff into a day leaves me anxious and us both irritable and cranky, craving the cool, comforting cave that is our air-conditioned living room, with easy access to muslin cloths, snacks and water.

The lows are, without a doubt, challenging – there is so much to learn, and yet all the books, posts and search results can sometimes throw up more confusion than clarity. I feel so grateful to have my sister a quick FaceTime away to ask a million and one questions to, not to mention the many amazing friends on WhatsApp and mammas on Instagram who regularly send supportive, encouraging messages and excellent advice. (If you fancy following some brilliant women, here are just a few: Abigail / Ajda / Catherine / Ciara / Clio / Heather / Kate / Marta / Sarah.)

Looking forward to sharing more (including some nerdy stuff we’ve found really useful) but for now it’s time to return to the glorious baby bubble.

Top quote. Any pics of Ari and I, as well as that gorgeous shot of him on sheepskin, by his doting dad Ben


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