the new tattoo

When our daughter lay in the ICU on her second day of being alive in the world, we stood above her bed and asked her to breathe. Her small hands were strapped to the bed because she was already so strong she nearly ripped out her breathing tube. (Somehow, though, she kept making a Buddhist mudra with her fingers and held it.) Her feet were tangled up in cords and covered in bandaids where the wonderful nurses took another vial of blood for tests to see what was keeping her from breathing. As soon as the nurses and doctors finished, Danny and I went back to holding hands over her isolette, leaning down to kiss any place on her face we could find without breathing tube, feeding tube, or tape keeping both of them attached to her.

We watched her, touched her, sang to her, and read stories to her. We tried to never leave her bedside. And every few moments, we leaned our faces down and said, in our sweetest voices, “Breathe, sweetie. Breathe. You know how to do it. You can. Just breathe.”

I promised myself that if she lived, I would get this tattoo.

She started breathing. She got her breathing tube out on Danny’s birthday. “Best present I ever got,” he says. By my birthday, she was home with us.

And now, she’s alive. This girl? She’s tough. After all she has been through, she tumbles and comes up laughing. She’s talking up a storm, saying thank you after meals, reading under the dining room table completely absorbed. She’s active and in love with life, jumping on the bed as much as she can, her eyes wide open, her legs strong.

It is our greatest joy to be with her, to help her leap into life.

danny helping Lucy to leap

Two weeks ago, it was time to keep that promise I made to myself.

This is my new tattoo: breathe. It’s on the underside of my right wrist, where I can see it easily, when I type or talk or wonder what to do next. For those of you who are font geeks, like me, it’s in Garamond. A wonderful young man named Casey, who once was my student, almost 15 years ago, gave me this tattoo.

It feels good.

This tattoo is a sea change for me. (The name of the tattoo place is Sea Change.) I love the yes tattoo I got nearly five years ago. Everything that is good in my life has arrived to me from putting that yes upon me permanently. I will always live it.
But that yes has been outward and sometimes loud and throwing open my arms. This one feels more inward, slower, a chance to really breathe.

I need a chance to breathe right now. This has been quite the year.

Danny and I are eternally grateful for your comments, questions, and wonderful support. We are still in shock that our cookbook was named one of the best of 2010 by The New York Times. (and proud.) But better yet have been your letters telling us about dishes you made, successes with bread and pizza, the way our story has moved you and given you hope. We will never, ever forget this time.

And these past three weeks, coming at the end of the fullest, most delicious few months of our lives, have been filled with pounds of butter, flours on the counter, and 14 gluten-free cookie recipes. I’ve been thinking about cookies, working on ratios, making flour mixes, baking, photographing, writing recipes, writing essays, answering questions, and going back at it again the next day.

I hope you won’t think I’m complaining if I say I’m exhausted. I’m happy too. Still, I can’t remember the last time I had a day off from work.

Oh that’s right. I do. August 6th. My birthday.

Time to breathe.

So we’ll be taking a break from the blog for the next few weeks. We’ll be back on January 10th with new recipes, videos about techniques, and ideas for you in the kitchen. (It’s all going to be vegetables, whole grains, and green smoothies for awhile. I have no interest in sugar right now.) A real vacation.

Well, not entirely. I’ll still be working — so sorry if you have sent me an email in the past five months and I have not answered — and we’ll both be cooking and baking. We just need a little chance to revive ourselves, to look at food in a new way, and imagine new projects that might be on the horizon.

Mostly, though, I want a little more sleep, some time to read, and the chance to hold Lucy’s hands while she jumps on the bed without thinking of the post I need to publish that day. I don’t want to miss a minute with this kid.

Time to breathe.

Danny and Lu and I hope that all of you reading have a restful holiday, whatever that holiday might be. We hope there is enough food for a great dinner in a warm house with family and friends. We hope you eat cookies you didn’t think you were going to eat again because we published these recipes. (If you did make any of the cookies from the past three weeks, and you had success, would you mind sharing your stories here? I’d love to hear.) We hope you laugh so hard your stomach hurts.

Mostly, I hope that you breathe.

Happy New Year, everyone. See you in 2011.

26 comments on “breathe.

  1. Chez Us

    Overdue note to say happy holidays and happy new year! Lovely post; warm and full of hope. We all really should take the time to breathe!


  2. Courage Cooks

    I am so glad that you are taking time for yourself, starting this year with peace in your heart. I hope you and your family are joyous, and having wonderful adventures or having wonderful quiet time at home.

    I received your cookbook for Christmas, and it is absolutely amazing. Not only are the recipes fantastic, but your writing is so smooth and flows seamlessly. You absolutely deserved the recognition from the New York Times.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Suzanne

    I made the wedding cookies and lemon bars with great success! I love weighing and measuring of the various flours…very therapeutic! Unfortunately for me and my pants the cookies are too good and I ate them all. I will make more and will have to pace myself. Maybe make smaller batches now that I know how to measure by weight. I’d love to try biscuits with the flour…have you a recipe? Thanks so much and I hope you have been enjoying your well deserved family break!

  4. Amanda

    That was beautiful! I very much enjoyed reading your story and look forward to following your blog.
    Many, many breaths to you and yours 🙂


  5. Alison St. Sure

    Very nice post Shauna. Enjoy your time off. I am giving away a copy of your cookbook at our next Gluten Intolerance Group meeting – I know people will be excited!

  6. Darla @ Bakingdom

    What a wonderful tattoo and beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. I must say that I always leave your blog feeling so calm. From your photos (of food and family alike) to your writing and recipes, you always seem to convey a sense of peace, and it is a joy to visit. Thank you!

  7. Rochel

    Hope you are enjoying your last weekend before you come back to us! We miss you much. I cannot wait to see what you have in store in 2011.

  8. Michael

    I love the blog and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes on your site 🙂 keep em coming and keep inspiring others too as well. 🙂

  9. Lisa

    I agree with the writer who stated how calm she is when she leaves your post. I adore coming to you each morning while sipping my cup of coffee. It’s become my morning ritual just to make the world outside slow down. I demand it for myself! I’ve also bought your cookbook & reading each page is such therapy for me. Wish I were one of the friends sitting at your table. You guys are great! Take all the time you need to regroup…we’ll be here waiting for you.

  10. Beth B

    How touching!
    I have a micro-preemie too. A 25 weeker. I lost count in the 6 months in the NICU of how many hours I silently willed her to get stronger! She is an amazing 4 1/2 yr old who is catching up everyday! Your post about your backstory on your tattoo made me cry. I am too so grateful that my own strong little girl is here and babbling too! Much love to you and yours.

  11. marichucky

    Dear Shauna,
    I love your tattoo. I usually don’t like tattoos, but this one of yours it’s simply beautiful for its meaning. I am so happy for you (Danny and you) to have your little Lu with you.
    I am now pregnant (20 weeks) and I can only imagine what you went through with your little bean. Sorry for not have had time to cook any of the recipes you sent me some months ago, before your book was published. About cookies, I’ve never tried them… maybe I should forget my fears about cooking…
    Will you ever come to Barcelona – Spain? 🙂
    Best wishes.

  12. Flo Makanai

    Your way of having a so fundamental word/verb tattooed on your arms is beautiful, so full of life and desire to live it to the fullest. I hope 2011 will be a year where you will all three more than often breathe together in unison. Even if it means a little less shared with all of us readers here 😉

  13. Lady Jennie

    I love your tattoo. I love that your daughter is so healthy and full of life.

    I am going to be looking for those cookies recipes. I am exploring an idea of doing more baking where I am in France as a way of some pocket money and a chance to share the delicious baked goods from my country. I’m intimidated by the utter lack of appropriate ingredients (and the price), but it’ll be a fun thing to explore.

    I was completely amazed by the chocolate chip recipe with sea salt on top because every batch I’ve ever made of GF choc chip cookies has been a disaster until I tried this recipe.

    Congrats on your cookbook. Have some well-deserved time off to breathe.

  14. Bailey Nielson

    Your blog is truly beautiful. It makes me happy to see such a gorgeous family full of life and love. It’s the times we stumble that our family truly grows. Would you mind if I post this photo of your tattoo on my blog?

Comments are closed