Today we’re talking sleep. Or lack thereof. It’s grey and wet outside, I’m already on my third load of laundry after three hours sleep total, and since I don’t drink coffee, an injection of energy and sunshine in bowl food form is exactly what I need. These tuna poke bowls provide.
When Nino was a newborn he fed every two hours, day and night, without fail. I’d leap out of bed, we’d snuggle, nurse, then spend inordinate amounts of time winding before both falling back to sleep almost immediately with Luke none the wiser to our midnight escapades. Friends and family accept that those first couple of months home from hospital are hard and offer their understanding or home cooked meals to microwave. It’s only once you hit the four month mark, it seems, that things begin to change . . .
‘How’s he sleeping?’ suddenly becomes the favourite catchphrase of everyone you meet. Not ‘does he coo like a dove’ and ‘could you lose yourself in his eyes?’ ‘Does he smell sweetly of milk, feel like velvet and melt your heart with his smiles?’ ‘Are his thighs so juicy you could sink your teeth into them and his inquisitive nature enough to make you beam with pride?’ Nope, the question on everyone’s lips is ‘Is he sleeping through the night?’ (implicit that if he isn’t, you’ve not established the right routine, are doing something wrong and that your little terror’s brain cells aren’t going to develop as exceptionally as they should).
Nino, it seems, has a lust for life. After losing twenty days of his short time on this planet to hospital beds, intensive care and more morphine than a tiny human should ever have to take, he’s making up for lost time by resisting naps, waking in the night and feeding on a ferocious schedule. I’m exhausted, Luke’s exhausted and in the middle of the night it’s easy to lose the plot, to spend far too many hours googling ‘sleep training’ and to desperately wonder why Nino’s such a night owl when other more ‘fortunate’ friends have to develop strategies for keeping their babies awake.
But the thing is, he’s a baby. He recently underwent over ten hours of open heart surgery. And he’s human. Regardless of what we’ve been through in life, we’re not a one size fits all race. Pre-pregnancy I happily survived on around six hours of sleep a night while others become crabby without ten. Diversity is what makes us interesting and although I may just cry with happiness when I finally sleep for more than four hours in a row, I wouldn’t swap our serious, smiley, inquisitive little man for all the tea in China, monstrous appetite and ability to stay up all night included. Which is why bright and easy meals in bowls are the current order of the day.
I developed these Tuna Poke Bowls with Furikake for Great British Chefs and The Japan Centre, and they’re now on regular rotation in our household. They have all the flavour and textures of sushi with far less faff, are quick to throw together and infinitely adaptable depending what veg and grains you have to hand. Everything can be slung in a single bowl and eaten with one hand which is perfect as a brand new parent and the tuna has all sorts of good fats for plumping tired eyes. Who needs sleep anyway when there’s a bowl of goodness in your tummy and a beautiful baby in your arms?