Right after Maraine was born, I felt strong.
I also felt unsure, scared, weary, and all the changing hormones that left me sobbing with gratitude when I took my first lobster-red-hot shower in 10 months (for those who don't know, doctors advise against taking really hot showers while pregnant).
Physically, though, I felt (unexpectedly) strong.
I was in awe of my body and my baby. Maraine and I had persevered through a 26-hour labor and delivery. It was extraordinary: every ounce of physical endurance, intuition, and mental fortitude I needed to push through searing contractions and work with M to bring her into the world. My birth experience gave me a confidence and wisdom of knowing I could do even more than I thought I could—even when I was sitting on a rubber doughnut at the dinner table weeks after giving birth.
In those early weeks, I was recovering and spending every waking moment tending to M. I was her own personal milk factory. It was beautiful, exhausting, and repetitive. I ached for something to spark my curiosity and to feel like a whole human adult.
About two weeks after Maraine was born, I was watching an episode of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) with M asleep on my chest. Suddenly, I felt inspired--and well enough--to get off the couch and try a baking challenge myself. So, I wrapped my sleeping daughter to my chest in a baby carrier, and I made my first-ever sandwich cake with a recipe for Pão de Lo (Portuguese Sponge Cake).
Thus started my quest to bake my way through GBBO challenges. I took pictures of every bake; typed out recipes; and started sharing photos, tips, and stories with friends. Soon, I realized it wasn't just about completing GBBO challenges. I wanted to share more than just a piece of cake—I wanted to share the life behind each bake. The science. The history. Culture. To unleash stories I hadn't shared before. To challenge myself and encourage others to do the same.
This is the spirit that BettBakes was born--and what I bring to my books, classes, and coaching. It's been humbling to be in this space sharing my curiosity and love for baking and all things Azores and Portuguese. I feel fortunate that my experience becoming a mother to Maraine has been life-changing in so many fulfilling and unexpected ways.