My Mum's Beef Stew

Postpartum Depression is a cruel beast that tried to steal me away.

When my baby was born in June, I had a very easy delivery. I started pushing at 4:05pm and by 4:20pm, she was in my arms. 

Afterwards I thought, 'Wow, that was so easy!'

My naïveté, tinged with smugness, quickly ended when we left the hospital a few days later.

That's when baby's inconsolable crying and screaming began.

When I was pregnant, my parents would tell stories of me as a newborn - calm, quiet, slept through the night at six weeks, barely made a peep.

I made the mistake of assuming my child would be the same.

For weeks I sat, a tiny writhing screaming body at my breast, while I sobbed and inwardly moaned, 'I can't do this'.

Two months passed and my moans changed to silent SCREAMS, echoing over, and over, and over inside my head. 

'I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS'.

'I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS'.

'I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS'.

On a good day I wanted to get in my car, drive away and never look back.

On a bad day I wanted to die.

I knew I needed help.

My doctor diagnosed me with Postpartum Depression and referred me to the Reproductive Mental Health Services at the IWK.

I don't think my partner, my family or my friends really understood / understand how fierce of a grip it had / has on my mind.

I'm almost five months in to this whole parenting gig and things are better.

Not perfect. But better.

I now look at my baby with pure love instead of utter despair.

I don't cry every day.

I've stopped daydreaming about running away.

Stopped fantasizing about ending my life.

And I desperately want to get over the bitter sense that I was robbed of the first three months of my daughter's life.

I know I have much to be thankful for and I'm trying to be good to myself.

I'm getting outside. Taking multivitamins. Eating better. Back in my kitchen. Cooking comfort food.

And what could be more comforting than a bowl of my Mum's Beef Stew? 

I'll tell you what.

Sitting, on a cold November evening, wrapped in a cozy blanket, eating a bowl of my Mum's Beef Stew with my warm, sweet-smelling baby on my lap.

My Mum's Beef Stew

3 Tbsp vegetable oil or shortening

1/4 Cup flour

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1.5 - 2 lbs boneless beef cut into 1.5 inch pieces

4 medium onions, quartered

4 Cups water 

6 potatoes, quartered

6 carrots, cut into pieces

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp cold water

1 tsp dried summer savory

- heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat

- in a large bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper - add cubed beef and toss in flour mixture to coat

- add beef and any remaining flour mixture to pre-heated pot and cook meat until browned, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes

- add onions and water - lower heat and simmer 1.5 hours or until meat is tender

- add potatoes and carrots to pot - continue to simmer until vegetables are cooked, 30-45 minutes - just before vegetables are finished cooking, add summer savory

- in a small bowl mix cornstarch and cold water with a fork until combined - add to stew and stir in to combine - bring to a light boil and cook 5 minutes more to thicken

***Notes and Thoughts for Next Time

- For me, part of feeling better means eating better. I got local, antibiotic, steroid-free beef from Pete's

- use 4 Cups beef or onion stock instead of water - I also found onion stock cubes at Pete's- cool!

- try 3 Cups stock + 1 Cup red wine

- add parsnips. You love parsnips!

- more summer savory is a good thing

- add some Kitchen Bouquet to brown

- make this often over the winter - it makes you feel good