Motherhood and music: Jenn Grant celebrates a New Year, growing family

A warm winter light filters in through Jenn Grant's kitchen as she balances her one-year-old son on her hip and fills cookie jars with shortbread using her free hand.

It will be a joyful Christmas.

This month, the Lake Echo, N.S., singer-songwriter celebrated the birthday of the baby she and her husband spent five years trying to conceive.

And it's the end of a year filled with firsts: Gus's first word, "mama," Grant's first tour as a parent and a new album, Love, Inevitable, that translated the longing and love she felt for her son into song.

And, she's pregnant again.

'The best news ever'

The discovery was both a shock and "the best news ever," Grant said.

To become a parent for the first time, she underwent two cycles of in vitro fertilization, as well as therapies without success.

Now, four months into her second pregnancy, she said she was told the likelihood of having a baby without intervention sat at about two per cent.

"So we're really lucky," she said, looking at her son run a wooden truck along the floor.

"To me, it kind of feels like they're both miracles … Gus was such a miracle baby because he took such a long time and we put so much effort into getting this guy — and the other one, just like out of nowhere, it's just a surprise."

'A really crazy year'

Becoming a parent has created a shift in priorities for Grant and her husband and producer, Daniel Ledwell.

Her music and her desire to share it with the people who support her — including her son — has been one of the driving forces in her life, but after a year of travel and touring with a baby, Grant said she expects to focus her touring on markets where she's already well established.

"It was a really crazy year, because I released a record after [Gus] was born and I did the photo shoot for it, like, six weeks after having an unplanned caesarean after labour," she said.

"So it was a lot. It was very challenging, but he's been a really easy, beautiful baby the whole time and that's a real gift."

Grant recalls how when they were in Europe and Gus was still on Nova Scotia's time zone, he would be awake, watching her perform, waving at the audience from the side of the stage.

Laura Fraser/CBC

In Canada, Grant would breastfeed Gus, put him down to sleep, play a show and return to find him with his eyes closed, tiny limbs curled into himself.

It was a beautiful time, she said, but also extraordinarily challenging. There was the unbridled joy she felt at becoming a parent, which sometimes competed with the anxiety she felt in her new role. There was also the physicality of being on tour and travelling.

Grant said it wasn't until about four or five months after Gus was born that she fully felt like herself again.

"And for me — I don't think it's the same for everyone, it's an individual experience — but I did feel like it kind of broke me in a lot of ways," she said. "I did have to rebuild myself kind of while I was on tour and on stage and everything and I really feel stronger than before."

Laura Fraser/CBC

Grant said some of that has fed into her music and her writing. While her song In My Arms, came from becoming Gus's mother, Grant has yet to write about the baby she's carrying now.

"But I think that there are a lot of places to draw from, because life has expanded," she said. "And that's where we get inspiration from, the life around us."