Henry is one month old now, which is hard to believe. Not, I hasten to add, because time is flying (as it does when you are having fun) but because time has somehow morphed and stretched so that the last month felt like a year. This is what time does when instead of having fun you are actually being tortured! Okay not tortured but things have been a bit chaotic. I think that my abiding memory of this period of Henry’s life will be a pervading sense of uncertainty. Is this right, is that right, is he hungry, is he tired, does he hate us? Will he sleep for the next five minutes or randomly for five hours? If I try to bring him to the shops will it end in disaster? Oh he appears to have dropped off will I use this precious time to do the dishes/have a shower/ hang the laundry/or just sit staring at a wall?
I think what really is compounding all this confusion is that there is no beginning or end to the days with a tiny baby (or maybe just with my tiny baby). While the rest of the world watches The Good Wife with a cup of tea before popping off to bed I am trying to have a quick nap to help me through the night. Tom minds Henry while I try to have a sleep but it always feels like just two minutes have past since I shut my eyes to when Tom wakes me to go and feed the baby again. For the first three weeks Henry and I slept together in a little bed in his room so that Tom could get a good nights rest as his job is very physically demanding. Co-sleeping is something that everyone seems to have an opinion about. Before I became a mother I was actually pretty anti the idea, as I couldn’t understand how a mother wouldn’t roll on top of the baby. However from night one it felt like the right thing for Henry and me. At first Henry would feed or cry for most of the night but I am glad to report that things are starting to settle more and more as the weeks have past and now we are teaching him to sleep on his own in his little basket. I think it is pretty difficult to impose a routine on a baby so young so I’ve tried to just roll with it and not stress too much about the routine I know it will come. I think for breastfeeding it is important not to dwell too much on how often or for how long Henry is feeding, as every baby is different. For now I am just accepting that he needs me a lot and try to remind myself that one day I’ll miss this. Because having a one month old baby is essentially like having a conjoined twin I have perfected the art of one handed toast buttering which I’m told means that I am now officially a mother!
My main criteria for most meals now is that they can easily be consumed one handed because I actually find it is easiest to eat my meals while Henry is nursing (I just pop a napkin on him!). This macaroni and cheese bake is beyond comforting and tasty too.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Ham and Peas (serves 4)
- 200g dried macaroni pasta
- Drizzle of olive oil
- 25g butter
- 25g flour
- 500 ml low fat milk
- Good sprinkling grated nutmeg
- 100g grated Comte cheese (or cheddar or gruyere if preferred)
- 300g frozen peas
- 200g cooked ham, chopped
Boil the pasta in a small pot. When the pasta is cooked drain, lightly rinse with cold water and toss with a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. In a small pot over a medium heat melt the butter and stir in the flour and cook while still stirring for 1-2 minutes then begin to stir in the milk about 100ml at a time making sure it is fully incorporated and thickening nicely before pouring more in. Allow the sauce to bubble a bit between each addition. Season with the nutmeg and then stir in the 3/4 of the Comte. Mix the pasta, peas and ham into the sauce, pour into an oven proof dish, sprinkle the top with the remaining comte and grill or bake in a hot oven until it is bubbling and the top is nicely golden.