No more moonlight, please. Give me the dawn. No more digitised lullabies. Give me the chirping chorus of the breaking day. No more glances at the neon clock, dividing the night into too-short chapters: 00:30, 02:00, 04:00, 6:50.
Twelve months ago, when I titled my blog "The Night Feed: words inspired by nighttime nursing", I was three months into the life of our second child, fully immersed in the milk-drenching moon-loving life-giving nocturnes of newborn survival. I blogged enthusiastically through the night feeds, stretching my right thumb across my phone's key-pad, trying to capture the stillness of the night. I romanticised the sleepless nights, delighted to be able to give our baby all the milk he needed, revelling in the confidence of a second-time mum, taking pleasure in night feeding and co-sleeping and loving every moment.
Fifteen and a half months in and the night feeding is starting to get on my tits. There's no more self-indulging nocturnal prose. No more staring at the mocking moon. No more classic FM or podcasts, Kindle time or tweeting. Little one demands his needs by calling out or waddling into our room, pulling at my top and poking my face. He gets his fill, snuggles down and stretches his limbs across the entire width of the headboard, not minding our retreating skulls as he prefers the padded board against his back.
I could sleep train. I could night wean. I could escape to an all-night rave in a tropical land.
But I don't. I continue to provide and to cuddle, to cradle his head and to rub his back. I'm up when he needs me and I sleep when he doesn't. He's almost over a bad cold and has probably been suffering with a sore throat and dry mouth. He's likely to be getting his molars soon: a dull ache to be soothed by his mother's warmth. He's growing every day, perfecting his walking and learning to run and jump; his lengthening limbs must ache and need a little rub. He's learning how to make his big brother giggle and when to give him space. His brain is computing a complicated world with a million words and faces, sounds and rules; his head must be swimming with noise. These are wonderful and frightening experiences and it's the night time when this din returns. A call for mum with a reassuring scent is all that's needed. And this is our time together. No phone calls to interrupt us. No siblings to take priority. No school runs to intrude upon his sleep. Just me and my littlest one.
Within fifteen minutes, he's back to sleep and I'm back in bed. I may not look at the moon any more, nor pick up my phone, but I'm confident that he won't be night feeding forever. Surely?
Photograph: author's own