Its 4am when I wake.
I’ve had five hours sleep.
I’ve heard the cry of my baby from the other room. I stumble out of bed. One shaky leg after the other. I stable myself with a hand on the cupboard and make my way into the other room. Our tiny one bedroom apartment is lit with a faint blue light of a night light. I focus my just awake eyes into the cot and see my baby half awake, half asleep suckling for some food.
Suddenly I’m no longer tired. Suddenly strength comes to my limbs, my eyesight is clearer and I bend down to collect my bundle.
It’s a night time feed. Something that I once feared. Something that parents warn you about. Something that people without kids pity you for. But I’m okay with that.
I unwrap the blankets from around him. He’s squirming like an insect. Thank god for my curved change mat I think to myself. A quick nappy change later we perch ourselves on a chair by the balcony window. It’s a hot night and he is wearing only a singlet and nappy. Me, I’m just in my knickers. The freshness of the night breeze is a nice relief for our hot skin on skin.
I cradle him in my arms and he begins to suckle. His little fingers grab the skin on my chest and under my arm. His little legs kick. I look down and can just make out his beautiful features in the street light. His little ears. His perfect nose. Those chubby little cheeks.
This is serenity.
This is what being a mother is all about.
This is what life is all about.
There’s no one else awake in the house. There’s probably no one else awake in the street. There’s no sound. Can there ever be no sound though? I listen hard. There’s a clock ticking. The hum of the fridge. A distant car travelling.
I look out and see a mummy possum carrying her baby up the tree opposite our house. A night feed for her too perhaps?
I think about all the other mothers around the country who are feeding now. I wonder if they appreciate it as much as I do. I wonder if they can see the beauty and feel the closeness with their baby that I feel right now? My mind wonders to all the mums who are sleeping. Who’s babies sleep all through the night… how unlucky they are.
A quick burp from bub and a change of sides. I know my time with him tonight is limited.
I hear some stragglers walking home from the pub. How our lives differ. Mummy possum makes threatening noises to them as they pass. They make fun of her. But what I wouldn’t do to protect my bub… just like her. What I wouldn’t do to fend off threats towards my family. There are no limits.
I watch a bug, moth or insect, not sure, crawl up the wire on the window. I’m looking forward to the days when my babe can talk to me about the world around him, what he has discovered new that day. I know though that when that time comes, there will be no more night feeds, no more serenity and no more closeness by the window in the dead of the night.
It’s 4:20am. Bub is finished. He sits in my lap and we both look out into the night. The possum has gone. The people have gone. The bug has gone. There isn’t a sound. There isn’t a noise. We feel the breeze on our faces, our arms, our legs. This is serenity. This is what defines a mother. This is why it is all worth it.
My babe’s eyes begin to blink longer. And suddenly the moment is over. I know I must get him back to bed. I wrap him up. Kiss his brow. Lay him in his cot. I can just see him in the dim light – he looks up at me with his big dark eyes just one last time. I wonder what he’s thinking? “Thanks mum” or “You’re the best mum”. And then he’s asleep. I stand there for a moment and admire this being I have created. He is beautiful. He is perfect. He is mine.
I sneak back into bed. It’s 4:30am. My husband rolls over and flings an arm over me. “Good feed?” he asks.
“Yeah”, I say, “Same as usual”.
Then I go back to sleep.
What are your night time routines like? Do you find time to enjoy them?
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