In the quiet of the night, the only two people awake are my baby and me. Soft and heavy with drowsiness, her body moulds to mine as she nestles into the crook of my arm, and her eyes are sleepy but open as she gazes at my mouth, quietly singing to her. Her eyes drift closed, but she’s not asleep yet – every few moments they open again and fasten on mine, as if to check that yes, I’m still here, watchful, dependable, hers.
Newborns are ruled by their stomachs, not their circadian rhythms, and when hunger calls, they awake, calling out in the only language they have – crying. Thin and high-pitched, their wails are pitiful and desperate, and as a mother, the only thing you want in the middle of the night is to quiet them. Feeding, cuddling, rocking, singing, patting, swaying… Whatever it takes, you’ll do it.
The goal is always to get back to sleep with the minimum expenditure of time and fuss, but some nights, your baby just won’t go back down – and then you’ll find yourself curled into the sofa, with the TV turned down low, waiting for sleep to claim your baby for another few hours. I’ve watched a lot of shows on mute at 3am while slow-patting my baby’s bottom, listening to her gentle snorts and huffs as she settles herself in place against my shoulder.
These quiet, dark hours are exhausting, but also have their own magic. For a little while, it’s just the two of us. No chores, no other children needing to be looked after, no obligations, no work, no emails to be answered, no calls to make, no appointments… No rushing. No stressing. No feeling like you will never get anything done today. It’s just me and my baby. It’s just you and your baby.
Next time you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, soothing your baby… I’ll be there too, across town, across the country, across the world, soothing mine. We’re all connected in those dark hours, when we’re the only people awake, holding our babies as they fall asleep.
BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.