Last summer, when I found out I was pregnant with our third child, amidst the excitement and nausea, I was already dreading the sleepless nights caused by the 2am feedings I remember so well from our previous children. Our second baby had entered toddlerhood by then and was sleeping through the night so I had remembered how sweet it could feel to have six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep several times a week.
Now that our third baby is here, it turns out that the 2am feedings are actually not the chore I dreaded. Am I tired? Absolutely exhausted. But instead of being grumpy about my interrupted sleep, I have found that the middle of the night nursing sessions are actually my favorites.
The 2am feedings are a time for just me and my new baby. I love my other kids, but there is something magical about being able to steal a few minutes of uninterrupted snuggles with this sweet girl, the way I did with my firstborn whenever I wanted. The daytime feedings are filled with siblings asking if they can hold her and, unexpectedly, trying to homeschool. The daytime feedings are helping me re-learn how to breastfeed in any and every baby carrier, or even while holding my infant like a football, attached to one side of me as I run into the other room to break up a sibling fight or to comfort my kindergartener who misses his friends and is having some big emotions.
The evening feedings are what I thought the 2AM feedings might be. They are the times when I am exhausted from a long day, touched out, and most prone to scroll through news stories that awaken all my anxieties. That is the time of day I am not currently at my best, and I try to rush through them so we can just get the bedtime routine started for the older kids and call it a day. The 2 AM feedings are when the outside world melts away and this sweet baby that I dreamed about for months and months is real and in my arms, and giving me peace and the sweetest, sleepiest, milk-drunk smiles.
The 2am feedings, the necessity that I was dreading, have turned into the gift I didn’t know I would need. They are not something I feel like I need to just survive. Instead, they are the only time I don’t feel acutely like I am in survival mode. I’m not saying I can keep up with this lack of sleep forever, or even that I want them to last longer than they did with my older kids, but for the moment I am in no rush for them to end.