It's quiet and cool as I lean back, the only light is the spangled soft gleam of stars across the Milky Way. The world is slumbering at this enchanted hour, with almost no sounds aside from the occasional rustle of leaves as the velvet prowling night breeze makes her rounds. I open my eyes, allowing them to adjust to the dimness and sigh gently. My nightshirt is undone and my breasts glow in the gentle light.
A slight snuffle brings a smile to the corners of my lips and I snuggle the source of the noise into me, feel the beginnings of let down tingle as she searches with her lips and tongue to latch, and then feel her strong jaw start to draw the milk deep into her throat. Tiny baby hands, miniatures of my own come up and around my breast, cradling it softly, occasionally caressing or patting reassuringly. As the let down lessens, she grabs more firmly at my skin and kneads it, rolling it between her strong little fingers. When she starts to fuss and the kneading becomes painful I move her to the other breast and again feel let down prickle.
The contraction of those little muscles in the ducts gives a sensation of something akin to pleasure, but even purer. There is nothing sexual about the feeling - I describe it as if pure love is flowing out of me. As I huddle her warm softness into me, nuzzling her downy musty scalp the tears start to fall because all I can feel is love. I smell it, I feel it, it burns deep inside me. There is perfection in this star bathed minute, where no one is awake to see it, and yet all over this city there must be thousands of women right now feeling this. Gradually the intensity of her suckling slows until at last it stops entirely and I slip from her tiny mouth, still cradled in her arms. Cuddled in like this, belly to belly her knees tucked up and resting at the end of my ribcage I do not want to move.
My arm gradually starts to hurt from the position that I'm lying but I cannot move. Here with my chin resting on her forehead inhaling her sweet babyness, her hand gently curling and uncurling on my breast as she dreams, I have found some sort of Earthly utopia. It is maybe 3am, and I wonder at the fact that overnight feeds are considered the bane of every mother's existence when they are my very favourite of all. Our secret mother daughter tryst.
In latter months, the Monkey and I have slowed down a lot with feeding. She is at daycare all day and I am at uni, so day feeds were dropped some time ago (I am useless at expressing). We had a solid routine though of morning and night feeds though, which were in bed at the beginning and end of each day, sandwiching her fun adventures and making sure that we both got to remember twice a day just how much we love each other. Then the night feeds stopped, mostly because after dinner she just wasn't interested, books were much more diverting. Occasionally a nightmare or an unexpected cold snap would wake her in the predawn hours and she would feed, but mostly it was just our snuggly warm start to the day feed.
Then, gradually it started that there would be a mornign that she didn't want to feed. Maybe once a week. And I didn't miss it too much, because it was still most mornings.
Then it was 2 mornings in a row.
Then last week there were 4 mornings in a row.
I thought that I was OK with our gradual weaning. I had never refused her breast if she'd wanted it, but gently, gently she was pulling away. And when I went to work the other morning, with my breasts heavy and full with milk that she had not drunk I cried a little as I made my way to work and pretended it was the breeze from the ferry whipping my eyes.
The last 2 nights she has woken with nightmares and so I have brought her into our bed in the inky darkness and we have fed as if nothing had changed, but as she drifted into sleep, I thought about the fact that those 4 days may soon be a week, and then a week will be a month, and then there will be no more. No more "mook". No more babies ever cuddled into my belly, their soft sweet hands patting my jaw and their pudgy little knees curled into my chest. I stroked the silkiness of her hair and cried, silent tears running in hot rivulets down my cheeks as I inhaled the milkyness of her scalp and willed her to stay a baby forever, my throat constricting into a tight stinging lump.
She's growing up but I'm not ready to say goodbye to babyhood. Even though she walks and talks and throws tantrums and wears shoes she is still my baby girl. My last baby. I can't bear the thought that we have moved on so soon, because although it may be 18 months it feels like mere seconds.
I'm not ready to say goodbye.