It is a mere few weeks before Mummy must return to work, about which Mummy is both unbelievably sad and deliriously happy. She has decided, however, that the current wake-up-three-times-for-a-meal-in-the-night situation is totally incompatible with a 6:00 am start and full working day, so is taking matters into her own hands. Rebel Baby is not delighted about Mummy’s new venture, accustomed as she is to a midnight feast whenever she feels like it. Rebel Baby is going to fight Mummy every step of the way, determined that her love of eating will prevail. But Mummy is the one with the boobs and Mummy will win. Eventually.
Wanting to be fully prepared for her win, Mummy has naturally spent at least a week Googling night-weaning and reading every possible piece of advice on the matter. It seems the advice ranges from “…just stop feeding them in the night – they will quickly understand and immediately comply,” to “…denying a night feed would be to neglect their most basic and essential need, causing untold distress and everlasting brain damage – it is akin to child abuse.” Marvellous.
Mummy decides the 3:00 am feed will be the first to go, as this is when Mummy most despises being dragged from her bed to sit upright in a dimly lit room with tiny, cold hands down her pyjama top. She begins by making sure The Baby has had an absolutely enormous dinner with extra helpings and pudding, followed by a good long bedtime feed and another one when Mummy goes to bed. So far so good, thinks Mummy.
The know-it-all baby website tells Mummy that when The Baby wakes up, she should replace a breastfeed with water in a bottle. This will momentarily satisfy The Baby without providing energy, meaning she eats more the next day which will last her through the night. A wonderfully simple and logical solution, thinks Mummy. In order to trick The Baby into taking the cold, hard bottle of water over a soft, warm drink of milk, Mummy should find a nice soft comforter for The Baby and make it smell of her, so she can leave The Baby with it in the cot and minimise sleep disruption. So – and only because it is what the website told her to do, not because she is weird – Mummy spends the next twenty four hours with a stuffed rabbit down her bra to ensure it collects enough residual boob sweat, hobnob crumbs and stale baby-sick to become a convincing substitute for actual Mummy. The poor rabbit emerges from its ordeal looking rather worse for wear and wondering what on earth it did to Mummy to be chosen for such an unpleasant role.
3:00 am comes and The Baby is awake. Mummy stealthily tiptoes into the nursery, armed with the bottle and Boob-sweat Bunny. The bunny is well-received: RB snuggles willingly into its soft fur, stroking the ear against her cheek. So far so good, thinks Mummy. But she is not satisfied, and continues to stir. Now, she is sleepily searching for food, smacking her greedy little lips and making disgruntled sucking noises into the air. Mummy gently slips in the teat of the bottle….
NOT OK! NOT OK! Rebel Baby’s eyes shoot open angrily and she stares directly at Mummy, swiping away the bottle with one decisive stroke. “Rah!” shouts Rebel Baby, clearly insulted by the attempt.
“Try the bottle darling,” coos Mummy, making a futile attempt to persuade it into her mouth.
“Raaaaah!” shouts Rebel Baby, expertly batting it away. She points at Mummy’s boobs with her stretchy, reachy fingers. “Raaaah!” she shouts quite purposefully. “Raaaah! Raaaah! Raaaah!” There is no mistaking her meaning as she grabs at Mummy, opening and closing her mouth, her angry eyebrows furrowed in disbelief at Mummy’s stupidity.
“Just a little bit of water?” cajoles Mummy sleepily, wishing now that she had come up with a Plan B as Plan A seems to be failing monumentally. Eventually, after giving in and taking The Baby out of the cot, Mummy persuades her – very much against her will – to accept the water. RB then spends the next hour letting Mummy know, from the next room, that the water was entirely unsatisfactory and that RB has not forgotten about it. When The Baby eventually falls asleep, Mummy is unnecessarily awake for the next two hours, mulling over a better approach and Googling alternative strategies. The Baby, meanwhile, is snoozing away happily in the knowledge that her point was well made.
Just to be sure Mummy has got the message, Rebel Baby wakes up at the crack of dawn, scowling and demanding milk. Mummy is too weak to refuse. If sleep deprivation is a form of torture, Rebel Baby is the Gestapo. She is still clutching Boob-sweat Bunny though, so maybe it’s a start…