By the dim light seeping under the blinds, I see Lily standing in her crib. Her wailing ceases when she spots me and she holds up her arms. I sigh. The red lights on my alarm clock read 1:23 am when I peer blearily at it after her crying woke me up. She doesn’t usually wake up until around 5 am, so a trace of resentment makes me rub my face before I try laying her down again.
She kicks, her whimpers becoming the scream that usually results in blue lips and a limp body, as she staggers back to her feet. I wrap her pink fuzzy blanket around her, and she holds it, reaching for me again. “Shhhhh,” I say, even though she can’t hear me above her own cries. Then she takes in a deep gulp and calms herself long enough to blurt out, “I wanna nap!”
I almost laugh. It’s midnight. Clearly it’s not a nap she wants. What she’s asking is to nurse, and as I gather her into my arms and take her back to our room to fulfill her request, I think about how she got those two words mixed up.
When Lily was almost 18 months old, her naps became sporadic. Often, I’d tell Sunshine I was going to put Lily down for a nap, but she wouldn’t actually fall asleep. She’d go watch the movie with Sunshine, and maybe fall asleep later (around 3 instead of 1) or just go hard until bedtime, when she’d crash. In her mind, then, “napping” meant “breastfeeding.”
I thought it was cute. My husband thought it was confusing. He suggested I try teaching her another word to use. However, when I talked to Practicing Mammal about this, she mentioned that each of her children had come up with their own word for “breastfeeding.” They used nonsense-type words such as “bitties” or “lallahs,” but they (and she) knew what they wanted.
Sunshine stopped breastfeeding around 14 months, so she never talked about it. I find it funny that Lily has coined her own term for this, especially when she asks for a “nap” in the middle of the night. In public situations, I figure that her little “secret phrase” has an advantage, as I can either distract her (if it’s not a good place to breastfeed) or find a discreet place to nurse, without advertising to everyone around that this is what we’re doing.
This picture is me breastfeeding Lily at the Vancouver Zoo, and is probably the only picture we have of me breastfeeding. (Notice that she’s holding Koala Bear in the photo.) When Lily saw me adding this picture to my post, she said, “Mommy!” I asked her, “And who else?” She said, “Me!” I asked, “What are you doing?” She shouted gleefully, “Napping! Nap now?”
Does your baby have his own way of letting you know when he wants to nurse?