Have you ever wondered, perhaps after the fifteenth or so time you've had to get up to feed your infant in a 6 hour time span, "What is my baby thinking during night feedings?" Well, I have. Occasionally, anyway. To be honest, there were plenty of moments when I was incapable of thinking anything during those physically and mentally exhausting hours; my brain was basically a blend of whatever song I'd last heard on the radio and the muffled, distant sound of my internal screams, begging to go back to sleep.
The scientific community has some pretty damn fascinating theories about what babies think about, but for us mere mortals who don't have PhD's in some scientific whatever that, if you're like me, is way over my head, we're left guessing. What is that face my kid is making? Is this baby hurt or do they just have gas? Does the gas hurt? Why is my baby grunting while they nurse? Is that a grunt of appreciation or is my kid not getting enough milk? Then, of course, there's always room to wonder why they even woke up in the first places because, holy cow kid, didn't you just wake up an hour ago? How can you be hungry again already? This is absurd. What the hell are you thinking?
Well, as you can imagine, I've spent my fair share of night feedings contemplating this very question, and I have some theories. Here are 16 things your baby is probably thinking during night feedings, because science be damned. I know what my kids' facial expressions mean, right?!
"What Did I Miss?"
"Heeeeeeeeeey lady! So it's been about 3 hours, right? Oh? Really? Just two? Well, that's still two hours out of the loop, amiright? That's, like, seven days if we're talking Internet time. So, what's going on? How are you? How's the cat? Are grandma and grandpa okay? Has George R.R. Martin set a release date for Winds of Winter yet? So much to discuss!"
"I Don't Mean To Be Pushy, But Exactly How Long Does It Take To Prep?"
"Tick tock, tick tock, woman. You've been mixing formula long enough that you should be able to get it to me in a timely fashion. You've been situating yourself for optimal breastfeeding for so long, I feel like my entire life has passed me by.So while you're doing that, I'm going to be over here, wailing. Don't let that distract, fluster, or annoy you."
"Did I mention that it's been two hours? Not only is that seven days in Internet time, that's about 7 years in baby tummy time. Girl, my stomach is empty. I am wasting away! To show you the severity of this problem I am going to continue to wail as loudly as I can."
"But For Real: I Am So Hungry I Don't Even Care If I Eat Until I Barf!"
[And they will very likely throw up. For some reason, it will always be more spit-up than they typically exhibit during the day, when you're alert and awake and wouldn't mind cleaning quite as much. Additionally, they will consistently just miss the burp rag you have slung over your shoulder. I'm still trying to determine if this is on purpose.]
"I'm Hungry... No I'm Not... Yes I Am... No I'm Not... Yes I Am... No I'm Not... Yes I Am..."
[Time for an impression of an infant eating: Suckle, suckle, suckle. Pause. Pop off breast or bottle. Look around. Suckle, suckle, suckle. Pause. Pop off breast or bottle. Flap arm for a minute. Suckle, suckle, suckle. Repeat until you, their parent, sobs.]
"Is This Breakfast Or Dinner? I Never Know What To Call It."
"I'm Not Actually Hungry, But I Missed You"
"Confession: I honestly probably overstated how hungry I was. I don't know if I consciously knew that at the time, but I realize now that it's not the food I really needed you for. I would miss you way too much if I didn't see you every couple hours every night for the foreseeable future. So, if it's okay with you, I plan to continue this for the next 10 years or so. Sound good?"
"She Only Seems Half Awake. I Know What To Do! I'll Poop!"
[When this happens, I used to think back on what I had done during the day and wonder what mean or thoughtless thing I'd done to deserve such splendidly awful karma.]
"Gotham Needs Me!"
"Have you ever thought about how I'm basically Batman? Like, he goes around keeping Gotham safe from criminals, and ever since I've been getting up with you every couple hours, I haven't seen one single super-villain wreck havoc on our apartment. Now, granted, I don't know what the Joker could want from a one bedroom in Queens that isn't even rent controlled, but the point is you never know. So. You're welcome. I am the night."
"Oh. I'm sorry. Were You Trying To Have Sex?"
"Hahahahahaha! It's so cute that you still try."
"Wait. Did You Actually Try To Send In The Other Parent? Hahahahahaha! That's Funny! You're Funny! Now Never Do That Ever Again."
"Look, I Don't Want To Be Up At This Ungodly Hour Any More Than You Do, But It's A Biological Necessity For Me To Eat Every Three Hours."
"I put on a brave front, but I'm pretty exhausted, too. Do you even realize that I need, like, 23 hours of sleep a day? So having to wake up every couple hours just to ensure proper growth and brain development is no picnic for me, either."
"Don't Give Me That Look, You Were Engorged AF. I'm Doing You A Favor. You're Welcome."
Seriously, you were popping out of your hugest nursing bra, covered in milk stains. If I didn't wake you up those swollen udders would have."
"Do You Think You Could Turn On The Vacuum Again? That Thing Is Amazing."
"It's just that I'm starting to get tired again. This feeding is going great, I'm getting super relaxed and drowsy, but that vacuum noise would really put me over the edge. It's just so damn soothing."
"Is This When We Get To Watch All The Good TV?"
"I get the sense this is when you do all your own personal viewing. What's on the DVR? Do you have a few episodes of Real Housewives queued up? What if we watch one this feeding and save the next for when I inevitably wake up three hours from now? No. Okay. Fine. See you in three hours anyway, though..."