Going to church on Sunday is such a great way to feel refreshed and uplifted before I start my week all over again. But going to church with a baby, I’m learning, is an entirely different occasion.
My ward (or “service” if you’re not LDS and have no idea what I’m talking about) meets for three hours every Sunday. The first hour is for Sacrament Meeting, the second hour is for Sunday School, and the third hour is kinda a continued Sunday School but the men and women split up for Relief Society and Priesthood (the kids go to Primary).
Last Sunday I missed about 80% of church. Why? Because she wanted to eat every hour. We’d sit down for the meeting, and after a short while she’d start fussing. So I’d take her out to the nursing lounge, feed her, burp her, check her diaper, to then take her back out. Repeat five times.
By the third hour I decided to just stay in the mothers lounge so I wouldn’t disturb people getting up and down.
Today it started the same way. She’s get wiggly, and noisy, and sometimes just outright grab my boob. But after I fed her twice I decided to put my foot down. She had eaten twice and she could go an hour or two without eating. She had to be able to. She’s four months old and to the age where she should be able to gobble up her meal and be set for a few hours instead of taking sips here and there. It wouldn’t kill her (or in my opinion even hurt her the slightest) to wait an extra hour.
She fell asleep nursing the second time I fed her, but she ate a lot before then. She likes to be awake, alert, and in the middle of it all and seems to hate sleeping in public. So when we sat down for the last hour and a half of church I knew she wouldn’t be long before she woke up, which she did like clockwork, only about 20 minutes after she fell asleep. Just as soon as it was time for the last class.
I sat in the back and put her in my lap as I normally do. She made faces at the women beside me, and in front of me, but didn’t whine. She tried to grab their songbooks, but I tried to keep her from getting a papercut. Note to self: Bring one of her board books next week.
After the song and prayer though she had had enough.
My instinct was to take her to the mother’s lounge and feed her again but I decided to try something else.
I took a toy out of my bag and handed it to her. She grabbed it, shook it, and chewed on it for a few minutes. Then she dropped it over and over and watched me hand it back to her. Then she had enough of that.
I then took a pacifier out of my bag and stuck it in her mouth. She actually took it! She’s not a huge paci fan so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it entertained her nonetheless. Until she dropped it out of her mouth.
I watched it hit the floor in slow motion and sighed as I reached for it under my chair. Why didn’t I buy those binki wipes? I thought to myself. I know some moms put the pacifire in their mouth to, I dunno, wipe off the germs, but to meet it just seems like you’re adding your own. Not that I’m a germophobe, in fact, if other people weren’t around I probably would have just dusted it off on my pant leg and popped it back in her mouth. –You know that’s what you’d be doing by the time you have your fourth or fifth kid anyway!
I reached in the bag and found another pacifier and stuck it in her mouth. Same deal, she was interested for a few minutes. This time I kept my hand propped under her slobber-drenched chin to catch it when she spit it out. It was like we were playing a game and finally she beat me and managed to spit it out just when I had reached for something else. And pacifier number two hit the ground.
I grabbed yet another one from my bag–surprised I had so many of these on me. But by then she was bored with the binkies. I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes left. We could do this. She really shouldn’t need to eat right now.
I tried to hug her against my shoulder, sway her back and forth, cradle her, but she wasn’t having it.
She was interested in the jacket my neighbor was wearing since it was a black and white zebra design. Lil’ J played with her for a few moments before she started whining again. My friend thought maybe she had gas. So I laid her down on my knees and did a move I learned in our yoga class that helps relieve gas. I pulled her legs down toward me, then pushed her legs up towards her chest. In the middle of the second rep she let out a toot. And another one, and laughed. She thought it was funny.
I started making faces at her and tickling her and she kept smiling and laughing the entire rest of the class period, without another moan or whine.
It was then I realized it wasn’t her fault I kept feeding her every time she whined, it was mine. I just assumed she was hungry every time when in fact she just could be getting bored.
Feeding on demand doesn’t mean every time my daughter cries she’s hungry, I just sometimes assume that’s what’s she wants. I thought she wanted to eat every hour when in fact, I was just offering to feed her every hour and of course she’d eat. It’s one way to pass the time when you’re bored! She’s a growing human being a had a big variety of wants now, including time to play.
Even though I wasn’t in the mother’s lounge the last hour of church missing Sunday school class, I instead missed the lesson because I was busy laughing and playing with my baby. Either way, there’s a season for everything. I’m learning this season of my life may just mean missing a few (or a year and a halfs worth of) church lessons. But at least today I learned my own personal lesson: My daughter sometimes, just wants to play.