2.22.2016

taking a 10-month-old to church




It's 9:00 in the morning. You're fresh out of the shower and drying your hair in the bathroom. You can hear the hungry baby whining in the adjacent bedroom. You nurse the baby with halfway dry hair, then hand her off to your husband to give her breakfast and get her dressed in the outfit laid out on the dresser, offering a quick reminder to not put her shirt on backwards again.

You finish getting ready and inhale some whole grain toast with peanut butter to a soundtrack of baby wails because it's naptime and she's being manhandled into her black and grey peacoat instead of the crib, and who in the heck decided on a mid-morning church service? Don't they know it's the universal baby morning naptime? Your husband buckles the baby in the carseat while you put some coffee in your purple travel mug because you'll need all the energy in the world to wrangle your child during the 90 minute service, especially since you lost precious sleep last night after waking yourself up screaming because you dreamed you were being kidnapped.

You get to church on time! Hallelujah, praise the Lord, it is in fact a miracle. You settle in while the baby happily babbles and smiles, content to snuggle in her mother's cardigan-clad arms while warily eyeing strangers from afar. She happy-shrieks and claps during the music and people turn around to smile at the happy baby. You beam with pride and offer up a prayer that she quiets down soon. Your arms start to ache after 15 minutes of bouncing a 20+ pound baby while standing, so you hand her off to your husband. She starts to fuss and you figure she's getting hungry, so you pick her up again and haul her off to the mother's room/teacher's lounge. She cries but refuses to nurse due to some kind of teething-related nursing strike (maybe? the jury is still out) that is bringing unappreciated levels of drama and frustration to your life. 1 minute later you walk back out to the elementary school cafeteria/sanctuary. All the mothers turn and watch and know it was Gracie-1, Mom-0. You walk back to your seat and shake your head "no" to your husband while eye-rolling. He grabs the baby out of sympathy and gives you a supportive pat on the back and a tense smile.

The music is over, and the pastor asks the congregation to "take a moment to quietly prepare your heart and pray," and as soon as all is silent, the baby lets out a shriek. You can't look at your husband or you both will erupt into hysterical laughter, but you can feel him shaking with laughter next to you. The man behind you is chuckling and you're just relieved he finds it funny too. The baby continues to squeal and yell and babble during all the wrong times. You try to quiet her with toys, but they make her even more excited. It is a proven scientific fact that your child is the most talkative during a church service.  Her happy squeals turn to angry yells so fast it gives you whiplash. You take her back to the teacher's lounge and pray she'll eat. She cries and yells but finally gives in to hunger. You walk back to your seat and nod your head "yes" to your husband. You whisper to him that she got upset, but she finally gave in. "I know...we know. Everyone heard it," he says with a smile. You're mortified.

You glance at the clock. Church has to be nearly over by now, right? Wrong. The sermon hasn't even started. You give the baby her favorite kitten board book and she excitedly gasps for air the same way you would if you were staring at an entire cheesecake. You turn the pages for her and she quietly giggles. She grabs the book from your hand and slams it down on the tile floor. People turn around and stare. You ask your husband under your breath if it would be wrong to leave and go home. She screams. People turn around and stare. She throws your car keys on the floor. People turn around and stare. Your husband stands with her in the back and she's as quiet as a mouse. He sits back down a few minutes later. She tries to help preach the sermon. People turn around and stare. Some people smile, some people don't. You start to sweat. The pastor asks a rhetorical question, and the baby screams "YEAH!". People turn around and stare, and your head is buried in your chest to suppress the giggles.  She continues to answer the pastor's questions with "yeah!" and you laugh so hard you start to cry.

People turn around and stare.

She starts to get fussy and rub her eyes. Bless her heart, it's 2 hours past her naptime. You grab the animal board book out of the diaper bag and turn it to her favorite page. She points at the panda, the lion, and the owl. Then she swiftly grabs it from your hand, launches the book past you, and it smacks the tile floor so loudly it sounds like a bomb went off. The pastor momentarily stops preaching, and the entire congregation collectively turns around and stares. "Come quickly, Lord Jesus" you utter under your breath while you drench your shirt in nervous sweat. You pull out the big guns: the sweet potato puffs. She eats them one after another, and soon her fingers are covered in puff goo. She rubs it on your pants. You clean it off and then wipe the goo off your husband's sleeve with a hot pink burp cloth.

She fusses and cries, and all three of you know nothing but a nap will calm her this time. Your husband takes her outside, letting you listen to the last 15 minutes of the sermon alone. It's so relaxing you almost feel like you're lounging in a cabana by the beach despite the hard metal chair. You notice a few people turn around to look at you. You're not sure if they're wondering why the baby is suddenly quiet or if their necks are now locked in that position after so much turning around. The sermon is over and you chat with some friends before walking to the car. The baby is momentarily calm but screams hysterically the entire drive home, which is twice as long due to unexplained traffic jams and hitting every single red light. It is an outlandishly difficult Sunday. "The Lord is testing me," you say. Every time the car slows down at a red light, the baby cries so hard she can barely breathe. By the time you're halfway home, you're starting to cry too. The sermon this morning was on suffering, and never has a sermon felt more timely. The string of swear words in your head is interrupted when you remember the powerpoint saying one of the reasons God takes us through suffering is to test our character. Whoops.

You finally, blessedly get home, feed the baby, put her the heck to sleep, and vow to never leave the house ever again. At least not before listening to that sermon one more time.

21 comments:

  1. TBH, Gracie, I would gasp at a kitten board book, too.

    You're a saint, Michelle, honestly. Next time this happens (if it does!)and someone looks at you while she's crying, please turn around and look behind you, like you don't know what they are looking at ;)

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  2. BLESS YOU. I'm tired just reading this. But you did it. YOU DID IT!! It can only get easier every week going forward-- right??

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  3. You're a supermom. And if Jesus had been physically sitting in that church He'd have been one the ones turned around grinning at you. Or maybe He was the gentleman behind you chuckling. God loves a kitten-loving screaming baby :)
    Good for you! Have some coffee and pat yourself on the back for being such an awesome human, mama, and wife!

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  4. I will never understand why people turn to stare at crying babies, like they expect to see you twisting her arm or pinching her to make her cry on purpose. You should take a photo of her crying, make multiple copies, and hand them out at the beginning of service with a note: "This is probably what is happening behind you. Now you don't need to turn around and stare." If it weren't church I'd be serious about that suggestion...

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  5. That's it... You have convinced me I won't be at church for the foreseeable future ;) Jk, but seriously- you are super woman for attempting all of that lol!

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  6. Ha! This is why Jordan and I take ours to the nursery... I like the suggestion about turning around to stare when people turn to stare at you!

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  7. I was getting nervous sweats just reading this! THIS IS MY LIFE! When I was finally brave enough to take him to church at all we kept him with us during the service and it was this exact situation. Everyone was very sweet but it doesn't make my nerves any less frazzled. He's gone to the nursery the last 4 times ;) And yes, why does the service start at 10:30?! This past Sunday I thought I really had a handle on things and got us all out the door half an hour early thinking that since he was fed and sleepy he would fall asleep in the car (fool that I am). No. We wasted gas driving around while he babbled happily in the back seat even though he'd been up for 2 hours by that point. We felt pretty bad putting him in nursery but he seemed happy and we told them to come get us if it got bad. When we went to pick him up he was rolling around happily and laughing at the workers and had never slept a wink. We strapped him in his seat and within 5 minutes he was out. It was a miracle. Usually he does the crying until he can't breathe thing in the car so we pushed out luck and even went out to eat and he stayed asleep! He has however boycotted naps ever since and the most I can get out of him is 40 minutes. Ugh.

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    1. If I took G to the nursery, she would never ever stop screaming. It's surprisingly easier for everyone to keep her with us. Gracie rarely cries in the car and usually falls asleep on the way home from church, so I was stunned at her massive meltdown. I'm scared to ever go back to church ;) Don't feel bad...G is on a nap strike right now, too! It took her 2.5 hours in her crib yesterday to finally calm down and nap 45 minutes. It was not a fun day.

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    2. I'm waiting for the day I hand him to a stranger and he screams. I'm thinking he's young enough now that he doesn't really get it and I dread the day that I have to leave my screaming baby in the nursery. Mostly because I don't think I could do it and we would be in the lobby listening to the sermon over the speakers. I hope Gracie goes back to sleeping soon! We were both just so crabby yesterday but I was able to get 2 hour and a half naps out of him today which helped my sanity immensely.

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    3. G has been screaming at strangers since 3-4 months. It started EARLY for her. Occasionally she's fine, but she's mostly terrified of everyone. It's exhausting! I hope Ben continues to love everyone. Those 2+ hour naps are heaven!! G took the worst naps yesterday, so she was in bed by 6:30 ;) I'm hoping and praying today is better. Long naps for everyone!

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  8. ah yes. as my husband and I like to say, church with a baby is for making the habit, not for getting anything out of it. because you can't pay attention to any of it! ever! Amelia has been going every week since she was 6 days old, and last week marked the first time we didn't have to take her out to the lobby. (bless your church for having a nursing area, I just had to whip it out in the pew haha). here is what else we've learned. people love looking at babies during church, with the exception of the occasional curmudgeon. Amelia has a fan club that worries anytime she isn't with us on sunday mornings...embrace the fan club! you guys sound like old pros, even if you were sweating the whole time!

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    1. That is incredibly impressive. We make it once every few weeks because it is so exhausting for all of us. I'm just always so worried she's bothering everyone.

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  9. My mom has said, looking back, she has no idea why she bothered taking infants to church, especially in winter. Apparently that was back when she was still rather influenced by supposed "rules" like you should never miss church except in life-threatening conditions. On my birthday, the woman went to church in the morning and I was born in the afternoon. She's much more of a rebel now, and often finds reasons not to go unless she's teaching a class.

    I used to go to a church in a school, too! But the sanctuary was the gym.

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  10. I feel your pain. We have church at 1pm (and two hours of Sunday School after that,) and my 2-year-old is needless to say NOT THRILLED with being at church instead of in his crib from 1-4pm every Sunday.

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  11. I feel your pain. We have church at 1pm (and two hours of Sunday School after that,) and my 2-year-old is needless to say NOT THRILLED with being at church instead of in his crib from 1-4pm every Sunday.

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  12. We're lucky that our church (in an elementary school gym with wonderful acoustics for the raging infant) is kid-friendly enough that they'll even say sometimes that kids are a blessing from God and that their noises are joyful (aka STOP JUDGING THOSE POOR PARENTS). One week, though, we decided to bring Parker in carrier not the stroller (we live so close we walk and - you're not alone - are always late). After the service Karl was trying to cram an over-tired hysterical Parker into the Ergo and everyone stopped packing up to just stare, open mouthed at us. So much shame.

    Maybe you need to start going to a pentecostal church. Gracie seems like she would fit right in.

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    1. As someone who has gone to charismatic/pentecostal churches her entire life, I agree.

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  13. Bless you. Annabelle is only quiet when the music is playing. She likes to loudly announce how the pastor is praying to God or that she wants to sing to Jesus. Last week I brought snacks and it bought us a few extra seconds of quiet. It's exhausting bringing a child to church.

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  14. I think it says plenty about your character that the swear words were only in your head, and not out loud. Hang in there, momma!

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  15. Do you not think sometimes that moms with babies under like 2 should get a "you don't have to attend church" pass & we can just enjoy everything via Skype or something. It is hilariously difficult & I COMPLETELY feel you pain.

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    1. YES!!! That is a brilliant idea. Gracie would fall apart if we put her in the nursery but she's so distracting in service. It's a no-win situation and it's so tempting to just stay home.

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