The Bible study I go to started up again for the school year. It’s all women, but with a school-aged program, so there are kids there, but they’re old enough to be rationalized with. And they go to their own classes and stuff while the women have small groups then a lecture. It’s a really great Bible study – I missed it over the summer.
At the end of last year we were asked if we’d like to or be willing to be in a group of ‘mothers of infants’ where babies who are still immobile would be allowed. Normally the new moms go to the daytime BSF session, but they wanted to open up more options for working moms. I was so excited, but then never heard anything about it again.
When BSF started again and my small group leader, Erica, reached out to welcome me to her group I asked about the baby. She emailed the leader/lecture-giver, Jackie, who excitedly welcomed me bringing Aria (Erica forwarded the reply to me).
Even so, I was really nervous about bringing her. We’ve come a long way from inconsolably crying all evening long, but she still has a limit to the amount of ‘sitting quietly’ that she’s willing to do. I thought my best bet would be to nurse at some point as that makes her happy and sleepy. Plus the two hours plus travel would require at least one feeding, more likely two. Especially as we’d be meeting friends for dinner an hour before it even started. But I didn’t know if it would be acceptable, or even when or where we’d nurse.
I prepared by packing way more frozen milk than I’d ever need and no way to thaw it, pumping some fresh to take, though it wasn’t very much, and overstuffing my diaper bag with extras of everything she might ever require, excluding the kitchen sink.
When we arrived at the restaurant she was asleep from the car ride, but then awoke and maintained a calm and curious demeanor, silently watching her surroundings while manufacturing a plethora of bubbles. As soon as I finished eating she started mildly fussing and I gave her the little bit of fresh milk in a bottle, while she was still in her car seat on the booth. When it was gone she wasn’t thrilled, but surprisingly she let it go without a fight, and settled back into bubble-making.
Then we went off to the church, about five minutes away. As we walked in we got soooo many ooohs and aaahs and questions and congratulations. I went to claim a seat and join in the hymns but Aria decided she wanted to sing something else and started squawking. I picked her up to quiet her but she’d already drawn attention and was getting coos from the women around us.
Afterwards Jackie gave the announcements and to my horror said, “you probably heard the whimpers of a baby coming from the back – this is something new we’re trying out…” and as she explained it, and as everyone turned to look at us, it dawned on me that I very well might be the only woman in nighttime BSF who even has a newborn to bring. Last year in the ‘young women’s’ group, the group most likely to be of child bearing age, there were two of us pregnant. The other girl switched to daytime. Other girls had babies, but they’d all be ‘mobile’ by now. One other girl is pregnant and due in January… So unless someone new joins, I’m the sole mother-with-infant going to nighttime BSF.
Aria just became a celebrity.
Then, what I dreaded most – the prayer from Jackie before dismissing us to small groups. Aria made her contributions, as clearly someone needed to alleviate the quiet.
In the small group there were some new faces, but I was reassured no one would mind if we nursed. It was kinda hard to stay covered up with Aria pulling on the cover thing, maybe I flashed someone but they were too polite to say anything. The worst was when it would get really quiet and you could hear her sucking… That was embarrassing but again, no one said anything. No, they didn’t mind her one bit after the initial introduction and admiring her, until she finished nursing, made her audible burp which elicited some chuckles, then proceeded to fart. Loudly. Repeatedly.
She was quiet for the group time, other than that. She did get a little squirmy near the end, and I felt kinda wrong because during the portion when we share our prayer requests, which are often very serious and somber, like prayer requests for a family member with cancer, my baby was lying in my lap beaming big beautiful smiles at me. I had to smile back…then nod solemnly at the person sharing their sadness.
Before heading up to the lecture we made a pit stop for a much needed diaper change, and by now had a following. Lots of offers to help carry our vast quantities of baggage.
So here was the true test of whether she’d be invited back – the lecture.
We started off OK but rapidly began our descent into cranky, tired, and bored baby. Being held was no longer sufficient. I took her to the back of the sanctuary so I could walk and bounce with her, but she continued to bury her face in my shirt and make tired wimpers.
Then my brain kicked in… Lisa, what do you do when standing in line at a store or wherever and you need to keep her quiet? Oh duh. So I walked back up to the pew where I’d been sitting and grabbed her carrier, plunked her in it when we got back to the doorway, and proceeded to sway. That got her quiet, but she still didn’t go to sleep. After a while of pacing around swaying with the heavy carrier, and trying to pay attention, my brain decided to finally participate again.. Lisa, how do you help her to fall asleep quickly every night? Oh yeah… I turned on my cell phone, went to YouTube and started the video of white noise that was already open. I turned it just loud enough that only she would hear it and stuck my phone into the carrier.
It took less than a minute of the white noise and swaying and she was out. One of the ladies had brought me a chair, so I sat and rocked the carrier on the floor for another minute to be sure, then was able to focus entirely on the lecture from the entryway to the sanctuary. And all before the first principle that I would want to write down.
When it was all over Jackie came up to us and said, “I am so glad you brought her.” I questioned, “are you sure she wasn’t too distracting?” Jackie smiled and said that no she was great. So many women came up to us and commented on how nice it was to hear little baby noises, and how cute she was, and we got a bunch more questions about how old, her name, etc.
I am now expected to bring her back. Hopefully she’s just as good and easy to please, because she sure is cute to have as my little sidekick.