I’m not sure if someone directly asked for a post like this, or if they asked a question on Formspring that inspired it, but I love the idea so much that I plan on writing others for children, teenagers, and single adults, as their experiences are all unique.
T1′s outfit for church today
There are a lot of babies at church each week. The LDS church is one that stresses the importance of having children, and we take that counsel seriously. It means that services are often punctuated by squeals and cries, but most people don’t seem to mind because it means that there are cute babies to smile at and toddlers to corral as they lurch down the aisles.
When a baby is born the compassionate service committee in the Relief Society (that’s the Women’s organization in the Church) organizes meals for the new mother. The amount of help is catered to each woman and her needs, so if you don’t have family come in you might get meals every other night for a few weeks.
The amount of time a woman waits to return to church varies. I skipped one Sunday, but went every week after that. TH didn’t want T1 to go until he was at least six weeks old because he was formula fed and wasn’t receiving the antibodies he needed from me, so we would trade off. TH would go to our ward at 9, and then I would go to another ward later in the afternoon. I have a friend who just had her third child and she was in sacrament meeting with her baby by the second Sunday! It all depends on how a woman feels.
Church is three hours long, and it is very difficult to make it through without having at least one meltdown, especially since a service scheduled from 9am-12pm causes most babies to miss their morning nap. Children are taken out into the hall if they are too fussy, and I always find several other parents walking the halls with their fussy children whenever I am outside. In my Texas stake (a stake is a gathering of several congregations in one area) we were counseled to be careful about taking our children out into the hall too readily (for it can easily become a reward, and they certainly like running around in the halls more than sitting in a pew), and that is something we are trying to do with T1, though I think right now he is young enough that a few trips outside won’t spoil him.
From what I’ve seen, breastfeeding in church meetings is very rare. I bottle feed, and most women seem to either feed formula or breast milk in a bottle, or go into the mother’s lounge (a room designated for mothers and babies, often very smelly due to dirty diapers being left inside, but comfortable because it has couches and comfy chairs). I’m not going to say much more about breastfeeding because I get really worked up about it, especially when I read accounts from women online who say that their leaders asked them not to breastfeed during sacrament meeting or other church meetings. I love these images of LDS women breastfeeding in an 1971 sacrament meeting that Rixa of Stand and Deliver posted, and I plan to breastfeed (discreetly) wherever I please if breastfeeding works out with baby #2.
Babies stay with their parents in the adult meetings until 18 months, at which time they are (finally!) allowed to enter nursery. Nursery attendance lasts from 18 months to 3 years, and then Primary begins. Toddlers are in nursery for 2 hours and inside they find buckets of donated toys, treats, singing, and a short lesson attempted by the leaders each week. I’ve taught nursery a few times now and loved it!
My favorite religion professor at BYU once said that the sole responsibility of parents with young children is to keep their own kids quiet so others can listen to the messages being taught and partake of the sacrament. Now that I have a baby of my own I see the truth in that statement. I pick up bits and pieces as I go, and when I really buckle down I feel like I learned something, but for the most part it’s a lot of shushing and bouncing to stave off the cries. The upside though? I haven’t felt bored at church for 5 months now!