Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Great Nursery Debate

Long before I was pregnant, I swore up and down my child go to the church nursery as soon as possible.

I knew it would help me in the transition of going back to work, since I'd be able to get used to him being gone only a few hours at at time and I would be in the same building. I also knew when I was in church and Sunday school, I wanted to focus on what the Lord had for me that morning and the relationships I made while learning new things about Him.

I also knew it would help him in getting used to the idea of being away from me and being good for others. I had seen it all to often: a child who's never away from his parents or family members screams the whole time he's in nursery. He doesn't know how to act with others that aren't his immediate family. I didn't want this for my child. My husband was in complete agreement.

Until now, it's been wonderful! Our relationships with those in our Sunday School class have flourished and it's been so nice to be free to worship on Sunday mornings. I always knew he would be taken care of and I didn't need to worry.

The last few weeks, nursery hasn't gone as planned. Not horrible things like they dropped him or let him sit in a poopy diaper the whole time: nothing like that. Just little things that have me second-guessing taking him to the nursery.

As I've said before, my little man is very chill. He's established a wonderful routine and usually sleeps in his carseat during church in the morning or sits wonderfully in their laps the entire time, just laughing and smiling. Every person who has watched him in the nursery tells us how great he is and how easy-going he is and how he never cries!

He always eats before church, so per his routine, he doesn't need to eat until about 11:30a-12p. We go to early service, so he usually eats breakfast at 7:30a. We always pack a bottle just in case we go out to eat for lunch or need to run errands. He shouldn't need it in the nursery. If he gets even the slightest bit fussy, he needs a nap. He falls asleep 2 hours after eating breakfast, usually.

This is exactly what we told the ladies in the nursery last Sunday. When I went to pick him up at 10:30a after Sunday School, they told me he didn't eat all of his bottle. "What?! He didn't need a bottle!", I thought. "Did he take a nap?" I asked. "No", they said. I was a little frustrated. His routine was all off and no wonder he didn't eat his bottle! He wasn't hungry! He started getting fussy and instead of laying him down in a crib, they stuck food in his mouth. First offense. No big deal.

This past Sunday's offense takes the cake! I randomly went into the nursery after church before Sunday School with my friend who wanted to see Lucas in his tie. I walk in and hear him screaming bloody-murder...haven't heard this since the day we brought him home from the hospital! I asked how long he'd been crying like this and they said "About 30 minutes!". OH MY GOODNESS! WHY DIDN'T THEY COME GET ME? I'M 5 FEET AWAY IN THE SANCTUARY!!!!

It really upset me. My son never cries, so if he's crying that hard for even 5 minutes, it's too long and something's wrong. It took me 20 minutes to calm him down...only after giving him a little Tylenol and stripping his clothes off. He'd been crying so hard and so long, he was sweaty! I just don't understand. I don't know what happened to make him so upset, but it was awful:(

I just don't know what to do. Since Lucas is so easy-going, we are wondering if we should just take him to church with us so we can monitor his napping and we will take him out if he gets a tad fussy, which is rare. Since he's usually very quiet, we figure we can keep him in there with no problems.

Help! I want to put my focus on the Lord and worship, not on my son for that hour, but I also don't want to worry that they're not going to come get me when something is off. What to do? What to do?


Whitney said...

Oh Audie, that is so sad. Poor little baby! I wonder why they didn't come get you? Do you have a pager system or anything like that? That's what our nursery has (for the babies) and it's awesome. You get buzzed and you can quietly run out if something is wrong. Poor little angel, I wonder why he was so upset? I know it's disheartening, but maybe you can tell them that if he starts crying to come and get you. That's strange they let him cry THAT long! Wow.

one of nettie's girls said...

We didn't put Katie in the church nursery until she was 6 months old. Of course, if you do keep a baby out in the service and Sunday School you have to be sensitive to those around you and make sure they are not a distraction. Often that means you miss portions of class or service because they are crying or just too fidgety. I know you have the good sense to do that.

Secondly, it is hard for nursery staff to keep a baby on its' regular schedule. There are just too many variables. There is a lot going on in the average nursery and a baby that will usually sleep at a certain time of the morning at home isn't always going to do that at church. Lights, noise, other babies and being away from mom and dad sometimes don't make for the best scenario for taking their regular nap.

Third, this is just my opinion but if you don't want them to give him a bottle, don't even put it in the bag. Leave it in the car or in your purse. I know from years of experience, if you are watching a baby in the nursery and they aren't happy you will try EVERYTHING to make them happy. That includes a bottle even if Mom was sure they wouldn't want it.

Fourth, I whole heartedly agree that they should have never let him cry that long and hard without coming to get you. You have every right to INSIST that they not allow that to happen again. Be very emphatic that you want to be notified if he is inconsolable for more than five minutes.

And, finally, (aren't you glad) it is inevitable that he will reach a stage where he cries and clings no matter what you do. Separation is just hard. They all go through that phase and
it's just something you all have to work through.

Oh, I know I said finally but one more thing: He is your baby and you are the one who gets to make decisions about him. It doesn't matter really what anyone else thinks. Do what seems right to you and Nick. Love you.

Rebecca Foster said...

Oh Audra I am so sorry! I am super overprotective of my kids so I say you do what your motherly instincts tell you to do and what you and your husband are comfortable with. Even the best nursery workers arent that baby's parent. I just look at it like nobody knows my child as well as I do. My oldest is 5 and she didn't start going to class til she was 2 1/2. She did just fine jumping in. Mom knows best!!

Leslie said...

Ugh. Those times are no fun! Riggins has reached the stage when he cries every time I leave him. It doesn't last long after I leave, but it still breaks my heart!

I'm a nursery supervisor at our church, and we have a 10 minute policy. If a child is inconsolable after 10 minutes, we ALWAYS get the parent. Perhaps you could mention that when you drop him off next time? Just a nonchalant, "Lucas is a pretty laid back little guy. If he cries for more than 10 minutes then something is up, so don't hesitate to page me/come get me!"

As for the bottle/nap issue, that really stinks, but I'm afraid it just comes with the territory. I found that I had to relax our routine a bit when putting him in the care of others. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up Riggs and found him asleep in a swing, knowing that now he wouldn't go down for his regularly scheduled nap right after church. So frustrating! But, those are the times when I just have to remember that those nursery workers are doing whatever they can to keep those kiddos happy, and I just need to be thankful for the free childcare!

And I don't think there's anything wrong with taking him to church with you if that's what you think is best! I find that people are very tolerant of little baby noises here and there, and you know he'll love the music! :)

Erin said...

I agree with what Verla and Leslie have already said. When Emery was tiny, I was very worried about her stints in the church nursery, because I knew things wouldn't go as smoothly as if she were at home (routine, etc.). But, after volunteering in the church nursery for about a year now, I understand how hectic and overwhelming it can be with a room full of crying babies that you barely know! You just want to keep them happy for their parents, and if a bottle gets used or a nap happens out of order, that's just the nature of the beast, I think. I never would have understood until I started volunteering in there, and I'm so glad I did. Gives me a better perspective of the nursery workers, and it made me way more laid back about Sundays. They are just going to be "off," you know? I know it is hard to let go of the routine, especially when Lucas is usually pretty on-schedule. But it is just something that comes with Sunday morning territory, I'm learning.

The intense crying thing is another matter, though. We, too, page the parents after about 15 minutes of inconsolable crying, so maybe that issue can be addressed. Does your church use pagers or anything? I leave my cell # on Emery's sticker that goes on her back when she checks in and on the white erase board in her class. The one time they've needed to reach me, they just called my cell. It was on vibrate, but I keep it out anyway to use my Bible app. Just an idea!

In the end, you are the Mommy and need to make the call on when to take your little man to the nursery. I just know that after working in there, it can get a little insane, and sometimes bottles go to the wayside! ;)

Amy said...

Audra, I am sorry for your not so fun experiences. Addison was such a good baby and on a schedule like Lucas. I kept her with me in church until she was close to a year old. But,once she was walking she wanted down and it became way too much of a distraction. Don't worry. Do what you feel like is best for you and your baby.