When Mr. New Dad and his infant son arrived attempting to cram into the pew, I thought nothing of it in fact I was amused. The baby was about 4 months old. Babies are fun to watch but fumbling fathers, let just say it, priceless. His wife must have been volunteering in the nursery or toddler room. I’ve done my time in those rooms, blah. So the poor guy was going it solo with the baby carrier and the rattles and toys dangling from its handle. He had the diaper bag slung over his shoulder as he literally burst into the church pew. Clunking the baby around in his baby carrier as the hanging toys swung to and fro tangling themselves together. That’s a lot of stuff for an hour so I deduced this was his first-born.
By this time the pews were filling up with the familiar faces I saw every Sunday morning. Along with greeting each other we also raised our eyebrows a bit at the newcomer. No one else could sit in the pew with me as I was trapped in by the un-necessary baby paraphernalia. I was okay with that because I was certain Mr. New Dad would leave as soon as the baby fussed. I also looked at them as a source of entertainment in case the sermon was boring.
It wasn’t too long after the service started that the little 4 month old started to scrunch up his face and make some noises. Mr. New Dad promptly plugged up his mouth with a bottle, he wasn’t messing around. One little peep and the baby bottle gets whipped out of the diaper bag. This bottle was an 8 ouncer. In fact it was filled up to the tippy top. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the bottle held a good 8-1/2 to 9 ounces of formula. The baby must have been hungry because he and dad settled in the church pew. A content baby sucking down his bottle cradled in his fathers arms. We all turned our direction to what was going on up there on the Alter.
Now I don’t claim to be an authority on bottle-feeding but I know a 4-month-old baby isn’t going to down 8-1/2 to 9 ounces without coming up for air. I remember learning about burping a baby before I had a baby. By the time each of my boys were 4 months old I was a burping expert. All three of them were barf bags, I didn’t tempt fate, two ounces and they were coming up for air no questions asked.
So my concern began to grow when Mr. New Dad didn’t burp his son. I watched out of the corner of my eye as the formula reached the half way point. There was still no movement from this guy and I don’t remember the sermon being particularly riveting so my attention wandered over the inevitable. I inched my way further down the pew. That baby was going to blow and I just had my dress dry cleaned.
I continued to watch the bottle empty and hoped the rest of the people in the general vicinity were hip to the situation. I didn’t know this guy next to me so I didn’t say,
‘When are you going to burp that baby?’
With more than half the formula gone the chances of only a burp coming out were dwindling fast. I was pressed up against the wall by now cringing in fear. And inside my head I screamed, burp the baby, burp the baby. I could not connect with any of my pew buddies to try to warn them of the impending doom. The bottle neared a state of emptiness. Mr. New Dad seemed proud of himself that he made it through the sermon without an incident. He looked down at his son and the empty bottle. The muscles in my neck and shoulders tensed and I stared wide-eyed and straight-ahead. My peripheral vision was enough to see the chaos that ensued.
Placing the empty bottle down Mr. New Dad lifted his son up to his shoulder. He was almost able to pat the baby on the back to start the burping process but before he could do what he should have done 6 ounce ago the baby spewed. He emptied the entire contents of the bottle on the cowboy boots of the unfortunate bearded man directly behind him. Still being trapped and against the wall all I could do was watched the scrambling. I wanted to shout out, ‘Okay, I’m going to need an old priest and a young priest.’
I wanted to say it really bad and if we weren’t in a church I might have. But I didn’t think it would be appropriate. When in doubt, don’t. I had to suppress a smile but by the time I got home I was laughing hysterically. Seriously by the time your baby is 4 months you should be aware of the importance of a burp, right?