Guest Post: Relief Society Meals for New Moms

Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Relief Society, women | 44 comments

 

“Affection of Mom” by Chidi Okoye

by Atlantic Toast Conference

When I got married two years ago, I went back to a “family” ward for the first time since high school. My current ward in a major metropolitan area, where the vast majority of ward members are newlyweds and very young families. Because of the demographics, we have a steady stream of (adorable!) babies being born into the ward, and subsequently a steady stream of Relief Society emails asking for volunteers to bring meals to the babies’ families.

When I first moved into the ward and started receiving these emails, I was pretty surprised to realize that the Relief Society provides a week’s worth of meals to every family. In the ward I grew up in, the policy was that the Relief Society would provide one post-baby meal to a new mother as a gift – the rationale being that a baby is not an emergency, but rather something that a family has nine months to plan for. (Obviously, this wouldn’t apply to premature or complicated births.)

As I’ve thought about these different approaches, I see pros and cons to both. On one hand, a young mother in a transient ward may need more support than someone who is at a more-established time in their life. On the other hand, although my current Relief Society seems pretty responsive to these meal requests (one email is usually all it takes to get seven volunteers with no follow-up badgering), most months I receive three to five requests. That means that someone in my Relief Society is bringing another family a meal almost every day.

I can’t help but wonder, in the unlikely event that I am ever called to be a Relief Society president, what policy about post-baby meals would I make. Given that my ward sample size is only two, and that I’ve never been the recipient of a post-baby meal(s), I’m curious:

How many meals does your Relief Society provide to new mothers after they have a baby (if any)? What do you think about your Relief Society’s policy? If you have received a meal(s) after you had a baby, how many did you receive? Did you think that number was too few, just enough, or too many?

Atlantic Toast Conference is a  life-long East Coaster who loves college basketball and carbs, and she currently has what she considers to be the best calling in the Church: junior Primary teacher.

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44 Comments

  1. Where I live now, the RS arranges for about a week of meals. However, I grew up in the South where the RS never had to make arrangements like that because it’s part of the culture down there to bring meals to families who have experienced a birth or a death.

  2. I think five has been the goal recently. We’ve been having 3-4 babies a year, but I’m the only one (publicly) pregnant right now. It seems generous. My husband can cook, but I’ll be glad that he can play with the toddler instead of worrying about dinner.

  3. Depending on the situation, our ward provides for two or three meals per baby, I believe, and they are ideally provided by the two visiting teachers so no one person is always doing it. We try and coordinate with the visiting grandmother so that the meals come after she’s gone home. Of course, the recent premature quadruplets got special treatment…

  4. The policy here is 2. With both of the babies I have had since moving here, we received way more than that though. We got the two from the ward, and then my visiting teachers brought two and then people that we work with closely in callings or are close friends with also brought us meals. And when my last baby was born emergency C-Section two of our non-Mormon neighbors also brought us meals. So we have been abundantly provided for!

  5. My ward leaves it to visiting teachers, so two nights that they work out with the new mother. If there is disconnect or further need, the compassionate service lady asks around to the woman’s friends or neighbors. Pretty orderly.

  6. It’s too bad that service to a new mother is based on a quota of what you deserve/what you could have prepared for instead of drawing upon the rich history of LDS women giving pregnancy blessings and re-imagining giving meals to a family as part of that type of history. Nourishing a new mother during that liminal and very short space of the newborn period and creating a bond of sisterhood through food and nurturing could be meaningful. Unfortunately we bring it down to worthiness, orderliness convenience and efficiency.

    • I love the idea of re-imagining this (and other) types of care as part of the rich history of the Relief Society. Beautiful comment. Beautiful vision.

      • Thanks, Rachel. I wish I was in your new ward. I would definitely bring you a meal :)

    • Hi KW – good point. To be fair, I think limiting meals from “official channels” might be an attempt to not overload volunteers, rather than purely a statement of who deserves what. I guess you could argue that meals shouldn’t/needn’t come from “official channels” at all, but I can see the benefit in making sure that everyone gets at least some level of coverage. I know that if it was up to me as a visiting teacher or other steward to provide meals… honestly, it wouldn’t get done. I’m not proud of it but that’s the truth.

    • That’s a great point, KW! I love it!

  7. This topic has been on my mind recently, because I just moved from the West Coast where I was one of two currently pregnant women, to a city in the East where I may easily be one of twenty.

    I am also reminded of two conversations I have had–the first prior to my pregnancy, the second during it. In the first, a male friend was telling me that his wife was bringing a meal to a family in their ward who had just welcomed a new baby into their home. He then told me that he didn’t understand the principle, because when his wife couldn’t make dinner, he made dinner himself. He didn’t expect somebody from the ward to come do it for him. At that time I was single, and thought mostly about how I made my own dinner (nearly) every night. There was no one in the ward assigned to help me when I was in grad school finals or when I went through the worst break up of my life.

    The second conversation was with my mother, about one of my oldest sister’s birth experiences. My sister’s ward had a policy of bringing 5 meals to new mothers, but when she had her baby their was an influx of babies, so they dropped it to 2. Her particular baby came early and needed several surgeries, but it was still 2. Then, shortly after that, she herself needed surgery to have her appendix removed, and for that she got 5 meals. Her husband joked that she did it just to trick the RS into giving her the original number, after all.

    Now that I am expecting, I can better understand the utility and charity of bringing meals at the time of birth, though part of me wishes that I had similar support when I was in the first trimester, and could barely make myself food. (Or in the second trimester when I was pregnant, and in grad school finals, and packing for a cross country move…)

  8. In our Stake we don’t provide meals. We expect that the men step up and prepare the meals. As previously stated, one has 9 months to prepare for this event, so frozen meals should be prepared. Also there are many families that order in or pick up McDonald’s etc., on the way home from work. Having said that, that doesn’t mean that meals are never provided for through visiting teachers who would do that on their own. We teach self-reliance and the priesthood and YW/M are taught to step in and prepare meals for the family during these times. Now funerals are a different matter.

  9. In our ward the visiting teachers coordinate it. So typically the two VTs do something and then if necessary ask around for help from other people.

    I don’t have kids and have received three meals in my life as charitable (and unexpected) acts from other sisters. My first year of grad school my visiting teacher brought me an enormous salad because she was worried I wasn’t getting proper nourishment. I ate it for three days. When I found out my grandma had cancer I was devastated and had to cancel plans with a friend. That friend brought me a frozen pizza — a quick solution but an important gesture. Then later the same friend brought me chicken soup when I was sick. It was awesome. It wasn’t just the food, and it wasn’t like I was so incapacitated I couldn’t cook. But it meant a lot to feel that connection and feel loved and cared for. In the church I feel like there is a lot of giving, it is nice to also sometimes receive.

  10. In both wards I’ve had babies in we’ve received 3. For one birth that was not enough and for the other 2 it was fine.

    When we had our first, we lived in Provo. My husband was still in school and had to go to class as soon as possible because it was less than a month before finals. There was an assumption that because it’s Utah, you’d have family come and help. I was left alone with a baby very soon postpartum with no family to help and that was not a good situation. We spread the 3 meals out over a week (every other day), but I really wished that I had more support. It was my first and I had no clue what to expect. My RS presidency came and checked on me when I was about 5 weeks postpartum but didn’t really offer help. It felt more like they were trying to get me to go back to church (I was taking a 6 week maternity leave from church and was planning on going back soon). Also, I didn’t get a lot of positive support from ward members during my pregnancy because we were planning on having our baby at home- lots of negative remarks and I guess I just felt abandoned by my Church community. Yes, we had 9 months to prepare and I did make several frozen dinners ahead of time, but with your first, it’s really impossible to know “how” to prepare. Also, there shouldn’t be an assumption that you have family support.

    With my next 2, my husband was able to actually take time off work and the 3 meals by our California ward was sufficient. Also, because I had babies before, I “knew” a little better what to expect mentally. We still did not get any family support postpartum, though.

    • I think that this is a really important comment, TopHat, perhaps because I am in that stage, as mentioned, where I am expecting my first baby. And I have no idea what or how to prepare. I plan to stock up on all of my favorite Trader Joe’s meals (frozen and non), to have them on hand.

      Significantly, the “9 months of preparation” are full of other things besides the baby. I am still trying to finish up my last two final papers. And then trying to study for my PhD language exams, and qualifying exams, and etc. All as much as possible before the baby comes. Other women are working, or otherwise engaged. And when they are home, they are likely tired. Very, very tired.

      Having a baby is also a huge investiture in financial resources. Not every family is able to order in or have prepared meals every night after the baby comes, when the mother is still recovering.

      Like you mentioned, not everyone has family that is close by or able to offer support. Not every husband is able to take time off work or school. Not every new mom even has a husband.

      Lastly for now, not every new mom has visiting teachers that actually visit her. In my last ward, I was visit exactly one time in 9 months, despite telling the Relief Society President that I Really needed a visiting teacher. This makes me a tad bit sad/nervous to hear of so many wards that just helping to that resource. It would be ideal if it works, but I imagine there has to be gaps somewhere.

  11. When I had my babies I really appreciated the gesture of support and encouragement that came with the 2-3 days of RS meals. It feels good to know that other people are joining you in celebrating your baby’s birth.

  12. I never really understood the bring meals to new moms tradition. I thought that it was implying that men were incapable of cooking a meal, so I was never really a big fan. When I had my 3 kids, I refused meals organized through the RS, though a couple of friends privately asked if they could bring me something, which I agreed to.

    I still am a bit ambivalent about the tradition, but I understand it more now in terms of connection and kindness, rather than implication of male buffoonery. So I’m beginning to appreciate it more, though the checklist quota part of it all makes me a bit uncomfortable.

  13. Our ward does 3, I think. It might be 2. This is probably me projecting my ideas onto the intent behind the tradition, but I think of it as caring for the whole family, not just the mom. Yes, men can cook, but they are also going through a big change, and might need to keep working as well as take on all the housework and care for older kids that mom usually does. So I see it as supporting the whole family.

    Getting meals after my 2 kids were born made me feel really loved, like I had a village to help me with this new enormous responsibility. I was extremely blessed with my first because I had meals from the ward I was living in, meals from the church my husband works for, plus a few meals from the ward we had just been in. We didn’t prepare any food at home for more almost a month! It was wonderful and deeply appreciated, because we were going through a difficult time in addition to being new parents. I’ll never forget that time, and I try to pay it forward whenever I can.

  14. I don’t know that our ward has any kind of policy; VTs seem to have a good grasp of what’s going on in our lives and do what they can to help out. I do recall some times when I had to firmly tell people not to bring dinner, as I had it handled, but for the most part it’s worked out well for us, even through the months my wife was on bedrest for each of our three children.

    I may not cook well, but I’m not going to let anyone starve. Annoys me when men have it thought they would wither away to nothing if they had no one to cook for them. Don’t even get me started on men who won’t change diapers. :P

  15. Given the frequency of new babies in your ward as well as the income level, an entire week seems a little too much to me. In a low income ward, I received two meals when I had my son, and it was appreciated and enough.

    That said, in my new ward, I received five meals when my father died. I wasn’t recovering from anything physical that didn’t allow me to cook (or my husband–he does most the cooking, actually), but oh, the love I felt from my RS sisters was so tangible. We don’t have much occasion for compassionate service in this ward, so resources aren’t called on as often, and I think that’s key–not to exhaust the resources. But I will remember the love I received during that week of the funeral, manifested through food. It was amazing. No matter what my doubts are, that love after the funeral keeps me coming back to RS, every time.

  16. When my first child was born I was absolutely shocked when people brought me meals. I’m a convert, and the generosity of just 3 meals literally floored me. Since then I’ve served as compassionate service leader twice, and I always err toward more meals. I try to get at least 4, but sometimes 5 or 6. I never once had a problem finding that number, even in a ward where we had 13 babies born within 3 months, the last of which was mine. I think I got 7 or 8 meals that time! I love this part of our culture so much, and have felt so loved when people bring me meals. It’s one of the best parts of the church for me.

    • Yay more meals! I look forward to the day when my kids are grown and I’ll have more time to pamper new moms with lots and lots of meals! Right now I can’t- I don’t want my germy kids getting new babies sick! But anything to make that postpartum time easier for other moms. The newborn stage is both an intense and a delicate place to be.

  17. I got three meals the first time and four for the following two. I thought it was lovely and I’ve also enjoyed bringing meals to new moms. In my first ward the request was sent out via emails, in my current ward I think it’s coordinated by VT’ers, but since those I VT haven’t had babies, I’m not sure. I’ve volunteered for all the meals I’ve done, never been asked. I have to say that I don’t really understand the whole “your husband can take care of the cooking” attitude. For me, my husband has had a big share of caring for our newborns. He has gotten up in the night to change diapers, give bottles, or sooth fussiness. He does this in addition to taking on the primary care of our other small children and working long hours at his job. Yes, he does a fair share of the cooking in our house during normal times and is a fantastic cook, but as a new (again) father, he can carry just as much stress as I do, and perhaps even stresses in ways that I don’t think about, such as being the primary income support for yet another child. We’re giving meals to support an ENTIRE FAMILY during a wondrous but exhausting time, not just the mamas.

  18. I live in an unusually high-needs ward where I’ve actually been scolded for arranging more than 3 meals for a visiting teachee because other people might feel neglected. I always turn it down when I have babies though, it’s a wonderful gesture but I’m pretty sure I’m the only vegetarian in the ward and I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. Personally I’d rather someone stopped by to visit (I get bad PPD) or offered to play with my other kids rather than making a meal. I always offer that before offering a meal. But I like KW’s interpretation of nurturing the mother and caring for their family in what is, if you think about it, a pretty intimate way.

    And THEN there was the time I snuck a couple extra meals in to a family (who already had several kids) on top of the 3 ward meals they’d been allotted, and the husband met me at the door and said “It’s so nice that you’re willing to do so much for us. Is there anything else you could do? We could really use some house cleaning or babysitting.” Um, uh, well…. no. Goodbye.

  19. I received no meals when I had a baby — from the ward. But I got several dinners from teachers/parents at my husband’s school. Per Alisa’s comment, when my dad passed unexpectedly, co-workers at my school dropped off three bags of food (different ward). So I have been well cared for by other communities in my life during times of transition. In fairness, I tend to be more proactive about providing meals to co-workers than to ward members myself, but the daily contact I have with them makes me feel more tied to the ebbs and flows of their lives.

  20. I lived in 4 different ward with each of my four children, but I’m pretty sure we usually had 4-5 meals brought in. Taking meals to new parents is about so much more than food. It is a tribal recognition of one of life’s most momentous and beautiful passages. My first child was born 27 years ago. It felt as if time was standing still. I still remember looking out the hospital room window in total amazement that everyone else in the world was going about their lives as if nothing had even happened. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t realize the miracle that had just taken place. Being in that beautiful place where the only thing that matters is that precious miracle in your arms is unspeakably sacred. When I take a meal to another new mom, it is with the hope that my meal will help her avoid temporal affairs and dwell in magical wonderment just a few days more.

  21. Can’t comment on the receiving meals for a baby part, but we received no meals when we had an unexpected toddler we would later adopt, placed with us. Meals would have been appreciated for a number of reasons, but because it was a last-second, surprise adoption, rather than a birth, we were not included.

    Years ago, I was asked to bring a meal to a woman who had just had a baby. I am happy to bring meals, so agreed. On the day I was assigned, I was very busy with work. I planned to make the meal at lunch time, then drop it off to her to heat and eat at her leisure. I called to make sure she was awake, and she was out shopping at a mall with her mother. As the drive to her place would take 20 minutes one way, she wasn’t home because she was well enough to go to a major mall, her mother as in town and I was on deadline, I said that would be unable to bring a meal. She was unhappy about it, but when I called the woman who was co-ordinating the meals, she said it was fine and hinted that she felt like this woman was taking somewhat advantage of the meals.

    So I guess I am on the fence with the whole thing. It is impossible to gauge appreciation levels with need and ability of others to serve, but the whole thing has me convinced that as a non-emergency, it is probably okay to not do it as a policy. On the flip side, any emergency meals for health or early baby deliveries, or baby delivery complications all seem significantly appreciated and welcomed– so I am more for preparing for those, rather than the baby thing. I always thought the baby thing was so nosey-Nellies could just go and see the baby, and not so much about the service.

    • I had a similar experience. Brought a meal into to a family with a pregnant “sick” mom only to find a big party at the house – lots of family and her husband BBQing steaks. That is taking advantage of the ward.

  22. I received four meals and the VTs and other friends brought meals. We used takethemameal.com to organize ourselves. We’ve also done meals for deaths in the family and one time for a friend who was doing serious military training. Actually what was handiest was when my husband had to leave for a few days and I was alone with a newborn. I arranged for someone to visit me every day. It was a real sanity saver!

  23. My ward provides 5 meals. Several years ago, I signed up to bring a meal and scheduled to drop it off at 6pm in the evening. Around 5:30pm, I received a phone call from the woman. She said, “Oh my gosh, I can you come later? We are at Costco right now, and probably won’t be home until 7pm.”

    I mean, really. Do I even need to explain how rude and inappropriate that is? So…you and your husband can make a Costco run, but cannot manage to muster up the energy to make dinner? I was so burned by this experience, I have not made another meal for fear of being met with such ingratitude – and a clear expression of lack of need. This couple was either just complying with tradition or happy to get a free meal! :) I think the latter is true.

    When I hear about the many instances of need expressed in the comments, I feel heartened. Also, perhaps it might be helpful to have a better idea of “need” amongst sisters.

    p.s. I really liked Rachel’s comment about needing meals during finals or a bad breakup. So true!

  24. While I would much prefer a meal made by my husband to any number of the meals the sweet RS sisters would bring, the approach offered by our RS Compassionate Service leader is along the lines of: “Several sisters in the ward would like to share the love with you, support you in this special time of having a new baby and the best way we know how to do that is by bringing you a hot meal. Would you accept this from us?” If my mom or MIL is here for the first two weeks, the ward meals can pick up anytime we want them to begin. One post-C-Section mom didn’t start her RS meals until after baby was 6 weeks old and Grandma went home! They announce the new baby, send the calendar around the room in RS, Primary and YW and however many people sign up is how many meals you get. Sometimes with several days gap in between. For my first child it spanned about 2 weeks, maybe 10 meals in total? I just helped organize one for my VT sister and she got about 7 meals in 10 days. I’ve never heard of “capping” the limit, but maybe because not many babies are born in my ward and there are lots of ladies who like bringing meals? If they can’t come over and help with the laundry or watch the toddler, many of the RS sisters in my ward like knowing they are helping a little bit just by dropping off a hot meal.

  25. I have no idea what the current policy is, but I do know that being “less active”means you get priority. There are a few families/individuals that have been getting meals 2-7 days per week for the past 9 months and when an active single sister asked for help after shoulder surgery they told her to ask her family, I felt for her so much because I have been there.
    In Utah, we only got two meals after the birth of our baby, which didn’t feel like nearly enough compared to what I had seen was the norm -two weeks of meals. And to compound it, I had an emergency c-section with complications that prevented me from being able to grip anything for almost 8 weeks, so cooking/cleaning was entirely out of the question, not to mention self care or holding my baby. I was quite upset about because our ward was providing full time free child care so multiple mothers could go to work or school. The logic seemed so backwards that they were asking people to do fulltime jobs (daycare) for free but a meal was too much, even though we offered to pay for all expenses.

  26. I’ve written before about the number of meals our ward provides, only two if all has gone well. This is because we have a lot of surgeries and funerals and just don’t have the people to do more. Indeed, when my last baby was only three weeks old, I was asked to cook a meal for someone who had surgery. Cooking was not a big deal, but I had to drive it 30 minutes, and it was the first time that I had driven our stick-shift car since the surgery:(

    Several comments have mentioned a grandmother coming to help as if that always happens. I wonder how that will work out as grandmothers have their own careers? I have had struggled to take time off for family issues. There have been attempts to broaden the FMLA in the US, but when our first grandchild was born, it did not cover the birth of grandchildren.

    I wasn’t raised in the church and didn’t realize what a tradition this was. I was angry when my Utah neighbors brought a meal after our baby was born. Why couldn’t they have brought a meal 8 months earlier when I was too sick to cook and really needed it? It seemed an empty ritual, not addressing actual need.

    • I understand well that grandmothers are not always able to come, 1) as my mother-in-law is passed away, and 2) as my mom had seven children, all without the attendance, or follow up visit of her mother. I think this is one of the main reasons my mom does try to come support her children as they (or their wives) give birth, but she is not always able to take as much time off work as she would like. And, for my birthing experience, she will likely not be able to come immediately, since I live so far away.

      I feel that their can be great warmth in the welcoming ritual, though you are absolutely right, that there may also be great need early in a woman’s pregnancy.

  27. Though I don’t know what my current ward does, I’m sure that no other ward I’ve ever lived in has had any set number for meals to families. I have been a R.S. president twice and severed as a counselor several other times, and in every case, we always based the number of meals on individual family’s needs, discussing it with them before the birth and again immediately afterward. There are so many variables from family to family, as exhibited in the comments to this post. Personally, I really appreciated meals after the birth of a baby, because my husband always worked long hours and didn’t have good cooking skills anyway. I didn’t expect or want meals with the two births with which I had live-in help (once my mother and once my sister). However, with the other two, it would have been very difficult for me to manage without several days of meals. When my third child was born, my husband had to leave town for five days starting the day I came home with the baby. A close friend in the ward took my two toddlers all day for those five days, the YW arranged for a girl to come over every evening to bathe my children and help with laundry and dishes, and the R.S. brought in a meal each night. It was exactly what we needed. Yet with the fourth child, in the same ward, I needed no help from the ward and didn’t receive any. I understand some of the reasoning behind having set number policies, but I think doing it that way risks underserving those who are in the most need.

  28. The most welcome meals were when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. We really needed those meals. I turn down the ones for when I have a baby because my mom has always been able to come so we don’t need them.
    I think it is important to bring meals for parents of a new baby. I think people forget that childbirth is very traumatic for a lot of couples. There are some deliveries that have the life of mom or baby in danger. There are often one or two sleepless nights of labor or postpartum.
    Sure, some moms sail through and can jump right up. Others had a roller coaster ride of pain and fear because things went wrong.
    My second most welcome time of meals was when I was off my feet for foot problems. It was very hard to not do any housework and my kids and husband had to do it all. I felt bad that the ward was willing to bring so many meals and kept bringing them. HOWEVER, my husband really was working so hard at work and at home and he even took the kids on the ward father-kid campout INCLUDING two fatherless ADHD boys and he had to take an entire evening to pack for it and then it wasn’t relaxing to be there with our four kids plus two and as a bishopric member he had to cook breakfast for the ward which meant that watching the little kids was up to my daughter. There was a lot on the shoulders of my husband and kids, and having meals brought was of huge benefit to them.
    Also, it meant a lot to me that my kids got to see us be the recipient of some service. My kids see my husband serving and they see me serving and they themselves serve or get dragged along to serve (my teenagers have 4 hours of church most weeks plus leaving early to pick up an elderly lady can be a little much). It was a good learning experience for them to see that we were a part of a community that cared enough to do something for us in our time of need.
    So, for those special times, I think the tradition is worth it. I am willing to bring meals because sometimes it isn’t a big deal, but sometimes it is very, very helpful and loving.

  29. We received a total of 7 meals following the birth of our first child; all but one were from members of our ward, though only 3 were officially arranged by the RS. My second child was born 7 weeks ago and our current ward only arranged for 2 meals, except that one of the people forgot so we only received 1 meal. The forgotten meal wouldn’t have bothered me (since we did have leftovers) but it followed a long string of incidents that have made me feel overlooked and unimportant in our ward. We honestly didn’t need the food (I made a bunch of frozen meals in advance) but I did want to feel loved, remembered, and special which is what the food represented to me.

    I’m sure other wards do it differently, but it bothered me that in both wards, we were never informed who would be bringing us meals, we just had to wait and cross our fingers that someone would show up. And when someone didn’t show up when we had been expecting someone, we didn’t know who to call. I also don’t know how they assign the meals since I’ve never been contacted about providing any meals to any other sisters and I would happily sign up if given the chance.

  30. In the five RS presidencies of which I have been a part, we averaged 2-3 meals per birth/surgery/family crisis. We might increase the number of meals based on special circumstances or complications. I have seen a few situations where on-going meals were provided (family where mom had terminal cancer, elderly brother who lived alone and was on dialysis, etc), but they were the exception rather than the rule. I have brought dinner to a friend or other ward member from time to time just because I knew they were sick/spouse was out of town for an extended period/it was their birthday, etc. The unexpected meals seem to be the ones people have enjoyed the most. Once I brought a friend a giant chocolate pecan cake after she had surgery because I knew she loved cake. She said that the cake was the only thing that motivated her to get out of bed like she was supposed to every day that first week.

    One of the most bizarre meal situations I ever ran into was while I was RS president. Two visiting teachers called me and expressed concern that one of their teachees was having a (planned) surgery in one month and had let them know that she was expecting dinner every day for the entire 8 weeks of her recovery. In this sister’s home, there were 3 adult children plus her husband, all gainfully employed (some in the food industry, no less), the youngest of whom was 18. I had to go in and explain to a woman twice my age that the ward would be happy to provide 2 meals for them and inquired as to which days would be best for those meals. She pushed back, and I had to remind her that she still had 4 weeks to buy some frozen lasagnas and that this might be a good opportunity for her to speak to her adult children about stepping up and helping out at home. It was an interesting teaching moment, that’s for sure. Oh, and I just remembered that family that wanted their VTers to bring them dinner because their kids had to go to the dentist that day. One of the VTers kindly explained that on busy days, she usually just opened a can of soup or made ramen noodles for her family and suggested that they do the same. So limits to bringing meals aren’t always a bad idea.

  31. I think this topic is about covered from all the comments – even one surprise adoption.

    I am an adoptive mom. I was infertile – I can get pregnant but I can not stay pregnant. After 8 years of miscarriages we adopted our wonderful daughter #1.

    In that ward our RS president called me to say welcome home (we were in a hotel room for 10 days in another state) and said – and I quote here – you don’t need meals since you didn’t actually give birth, right?

    What was I to say to that?

    If the meals are about love and excitement over a new baby – I was completely left out because I hadn’t given birth. After everything I’ve been through that was hurtful.

    If the meals are about need – I may not have pushed that baby out but I was 10 days into taking care of newborn and I was TIRED. She was my first (albeit I was more experienced with newborns than most new moms) and she was a “I must have physical contact with your skin at all times” baby…. I could have used some help. And maybe just some attention.

    With Daughter #2 – No one said a word. One Sunday when I was hauling my 4 year old and my 4 month old into church alone (husband was gone for work) – the Relief Society President sees me in the parking lot getting everyone out of the car. She came and held the door open and asked me how I was doing. She commented that looked hard all alone and then said: We really should have brought you some meals, huh?

    I smiled and said we were fine. But really? I was so hurt. Again. In that ward at least everyone was super excited for us – I got a couple of random presents which was totally fun and a lot of love an excitement when I was actually at church.

    So if you’re ever in a ward and you know a woman who is adopting or has just adopted (surprise or planned) – give her some love. It hurts to be left out of what should be a tradition about love and excitement over a new soul joining a family, a ward family, etc.

    • Really sage counsel, Camille.

      I’m sorry you didn’t receive greater care.

    • That totally sucks.
      In my theory, adoptive mothers/parents need it just as much if not more, for the exact reason you mentioned, newborns are work. And you lack the scents/phermonoes that will biologically calm your child until they learn it, not because its reflexive, thus it is more work to calm them.
      i’m sorry.

  32. We provide meals on an individual basis. We have many with health issues other than childbirth and many poor members who sometimes run out of food before we can get to the Bishop’s storehouse. Our graduate students tend to have their babies as they graduate, just when all their friends are in finals or packing to leave too. It would be overwhelming to provide 5 meals to each. Some new moms have received none if a Grandma or husband could handle it or a woman wisely prepared with freezer meals. One surgical patient received 3-4/week for nearly 2 months. They were needed and appreciated. As RS President, I have developed my own tradition of taking a small gift to new moms, sometimes with a meal, sometimes just with a basket of fruit or flowers and, sometimes, in the most demanding weeks, with nothing else. The idea is to show love and celebration. I rely heavily on the VT’s and my compassionate service leader to help me determine what is needed and what would be an unnecessary burden to others.

  33. My ward does about 5 meals. It may be more (if people arrange directly with the mom) or fewer (if you don’t want them immediately after giving birth), but 5 is standard.

    I really think that meals need to be individual. Some people need a lot of meals. Some people don’t need many. I also think that meals should be no more often than every other day. Otherwise people end up with too many leftovers filling up their refrigerators.

    We would have been fine with none after my daughter’s birth (my husband is the cook in my family, and was off work for 3.5 weeks after her birth, plus my mom came out for her birth), but were chastised when we said we didn’t need any for “not letting others serve us”, but then also scolded for letting the compassionate service leader (CSL) know that the normal schedule of 5 meals daily after returning from the hospital didn’t fit our needs and could we please have the meals come after my mom left.

    We only pre-arranged with the CSL for one after my son’s birth, but ended up with tons and NEEDED them because of complications after his birth that rendered me an invalid for over a month. We didn’t ask for any meals after the experience with the CSL and my daughter’s birth, but my diagnosis spread through the ward like wildfire and friends of mine put together a calendar of meals every other to every third day (allowing us to use up leftovers) for about a month and arranged other service too. I think the CSL eventually got involved, but she was not the main planner/organizer.

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