One of the benefits of being a new parent is learning to trust my momstinct. No, I haven’t developed a new smell after becoming a mom (at least, if I have, no one has told me so). That’s what I call my mommy instinct. It’s amazing how dead on it can be.
Back when Siddhartha was almost seven months old, he got sick for the first time. As is often the case, it started in the middle of the night. I knew something was wrong because he had been asleep without waking for four hours. He was normally waking every three hours at night at that age. But that week he had been waking every one to two hours because we were traveling and he was cutting a tooth.
So how did I know that he had been asleep for too long if it was the middle of the night when I was also asleep? My dream told me.
I dreamt that someone told me that I had had a baby years ago, before Siddhartha was born. It was back in college and for some reason I didn’t remember being pregnant, the birth, or what happened to the baby. I was horrified that I wasn’t caring for my child. The rest of the dream was spent trying to find my child and reconcile my failure. Then I woke up.
Right away, upon waking, I knew something was wrong. I looked at my watch and realized Siddhartha had been asleep for four hours. As I often do when he has slept longer than I expect, I checked to be sure he was breathing. I can’t say that it was abnormal for sure, but it didn’t seem right. Dave thought it was normal, but I felt it was slightly more shallow and rapid than usual. I still don’t know if it was or if my momstinct was kicking it to convince me something was wrong.
Then I felt his head to discover it was too warm. At that point, I thanked me from the past for thinking to pack his thermometer. Sure enough, he had a 102.9 fever.
Throughout that next day we gave him baby acetaminophen every four hours to keep the fever down closer to 100. When it got close to time for another dose, his fever was right back up to 103. It scares me to think that if I hadn’t woken his fever might have gone dangerously high, but then I remember that I did wake up.
Maybe we’re lucky because we co-sleep. Maybe having his little body so close to me meant that I could feel that he was too warm or that he wasn’t stirring as much as he normally would. One thing I know for sure is that my momstinct works even when I’m asleep. It was a reminder to trust myself, not only as a mom, but in general. There’s more wisdom in my intuition than I give myself credit for.
Tell me about a time when your intuition came in handy. Do you trust yourself more after becoming a parent?
One thought on “Momstinct: The Art of Trusting Yourself”
Oh, Katie, can I ever identify! Before we moved to cosleeping this fall, I had my son in his room right next to ours. It was hot, and we had the window unit AC on in our room with the door closed (and a fan on the kid in his room), with the baby monitor on in his room so I could hear him. What I didn’t realize is that the receiver in his room had somehow gotten turned off. I awoke at 2 and instantly knew something was wrong. I got up to check and found him screaming in his crib. I was HORRIFIED and reacted with the kind of panic only a new mom could have, which probably made him more upset. He was just fine, and he went back to sleep after a nursing session and a diaper change. But the thing is, based on his demeanor, I’m pretty sure he hadn’t been awake for long. Although I couldn’t hear him over the AC, I just “knew” he’d awakened and responded by instinct, from a distance.
The best advice I ever got before I became a mom was this: “Trust your instincts.” This kid was part of my body and now is with me more than anyone else but his very-engaged daddy (and maybe even him). There have been MANY times we’ve had to make a tough decision, and when I’ve followed my instincts, I’ve ended up being very happy with the result.