My mom instincts told me something was wrong.
Something seemed off with my newborn son from the very beginning.
He would scream for hours on end. No matter how often I fed him, he would scream for more.
People meant well. They’d reassure me, “Oh, it’ll get better. Those first months are always hard.”
They just didn’t get it. This was not the normal newborn experience. Micah would scream for four to five hours on end. He was inconsolable and then would finally sleep from total exhaustion.
That would last about 30 minutes and he would wake up for another hours-long round of screaming.
He also quickly expelled whatever he ate via one end or the other. We dubbed him “Sir Poops A Lot.”
But as time passed and nothing resolved, it just wasn’t funny.
My mom instincts were telling me something was wrong. Really wrong. And it was getting louder and more insistent.
I kept telling it to shut up. It clearly didn’t know what it was talking about.
My baby is going to be fine, I would tell it.
His doctor says he’s a little on the small side, but it’s nothing to worry about. You’re overreacting, I would say.
Until that little voice in my gut would be silenced no longer.
Micah was six months old, but he looked like a three-month-old. His skin was pasty. His eyes were hollow. One day, he went for 24 hours without digesting a single drop of formula.
For months, I’d been frustrated with the answers I was getting from his doctor. I was done. I called a new pediatrician in town who already had a great reputation and a long waiting list.
I prayed and picked up the phone — and miraculously got an appointment.
After two weeks and lots of testing, my mom instincts were proven right. Micah was diagnosed — by Kathy’s pediatrician husband — with cystic fibrosis.
You would think after that I would have given my gut a little well-deserved respect.
But I still spent years second guessing it. Ignoring it.
Why? Because I lacked confidence in my God-given intuition.
As I’ve written about before, I grew up with my mother’s untreated mental illness — and the accompanying self-focus that involved. As a result, I didn’t receive as much validation and reinforcement of my decisions as I needed.
That lack of confidence presented some real problems in mothering. So how did I finally learn to trust my mom instincts instead of telling them to put a sock in it?
1.) Seek out at least one person to affirm you. For me, that person was Kathy. If my gut was telling me to do something, but I wasn’t sure if it was right, I would call Kathy. I’d relate my dilemma and she’d say, “Your instincts are right. You have a good gut.” She said that to me over and over again. Patiently and sweetly. Having that long-awaited voice of affirmation made a huge difference.
Or she’d say, “You say you don’t know what to do, but you really do. You just don’t want to do it.”
Look for someone sweet and encouraging, but also someone who is honest and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth.
2.) Pray for a “good gut.” We have voices in our head telling us to do all kinds of things. Some are wise. Some not so smart — even when they seem like good ideas. I pray everyday that the Holy Spirit will help me discern which impressions and voices to listen to. He is faithful.
3.) Follow your intuition — even if it’s in a small way. Each time I followed my instincts and I was right, it boosted my confidence. I learned to ignore them at my own peril.
We have so many voices talking to us as mamas — spouses, our little ones, social media, friends, parenting experts.
But the wisest one is the voice the Holy Spirit puts inside our mama hearts.
If only we will listen.