Trust Yourself

This New Year, make a resolution to trust yourself in all things related to your baby.   Trust myself, you are thinking?  I have no idea what I am doing.  I am winging this motherhood thing.  I just want someone to tell me what to do with this kid, and I will do it!  

Often, I am the someone you want the guidance from, and I am happy to give it. It usually involves seeing you and your baby in person, and spending quite a bit of time asking a lot of questions about what is happening.   I frequently apologize for the interrogation. But I am trying to get a handle on the situation, and you are the person with all the clues about what is going on.  I am just here to help you sort through it all.

Many times, I am confident I have it all figured out and start to tell you what I think is taking place. At that point, you might tell me all the things you have read and heard that contradict what I am telling you. You have read every book on the subject, consulted every girlfriend, your mother and mother in law, sisters, and of course, every website that popped up in your Google search. You also tell me how you tried each and every suggestion, and nothing worked.

I have addressed this topic multiple times- once about handling conflicting information and in another article about the “perfect” mother.  What I have come to realize is that in these situations, women don’t trust themselves.  They let the comments of passing strangers cause them to doubt themselves and their ability to care for their baby. They have somehow decided that a stranger that has never met their family, and is giving general advice online, knows more about their baby than they do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And I know what I am talking about, because I have been that mommy. I have two vivid memories of my life with little boys.  One is of me freaking out because one of them (I believe boy #2 at about 7 months) fell down the stairs. (Very Bad Mommy-can’t remember how or why that happened!)  I called my husband at work, hysterically crying and asking him what I should do.  His calm response to me was, “I don’t know Kath, you are the neonatal ICU RN, what do you think you should do?”  Stunned, I examined him as any RN would.  He was fine.

The other memory is of a baby that wouldn’t sleep, unless he was on his stomach.  The AAP had just come out with the Back to Sleep recommendations.  So obviously, I couldn’t let him sleep on his stomach.  Exhausted, I stood over his crib crying, while he struggled, unable to be comfortable and sleep on his back.  I watched amazed as my husband got out of bed, rolled the baby over on his tummy, patted his bum and climbed back into our bed, both of them sleeping comfortably in a matter of minutes. That was the end of the Back to Sleep Campaign in our house.  I slept great from that moment on.

Please believe me when I say you really do know your baby best. You are the one living with him 24/7.  Sometimes, you are just too tired to clearly see what is happening.   That is where I hope to help.   I am usually telling you something you already know, you just didn’t trust yourself enough to believe it and act on it.

One of my MD friends posted a picture on Facebook of a coffee mug that said. “Don’t confuse your Google search with my medical degree.”  It gave me a good laugh, but I think I we all need to remember not to confuse our Google searches with our maternal instincts. Those instincts are pretty strong, and if we listen to them, instead of everyone else, our anxiety levels will dissipate, and our babies will be just fine. So please, make a New Year’s resolution to trust yourself and act on those instincts. Your baby, and probably the rest of your family, will thank you!