Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mother's Intuition

I used to think Mother's Intuition was like something from an iconic Norman Rockwell painting: a beautiful notion, idealized, sugared, wholesome, admirable. . .but basically a pleasant cultural myth.

If you're a mother, you already know this, and if you're not, I assure you--Mother's Intuition is real.  There are these moments when you know something is not right for your baby.  Sometimes he's having a bad day and despite the conflicting advice of books, websites, friends, family and pediatricians, you know what your baby needs.

Wells loves his naps.
In my nine months of motherhood, I've used my intuition to make almost every decision I've had to when it comes to Wells.  I can say with certainty it has never let me down.  But learning to really trust it  took some practice.

When he was six months old I went back to work.  I had lined up an in-home care provider when I was pregnant.  She was licensed, experienced (over 25 years!), and well recommended.  I met her, liked her, trusted her completely, and I still do.  But the second day, when I picked him up, I knew it wasn't right.  I had this feeling.  This gut  feeling.  It just wasn't going to work.  Now I'm not talking about Wells being in danger or anything like that.  He wouldn't have gone back there the rest of the week like he did.  There were just some "little" things (that aren't so little when it's your baby we're talking about), that didn't sit well.

He only took one nap.  It worked better with her schedule with the older kids.  When I picked him up and she told me that, my stomach turned to heaviness.  My baby takes two naps.  He needs two naps.  The closest feeling I can relate my gut reaction to is a feeling of pure dread.  Clearly, naps are not something to instill dread.  But there it was.

My mind said, "Give it a chance.  Let's just see.  Don't be one of those overprotective, micromanaging type moms."

Day three.  I picked him up.  She didn't want to do the cloth diapers.  Could I send disposables?

Tightening.  Hardening.  In the gut.

If you've been reading my blog, you know I'm committed to being as green as I can.  I don't want to throw away loads of disposable diapers.  It feels wrong to me.  (If you missed it see A Mother Earth Day Crisis and Plastic Pants are Out and Other Things I've Learned about Cloth Diapering) When shopping for cloth diapers, the reason I decided on and bought Kissaluvs was that all the reviews said they were "just as easy as disposable diapers to change" and "perfect for care providers."

I took a breath.  "I can bring disposable diapers tomorrow, but can we work on ways for it to work for you?  I'm really committed to the cloth diapers and not wasting so much."

"I don't like the smell every time I open the bag," she replied.  There's a waterproof zippered bag that the diapers go in till I take them home and wash them and the bag.

"OK.  Maybe I can look into some other options for the bag, like individual bags for each diaper."

She didn't look convinced.  Or interested.

I put my very tired and cranky baby in the car.  I pulled out of her driveway.  The tightening and hardening traveled up my gut to my throat.  The tears started rolling down my face.  This isn't going to work.

Never in my life could I have imagined the intense, primal feelings that took hold of me.  I had to do what would be best for my baby.  I picked up the phone to call my husband.  I'm sure I scared him when he heard me blubbering, but I pulled it together and explained what I was feeling.

"Let's just give it a chance, not rush to any decisions."  He meant the best.  We didn't have any other ideas for childcare and this woman was a very nice and reputable person.  How could he know about the bowling ball that had taken up residence in my midsection?  The decision had already been made.

My teacher, Ma Jaya, has written that "intuition is not just spiritual, it is part of your body."  It resides in the third chakra in the pit of the belly.  That's where you feel it.  And at that moment, I felt it.

Tripp and I went back and forth about it that night.  He was very logical; I was very emotional.  After a while he saw it in my eyes.  He knew I knew.  It wasn't about fear or over-protectiveness or an emotional imbalance on my part.  It was about knowing what was right.

I said a silent prayer for a new caregiver.  Within a day and with surprisingly little effort I found one.  Tripp and I went to meet her and I knew. The three of us drove away from her house after meeting Miss Ann, and the bowling ball of dread was replaced with warm liquid peace.

Happy ending.  Miss Ann has been amazing.  Wells flourishes with her. Tripp and I have accepted that parenting isn't always about logic.  And I now know that mother's intuition is real.

1 comment:

  1. So true. The only times I feel like I made "mistakes" when it came to my sons was when I left my intuition and gut instinct behind. Since becoming a mother, I trust it even more.