Thursday, January 13, 2011

The First Lesson of Motherhood: Trust Your Gut

Something wasn't right.  I hadn't been a parent for more than 48 hours but as I held my screaming son, I knew in my gut something was wrong.

"He's just a baby. Babies scream"

"He's latching fine. He'll get what he needs".

"Don't give him a bottle, it will doom your nursing relationship forever."

I'm sure those people were right.  They were long time parents, professionals with degrees and people who had been in my shoes before.  What did I know? I listened to them while ignoring that voice in my head that kept repeating "This is not working".

The voice got louder a few hours later when my neighbor, a retired RN, stopped by to meet Max. On her first glance she stated "He's looking a little yellow.  Keep an eye on that".

The night came.  Max continued to latch, hang out there for a few minutes, pull off and start screaming again.  All night long he screamed and screamed.  We rocked, bounced, shushed, and swaddled.  We called my mother in law at 1AM to help.  I couldn't do much more than cry, feeling like I was failing him.

The next morning was his 3 day pediatrician visit. While we were getting ready, I suggested taking Max's temperature. He felt warm but I wasn't sure what was warm for a newborn. He had a mild fever. I actually felt some relief.  At least I knew that was part of the problem. I didn't know a low fever in a newborn meant an automatic hospital admission until we told the nurse at the pedi's office. I sat in shock as she wrote up orders and gave us directions on how to get to the pediatric unit.

I remained in shock at the hospital as they repeatedly poked my son, trying to find a vein for an antibiotic IV. Multiple veins were blown. Finally they gave him Pedialyte which he rapidly drank and then promptly fell asleep for the first time in hours. I started to put the pieces together.

We settled in our room and I met the lactation consultant.  I tried pumping for the first time. Not a drop.  I was devastated but I was also relieved. Things started to fall into place. My milk hadn't come in.  Max wasn't even getting colostrum to sustain him.  He was dehydrated, causing the jaundice, fever and constant screaming.  I finally had the answers needed to make him better. A rush of relief swept over me.

It was at that point, 72 hours into parenthood I realized the "experts" were full of crud. Their degrees and experience couldn't replace a mothers intuition.  The voice in the back of my head screamed "I told you so!".  It was right.  Since then, when it comes to Max, I always listen.

Mama's Losin' It

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15 comments:

Mommy Lisa said...

How scary, but so glad it helped you to trust yourself.

Amanda said...

Wow! I agree, mom's should always listen to their gut...their intuition often tells more than any degree. Visiting from Mama Kat's.

Stretching My Imagination said...

Stopping in from Mama Kat, and wow. Amazing story, and the voice you told it in was perfect: direct, powerful, and so real. Intuition and self-awareness is a powerful thing, more so than fancy pieces of paper.

Jennifer said...

Isn't it amazing how we mothers have that intuition? I can't explain it, but like you wrote, there are just some times when we KNOW.

I'm so glad your Max was okay! Visiting today from Mama Kat's!

Unpolished Parenting said...

It's so hard to trust your gut as a first time mom. I know I had no clue as to what I should be doing and if someone suggested something, then it had to be better then anything I came up with. As time passed though I started realizing this gut instinct/mother's intuition was real and I knew more than I gave myself credit for. Hard lesson to learn though. So glad everything turned out okay!

Varotica said...

Honestly ... and even if you were wrong ... you would be right in trusting your gut. If you feel uncomfortable with a decision or an answer or if you do not feel satisfied with it ... why should we Moms settle. No, I am not an expert. Yes, you might be right. But as long as I do not KNOW I will be insecure. And there will not be an expert at my home every waking hour when I need to make a decision, right?
So thank you experts if you take your time and take my concerns seriously, even if they seem silly to you. They are serious to me. And sometimes your experience will make you blind when that rare case happens when things are different.
So yeah, trust your gut :)
Not only visiting from MamaKat ... I will go through some more posts later today or tomorrow to find more that I like as much as this one.

Nicole said...

You are SO right! I enjoyed this post....SO glad that your son was ok. Poor little guy. The good thing is he won't remember his discomfort. I remember when my twins were in the NICU and they had to have a spinal because of a suspicion of infection - oh, so hard to watch them endure that. I'm sure you must have been so scared as well as relieved that you were right in your intuition.

Stopping by from Mama Kat's WW!

Booyah's Momma said...

I love D's comment. When I first became a mom, I too was always second guessing my gut reactions. It took me a while to figure out that all of the experts may be experts in their field... but they are not experts about your own children.

Emily said...

My mom has told me the stories of her attempt to breast feed me. How stressful it was as I cried and cried and she couldn't get her milk to let down and what I did get gave me colic. She dutifully massaged and took warm showers and sent my dad out to buy the blandest diet ever. She said it seemed her milk would drop suddenly every time she went out in public, soaking her shirt. One evening her mother-in-law came over, made a bit of small talk, then got shifty eyed and guiltily pulled a small bottle with formula out of her purse. "maybe we could just try it..." I was probably about a week old and my mom said I down that bottle and slept like she had never seen me sleep before. I was switched to formula and bottles and all was well - except my mom still felt like a bit of a failure. Like she was somehow doing things wrong. It was an important story for me to hear when I was being exposed to a lot of the propaganda for breast feeding.

Heather @ Domestic Disaster said...

I'm so glad your sweet baby got some relief. The textbooks never tell new moms how hard breastfeeding is. They just make us feel bad if we opt to use formula - full time or as a supplement. You're a fantastic mom, Laura. Always trust your instincts.

Jen said...

trusting your self is the best thing you can do as a parent.

Its hard but usually the right things to do.

Carri said...

Wow! Poor little guy. Good job, Mom, for trusting your instincts! We have them for a reason!

Mama Kat said...

Oh man you poor babies!! That would have broken ANY new mom. I'm so glad you happened to have an appointment scheduled!

Mothers' Hideaway said...

How scary! It's amazing how much the mama's instinct is real! There have been times where I've known "something just isn't right." Poor baby and Mommy!

Lori Dyan said...

Sometimes I wonder how any babies are born or make it past the first week - especially when you compare reality to the movies where the "new mom" is breastfeeding within minutes of giving birth. I found b-feeding the most unnatural thing in the world! Good for you listening to your inner wisdom...it is right more often than it's wrong...

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