When I gave birth to my third child in four years, I was pretty sure I had this mothering thing down. I was an expert baby wearer (I could wrap a Moby wrap in record time), knew how to deal with the sleepless nights, maintained my job outside the home, had a strong marriage, and was the “go to” mom for all my new mommy friends for advice.
Things were falling into place as a mom of three. The “big” boys were at school 3 days a week, so I was able to catch up on sleep and household chores while they were there. I felt like superwoman. I was doing it all! I had a baby that hardly cried and loved to sleep. I was also raising 3 kids, going back to work, and managing to keep on top of the laundry (insert happy dance here).
That feeling of superwoman only lasted a short while.
At our first pediatrician appointment my baby hadn’t gained her birth weight back. But, with the way my delivery unfolded, we all felt confident that the extra IV fluids I received accounted for the inflated birth weight, and she would soon start gaining.
We went the next week for a weight check. Still not to birth weight, but gaining slowly. I was under strict instructions to nurse every two hours around the clock and to come back in two weeks for another weight check.
Next weight check at her one month appointment – she finally reached her birth weight. As a nursing mom of two others, I was confident she was just a little peanut and slow gainer. To appease my pediatrician, I made an appointment with a lactation consultant in two weeks.
In the meantime, I went back to my OB for my postpartum check up. In my haste to be “superwoman” I forgot to pay attention to my body. At that appointment, I found out I had medical complications to my delivery. Nothing life threatening, but something enough to be annoying.
Fast forward to the lactation meeting. We went through a beautiful nursing session (she truly was a champion nurser) and had gotten to the part where we talk about the delivery and postpartum. I mentioned to the LC that I had had some complications and was being treated. She stopped writing and looked at me. The medical complications that I had were directly linked to low milk supply.
I didn’t know my baby wasn’t getting enough milk?
I felt so guilty. I never gave a second thought to the pediatrician’s concerns.
I was rocked to my core.
There is so much weight put on “mother’s intuition” as if as soon as we become moms we magically know all the answers to everything. We will magically know “what’s right” for our babies and us. We will know why your baby is crying – oh, it’s because he needs a diaper change. Why he’s not sleeping- oh, it’s because he didn’t nap well today.Why he’s fussy- oh, that’s just the broccoli I had with dinner. Mother’s intuition will provide us with concrete answers to our mothering questions. It allows us to definitively tell our peers (and inquisitive mother-in-law) the reasons behind our baby’s behaviors.
Well, that’s a bunch of hogwash. There’s no magical “mother’s intuition” that is given to you when you have your baby. In fact, mother’s intuition is a total farce. You never have it all figured out. You never know what to do. You *almost* never know the exact right answer. You will second guess your decisions, you will feel guilty, and you will wish you did things differently.
But, you will find that you can give yourself grace, you can forgive yourself for what you didn’t know, and you can love the path (even if it’s crooked and backtracking) you create for yourself and your family.