Listen to Your Mommy Gut

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baby swing

I’ve been on the verge of a meltdown several times this week. If you follow me on Facebook or were gracious enough to read and answer my texts and phone calls, you already know this, but I’m putting it out there anyway.

Honestly, I really have no reason to complain. My baby has pretty much “slept through the night” (depending on your personal definition of the phrase) since day one. We started out co-sleeping at night. Once she was able to roll over, we put her in her crib for naps so she’d have the experience of sleeping in her own space. We figured that would make her transition to her crib at night easier, and it has.

But daytime is so hard, especially since I became a work-at-home mom.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love that I can be at home with my baby and that I don’t have to put her in daycare. But those of you who know me know that I’m a bit of a workaholic. When I start something, it’s hard to stand up and walk away from my computer until it’s finished. I struggle to make myself take breaks. And when you have a six-month-old, working nonstop throughout the day is pretty much impossible.

Lately she’s been really cranky during the day. Unless I hold her and walk around 24/7 (which I can’t do if I expect to pay bills), she’s fussy. Occasionally she likes to be on her own, but now that she’s crawling, I have to keep her in her pack and play so she’ll be safely contained while I work. And she does not like that idea at all. Almost as soon as I put her down, she starts crying. I thought maybe she was overtired, but she’s been sleeping 10 to 12 hours at night and when she does nap well during the day, it doesn’t really seem to affect her temper. My mommy gut is telling me that this is just her temperament. This is who she is. How the two most laid-back parents in the universe ended up with an anxious, fussy, high-needs child, I will never know… but I am thankful.

On the days when crankiness has been especially high and naps have been a struggle, I’ve posted my frustrations live on Facebook for everyone to read. And I’ve gotten a lot of the same answers. One that’s especially popular is, “You’re doing great. Listen to your instincts.” And it almost always makes me cringe.

Not that I don’t appreciate the advice. It’s just that it’s hard to wrap my head around what exactly that means. Especially since my instincts are often telling me two conflicting things at the same time. In my left ear, I’m hearing, “Go get your baby! She needs you! There’s a reason why you hate to hear her cry!” In my right ear, I’m hearing, “She needs sleep and she won’t get it if you go pick her up now. Let her cry for a bit and see if she calms down.”

My instincts. That’s what I’m calling my mommy gut. And I’m still figuring out what it means to “listen to it,” but while I’m figuring that out, I thought this post would serve as a nice lesson and note to self. So, self, here’s what I’ve learned so far…

Listening to your mommy gut means avoiding the urge to post your problem on Facebook, knowing full well you’re going to get the same answers you’ve been getting from every other mommy out there whose situation is completely different from yours. What worked for them may not work for you. In fact, it’s probably not going to work for you.

Listening to your mommy gut means avoiding the urge to consult Google with questions like:

  • Why is my child so unhappy?
  • Will my baby ever want to cuddle?
  • Why does my baby push away from me when I try to comfort her?
  • How can I get my baby to take naps?
  • Is it okay to let your baby cry it out?
  • How long is it okay to let your baby cry it out?
  • When is your baby old enough to play independently?

The list goes on…

(If you were to pick up my phone and look at my search history over the past few days, you’d probably see all of the above and more.)

Listening to your mommy gut means letting your baby cry sometimes. As much as it sucks. It means listening to her cries for signs of absolute distress, and knowing that sometimes when she cries, it’s simply because she’s struggling to learn a new skill. Crying is her way of communicating her frustration. Should you rush to stifle her right away when she’s communicating? I’m going to answer that with: “it depends.”

When your baby is having a meltdown, stop consulting the internet and all of your other mommy friends who aren’t work-at-home moms and who haven’t lived in your shoes, because if you do, you’re going to have a meltdown yourself. Instead, trust your gut. Your gut is filled with the Holy Spirit, and he knows exactly what to do. If you’re ever unsure, just ask him. He might not answer right away — in fact, he likely won’t answer right away — but he has always come through for you, and you’ll get your answer when the time is just right. (That might be after she’s cried herself to sleep.)

God wouldn’t have made you a mom if he didn’t think you could do it. #notetoself #listentoyourmommygut (Tweet that!)

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1 Comment

  1. Great post! your right, no one else has your baby (who is amazing btw) or situation and know one else is you. it’s cool to see you embrace that. community is helpful, but that doesn’t mean that an individual’s unique identity isn’t a beautiful reality. your Facebook friends wouldn’t be so calm, collected, and definitive with their answers if a baby was screaming at them in the very moment they were typing 🙂

    i’m not a mom and i never will be. not every mom needs to hear the same encouragement. however, in my observation, the motherhood thing is selfless and compelling.
    watching my wife, being a dad, and seeing other moms and dads care for their little ones has caused me to think that many moms (maybe even most) need to hear at least one similar word of encouragement:
    remember that you have to care for yourself well to care for your baby well.

    mom, dad, and baby are a package deal– a family. if mom is incredibly sleep deprived and/or stressed out (even due to selflessness) it doesn’t result in a net gain for baby.
    it pays to pause, pray, find your place of rest and peace, find focus, and accept/enlist help.

    again, i’m not a mom– i know that i don’t get it.
    as a pastor, i sometimes feel like i can’t ever stop or take a day off. i find myself telling myself that no one else can do for or be there for my “flock” like i can. though there is a kind of truth in there somewhere, it’s a generally untrue statement and i have to actively disbelieve it. finding that occasionally disengaging helps me re-engage in a more helpful way.

    In a similar (maybe even greater) way Mom’s feel this kind of pressure. they say, i can’t ever take a day (or even a few hours) off. this seems especially true of nursing mothers (like my wife) but in a similar way it’s generally untrue.

    there’s freedom– not added pressure in this.

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