I have heard many people talk about a mothers instinct, they say oh you just know when something is wrong, you feel your baby is not quite right. Their instinct tells them how to differentiate between the cry for I’m hungry and the cry for I want some love.
If I am entirely truthful I am not sure I ever really had that level of instinct. When Cece was a new-born I could sometimes differentiate between cries, but usually it was 50% guesswork and 50% learning through trial and error.
As she has got bigger I have continued to try and learn her signs and signals. I think I know better than most when she is really tired, when she is actually upset and when she is simply frustrated. When she eats I think I can tell the difference between her being full and fussy, but as I said this is learning her signs, I am not sure there has been any instinct and a few nights ago I got really upset when even my ability to read her signs went awry.
Cece has not been well recently, she has had an upset stomach, she has not been eating very much and has been really fussy about what she will and won’t eat. It means she is eating very little and not been sleeping through the night, her sleep has been broken and she has been waking up every few hours. A few nights ago she woke up at 3:15 absolutely distraught. Earlier that evening she had been sick and so when she woke up again I was worried she was going to be sick again. I got up and went into to see her, picked her up and gave her a hug. She did not stop crying, I then tried holding her still, stroking her back, jigging her up and down, rocking her back and forth, nothing was working.
After about 5 minutes Jon came in and said should he make her some milk…I have to admit I had not even thought of that, I snapped yes, it instantly became so obvious she was crying because she was hungry…how could I not have seen that, I was her mother I am supposed to understand her, but I had not thought of the most obvious thing,
Once she had had the milk she was fine, she stopped crying. I then stayed up with her for the next 50 minutes to make sure she was OK and was not sick again. She played for a bit and I then put her down and hovered near the door to check until she was almost asleep.
I went back to bed feeling stupid, how could I have not thought of giving her milk…how had I not realised what was wrong? I obviously did not have any instinct! I panicked I am not a good mum…it was only when Jon pointed out that I had stayed with her for nearly an hour to make sure she was OK and that was a very motherly thing to do that I felt better.
It got me thinking later, I spent a lot of time when pregnant concerned that I am not motherly and that I would not care enough. I asked myself am I too selfish? I have since learnt however that although I may not get it right, I may not always understand her, or be all that patient, I do care…. and that’s the most important thing.
There may mums and dads out there who are in tune with their children, can anticipate their needs, are able to know when they are really unwell or simply a bit under the weather, recognise the different cries, the subtle signs etc. well, I salute you. However if, like me and get it wrong, well it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day as long as you care for your child, worry about them and love them, then you can be just a good as a mum.