To start your week off fabulously, she and her blogging partner, Kathy, are giving one of you luck peeps a copy of their inspiring book, Mothering from Scratch. To enter the giveway, please leave your name and a comment below. The giveaway winner will be chosen Thursday, March 19th. Thanks Melinda and Kathy!
How to learn to listen to your “mama gut”
I tried to deny it, but something was wrong.
I knew it from the first days of my son’s life.
At night, he would scream for hours. People would tell me, “Oh, new moms never get much sleep. It will get better.”
They didn’t understand. Micah wouldn’t sleep peacefully for a couple of hours and then wake up from hunger. He would literally scream continually for four to five hours at a time until he wore himself out and finally slept from complete exhaustion.
That would last about 30 minutes and he would wake up for another hours-long round of screaming.
He also quickly expelled whatever he ate via one end or the other. We dubbed him “Sir Poops A Lot.”
But as time passed and nothing resolved, it just wasn’t funny.
My gut was telling me something was wrong. Really wrong. And it was getting louder and more insistent.
I kept telling it to shut up. It clearly didn’t know what it was talking about.
My baby is going to be fine, I would tell it.
His doctor says he’s a little on the small side, but it’s nothing to worry about. You’re overreacting, I would say.
Until my gut would be silenced no longer.
Micah was six months old, but he looked like a three-month-old. His skin looked pasty. His eyes were hollow. One day, he went for 24 hours without digesting a single drop of formula.
I had been getting insufficient answers and concern from his doctor for months. I was done. I called a new pediatrician in town who already had a great reputation and a long waiting list.
I prayed and picked up the phone — and miraculously got an appointment.
Two weeks later, my gut said, “I told you so.” Micah was diagnosed — by my friend Kathy’s pediatrician husband — with cystic fibrosis.
You would think after that I would have given my gut a little well-deserved respect.
But I still spent years second guessing it. Ignoring it. Telling my gut it simply didn’t know anything.
Why? Because I didn’t have any confidence in my own instincts.
I grew up with my mother’s untreated mental illness — and the accompanying self-focus that involved. As a result, I didn’t receive as much validation and reinforcement of my decisions as I needed.
That lack of confidence presented some real problems in mothering. So how did I finally learn to listen to my gut instead of telling it to put a sock in it?
1.) Seek out at least one person to affirm you. For me, that person was Kathy. If my gut was telling me to do something, but I wasn’t sure if it was right, I would call Kathy. I’d relate my dilemma and she’d say, “Your instincts are right. You have a good gut.” She said that to me over and over again. Patiently and sweetly. Having that long-awaited voice of affirmation made a huge difference.
Or she’d say, “You say you don’t know what to do, but you really do. You just don’t want to do it.”
Look for someone sweet and encouraging, but also someone who is honest and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth.
2.) Pray for a “good gut.” We have voices in our head telling us to do all kinds of things. Some are wise. Some not so smart — even when they seem like good ideas. I pray everyday that the Holy Spirit will help me discern His voice and insights from all the noise in my head and heart. He is faithful.
3.) Follow your gut — even if it’s in a small way. Each time I followed my gut and it was right, it boosted my confidence. I learned to ignore it at my own peril.
We have so many voices talking to us as mamas — spouses, our little ones, social media, friends, parenting experts.
But the wisest one is the voice the Holy Spirit puts inside our mama hearts.
If only we will listen.
Melinda is mother to a strapping teenage son and a beautiful and entertaining teenage daughter. She has written for Focus on the Family, CBN.com, In Touch and Lifeway’s Journey.
Melinda and her blogging partner Kathy Helgemo are co-authors of the new book Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family, . (Bethany House, 2015), available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and ChristianBook.com, as well as bookstores nationwide. They blog together over at Mothering from Scratch.