Parenting is this weird thing where you make it up as you go along and hope like hell your kid won’t end up an axe murderer. (Where’s the fingers crossed emoji, seriously!!?)
You spend a lot of time saying ‘I don’t know’ and hoping that the choice you made around that thing you didn’t know will end up being the right one. It’s somehow, confusingly, innate, this ability to bluff it and have it work out okay. And I think I’ve decided it’s mostly to do with trusting your gut.
It’s about knowing that you are the authority on your child. No one else has studied them more than you have. No one else knows the different sounds they make when they breathe, or the cry for food in comparison to the cry for sleep. And although it seems like you don’t know these things yourself half the time, you do. You really, truly do.
But it’s hard to trust your gut sometimes. There are people at all hours of the day telling you what’s best, how to get your child to sleep, or to eat. What it means when your child is unsettled, or unwell. It’s so, so easy to question what your instincts are telling you and agree with something that doesn’t fit for you.
When this happens I tend to go for help, and to be honest it’s always been around whether or not my child is unwell.
We find it extremely difficult to differentiate between unwell and unwell unwell. Which, when you put it like that, seems understandable because what the hell does that even mean?
For us it means do we continue at home or do we need to go in?
The hardest part about this is that it doesn’t seem to matter what the primary issue is, the big problem for us becomes the feeding.
Twice in the last few weeks we have had to decide whether we need extra help. We had some immunisations last week and as usual the nurse explains to you that some children can develop a temperature and that this is okay, it will pass. So when Mr O was febrile that evening we just prepared ourselves for an unsettled night and waited it out. But then it just kept going, temperature peaking over and over again all day and all the next night. We cut his feeds, gave him syringe after syringe of water down his tube and although we started to wonder, we still assumed and were told by many that it’s ‘just the imms’. Without speaking of it we both spent the next night becoming more convinced that things weren’t right.
But I still couldn’t just trust my gut. Instinct was telling me, take him in. But I didn’t. Instead I went for help. Help told me to take him in, this is not okay, a temperature of over 38 for 6 hours or so is okay after imms, a temp of over 39 for 48 hours is not the imms.
So we are back home with a hydration plan and a low threshold for going back in. But we are also back home with a strong conviction; if your instinct is telling you something. Follow it.
If your gut says swaddle, then swaddle. If it says formula or it says breast milk, then do it. If it says this is normal then, more often than not, it’s normal. And if it’s telling you it’s not okay. Then it’s not okay.
Trust your gut.
You’ve got the Ph.D on your kid.