When Anjali was born, she had big, observant eyes, wasn’t too keen on crying and enjoyed observing everyone…my instinct told me she would be one wise cookie. The one thing she certainly did not enjoy though is feeds! We tried everything…Hot milk, cold milk and lukewarm milk. Feeds before sleep, during sleep, before bath time, after bath time and sometimes during bath time! And then the many fool-proof tricks suggested by well-wishers - someone suggested I start drinking beer as it increases supply! My husband took on that advice on my behalf :)
During the first home visit, the nurse said Anjali’s weight gain was poor and we must feed her more (gee thanks, that’s simple). So we became paranoid about input and output (colours, textures, frequency!). I started keeping a diary with her feeding times, quantities and behaviours and extrapolating silly patterns.
The second nurse visit was slightly more positive but still indicated that Anjali was in the low percentile (but “oh so alert”). What percentile??
If I was to be textbook about it, my little monkey was underweight and could be ‘failing to thrive’. But if I was to use a mother’s instinct, my baby was healthy, playful, happy and so responsive. She was tall and skinny and rather than calling her small, I saw her as petite. If we were all the same size, shape and make…well how boring would that be.
And just as I was getting comfortable with my intuition, I saw the local nurse who told me Anjali’s growth was going backwards. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??!! That was the final straw. I spent a day crying over it and feeling like a rubbish mother. Clearly, the nurse knew something I wasn’t seeing. I needed help.
I frantically called Dr Moore to see Anjali, ready with pen and paper to learn the formula on how to correctly be a mother. And this gentle, patient man checked our baby, played with her, weighed her, measured her and told me that Anjali was one of the happiest, most observant and well socialised babies he has come across. She was calm, responsive and smiley. He told me that she may not be on the percentile charts (she was seriously off the charts!) but she has been comfortably tracking on her own chart since birth and there is nothing to be concerned about. He told me to keep doing whatever we have been doing as it is resulting in a very content and healthy baby.
That’s it?? That simple? It was so wonderful to hear those words and it clicked. Yes, scientific research and approaches are relevant and critical. But we are also all so different - each child, each parent, each unique bond. In conjunction with all the information and advice out there, we cannot forget the most important sources of wisdom, our simple instincts. Our intuition is our guiding mechanism that helps us through our path in life. And our babies will grow, our worries will grow and our confusion will grow. Remind yourself that no-one knows your little one and their unique, loveable and crazy traits better than you. When in doubt, stop, look inwards and react with your heart. You may be criticised and you may raise eyebrows. But don’t doubt this natural response because more often than not, your parental instinct will make the right call.
(And when you are wrong, have a glass of red and don’t worry about it!! You are still doing a bloody brilliant job)