I Knew I Had To Follow My Instincts

posted in: Just Be Enough, Life, Motherhood 0 comments

Every new mother will tell you they read all the right books, talked to other mothers including their own, engaged in online forums and learned everything they possibly could, before the baby arrived.

I was not one of those mothers.

I did all those things, but I still felt clueless. The thought of looking after this little person, dependent on me for everything, terrified me. I even confessed to my mother and mother-in-law that I did not even know how to begin to hold a newborn. Or how to bathe one. Change a diaper. Swaddle. Breastfeed. They assured me that I’d learn, eventually, I’d get it.

Then the day came. We finally met our baby. The long-awaited, very wanted baby. The one I was worried I wouldn’t know how to take care of.

First came love. The moment I laid eyes on him, it was love. That came naturally, easily.

Then came breastfeeding. This child was born to breastfeed, latching on like a champion. That came naturally, albeit, less easily for me (where does this go, midwife-who-is-heaving-my-breast-around-the-baby’s-mouth?).

The midwives were terrific, showing me the basics – diapering, cleaning poopy bottoms, sponging him clean gently, swaddling him tightly but comfortably.

I coped. I learned. I was still slightly terrified of taking him home, without all these women to help me.

Then on day 5, as I was carrying my sleeping baby in one arm, while packing my bag to get ready to leave the hospital finally, a midwife said to me, “You’re such a natural!”

I smiled and thanked her for her kind words.

I knew then that all I had to do, was to follow my instincts as a mother.

And that was enough.

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Did motherhood come naturally to you?




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  • October 3, 2011 Maureen

    Motherhood is beautiful isn’t? We really do have to trust on our instincts that we are doing our best for our babies. I too had the same fears before my son was born 🙂
    Maureen recently wrote…I Am My Parents’ DaughterMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      The best thing about motherhood is that we put someone before us, unthinkingly, unselfishly 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Just Jennifer

    Motherhood did come pretty naturally to me. I’ve always wanted children, played house as a little girl and did my fair share of babysitting. I love babies to pieces!

    Following your instincts is crucial.

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      So very crucial! I was the opposite, for years I never thought I’d be a mother.

  • You know what? I read every single stinking book on how to be a mother. Did me absolutely no good. Had to rely on my instincts, my love, my intuition. Good for you for knowing that in advance 🙂
    Kimberly at Rubber Chicken Madness recently wrote…Safe and SoundMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I only sorta knew after a few days 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Mama Track

    Lovely post! I too was totally freaked out. But we just kinda figured it out, you know?
    Mama Track recently wrote…Lauren Nicole Gifts Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I’m so glad I did figure it out!

  • October 3, 2011 Jamie

    Love, instincts, gut… the only ingredients you need. In my opinion anyway!
    Jamie recently wrote…weekend wisdom, 11My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes, the main ingredients should be love, instincts and gut!

  • October 3, 2011 Kyla


    For me, everyone said to read “What to expect when you are expecting”. But, I didn’t. I read “What to expect the first year”. I was FREAKING about bath time.
    Kyla recently wrote…What’s Your Number?My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      So was I. Even after the midwives showed me how to do it, my mother-in-law still helped me bathe him for the first 2 weeks!

  • October 3, 2011 Brittany {Mommy Words}

    Good for you! Your confidence is inspiring. I could not believe they just let us leave the hospital with a baby. I thought surely there was something more parents had to be taught before they went home with such a tiny thing?

    Your attitude is great.
    Brittany {Mommy Words} recently wrote…Sex Scares MeMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Brittany! I know what you mean, I was like, are you people sure you want to trust me with him, all by myself? 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Runnermom-jen

    This is beautiful, Alison!! I love your mushy posts XO
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…Scavenger Hunt SundayMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Hee hee, thank you Jen!

  • October 3, 2011 Galit Breen

    Go you knowing so soon, seeing the “lesson” right then and there!
    Galit Breen recently wrote…Footsteps Through FallMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Galit!

  • October 3, 2011 Robin

    Awesome. You totally strike me as someone who has good instincts and knows how to follow them.

    Me on the other hand? Not so much. 😉

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Robin. I think you’re doing a great job, Mama!

  • October 3, 2011 Natalie

    Awww so true…all those books but it really just comes down to your instincts! 🙂
    Natalie recently wrote…Four Years Ago Today…My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Throw the books away 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Jessica

    5 days in the hospital? Wow. That’s a long time. I was ready to leave after 12 hours.
    Jessica recently wrote…Where I’m FromMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Extenuating circumstances 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Ann

    That was a lovely post. I think when love comes first – most everything follows.

    I have this gift of making babies scream & cry…all of them! When they become toddlers, they’re fine – but babies cry! The only one who didn’t was my oldest grandson. *sigh* he cuddled and I could soothe him in seconds. The other four grandchildren – cried and screamed! ….dang it!
    Ann recently wrote…Greek Salad PastaMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Ann! I don’t think it’s you – babies just like to do the screaming/ crying thing a lot. 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Kimberly

    I was terrified. It came naturally but I was scared out of my mind.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Fit Together PerfectlyMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Oh yes, me too.

  • October 3, 2011 Kiddothings

    Amazing isn’t it that these instincts come naturally to all mothers? All we need is love and everything else will fall into place.
    Kiddothings recently wrote…My Life In 10 SlogansMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      It sounds like a song, all we need is love 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Christi

    Great post, and such a tribute to the empowerment of motherhood! However, it makes me wonder: Do you think it comes naturally and instinctively to all mothers? I really wish it did, but unfortunately I’m not so sure. Perhaps I’m jaded from years of working with welfare families, child abusers, and addicts. Perhaps it’s just that those moms DIDN’T follow their instincts? I don’t know.
    Christi recently wrote…Lunch Wars: A Battle I Don’t Want to FightMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I don’t think all women are instinctual mothers. Or if they are, they push those away to make way for their need of something else (drugs etc) – that makes me sad.

  • October 3, 2011 Sweaty

    I was more than terrified when my daughter was born… I was not only clueless, but it just seemed that everybody else was better at taking care of her than me. It took me a while to feel confident, but all is well at the end.

    And absolutely without a doubt, I think you’re a great mom!
    Sweaty recently wrote…Life Lessons FridayMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Sometimes, I felt that way too, but no one can take away the fact that we are their mothers. And thank you, I think the same of you!

  • October 3, 2011 JDaniel4's Mom

    Trusting yourself with your little one was an amazing gift to you.

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you, that is such a true statement.

  • October 3, 2011 Ryan (The Woven Moments)

    The best part about trusting ourselves is that we show our kids how to trust THEMselves. What a gift! Way to go, Mama.
    Ryan (The Woven Moments) recently wrote…How I Turned Old Stuff Into A New LaptopMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      That is true, Ryan!

  • October 3, 2011 Kir

    It’s so true…you can read and ask and have all you laundry done and the nursery ready…and none of it prepares you for what it’s like when you get home. I remember my SIL visitng for the first time after the babies were born…she kept saying, “kir you look great and you are handling this better than I expected. It’s like you’ve been doing it forever.” I just smiled and thanked her…I didn”t know what I was doing yet…LOL..but I did know that the babies I wanted so badly were home and being scared or unsure wouldn’t help anyone…I needed to “mother”…so I did.

    Loved this, I can tell that you are a fantastic mom. Monkey is so lucky to have u!
    Kir recently wrote…Just Be Enough:When You KnowMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Nothing quite prepares you, unless you’ve already had more than one child! And thank you for your kind words.

  • October 3, 2011 angela

    What a lovely post! I remember sitting there thinking, this is perfect, now which nurse do I get to bring home with me??

    I’m glad that you realized early you need to follow your instincts. It took me a little longer than that to understand there’s not a “right” and “wrong”.

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Angela! I did wish I could take a couple of the midwives home with me, haha! Oh the right and wrong thing? I’m still learning that.

  • October 3, 2011 imperfectmomma

    Great post. Motherhood did not come easily. Our monkey was in the NICU for so long I didnt get to really be hands on. But once he came home, it was as if I had been doing it for forever
    imperfectmomma recently wrote…i dont want to go out ever againMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      So glad to hear that!

  • October 3, 2011 Klz

    I didn’t read the books. They scared me.

    I’m working without a net here. So, no.

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      You could have fooled me, you seem so together 😉

  • October 3, 2011 tracy

    I was SHOCKED when the hospital let me leave with my baby when I had only been a mother for 5 days…who does those things? LOL But somehow it works itself out doesn’t it? Love this. and stumbled.
    tracy recently wrote…Today Call me Younger Than Julie Gardner…My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you for the stumble, Tracy. Yes, fortunately it did work itself out. Phew.

  • October 3, 2011 Jessica

    It’s amazing how our instincts can guide us so well most of the time, isn’t it? I didn’t get the breastfeeding champ until baby #2, but it was a wonderful feeling that he and I knew how to do this together.
    Jessica recently wrote…More than enoughMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank goodness for instincts!

  • October 3, 2011 Shell

    I didn’t feel much like a natural. I felt like a mess. But, luckily, even that was enough. 🙂
    Shell recently wrote…To Add to the Family or Not?My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I was half natural, half mess 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 story

    What an amazing experience. I didn’t feel like a natural for a long time. I got the hang of all of the keeping-her-alive stuff pretty quick, but I remember thinking “what am I supposed to do with her the rest of the time?” Looking back, I realize that I just didn’t expect it to be as easy (in some respects) as it was, and thought I must be missing something else I was supposed to do. As moms, we really do know everything we really need.
    story recently wrote…Life’s Lessons: The Excuses EditionMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes, we know what we need to at the time, and just pick it up as we go along!

  • October 3, 2011 Barbara

    Great post! I’m not sure if I was a natural, but it’s true that all of that research I had done before went right out the window.
    Barbara recently wrote…So not FrenchMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Barbara! The best knowledge? Is from experience 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Missy

    So true. Every mother and every child have to find their own way. A little guidance from friends and books here and there is valuable, but in the end, it’s about what works for you. And you know, deep down, exactly what that is without consulting a single expert!
    Missy recently wrote…Parental (Self) ControlMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes, exactly that!

  • October 3, 2011 Megan (Best of Fates)

    I’m also a natural! Except my gift is eating cheese.

    It’s like I was born to do it.
    Megan (Best of Fates) recently wrote…An Embarrassing Weekend in BaltimoreMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Hahahahahaha!!! You. Kill. Me. 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Elena

    That’s so very sweet. You were a natural at the time and still are today. It’s kind of crazy how that mother’s instinct just kicks in.

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Aw, thank you Elena! I think my instinct kicked me in the butt 🙂

  • October 3, 2011 Kristin

    Aside from the AAP’s Your Baby’s First Year, which I used more as a guide, I’ve read exactly zero parenting books. I get weekly newsletters from BabyCenter and ParentsConnect, which I generally catch up on once a month. (Oh, so it’s totally normal for my 21-month-old to be grabbing her crotch Michael Jackson-style! Good to know!)

    Other than that, I’m totally winging this parent thing. I’ve come to the conclusion that parenting is 75% learning as you go and 25% learning from your mistakes… and those stats might be more like 50/50. What it’s not is an exact science. So, like you, I’m going to keep rolling with my instincts – I figure they’ve served me well so far. 🙂
    Kristin recently wrote…Not a Ribbons and Curls Kinda GirlMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      You know Kristin – I think you’re absolutely right on those stats. I think. 🙂

  • October 4, 2011 Kadie

    Amazing how those instincts kick in, huh?
    Kadie recently wrote…Protected: Ask Me For The PasswordMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I was surprised and relieved 🙂

  • October 4, 2011 Ilana

    I also knew absolutely nothing about kids or babies before I had my own. I hired a doula to help out for the first few days and show me the basics. By day two, she was like— you don’t really need me. You are an incredibly laid back mom. Really? I guess I was a natural too. Who knew?
    Ilana recently wrote…Bye Bye Rock-A-Bye BabyMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Somehow, I’m not surprised by that. At all. 🙂

  • October 4, 2011 Tracy

    Love this! People also told me I was a natural: clearly they couldn’t sense my anxiety. I pranced around town with that baby cuddled into my mei tai and ergo with complete confidence, while inside I’d be thankful I was able to keep her alive for the entire day! I mean, they were so fragile and new!! Terrifying.

    Love this post.
    Tracy recently wrote…It’s not you. It’s me. (Part 1)My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Tracy! Yes, my outer me was all zen, while the inner me was freaking.out. Fortunately, Zen Me beat out Freaker Outer!

  • October 4, 2011 Tonya

    Beautiful post, Alison! We all know so much more than we give ourselves credit for, don’t we?
    Tonya recently wrote…When I Don’t Have The WordsMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Tonya! We do, indeed!

  • October 4, 2011 Miss Marina Star

    I have to be honest and say the caring for a child came totally natural to me. Where I failed is in the bonding part. I could physically be there and Asher was well provided for but I didn’t really “bond” with him until he was almost two.

    I think I sort of resented all the new physical and emotional changes and the fact that I had someone who depended entirely on me for everything. That’s what took me so long to accept. That’s what amazes me about other moms.
    Miss Marina Star recently wrote…Fall to PiecesMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      The bonding part is mystifying to me. I’m not sure how it works, whether it should be natural or not, and do you really know if you’ve bonded in the early days? I don’t know, I like to think I did, but I only can truly say the bond definitely existed from 3 months. Before that? I’m not sure.

  • October 4, 2011 My Inner Chick

    –Dear Mama A.
    You are a very wise woman. All of the BOOKS in the world will not make one a good mama. Um, perhaps this is the reason we are born with Super Maternal Insticts. Xx
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Soaking Inside The Excess Of VegasMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you, that is so true! But don’t tell that to the publishers 😉

  • October 4, 2011 jacqui

    Sometimes I think about moms of the past and how they weren’t bombarded with information the way mothers are now. They got some advice from the other women in their lives and that’s it. They had to do what comes naturally and follow their instincts.

    I’m glad you decided to trust yours. Maternal instinct is an awesome thing!
    jacqui recently wrote…Achieving the Impossible…My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Yes, exactly! I do think about those before us (like my grandmother who birthed 9, and raised 8), and look at what an amazing job they did. That gives me some confidence!

  • October 4, 2011 Mrs. Weber

    Love this, Alison! It’s amazing how nature just takes its course and our instincts take over.
    Mrs. Weber recently wrote…Fall Bucket ListMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Lauren, I agree!

  • October 4, 2011 Dave

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, as a new Dad, I was pretty darn scared too. My wife though, made the whole thing look easy, though later she admitted to me that she was putting on a brave face. But her smooth, quiet confidence certainly helped me over the hump. More astounding is she thought I was the cool one! Me and the little pook would have some time in the big rocker after Mummy finished breast feeding and went back to sleep – very treasured moments….
    Dave recently wrote…Is The Graco Snugrider Good Lightweight Strollers?My Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I love hearing a dad’s perspective on things. I was too caught up in my own sleep deprivation to wonder how well my husband was doing! Ooops.

  • October 4, 2011 Tracie

    The first baby I ever held was my daughter, when she was born. I was that clueless.

    Following my instincts and getting to that “being a natural” place took me a couple of months, but together, we figured it out.
    Tracie recently wrote…Flying Plastic Planes and Avoiding Secret Military AgentsMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      You know what? Same here! Well, at least a newborn. I didn’t even dare hold my niece until she was 3 months old!

      So glad you did figure it out 🙂

  • October 4, 2011 Elaine

    I wish I had known this earlier on. It took me a while longer to figure it out. Definitely past day 5! 😉

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I still had tons to figure out beyond day 5! 🙂

  • October 4, 2011 Hopes

    I relied on my instincts as well. My instincts and about a million questions to my mom the first time around. But I got it, I was in tune with each of my babies and just knew.
    Hopes recently wrote…Quotes from Moms With BoysMy Profile

    • October 4, 2011 Alison

      I bet your mom loved it 🙂

  • October 5, 2011 Amanda Austin

    So perfect!!! It took me way too long to feel like I’m a natural. Like, just recently, almost a year later. I had no clue what to do at the beginning and I also read all the books!
    Amanda Austin recently wrote…On NapsMy Profile

    • October 5, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Amanda! The important is that you figured it out 🙂

  • October 5, 2011 Virginia

    How did you manage to get me so wrapped up in such a short post? I actually had a big grin for you and was ready to stand up and cheer for you in those last couple of lines. “Way to go, new mom! Show those midwives who’s the mama.”
    Virginia recently wrote…Just Be Enough: I know I have toMy Profile

    • October 5, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Virginia, that’s a big compliment 🙂

  • October 6, 2011 Elena

    I definitely did not feel like a natural…but I did feel ready. I am not sure why….maybe it was because my ex-husband was so not ready. He was so nervous that I probably felt ok just to compensate for him. The harder thing for me was learning that he could give a bath or feed her, and although it was different than how I did it, it was not necessarily bad.
    Elena recently wrote…Adventures in Scotch TapeMy Profile

    • October 6, 2011 Alison

      I was the opposite, I wasn’t ready at all, despite having months and months to prepare. I just had an inkling that what I’d envisioned in my head would be totally different from reality. The first few months were rough, so I’m lucky it did come naturally 🙂

  • October 6, 2011 Paula

    My two boys were both easy babies, and I think that helped make motherhood easier to handle. Had they been fussy, or had needs I was not prepared for it probably would have been harder for me to get the hang of.
    Paula recently wrote…All Of My Childhood Fuckery Finally Came In HandyMy Profile

    • October 7, 2011 Alison

      Lucky you, Paula! 🙂

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