Monday, 24 April 2017

Up days, down days // Self Doubt and Mothering Instincts

It was a tough old weekend... Saturday passed in a haze of newborn joy... Time with my tiny tribe, cuddles galore, a taste of normality again. After weeks in hospital, I lapped it up. It was quiet, mundane homelife in all its beautiful monotony. The children sat on the patio eating ice lollies, reading storybooks and playing make believe; the big three trudging up and down the garden in their own little imaginary world. And Elias just sleeping and feeding and sleeping and feeding in wonderful three hourly repetition. I'm soaking and savouring these newborn hazy days. After the trauma of our last little baby's arrival, both we, and the professionals, are agreed. We will not be travelling this road again. So I am relishing every second of my last little newborn for all he's worth.



And then came Sunday... And the weighing scales. And the self-doubt, and the tears and the questions. I had been so sure... Elias had been more alert for feeds, feeding for longer, he was happy and healthy, his jaundice was fading and his body in full working order. The midwives agreed. And yet the scales did not. A minor increase in his weight. But not enough. And so came the talk of intervention... The plans for top ups and increased frequency and Doctor's watchful eyes. 

In my gut I felt we were getting there. Just the two of us. We just needed more time. Twenty four more hours and I was certain the scales would follow the evidence we could all see before our eyes.


And then I doubted myself... I couldn't put my baby at risk just because my instinct told me he was fine.

In a split second, my confidence as a fourth time Mama was gone.

And so followed the tears, the self-doubt. Everything in me screaming that we just needed a little more time, frustration at the plan (I have nothing against top-ups at all, but try feeding 40ml of expressed milk to an already full baby). I called a midwife friend and something she said really stuck...

"Continue to use your God-given maternal instincts to care for your little boy"

And then my official midwife called back...

"Your baby looks fit and well, I think maybe he just needs a bit more time. Do what you think is best and we'll weigh him again tomorrow"

So in the end, I carried on feeding him as I knew how, three hourly and exclusively. And I prayed pretty hard that the scales would confirm what my gut was telling me. And all the while, I cried and doubted and felt the full array of emotions in between.

Baby blues + hormones + self-doubt = not a pretty sight!

And yet it is a wonder; these "God given maternal instincts" because, lo and behold, 24 hours later our little boy had started climbing that weight ladder. The scales we're agreeing with the evidence... Victory. For now.

And yet isn't it just a small picture of the next few years ahead?

Motherhood... One big journey of rollercoaster emotions... Of confidence and joy, of anxiety and self doubt. Even the most 'together' of Mama's will admit that self-doubt is part and parcel of being a mother. We want what's best for our children, our instincts tell us, we doubt and question, we seek advice... Feel insecure and uncertain. Am I doing the right thing?

And the honest truth is, a lot of the time, we don't know. We do what we judge is right, what our hearts tell us is best for our children, and we pray and seek God's wisdom and the wise counsel of those around us. And then we entrust our children to God's care, knowing that he sees all things, holds their futures, has "each of their days written in his book before one of them came to be".

And so, again, it becomes a lesson in trust, in letting go... In doing what is best with the information that you have... And giving God the rest.

It's not easy, riding the rollercoaster... But oh, such a privilege!



  1. You are doing an amazing job Claire. It's ok not to know the answers all the time - this is new territory for you. Will pray Elias will continue to gain weight.
    When Evie was ill she lost 22% of her birth weight and we had a similar close eyes about her weight gain. They wanted to re- admit her to hospital after a few days of being back at home and I refused because my gut told me to give her another few days at home....she was fine. But it's a time of questioning yourself and feeling guilty about not necessarily making the right decisions....
    Praying lots

  2. And gorgeous pictures of the kids with Elias x

  3. As I can see you and Elias are doing fine! Lovely photos! x

  4. Remind yourself of a certain email 2 weeks into our first children, its a tough time but we all get there, your doing great. When Rose lost a lot of weight (she was on the 2nd centile) i got great advise to stop the top ups but give one full formula feed a day, which worked and i soon dropped it when she was stable and fully breastfed. X

  5. Lovely pictures x

  6. Beautiful post! 😭


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