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Taking Baby Steps to Follow My Intuition

I have a confession to make: I’m a chronic over-thinker.

Want evidence? the switch

While on vacation, Nathan and I watched ‘The Switch’, with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. At one point during the movie, Jennifer’s character tells Jason’s character, Wally, that he’s about to ‘Wally’ the situation. She turned his name into a verb to succinctly say that he was about to do something that’s typical Wally. Immediately, I paused the movie and asked Nathan what ‘to Jaclyn it’ would represent. In a matter of seconds, he answered confidently. According to him, my Webster entry might look something like this…

Jaclyn (v.): to over-research a topic, form a strong opinion about it, then defend that opinion when it’s challenged

True story, I rarely make a decision without first reading books (I’ve been know to leave the library with a stack of books 10-high), performing tons of Google searches, and picking the brains of other people who’ve been there. I’m not talking about what to have for dinner; more along the lines of big decisions. I often feel uneasy about blindly believing and/or following something without knowing why I’ve chosen to do (47)

This has become more and more evident as we venture into the world of parenthood. Who, aside from actual parents, knew there were so many decisions to make?! I thought being a bride was rough; that’s nothing compared to preparing to raise another human being.

There’s the ‘simpler’ decisions to make:

  • Which crib will we buy?
  • Cloth or disposable diapers?
  • What color will we paint the nursery?

Those sound pretty straightforward, but, for some of us, even answering questions similar to those above prove tougher than anticipated. For example, I knew pretty quickly we wanted to cloth-diaper. But then you open that door and several more questions pop up.

And then there’s decisions that, for many, prove challenging from the outset. Questions pertaining to:

  • The type of birth you want
    • At home, a birth center, or the hospital?
    • Drug-free or with medication?
    • Doctor or midwife?
  • Vaccinations
  • Parenting Styles and Approaches
    • Attachment Parenting
    • BabyWise
    • And on and on…
  • Not to mention the multitude of questions we have yet to encounter

Yes, as parents, there’s much to be decided. This proves easy for many (at this point, I envy you people), but very difficult for others. For this overanalyzing mama-to-be, I received a huge blessing/piece of advice just yesterday that’s began to shift my perspective (and ease my concern) as we face these questions.

At the recommendation of our Bradley class instructor, I attended my first La Leche League meeting yesterday morning to learn more about breastfeeding. As an aside, I’d highly recommend this to any moms-to-be (and don’t wait until baby’s here to attend). Throughout the hour and a half there, the leaders and moms, sharing from their experiences, responded to several questions I had.

Sweet keychain card I can flash to anyone who might give me a hard time for BF'ing in public
Sweet keychain card from La Leche that I can flash to anyone who might give me a hard time for BF’ing in public

At one point, the conversation shifted from supply issues to parenting styles. The younger leader encouraged us (okay, this was mainly directed to me, the only mom-to-be in the group) to follow our intuitions when it comes to, in this case, caring for baby. Sure, you’re bound to take tidbits of advice from here and there, this book, that person, but overall, respond in the way that feels natural and right to you.

One mom shared her personal experience with responding to her crying baby. Early in motherhood, because some book told her not to pick baby up until x amount of time passed, she walked out of the nursery as baby wailed. Pained that baby was distressed, mom herself cried. By her own admission, she failed to follow her intuition that said ‘go console your kid’ and, from that experience, learned a huge lesson that altered her parenting.

If you’ve read much here, you know I’m big on listening to our bodies when it comes to eating and exercising (see here, here, and here)… in a word, doing these two things intuitively.

Intuition (n.): unconscious reasoning that propels us to do something without telling us why or how; a knowing without knowing

For whatever reason, I’ve failed to transfer that thinking to becoming a mom. Instead of tuning inward as we prepare for parenthood (if you can even truly be prepared for such a thing), I find myself relying much more on ‘research’ (which often leaves me with more questions than answers) and less on my God-given intuition. This is probably due to the fact that intuition doesn’t fit my verb, what it means to ‘Jaclyn’ something. When relying on intuition, there’s no over-researching nor concretely knowing (and thus being able to say) why. Even though I’ve heard tons about ‘mother’s intuition’, because this parenting thing is brand-spanking new to me, I admittedly don’t quite trust that I’ll intuitively know what to do when the time comes.

At this stage in the game, I have little no advice to offer about following your intuition when making decisions. I believe God sometimes uses our intuition to lead us, and I’m learning there’s room for both research and intuition in the decision-making process (whether that has anything to do with parenting or not). It’s not either-or. As Francis Cholle, author of The Intuitive Compass, puts it:

“In order to make our best decisions, we need a balance of intuition — which serves to bridge the gap between instinct and reasoning — and rational thinking. But the cultural bias against following one’s instinct or intuition often leads to disregarding our hunches — to our own detriment.” 

So far, I’ve concluded that I need to know myself (my personality, inclinations, quirks, etc.), seek the Lord’s guidance, and make room for what my intuition says will work best for me (and my family, baby, or whomever else will be affected by any decision made). Yes, I need to be informed, but, at the same time, not let the overabundance of opinions and information (so much of which conflicts with other material and research anyways) paralyze me. We all have different personalities, life situations, and more that factor in to our decision-making. In general, after consideration, we must roll with what seems best to us.

Believe me, I’ll be taking my own advice and reminding myself of this regularly from here on out.

If you’re anything like me, read this article that offers insight into what intuitive people do differently. Check it out and have a fabulous weekend! I’m off to return some of the large stack of books about baby sleep I picked up from the library the other day ;)

Overall, do you tend towards over-thinking or trusting your intuition?
If your name were a verb, what would it mean?


11 thoughts on “Taking Baby Steps to Follow My Intuition”

  1. By now you probably know that I do follow my intuition and listen to my heart more than my head. I was never an over thinker and never really stressed decisions, purchases or gave too much thought into seeking out all of the details beforehand. When it came to my son, I followed no plan or advice really either. As a nursing mom, scheduled feedings were not only ridiculous in my mind but impossible to truly adhere to – I didn’t know how many ounces my son was taking at a time since it wasn’t in a bottle and really, who am I to say if 4 ounces were enough for him? Sometimes we want more to eat than other days, right? If my son was fussy and or cranky and I couldn’t settle him, I of course fed him, regardless of if some book told me to wait another hour. I didn’t force him to cry it out in the crib too early when the Ferber method would have said I should have. And you know what? He learned to go to sleep, sleep through the night and now needs me to get him up in the morning. It all works out.

    1. Yeah, when it comes to the scheduling thing, the feeding part bothers me most because I firmly believe we should eat according to hunger and fullness, not times. And babies are born with a strong handle on that, but overtime, people tend to lose their ability to recognize and respond to hunger and fullness because of arbitrary eating times, diets, etc., etc.

  2. Hey sis! Yay!!!!! I’m glad someone gave you this advice before she gets here! I truly 100% believe every baby is different, just like every human being is different. I did my fair share of research before I gave birth, but it was mostly on breastfeeding because I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to be successful at it if my body is capable. I too, like the post above, do not believe in putting baby on an eating schedule which is why I demand feed and go with the flow of baby. The only type of “routine” or “schedule” I do with baby now is a bedtime routine (bath (every 2-3 nights), bedtime story (if not too fussy), Swaddle, and nurse to sleep beginning at 9-9:30). Haha and you and I have already discussed the sleeping arrangements lol One thing I’ve learned in 9 short weeks of being a parent is to never say never!

    1. Yeah, we’ll see what her temperament is like and what she responds to best. You know, you’re a pretty ‘crunchy mama’ with your feeding on-cue and co-sleeping ;)

  3. I think that was great advice because a lot of parenting involves following your intuition!!! I don’t tend to overthink most things – I just make a decision and go with it. And, I’m OK with realizing that sometimes I will have to change that decision to something else.

  4. I definitely like to have knowledge for each situation. Knowledge is power and it helps you make an informed decision. But, when it comes to pregnancy and parenting, I find there is so much information out there and a lot of it is just plain opinion or a situation of it-worked-in-my-case-so. I had lunch with a friend about a month and a half ago and she started quizzing me about whether I was going to breastfeed. I had just finished my first tri. I have no idea! I’m still trying to wrap my head around maternity clothes. I find with the baby, I am tuning people out and tuning into my own thoughts a lot more. Of course I want to know important information about what is safe, healthy, etc…but a lot of the rest is just someone else’s opinion and I think I have the capability to form my own! Ask me this question again in about six months when the baby is crying and I can’t get him to stop. Haha!

    1. :) Yeah, we’ll both have to figure out what works for our respective little ones. I completely agree with you; this is your baby, and you are meant to raise that child, so you’ll be the one to know what’s best for you guys, regardless of how strongly others may disagree with you.

  5. I totally agree with this. When my daughter was first born, I just about drive myself crazy researching sleeping habits. Our daughter wanted to be held for all of her naps and “they” said that she would get used to that and not be able to sleep on her own. I decided to ignore that advice and do what I knew was right for Emma. Fast forward a year, she falls asleep on her own and sleeps through the night. She’s still not a great napper but she does fine. Reading books is helpful for ideas (you might try 10 things before finding the one that works!) But it should be your judgment that prevails in the end.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Kathy! I, too, have heard how ‘terrible’ it is to hold your kids when they nap. But if that’s what our Baby Girl needs, that’s what we’ll have to do. I think the books can be helpful, but since every kid is different, or so I’ve heard, there can be no one right way of doing things that will work for every one of them.

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