Have you ever just “had a feeling” that your child needed you? Ever made a decision about your son or daughter that was based simply on a sensation that came from your gut? Of course you have. That’s intuition — and a mother’s brand of it can be very powerful.
Yet as we’ve become a more information-based society, we have become less tuned in to — and less trustful of — our intuition. “We’re so inundated with experts in books, magazines, and on TV that we no longer believe in ourselves,” says Michele Borba, Ed.D., the author of 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. Plus, it can be tough to hear your intuition when the “noise” of modern life — cell phones, e-mail, demanding schedules — gets in the way.
Many women describe mother’s intuition literally as a feeling in their gut, arriving with little explanation — and all too often dismissed by others. Who hasn’t had a doctor patronize your instinct about your daughter’s rash, or a neighbor completely discount a theory you’ve advanced about your son’s troubles at school? Well, here’s some inspiration to help you keep trusting your gut: three women who followed their intuition and stuck to their guns to protect their children.
Jennifer Brout, 44, Rye Neck, NY
“When my daughter, Lilly,* turned 2, I noticed that she was very sensitive. She would become hysterical about the smallest things — and I couldn’t calm her down. Some people said she was just manipulative, implying there was something wrong with the way I was parenting her. But I knew that wasn’t the problem.
“As Lilly grew, her behavior didn’t improve. Several times a week she would be set off by something, and there would be tears, tantrums, and flailing limbs. It would take all my wits and strength to calm her. Finally, when Lilly was 8 years old, we went to a well-known child psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. What the psychiatrist was saying was logical — Lilly was given to tremendous changes of mood, sometimes really happy and other times completely out of control. And yet I just didn’t think that was the problem. ‘Are you sure?’ I asked the psychiatrist. She responded forcefully that she was certain Lilly had bipolar disorder.
“Over the next few months, I felt uncomfortable with the diagnosis. The doctor kept changing the medications Lilly was taking, noting that it was common to have a few false starts. When nothing helped after a year, the psychiatrist told me that some people just don’t respond to treatment and that my daughter was probably one of them. But in the meantime, I had noticed that what seemed to set Lilly off was noise: Loud sounds led to hours of crying; sudden ones jolted her in a way her brother and sister didn’t seem to notice. I just knew her behavior had to do with noise.
“I sat in the doctor’s office with a knot in my stomach, ready to explain my noise theory. I felt as though she wouldn’t believe me, but I also felt sure we were overlooking this connection. When I told the doctor that I thought Lilly had some kind of sensory disorder, she told me I was wrong. Even my husband backed up the doctor and said, ‘We’ve got the best person giving us advice.’ But I just knew she was off the mark. Still, I was sitting there yes-ing this doctor — it’s hard to listen to your own instincts when everyone is telling you you’re wrong.
“At the time, I was pursuing a doctorate in psychology. In one of my courses, the professor mentioned Sensory Processing Disorder — a condition that occurs when signals from the senses are not organized correctly, making everyday tasks a challenge. The moment he described it, I thought, This is what Lilly has. It was the lightbulb that illuminated my intuition. I ultimately found an occupational therapist to properly diagnose Lilly with SPD. Through different types of therapy, Lilly’s behavior began to improve. My daughter is now 14 and is successful both academically and socially. And I’ve learned to pay attention to my intuition and to not give up, even when everyone, including the experts, is telling me I’m wrong.”
*Name has been changed.
Beth Squier, 52, Stamford, CT
“When my son, Levi, was about 18 months old, I decided to return to work and began looking for a day care for him. I called a government agency that registers home day cares, and there was one right in my neighborhood. I was thrilled because we could even walk to it. So I went to have a look-see. The kids seemed fine and happy, but something just wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had this nagging feeling that I wouldn’t be making a good decision if I left my son there. I brought my mom back to look, and she said, ‘Oh, it’s fine.’ But still, something about the place didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t know if I was just being a nervous first-time mother or what. It seemed crazy on the surface to eliminate this place based on a vague feeling that I couldn’t really articulate.
“After I told my friend, Chris, about my apprehensions, she volunteered to check out the place. When Chris stopped by the day care unannounced one day, she found the caretaker walking her dog outside, leaving six toddlers alone in her house! Ultimately, I found another place for Levi, and from the minute I walked into it, I had no qualms at all about leaving him there.”
Kellei Martin, 33, Talent, OR
“When my son, Pete, was almost 2, he suddenly started walking with a limp. The doctor thought he had an inner-ear infection that might be throwing off his equilibrium and suggested waiting a few days. Two days later, he was vomiting. The doctor thought Pete simply had a virus. But I disagreed; I said to my husband, ‘Whatever is wrong with Pete is in his brain.’
“As I said the words, I remembered that I had terrible recurring nightmares that Pete would go missing or even die. Today, I believe that these dreams were the beginning of my intuition speaking to me. Soon, a nagging little voice popped into my head, saying, ‘That’s not just an ear infection and a cold!’ That voice wouldn’t be silenced. So I brought Pete to the hospital, where he had a CT scan. My husband, Jeff, and I watched as Pete underwent testing, and I could tell right away the technicians didn’t like what they saw.
“We found out that Pete had a large mass in his brain. Within hours we were on our way by helicopter to a hospital in Portland, OR — 300 miles away. Pete was diagnosed with pineoblastoma, a very rare brain tumor. The doctors said that Pete would have to have extremely high doses of chemotherapy but that his developing brain was too young for radiation. They also told us it was too dangerous to remove the tumor. But I had a feeling that if Pete was going to have any chance at beating this, he would have to have this tumor removed. Instinctually, I knew I had to get him out of that hospital and find better care for him. There had to be a doctor who could remove that beast from Pete’s head.
“I knew I had a task at hand: Find a different doctor. I called, e-mailed, and sent records to surgeons all over the country that week. We connected with doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, and the following Sunday we were on a plane to the only place that recognized how urgent our situation was. By the time we got to St. Jude, the tumor had more than doubled in size, but the surgeons were able to remove it.
“Today, Pete is doing well, and my nightmares have stopped. If I hadn’t listened to the voice that told me to find doctors who would remove his tumor, Peter would not be alive.”
Get physical. The body gives us a lot of information, says Marcia Emery, Ph.D., author of Dr. Marcia Emery’s Intuition Workbook. Take note if making a decision causes your heart to race, your stomach to knot up, or your breath to shorten. These sensations could be telling you your decision is not right, says Emery.
Unplug. At least once a day, remove yourself from the technology that rules your life. Just sit and listen to your mind, Emery suggests. You may become more aware of intuitive thoughts if you give yourself time to quietly reflect. “You have to get away from everyday distractions, because your intuitive mind is diverted when you’re using your analytical mind,” she explains.
Don’t follow fear. Intuition is not fear-based, says Emery; it results in a confident sensation. If you tend to be anxious, then your “feeling” may not be intuition. “Ask yourself, How many times have I had this feeling and it’s turned out to be nothing?” she says. “Intuition comes from your gut, not your mind.”
The original article can be found here: http://www.redbookmag.com/life/mom-kids/advice/a4490/mothers-intuition/