Mummy bloggers tend to have interesting adjectives that precede the title of Mummy. Scary Mummy, Young Mummy, Crash Test Mummy… well, if I were a mummy blogger my preceding adjective would be naïve. The Naïve Mummy. Quite a literal description but very apt.
When I became a parent for the first time, I was naïve to lots of things – how much washing I was going to have to do (two loads per day minimum), how most of my day would be taken up with feeding my small human, and surprisingly, just how important things that had never concerned me would suddenly become. Like finding the right medical team for my family.
Before I was a parent I pretty much doctor shopped. In my early 20s I would go to the nearest bulk-billing GP. In my later 20s I realised I was using none of my health insurance entitlements and started to visit some ‘extras’. But since becoming a parent, all of that has changed.
Like many parents-to-be, my husband and I were overly ambitious in the nesting department. Three weeks before our first born was due not only did we relocate 954km, but we also gave our house a facelift. I was much more preoccupied with getting the baby’s nursery right than I was with establishing my roots and getting my support network in place (see… Naïve Mummy).
So after a particularly traumatic birth experience we brought our three-day-old tiny human home from hospital. I vividly remember placing the carry cot on the lounge, sitting down and thinking “what next?”. “What next” was a turn for the worse. Our baby cried, and cried, then cried some more. She “slept” in five-minute bursts, while I couldn’t sit up both from exhaustion and pain. Plus, my milk seemed non-existent.
I thought that what I was experiencing was normal and my assumptions were reinforced by the visiting midwife, the community health nurse and the various 24-hour medical help lines that I called. So a week later, when I was still losing a lot of blood, I suggested we call into the hospital on our way to visit my Nan because things just didn’t seem right.
It quickly became apparent that what we were experiencing wasn’t at all normal and we were readmitted to hospital for four days. My baby was crying incessantly because she was hungry. I was right; my milk hadn’t come in and no amount of cluster feeding was going to trigger it because my body still thought it was pregnant.
While it was only two weeks of my life, the trauma experienced during this period has taken two years to heal. In hindsight, I realised that I should have listened to my gut. I knew that something wasn’t right but with no consistency of care (and my fragile mental state), it wasn’t picked up.
So, two and half years later when I was preparing for the birth of my second baby, the element of the newborn experience that I was most fastidious about was getting my support team right. I had continued to doctor shop, but for a different reason - I wanted consistent care.
Two years into our sea change, I finally found a GP that I clicked with. I trusted her with my health and the health of my daughter, I connected with an early childhood nurse that my daughter felt comfortable with. I connected with the specialist services I might need (like counsellors and lactation consultants) and I made ‘friends’ with the reception staff at my GP clinic.
Hindsight is a great thing, particularly for a Naïve Mummy. But my biggest realisation from those early days is that I should have trusted my gut. I instinctively knew that something was wrong with both my daughter and I, but I pushed my instincts aside because I lacked any confidence in my new role as a mother. I have learnt that asking questions, pressing a bit harder for tests (even when it feels uncomfortable) and establishing a network of support that believes in you, is one of the most important things any parent can do.
I still think I’m quite naïve, but I’m more confident, which means I don’t feel silly asking the nurse to check a bump to the head because it could be a concussion. I’m not embarrassed heading to the GP to be told “it’s a just a cold” because it could be the early signs of meningococcal disease. And when someone says “don’t worry”, if my gut is telling me otherwise – I listen.
If I could go back, I’d give myself this advice;
If it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it.
If you’re not happy with the answer – ask again.
You spend more time with your child than anyone, which makes you the expert on them.
If I listened to all of this, I could change my moniker from Naïve to Instinctive. But let’s be honest, I would have been too naïve to listen back then anyway.
What's the most important thing you've done as a parent where you trusted your gut? Tell us below.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner GSK.
Parents, make sure to ask your GP about meningococcal disease, and what vaccines your child can get to protect them.
For further information, visit KnowMeningococcal.
Whilst rare, meningococcal disease can progress rapidly - resulting in death within 24 hours or serious long-term disabilities, including brain damage, deafness and limb loss*. Infants, young children and adolescents are most at risk. That’s why GSK has partnered with Mamamia to increase knowledge and understanding, and to help prevent the spread and impact of this devastating disease.