When I was expecting my first child seven years ago after years of trying to conceive, I was overwhelmed with emotion. From early on in my pregnancy, I was determined to be a well-informed mom, up-to-date on the newest and best child rearing practices out there. That Infancy & Childhood Development course I took as an undergrad student some years ago wasn’t going to cut it. I searched books and websites for good, solid information that would not only get me through pregnancy, labor, and delivery-but that would guide me as a mom.
Well, my labor was not a typical labor. My daughter had low birth weight (4 lbs, 12 ounces) and as a result, my labor was quick (7 hours). Needless to say, I was not prepared in dealing with a labor whose contractions were fast and furious from beginning to end, nor was I prepared in dealing with the issues that accompany a child with low birth weight (immature nervous system, high muscle tone, acid reflux, swelling of the kidneys). Basically, nothing of what I expected, happened. At the time, I thought, okay, this is just an exception to the rule. Well, six years later, everything encompassing motherhood seems to be an exception to the rule. It turns out, kids can be unpredictable! And that little fact has turned out to be the most invaluable piece of information I never found in a book or article.
For such a long time, I was obsessively bent on what the books, experts, and pediatricians said that I seemed to have shut off my own maternal instinct and ignored what my child was telling me. I ignored my child’s cues and what I thought and felt was right for my child. Fortunately, I realized this early on and was able to change my ways. There was a moment of “letting go” for me, but it has only made our lives easier and more relaxed. And alhamdullillah, my approach with our second child has had a much better fit into our lives.
I have not stopped reading books or seeking expert advice. Information is important, but it needs to be balanced with consultation with one’s spouse, reasoning & logic, and one’s own instinct and voice. An expert can have a perfect formula as a solution to a problem, but these formulas are generic, and they will not work with everyone or all the time. There is so much we can tell ourselves if we only stop to listen.
Hagar lives in Maryland with her husband and two young children. She enjoys attending Islamic halaqas, reading, learning new things, and spending time with her family.