When Charlotte was born, I was amazed at how instinctual her behavior was. Before she came along, I worried about how I would teach her things. How will I teach her to eat? How will she know what to do? I thought about it all the time. I was reassured by people that she would just know what to do, but I didn’t really believe them- it seemed impossible to me. And yet, that is exactly what happened. Okay, sure, there were a few bumps in the road with breastfeeding at the start, but her instincts (and mine) took over, and we figured out how to make it work together. I was constantly in awe of how this little baby somehow just knew that we were her parents and she trusted us to take care of her. All the things I had worried about teaching her- eating, crawling, walking, talking, and even toilet training- happened much more naturally that I had thought possible. It became crystal clear to me that human beings are born with instincts on how to survive and grow.
What happens to those instincts as we get older? My instincts are still present, but I now possess the ability to doubt myself, and I constantly silence my instincts. At home, at work, everywhere- I just can’t seem to trust myself anymore. Working as a nurse, I might have a feeling about what was wrong with a patient, but I often lacked the confidence to voice those feelings, especially as a newly practicing nurse. When Penelope was born, I immediately felt that things were not right with her, but for months, I let others convince me that everything was fine. And of course, as it turns out, I was right. Just yesterday, I had to replace Penelope’s NG tube when it got pulled out, and when I was checking the placement of the tube, I felt that something was not right, but I still wasn’t confident in my instincts. Luckily, my aunt, who is a nurse and who knows me very well, could tell that I was unsure about the placement of the tube, and helped me figure it out. We pulled out the tube again, and saw that the end had coiled back on itself- so once again, my instincts were bang-on, and yet I doubted myself.
Am I alone in this? How do people silence their doubts and tune out the negative voices to really trust themselves? What will it take for me to be able to do this?
One thing I know for sure- when I return to work, I will strive to always take a parent’s instincts about what is happening with their child very seriously. I will strive to never dismiss it as the ramblings of an overly anxious parent, the way in which I was dismissed.
I hope that I can overcome this self-doubt that has plagued me. I hope I can gain the confidence to trust my instincts again. I hope I can find a way to do this.