A Mother's Intuition

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms
By Lynne Spears

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift...
~Albert Einstein

When I look back on my life as a mother, I know that one of my biggest lessons learned (finally), was that I should always trust my instincts, because my gut consistently told the truth. Sometimes, I found this out in hindsight, after I had ignored the little red flags waving on my mama radar.
When Britney was about eight, we got talked into doing a "Little Miss Something" pageant, because this one supposedly stressed talent over beauty. Britney was begging me to do it, and part of me thought, well, what's the harm if this truly is a talent competition? The other part of me knew I was rationalizing because it just didn't feel right. The truth is, I never wanted her near one of those beauty pageants for little girls, because they were set up in a way that seemed so unfair to some children.
While a young girl could work hard to make her leap higher or her steps more precise, there was nothing much she could do to improve the countenance God gave her.
The pageant lived up to my fears, and then some. The mothers were appalling backstage, fussing over their daughters and backstabbing the other contestants. I was repulsed by the whole thing. Of course, since we were completely green about the pageant system, I put her in the wrong dress (it didn't even fit properly) and the wrong kind of socks. Britney ended up placing near the bottom, and the poor little thing was in tears.
I should have known better, and in fact, I did know better. I wanted Britney to feel good about herself because of who she was and how she treated people, not because some silly pageant told her she was or was not pretty enough. I had failed to trust my gut. It's our job as moms to act on that sixth sense we have, the one that tells us something is not as it seems; when I ignored it the result was tears and a very unpleasant day.
But on another occasion, when the stakes were much higher, I followed my instincts, and I thank God to this day that I did.
My oldest child, Bryan, had chronic asthma from the time he was a baby until he was nine years old. The members of the Spears family were regulars at the McComb, Mississippi hospital and children's clinic; we knew everyone in pediatrics on a first name basis and even spent one Christmas in the hospital with a sick little Bryan.
One incident will stick with me forever as an example of the power of a mother's inner knowledge when it comes to her children.
Britney was only two weeks old, and Bryan was having one of his asthma episodes; he was congested and his breath was a bit labored. I took my little boy, then just four, to the children's clinic, where a doctor diagnosed him with bronchitis and asthma once again and prescribed the usual medication.
Bryan was a very active boy, and usually, the asthma medicine would accelerate this in him, not the other way around. This time, though, he seemed very sluggish, and around bedtime I noticed him hanging his head off my bed, something he would do when he couldn't get enough breath.
I took one look at him and knew this episode was much more serious than the others that had preceded it. My antennae shot up. His breathing was loud and gasping, and his skin color had turned from a healthy pink to an alarming, mottled white with a bluish tinge. I called his daddy, Jamie, into the room and he was also very concerned about Bryan's lack of color. As I cradled him in my arms, I called the doctor in a panic. He was quite calm, instructing me to give him more of the inhalant and wait for the medicine to take effect, which we did three times in the next thirty minutes. Surely the doctor knew what he was talking about, right? Inwardly, I battled between trusting a seasoned physician and believing my own gut, which was telling me Bryan was in big trouble.
I called the doctor again, insisting Bryan needed to be brought in despite his assurances that the medicine would work soon. He finally agreed to meet us at the hospital, where Jamie, Bryan and I rushed as soon as Jamie's aunt had come over to care for baby Britney.
Throughout the night, the doctor worked on Bryan, trying to get him to breathe properly. At one point, he even thought he might have to do a tracheotomy to open his breathing passages. Finally, after many tortuous hours and various medicines and procedures, the doctor administered some kind of steroid, and it worked--Bryan began breathing regularly, much to our enormous relief. (Steroid use for treating pediatric asthma was relatively new at the time.)
The next morning, the doctor told me how dire the situation had been for Bryan. He was so glad I had insisted on bringing my son in to the hospital, because Bryan would not have made it through the night without medical assistance.
In that life or death situation, my mother's instinct kicked into high gear and a tragedy was averted. What I learned that night was to pay attention to those strong impulses (it was the more subtle clues that I sometimes failed to heed). My three children are grown now and out of the house, but I still try and listen to those gut feelings, big and small, when it comes to them. I know better than most the very real power of a mother's intuition.

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