Say what you will, but there is such a thing as maternal instincts and woman’s intuition. Weird as it sounds to non-parents, you do develop an extra sense that allows you to perceive, danger, trouble and bullshit, in general, once you have children.
Even as a stepparent, a single sound (or lack thereof) can alert me to drama unfolding in the playroom. As a new mom, a change in pitch to my newborn’s cough can perk up my concern. A shady character in the store isn’t just someone to brush off, but someone to hawk-eye as your unknowing little ones bounce around the aisles.
I have felt the spidey-sense nature of these instincts with my kids for years, but as I navigate the waters of raising a newborn, I realize that sometimes Google shits all over my instincts.
Instead of taking some of the odd things my newborn does in stride, I find myself constantly Googling benign threats.
God forbid my son’s farts are a single level smellier than they were the previous day, I’m suddenly hunting for the cause in forums. Should his fussiness dwell a few minutes longer than usual, Google tells me he may have a gastrointestinal issue… or perhaps I ate chocolate. When breastfeeding wasn’t going so hot, I ordered fenugreek, while my husband made lactation cookies as I Googled support groups, pump pro tips and natural path nursing advice.
In short, I believe Google has taken a giant dumper on my reflexes.
Aware as I may be of this fact, it doesn’t seem to stop me from seeking every answer I can find to every slight occurrence in my little guy’s life. I know for a fact, that baby acne and dry skin are not a big deal, but guess what I do? I Google how to help rid my son of these viciously innocent afflictions. And though I had already read that babies can go one hour or 10 days without pooping, I still started furiously searching when it had been 24 hours of no doody.
While I yearn for the moment when I feel like myself again and don’t need to use the search bar for every sneeze, burp or bottle I do appreciate the convenience of instant answers in our Internet world. However, I do think a line needs to be drawn.
As moms in the digital age we need to do our best to avoid a parenting style in which every bump and bruise calls for research. We need to trust ourselves to have skills and senses that will keep our babes thriving. We need (desperately) to try to avoid making a catastrophe of the little things. We need to put our phones/tablets/computers down and look at our babes and learn to know them. We need to stop going to WebMD, Facebook and mommy forums during times when our pediatricians should be called.
I love the availability of information, but I also resent it.
When I was struggling with breastfeeding I couldn’t find a single answer until I made an appointment with a lactation consultant. I just tried and failed dozens of times with Internet tricks while my baby’s aversion to nursing grew and grew.
Things I thought I felt confident in deciding without the Internet’s help, like circumcision, suddenly twisted me up inside with one terrifying article. Horror stories written to draw in site visitors were starting to make parenting decisions for me (or at least making them more difficult than need be).
And worst of all, when I would want to do something, like allow my fussing infant into my bed to nurse, all I could see were the flashing SIDS articles warning me I was possibly making a decision that could kill my baby. Damnit I wanted to comfort and cuddle my son, but it felt wrong because the Internet said it was wrong.
So while I have no doubt that there are many Google searches in my future. And I’m certain more click bait articles will lure me into terrifying research spirals. Mostly, I want to try my best to get back my basic instincts. I want to hold my baby how and where I choose. I want to feel relaxed even if he isn’t acting the same today as he was yesterday. I want to call my doctor instead of hunt through uneducated guesses online. I want to read a book by experts, not a brain dump on Facebook.
If I can at least cut my searching in half, I’ll feel more confident in the fact that I am raising my children… not Google.