Harnessing Your Mother’s {Woman’s!} Intuition

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Harnessing Your Mother's {Woman's!} Intuition

A few weeks ago, while we were discussing transitioning our daughter from nanny to Montessori daycare, my husband casually asked me, “Do you ever rely on your mother’s intuition?”. Totally fair, and fascinating, question, and I honestly haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In the moment, my answer was some version of “Yeah, sure, so many parenting decisions are far from black and white, so it’s all about choosing what feels right.” I still stand by that, but I think with some more nuance. This past month has been a good case study. With our pup {who will always be my “first baby”} having a weird, terrifying seizure-like episode while at doggie daycare, and our daughter having some big feelings about her school transition, I’ve been making a lot of decisions that feel “intuitive” more than anything else. This all has really gotten me thinking about what we mean when we use terms like a “mother’s intuition” or “maternal instincts”. 

When Intuition Kicks In

First and foremost, I consider myself a pretty rational, logic-oriented parent. I’m pretty good at looking at our parenting options, coming comfortably to a decision and then not second-guessing myself. Those preemptive decisions allow space for thought and assessing pros and cons, and are something I can reason my way out of, just like any of the million standardized tests I’ve taken along the way. As a working mama, and as a physician, ensconced in many communities {IRL & on social media} of women much like me at all stages of the motherhood game, I also know in my head – and heart – that in the long run, many of these decisions won’t ultimately matter. Seeing kids thriving all around me regardless of daycare or nanny, sleep training or {safe} cosleeping, two working parents or a stay-at-home parent, etc. really defrays most of the anxiety about my own choices. 

But then, something goes awry, and you end up in a situation that has no manual, no obvious logical answer, and Googling it leaves you feeling a little deranged and slightly pathetic. So back to the past month I’ve had. What to do when 2 lovely, traditional veterinarians basically throw their hands up and say “I don’t know what happened to Bowser”? What to do when your daughter, previously a decent sleeper, now panics at the thought of bedtime because it means mommy is leaving her again, this time all alone in her crib? Sometimes in navigating these situations, you end up going a bit off the rails, and I think that is where intuition kicks in. 

It simply “felt right” to stay with my daughter, and create a safe cosleeping arrangement in her room. It has given me peace of mind, and a sense of strength too, to watch her sleep go from fitful, with panicked awakenings every few hours to check on my continued presence, to relaxed, where she can now sleep deeply and contentedly in her own corner without noticing if I get up for a bit. And if, as happened this morning, she rolls over at 5am, right when I’m thinking to get up, to sleepily give me a sweet kiss and burrow her way into my arms, I’m certainly not complaining. Sadly, I can’t adopt a permanent 7pm bedtime, and so I’ll have to bumble my way back to some other arrangement, feeling my way through how she reacts and hoping that one day she’ll regain her confident sleeping habits. Meanwhile, furbaby got to meet a very patient and kind holistic veterinarian, who helped us parse through his daily habits in a way we both found extremely helpful and reassuring. Ultimately, both of these challenges in parenthood ended up being solved by instinct, not logic. And again, because so many choices in parenthood are bigger than right and wrong, I think that’s often how it goes.

A Woman Thing

What I am realizing is that women have this strength of conviction from the get-go. {Maybe all people do, but because my closest friends, my patients and I are all women, I consider the female gender my area of expertise. And, honestly, the data on women in leadership reveals power dynamics and outcomes that also reflect intuitive, emotional, and communal decision-making. So I partly do think it’s a woman thing.} Often we just don’t realize it. Perhaps it is in the transition to motherhood, where so many new struggles arise and so much simultaneously seems at stake, that we finally learn to recognize and trust this force of intuition. To a degree, this is historic:: a generation ago, girls became women and mothers all in close succession.

My own mother gave birth to me at age 21, and has many times said that it was this transition to motherhood that first made her feel like a woman. I, on the other hand, became a mother at 36, and wouldn’t have gotten very far in life had I not had faith in my decision-making until then. But it is also true that my confidence was primarily oriented toward my school and professional life. My sense of self-worth as a person has blossomed only in the past few years, and it breaks my heart a little to realize this. 

In groups where I interact with younger women, I feel I see this pattern shifting. I am excited to see women in their teens and 20s assert their needs, wants and desires, recognizing their own value, and trusting and knowing who they are in the context of their relationship with themselves {the most important relationship we ever have}. That is the future I certainly hope for my daughter:: should she have children one day, I hope she does find a way to trust her instincts in that endeavor. But my deepest desire is that my spunky, mostly fearless toddler never doubts herself in the first place.


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Rashmi Kudesia, MD MSc is a board-certified OB/GYN and Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility specialist who is passionate about improving women's access to evidence-based, honest reproductive health information and care. Aside from her clinical practice seeing patients in Houston and Sugar Land, Rashmi frequently speaks at conferences and community events, and advocates for women's health via media interviews and social media. Originally a Midwesterner, she moved around the East Coast for school and training, including nearly a decade in NYC, where she met her husband, Ashish, a Houston native. After moving to Houston in 2018, she's continued searching for that perfect work-life balance as the family grew quickly, adding their first pup, Bowser {2018}, their first home, and now their first kiddo, Amara {2019}! Right now, she's learning the ropes of being a working mama, but still loves exploring Houston's amazing food scene, checking out the newest museum exhibits, or planning the family's next trip. She's always on the hunt for the city's best iced latte or glass of wine to be savored with a good book. Find her on Facebook and Instagram {@rkudesia}.

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