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A Mother’s Instinct

When my son was little he used to get the croup. I can remember the first time he had it. We had no idea what it was, we just knew that the sound coming from his little baby chest was unlike anything we’d ever heard. It’s funny though. After a couple of times dealing with the croup we became pros. From the instant we heard that seal bark coming from his crib we would spring into action without even thinking. Even if it meant being ripped from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, we knew exactly what to do.

The advice we had been given was not the classic “steamy bathroom” advice. Research had shown that cool air did a better job of breaking up a croupy cough. There were many nights I spent under the stars with Patrick swaddled in a blanket just pacing our small little yard. There was always something oddly satisfying about those moments though.

As any mom who had to deal with the croup knows, it’s not something you deal with once or twice but an ongoing issue that you face a number of times during the first few years of your child’s life. And most moms become pros. Most moms are able to spring into action, just as I mentioned above, and relieve the symptoms. We learn what works for our croupy baby and learn how to do it fast. When the croup comes on we’re ready and don’t even have to think about it.

As moms, we don’t always get a lot of those moments. The truth is that we get very few moments where we are 100% certain we are doing the exact right thing at the exact right time to accomplish the exact right outcome.

Truthfully, most of motherhood is spent hoping we’re making the right choices. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve stared at the thermometer that says 99 degrees. Do I keep him home? Do I send him to school? Is that cough breaking up or is it getting worse? Should we cancel the trip or go anyway? Should I bring him to emergency or wait until Monday? More medicine or let the bug work itself out?

I’ve probably had enough of these moments to last a lifetime. And my kids aren’t even tweens yet. I don’t even want to think of the mountain of uncertainty I face when my kids enter junior high.

It’s weird because I think about my grandma, heck even my mom, and I wonder were those previous generations as plagued with uncertainty as we are today? It doesn’t seem like it. I think one reason is because this generation of mothers is force-fed so much advice from TV shows, books, the internet, other moms and even strangers on the street that we’ve somehow lost the most important tool a mother has.


Many of us forget on a regular basis to simply listen to instinct. Not always, but a lot of the time I think we do forget.

And we have to remind ourselves that sometimes we have to just let go of everything that society says we should be doing go and just trust our inner voice and our very basic ability to do right by our child.


18 Responses to “A Mother’s Instinct”

  1. giveawayhound

    Thanks for this post. I find I am often second-guessing myself as a mom, but after our son's health problems as an infant, one thing my husband and I promised each other was that we'd always be his advocate. I try to stick to that today, but there is a balance between being overprotective and not protective enough and sometimes it's hard to strike the right balance.

  2. Cindi

    Our oldest son had croup…His paternal grandmother was watching him, while
    we went to a neighborhood party! When we arrived home, and grandma had left,
    we sat down to have a snack. All of a sudden, we heard this strange sound coming
    from the monitor…We both ran upstairs and I said get him in the hot moist air of the
    shower running. I called the doctor's emergency number and I had thankfully diagnosed
    croup, correctly. I really enjoyed reading your article! Thanks, Cindi

  3. miriama59

    Interesting to hear about the fresh air concept. We always did the hot steamy bathroom. I remember it being an almost peaceful experience. I know it sounds odd but it was a moment where we would just sit there together, me holding whichever daughter it was. Just the two of us experiencing this closeness.

    • Meghan Harvey

      The fresh air worked perfectly for us. And we lived in a fenced in yard off a dirt road at that time so those quiet private moments out in the yard were always very serene, don't get a lot of those when they get older! LOL

  4. Peter Schott

    Not a mom, but agree that there are times you just won't know and have to go with what you're feeling. I've totally been there on the 99 degree side and we just have to look at the overall trend and whether our kid has lots of energy (a good sign for recovery) or not.

    • Meghan Harvey

      Exactly! Each kid and even each situation can be different, so you have to just feel your way sometimes. 🙂

  5. Tari Lawson

    I have always relied on my motherly instinct. Every kid and every situation is different. No one has the insight into your child that you do. Trust your gut but also be open to hearing what others say as it may change your vision of things for the better.

  6. Susan Smith

    We never had the croup with any of my children but I agree to trust your instinct when it comes to your child.

  7. April Adkins

    My daughter had croup as a baby also and it sounded terrible! We took her outside as well and that always did the trick. I do feel as if the mother in me always has instints, but sometimes second guess myself.

  8. Kristin

    Oh boy. One of my kids (I have four) had croup, and it made me feel such overwhelming guilt. And I was doing everything I was supposed to…yet, still, I was thinking there must be something wrong with me that causes my child to suffer through this. My mother, of course, had two kids who had zero health problems. (I had one with pneumonia, 1 with reflux, 1 with colic, 1 with pediatric cancer)

  9. hislovenduresforever

    I haven't ever dealt with croup, but I knew about taking the child into a hot shower to help. I didn't know that cool air is actually a better treatment. With all the access to others opinions we have, sometimes it's hard to just go with our gut feeling, but I do think it's the best way to go. We know our children the best.

  10. Calli

    I agree that in today's world too much information can be a bad thing, especially because that information tends to contradict itself. it is difficult to know who to trust. At the end of the day we must trust ourselves.

  11. Tammy Greer

    Mother's always have that intuition and natural insight. Our children come first and we as nurturers know what is best for them.

  12. scott finger

    a mother instinct is a awsome thing of nature but then you have some women that just ant right in the head and dont need to be having kids period its horror story for sure in some ways but a really true mother who takes care of there kids and do every thing they can to make there kids life the best it can be instinct is the most important thing a mom can have next to the saftey factor a mother has for the young and the nesting period which the mom makes her home ready for the baby which is coming wonderful things for sure

  13. Tammy

    My instinct has told me things my brain refused to believe and I regretted it but I learned the hard way to listen. When my son got sick the last time I knew right away it was not normal. We took him into emergency and we found out his appendix needed removed.

  14. Sylvia Ortiz

    A mother's instinct, especially when it comes to her children, should always be followed. It's basically second-nature for most women when it involves their children's health and well-being. I raised my three children (now all grown – my youngest just turned 21 yrs last month) as a single parent, and although there were a lot of "tough & trying" moments, being your child's protecter and comforter was instantaneous "without question or batting of an eye". And today, I pride myself with the outstanding adults they have now become; my two boys are currently serving with the Army (and both married last year; and my oldest had a baby too!) and my daughter started working right out of high school and is still employed with the same company. A mother's instinct goes a long way…


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