Thursday, July 29, 2010

what's not a revelation is still worth repeating

I need to go with my instinct. The more I think--the more I depend on reasoning and not on my gut--the more confusing life gets.

And I tend to think a lot, as one might well have guessed.

Here's a very current example. Ike has been screaming like a tortured animal at night again. This is no big surprise. We moved to a new apartment and then a week or so later we went to Germany and France. He returned from Europe not only to an unfamiliar home, but to a bedroom that is not adjoined to ours (as his room was in our old apartment). We anticipated this reaction. So when we got home I put a pack-'n-play next to our bed and we all got some sleep while Ike adjusted to our new apartment. But we've been back from Europe for three weeks and I think he's got the idea that this is where we live now. He plays in his new room happily most the day. So we put him in his new room to sleep two nights ago, and voila, he's screaming himself hoarse at bedtime. His face is covered with little red broken blood vessels from the exertion. Last night he went to bed at 7:00 pm and screamed until 11:30 pm. Sigh.

My gut says he's got to be gently weaned into sleeping in his new room. But my head, my patience and my husband say "let him scream it out, he'll exhaust himself and fall asleep. He'll adjust." He doesn't, though. At least not easily. My gut says I can't let him get so worked up when he needs to wind down. So tonight put my thoughts aside. I went to his room time and time again, saying the Our Father, the Twenty-Third Psalm, singing, leaving the door open, talking to him loudly as I did the dishes, soothing and soothing and soothing. I drew the line at physical comfort. And he only screamed until, well, 9:45 pm. And I'm exhausted.

I know in my head that he has to learn to fall asleep by himself. And every time I help him fall asleep I encourage him to depend on me to put him to sleep. But my gut says that if I gently move him toward more healthy patterns--even while depending on me to put him to sleep--that he'll move back to falling asleep on his own. And I think I have to just listen to myself, even if putting him to bed this way is time-consuming and exhausting.

My gut has a lot to say, really. It told me that Ike was a boy when I was pregnant the first time. And with this current pregnancy I suspected I was pregnant with a girl, and yesterday that was confirmed. It told me to walk out of the sonogram office last week, long before they told me it was against their policy to reveal the sex of the baby or allow husbands in the sonogram room. Of course I did walk out when I heard that, but I should have left before. My gut told me something was wrong with my second pregnancy, and I knew the moment I got a headache last September that I was going to have a miscarriage, which began a few hours later.  My gut also told me marriage to Charles would be hard but worth it, which has been true as well.

I am writing this mostly to remind myself.

It's not so much that my gut is always right, it's more like my gut is me. It is me inside and out and takes everything I know and feel and believe into account. My head is about information; and while the information is usually factually true, it doesn't always apply in a useful way. My gut is also not my feelings. My feeling about Ike's screaming last night was that if he continued one minute longer I'd go in there and smack him one. My feelings usually revolve around comfort, anger, fear, pleasure, desire.

My gut uses the knowledge in my head, but conversely my head doesn't want to muck things up by acknowledging my gut. My gut registers my feelings, but my feelings don't want to take the time to deal with the quiet (and perturbing patient) certainty of my gut.

I know nothing I'm writing here is a revelation, to myself or anyone else. It's just that when I write it here it becomes more and more true to me. More and more alive and active in my life.

And that all said, I am so so happy to be having a baby girl!


Nostalgia said...

I can't get over how pretty she already looks! It's absolutely amazing.

Julia said...

Thank you for this. This captures very perfectly the lessons I am learning right now and if they are obvious, then I must be really stupid, because it has taken me 33 years to realize that I have a gut that talks to me and gives me really good advice. Unfortunately, heeding my guts advice sometimes means sustaining losses, like not getting on a scheduled flight because my gut is telling me to change plans (goodbye $$$) or what have you. But you're right-- this voice is neither rational or emotional. It tells you things that can't really be squared or explained against either of those gold standards. It's fun though--making decisions based on your gut and knowing in a sure, secret way that they are just right.