by Kerry Haggard, a working mom who loves (nearly) all the tools that that 21st century life brings to parenting. Her most important parenting tool, however, is instinct. Follow her on Twitter or read her blog

A woman I worked for many years ago spoke of “feeling things in her waters” – and it’s a notion I only fully got to grips with when I became a mom. In the runup to the birth of my first child, I was given truckloads of advice from all directions – but the piece of advice that stuck the most was to ignore all the advice and follow my gut. And it’s the one that’s worked the best for me.

Two examples in the last few weeks have proven this right yet again. I had promised my boys a sleepover at their beloved grandparents on the Sunday night before the public holiday. Matthew (my youngest) woke up from his afternoon nap that day unusually grumpy and clingy, and I treated a mild temperature with some Calpol – and he bounced back. My gut was saying that I shouldn’t let him sleep out – but my suggestion that they stay home was met with roars of disapproval from both sides of the age spectrum – so I let them go.

What happened? At 4am my mom-in-law called to say that Matthew had been crying inconsolably since 2am, and that I should come and fetch him because he “was not good”. I tore out of bed, screamed across to fetch him, heart pounding all the way and imagining the worst. He stopped when I got there, and had calmed down by the time we got home, enough for me to decide to take him to the doctor later in the morning, rather than braving Casualty. Turns out he had infections in both ears. If that situation arises again – I will make sure he stays home.

This week when my gut shouted out, I listened to it. Daniel had earache, and my husband took him to our doctor. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic for his ear, which I pretty much expected. When the pharmacist dispensed 28 adult-sized tablets, my husband asked if that was right – surely that was an adult medication, and an adult dose. “It’s what the doctor prescribed,” the pharmacist said. “Are you really sure that this is for a five year old child?” my husband asked, pointing to Daniel who was with him. “Yes, it’s fine,” the pharmacist continued – and handed over the Augmentin, with the instruction that Daniel take two large tablets, twice a day for 7 days.

When I heard this, all sorts of alarm bells rang. When I got home and saw this lot, I BBM’d the doctor, to confirm that this actually was what he wanted.  To cut a long story short, the doctor prescribed the adult version of the drug instead of the paediatric one, and the pharmacist dispensed it, in spite of my husband querying it. My instinct refused to accept that. Questioning the doctor and the pharmacist because of my “waters” having their own storm of panic saved my son a great deal of suffering – he would have had severe diarrhea, would probably have dehydrated, and his immune system would have been severely compromised by an antibiotic dose four times what he required.

So – if there’s any advice I can give to any mom or dad out there when it comes to parenting, it’s to listen to your instinct. If anyone tells you otherwise, make sure you are completely happy with how they convince you. In my experience, your instinct will always be right.

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