When Jonah was about 15 months old I weaned him. It wasn't voluntary for either of us, but the truth is that he couldn't keep dairy products down and that made it impossible to nurse him. This was all due to a horrible virus that I managed to pick up about five days after he got sick. Mine was much worse. I didn't eat at all for at least three days and even after that I was pretty hesitant to eat anything that I might not want to ever see again.
The result... a doctor's visit. He was given an antibiotic, which he turned out to be allergic to. So we went in again. This time we couldn't get in to see our regular pediatrician so we saw a new doctor who weighed Jonah and started to make dissatisfied noises about his weight gain. He hadn't gained any weight at all. This was actually just before his 18 month check-up (the sick seemed to drag on a while) and so she started making noises about seeing a specialist and testing him for all sorts of things.
The thing is, I knew that he was just fine. He had been sick and lost some weight, but he was active and happy and he ate well. My gut was telling me that he didn't need to be put through the blood draws and urine samples and whatever else they wanted to subject him to. I didn't have charts or graphs or studies or statistics, but I knew that he was just fine.
I told the pediatrician that I would talk to my regular ped about it.
My twin sister reminded me that she was doing the right thing. It was her job to be concerned about his lack of weight gain. It was a good thing. But part of me was a little angry. I was annoyed that this woman, who did not know me, or my child, would not trust me when I told her that I didn't think there was anything wrong with my child.
About a week later I saw our regular pediatrician and she looked at the chart and the note that her colleague had written and said that she thought it was probably unnecessary to test him. He came from small parents and had always been at the lower end of the weight spectrum... and I wasn't concerned. She said that she would test him if I felt it was necessary, but she thought we should just watch it for a while and if he didn't gain anything over the next 6 months we might revisit the topic.
Rule #2: Always listen to your gut.
I could have freaked out and put my child through all sorts of tests just to accommodate this doctor, but I didn't. I can't tell you how affirming it was to have our regular pediatrician listen to whether I felt that there might be a problem rather than just look at the growth charts.
It can be so confusing to be a mother. Do you vaccinate? Do you have natural childbirth? Do you supplement? Do you co-sleep? Do you let them cry it out? You can read every study, every recommendation from every specialist, or expert and still feel overwhelmed and unsure. None of them agree, and if you aren't doing it someone else's way, you are doing it wrong. You'll probably screw them up. It's always the mother's fault.
If we will eventually be blamed anyway, we might as well be as informed as possible, but let our gut make the final decision. In the end, it only really matters if you did your best. If you were true to what you know, and what you believe, you will be doing your best. It's not about making decisions from a place of fear or anger. It's about making your choices as a parent from a place of love and intuition.