maternal instincts

As I slid my hand around my newborn’s back and settled into bed with him, I realized I never expected to be this kind of mom.

Especially in these early weeks I thought about what I was feeling and deciding about my child and felt like a psychologist, clinical, calculating, and insensitive. Except all of those early child psychologists were men, who weren’t affected by the same rush of hormones as a mother is, who aren’t evolutionarily primed to know their child is sleeping next to them, regulating their breathing and body temperature and feeling secure just by the smell of me.

It’s raised the question a few times in my head about what kind of mother I think like as opposed to what kind of mother I feel like. A lot of my feelings are instincts, intuition, and hormones. My husband has admitted a few times he doesn’t feel connected to our mewling newborn the same way as me, and for someone as clinical and masculine in her thoughts as I am, this has been a remarkable identity transformation.

For me, too, I’m bombarded by sappy mom posts about how overwhelmed with love moms feel for their babies – which is true; I’m confounded by how strongly I feel for Ronan, and the rush of affection I feel when I squeeze his warm squishy body against myself. But for me, the love is honestly aggressive, assaultive, truly hearkening to the “Mama Bear” identity more than anything. Mess with my cub and I’ll rip you apart.

There’s also the fact that as I’m moving through this postpartum period, the hormones are starting to ebb and thus affect my creativity a bit less. I’ve always known the PMS-y hormones make me ultra creative, and giving birth to a baby is truly the ultimate culmination of a rush of female hormones. So I was explosively creative despite my deep and confusing hormonal distress. And now as my body is slowly returning to normal (a new, cyst-free normal), my creative levels are returning to normal as well, and admittedly I feel like I’ve dried up a bit. I don’t ever force myself to create, so I went from making two or three sketches today, baby aside, to knowing I’d rather read a book or play the Untitled Goose Game.

I really will have to redefine normal for myself though, and that’s before I even go back to school in 2 months. Eep.

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