Maternal Overdrive: Reflections on Motherhood One Month In

I think I’m going crazy. CRAZY. Not because I’m getting so little sleep, not because nursing is annoying and no fun at all, not because I have a little month old ball and chain that needs me near it every other hour to feed it.

But because I think I want to have more. Maybe even two more. I even had a fantasy today about having three more. And then I started thinking about fostering some kids. What the hell is going on? I didn’t even like babies prior to a month ago.

Women, will this wear off? Are these just crazy lactating hormones that will disappear in a few months? It’s a little shocking to me to have these thoughts, as I have always been pretty determined to have only two kids, so that I could resume a career and pursue interests and talents other than child rearing.

I still want that career. I still have fantasies that I can have it all: job I love, as well as a houseful of kids (and dogs!), if that’s what I decide I want in the end.

What do you think? Are my hormones just sparking weird maternal fantasies? And do you know women that not only balance career and big family, but are truly happy doing it?

(Side note: I feel sheepish admitting these maternal fantasies of having a big family, since more than once I have looked with an absolute lack of understanding at women who decide to have huge families. But now that I have my own cute little baby E, I’m beginning to comprehend that impulse…)

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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  1. Mary B says:

    No, it’s not hormones. It’s life and the reality of the experience with a new baby that’s not just any new baby, but one that was loved and conceived and grown inside yourself. I was amazed by the added perspective and maternal desire with my first as well.

    If you can find a copy of Arlene Rossen Cardoza’s book “Sequencing”, I’d recommend it. It helped me validate the various hopes and goals I had in life and figure out my own path for doing and being what I wanted to do and be, both maternally and career/education-wise.

    For a very interesting and more academic read on the subject of maternal emotions of mothering try “Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life” by Daphne de Marneffe. Very interesting reading and supportive of both career and the strong desire to mother one’s own children.

  2. JKS says:

    I expected to be thrilled to have a child. My husband, however, even 8 years into this is still surprised that he loves his kids so much. He truly didn’t know having a family could be so amazing.
    Sometimes people talk about “falling in love” with your baby. I think it is a little similar. The person didn’t used to exist to you, then suddenly they do. This person is suddenly more important to you than your own life. Its kind of a rush!
    So, even though I struggled with post-partum depression and the stress of adjusting to being a mother, I completely loved my baby and loved being a mother.
    It didn’t surprise me, though, because my mother had told me that she hadn’t loved babies but said it was completely different with your own. So, even though I never looked at a baby and got “baby hungry” I fully expected to adore my own child. And I did.
    Congratulations and welcome to motherhood!

  3. VirtualM says:

    I’m 6 weeks into motherhood as of, oh, 10:17 this morning. I actually find myself wondering how people can have more than one…but as I’ve said before, I’m a little pessimist 🙂 But things are slowly changing as I’m working with little mister crankypants to sleep at night and stay awake during the day. And we’ve had a few breastfeeding issues, but now that I’m working those out, he’s much happier and when he coos and smiles..melts my heart. I’m not sure if I’ll have more than two – (my pug counts as another child and I’d love to have more dogs too!) but I know that things can change. Maybe more motherly tendencies and maternal desire will kick in as time goes on; I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened, even to me.

  4. Lucy says:

    And do you know women that not only balance career and big family, but are truly happy doing it?
    My husband’s grandmother had 8 children. Once the eigth child started school, she began working on her graduate studies and then started a career teaching. She taught for 20 years and received many awards for her work and often boasted that she never missed a day of work. According to her family, she effortlessly balanced a family and career(of course, I’m not so sure that is the whole picture.)

  5. Heather O. says:

    Caroline-

    You are embarrassed to be having maternal thoughts? Sorry, babe, but that is what sounds weird to me in this post, not the fact that you have fallen in love with a child and realize how amazing motherhood can be, and that you want more. You looked with an aboslute lack of understanding at women who wanted big families because you HAD a lack of understanding. No woman can possibly comprehend the love she will feel for her child until she goes through it. There is no equivalent experience. Period. You are not freaky, you are not giving up your feminist ideals, you are simply discovering, through the only obvious means, what it feels like to be a mother. And no, this feeling will not go away when the hormones do–they will only go away when your precious little baby E smears yogurt on your counter, takes a Sharpie to your walls, and flushes your keys down the toilet, all in the same hour. But by then, you’ll be in way too deep. Welcome to the mothering club, girl.

  6. Heather O. says:

    Oh, and I still don’t like other people’s kids. FYI. Their poop stinks.

  7. Caroline says:

    mary b, thanks for the book suggestions. I’ll look those up.

    jks, like your mom said, with my own it is completely different. I really have no interest at all in other people’s kids, but I’m so glad I’m this fond of my own!

    Virtual M, I have a pug too! Actually I have two pugs and one beagle mix. My home is now officially a circus.

    Lucy, Wow. that woman must have been amazing and super organized to pull that off. Glad to hear that both a big family and career worked out so well for her.

    Heather, well, I’m embarrassed to have such hyper maternal thoughts. (What’s hyper for me is no doubt not hyper for others.) I expected to be fond of my little guy, but it’s so weird to actually find myself considering a third child. That’s a real about face for me.

    Thanks for all the encouragement everyone!

  8. tracy m says:

    It shocked me when, after horrid pregnancies, still with a child only days old, I would think about having another…

    It never goes away.

    Welcome to motherhood, sweet Sister. We’re all just a little bit insane.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Oddly, this same kind of – for lack of a better term – “Lack of understanding” can be found with respect to the Temple. It takes longer , but once it hits you, you realize what you have been missing in the past

  10. jana says:

    Caroline:
    I’m thrilled for you and for this new role that you’ve discovered. FWIW, some of the excitement will probably wear off once the little guy starts crawling and walking (you will never have a moment of peace), but motherhood is a lot of fun! Enjoy it!!

  11. Eve says:

    Jennifer, I really enjoyed reading Caroline’s reflections on her experiences with her son and her thoughts about motherhood. I don’t think there’s any need to turn those excellent reflections in a pedagogical direction or to forecast a day when you believe she will come to see things as you do.

    I think you’d be rightly irritated if someone suggested your lack of allegiance to feminism would one day be remedied, and that through greater experience and deeper understanding, you would become a feminist. I think it’s only fair to respect Caroline’s experience without recasting it in terms of your own and to extend her the same courtesy I suspect you–and indeed, all of us–would want.

  12. Whoa says:

    Eve,
    Please. Please? Please, no. I think Jennifer expressed something beautiful — based on a personal experience, obviously. I think it tied nicely in a general sense to the post. And out of the blue you beat her into a pulp, girl! I’m still in complete shock at your response.

    I sensed not a whit — not one inkling — of annoyance in her comment. I sensed nothing different in sentiment and motive than the women here saying, “welcome to motherhood.” Maybe I missed a discussion somewhere else and there’s some history I’m missing (and FYI I don’t know her at all) but all I see here is that she was making a general comment about how her feelings changed about the temple, which I think was perfectly related to the sentiments expressed here. (I heard her using “you” in a generic sense.) And she never said or suggested someone had to believe like her.

    Please, please PLEASE — can you please leave room for others to have and share what has come to mean something to them without shutting them down because you feel threatened or fear someone else might. Please? I beg beg beg you to think about threatening someone like Jennifer who doesn’t think the way you do or may not be able to predict the buttons that you may have. I’m truly sorry you have them (truly), but it’s not fair to silence everyone else when those buttons are pushed. Please? My heart is simply breaking for her right now….

  13. Whoa says:

    OK, Eve, I sorta pulled a pot-kettle thing and reacted way too over-the-top to you. My apologies. I should have been more succint and perhaps a little less dramatic.

  14. Eve says:

    No problem, Whoa, and thanks for your apology. It’s easy for blogging to send us into emotional overdrive. Heaven knows it has me, I’m ashamed to say.

    To provide a little background to my comment: as you guessed, there’s a long history behind it. I certainly don’t have a problem with anyone proposing an analogy between the unexpected discoveries and joys of motherhood and those of the temple (or those of sacrament meeting, surfing, or extreme yoga, for that matter). I’m all for the sharing and mutual respecting of experiences. But I understood Jennifer to be referencing Caroline’s temple post at FMH of six months ago or thereabouts, and previous and subsequent discussion of same. Caroline found the temple a very painful experience, and I just didn’t want to see someone seizing on her moment of joy as an opportunity to re-educate her about something that’s caused her a lot of grief. That’s all.

    And if Jennifer isn’t the Jennifer who’s commented before or wasn’t referencing Caroline’s discussions of the temple, then I owe her an apology. If either of those is the case, I really am sorry, Jennifer.

  15. Caroline says:

    Whoa,
    Eve responded the way she did because we do indeed have a history with Jennifer. Jennifer has problems with the fact that I don’t enjoy the temple, and rather than stepping back and acknowledging that different people can honestly experience and interpret the temple differently without necessarily being wrong, she has more than once reiterated that I just don’t get it and that hopefully I will become enlightened someday. (Jennifer, these are my interpretations of our conversations. Feel free, of course, to give your side of the story.)

    So anyway, Whoa, I can see without this background why you would question Eve’s comment, but I hope this background gives you some context.

    And Eve, thank you for your comment. I wasn’t in the mood to get into it with Jennifer – it didn’t seem to me like she was trying to contribute meaningfully
    to the conversation – but I’m so glad you responded and gave that parallel about us forecasting a conversion to feminism for people who ponder deeply enough. Right on.

  16. Caroline says:

    Doh! Eve got to it first…

  17. Alison Moore Smith says:

    Caroline, I enjoyed your post.

    When I was dating my husband in college (over 21 year ago), I told him I’d “have one kid if I like the first one a lot.”

    After I had the miracle one, I wanted two, after two, four, and after three six. (A dangerous mathematic pattern develops…)

    I now have six amazing kids (four girls and then two boys), ages 2-19. I NEVER imagined how amazing, difficult, wondrous it would be. It completely took me by surprise and threw me for a loop. No one could have ever convinced me that parenting would be such a gift.

    Best to you and your new little family.

  18. Jen - Jennifer says:

    Im sorry you had problems in the past at some other site. Im also sorry no one bothered to even ask who I was. I am not the Jennifer you evidently have had disscussions with in the past at some other site. I was simply trying to point out that I had a similar experience about something other than having children.

    Perhaps I should post as simply ‘Jen’ from now on. But I dought Ill be back

  19. Eve says:

    Jen, my apologies. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions about who you are. I’ve found Exponent II to be a very welcoming site, and I hope you won’t let my mistake keep you away.

  20. Whoa says:

    Jen,
    Hugs to you. I thought what you shared was beatiful and relevant. Things are not always as they appear. I guess we have seen that at multiple levels here. I’m sad for you that you had this experience here. Don’t stop sharing your point of view, though. It might help someone somewhere.

    Caroline,
    I neglected to congratulate you on the birth of your baby. I hope you will be able to relish these new feelings (as shocking as they are {grin}) and embrace that divinity within you that has been awakened. (And that you will be able to remember those feelings for those days that Heather described! hahaha)

    It’s back to lurkerdom I go….

  21. Jen says:

    A good friend of mine warned me that like her, I would not be welcome to post on this site. I thought it was all in her head. With this little experience, I think she may have been correct.

    After reading the thread that she attempted to post on months ago, it seems that the standard here is to be confrontational and rude, followed by apologies. That format is neither open nor inviting. Im sorry, but Im afraid I would not feel comfortable having my name associated with this site or the clique that has evidently formed here.

    Im sorry if I sound rude or mean. I dont intend it to be. Its just that being confronted with such hostility the very first time I venture out to post something and share a thought is extremely unsettling to me.

    I realize that there were apologies given, which I am thankful for, but most times in life we dont get the chance to apologize. I would rather post on a forum where so many apologies are not always necessary.

  22. Jilopa says:

    Caroline,
    Congratulations on your new baby!
    Can you have it all? YES! My patriarchal blessing talks about children and a career. I’m pregnant with my third, and am, like you, still amazed with the attachment, love, and complete bliss that comes with raising children. As I watch my husband’s career flourish, I find myself a little jealous of his bliss. However, I know my career season is ahead of me and I’m still in my season of rearing children. I love seasons of life, and you may find that you can overlap yours a bit. I wish you luck!

  23. AmyB says:

    I love reading about how much all of the mommies here love their babies. The baby-wanting instinct has not kicked in with me yet, but I like to think that if I have my own baby I will fall in love like everyone else here has.

    Congrats again, Caroline. If this is too much of a threadjack, you can ignore it . . . but I’m curious how your dogs have responded to the new baby . . .

  24. Caroline says:

    Jana, Alison, Jilopa, and Whoa, Thanks for all the encouragement and good wishes!

    AmyB, my 3 dogs have pretty much ignored the baby. I have two old pugs, and they are sweethearts. Every once in a while they’ll sniff his face and maybe give him a half hearted lick. My third dog is a crazy young beagle mix. She’s the one I’m most concerned about, as she is very aggressive with other dogs. But she also has showed remarkably little interest in the baby and doesn’t seem to see him as a threat. I hope this doesn’t change later when he starts crawling…

  25. Artemis says:

    Congratulations Caroline!
    I have to say, I feel a kinship with you because we delivered our babies so close together. Things are finally smoothing out for me too, now that breastfeeding no longer hurts and that we’re both finally figuring out how to nurse through the night while we both sleep. A full, even if interrupted, sleep is such a godsend! But I’ve had no parallel surge in maternal drive. I orginally wanted to have 6 kids, but the older I got, the less I wanted. When we got married, I wanted 5 and DH wanted 2 (a switch from what’s typical, no?). After a couple of years of wedded bliss, I felt that 4 was a good number. After my long and arduous transition labor, I was thinking one was probably too many, at least, one biological child. Adopting, something I’ve always been interested in, suddenly became incredibly more appealing. But now I’m thinking that Marigold has got to have at least one biological sibling, probably with in a couple of years. Anything after that is up for grabs–and probably highly dependent on how easy my 2nd labor goes. 😀 I’m still thinking of 4 as a total number of kids.
    But it is definitely amazing how quickly this child has worked her way into my heart, despite all the… everything. I’m really starting to like being a mom.

  26. claire says:

    Wow, I was just thinking the other day, I wish I had a blog, so I could write a post about my fear that I was weird for adoring my daughter like I do.

    I have a 10 year old and a 7 year old that I love dearly. After my 7 year old was born, I didn’t have a strong desire to have another until she was 3. Then I miscarried. Twice. Then I took 6 months ‘off’ from trying to concieve. When I finally felt ready to give it another go, it took me over a year to get pregnant. After all that, I was blessed with another daughter, who is the light of my life. I practically worship the ground she toddles on. I never thought I would want more than three children and lately I think, what will I do when she’s not a baby any more? Something about her babyhood just fills me up with adoration. I guess it will start wearing off when she hits two, huh?

  27. JAW says:

    I just stumbled onto this site, and this was the very first thread i’ve ever read on this blog. So though she’s apparently not reading this now, I just wanted to thank Jennifer (Jen) for her comment. I was merrily reading along and her comment actually made me feel a surge of hope that someday the same experience I’ve had with other things in the church, will finally happen with regards to the temple. That whole “seeing through a glass darkly” thing.

    Then all the fallout and ensuing apologies came. I am new to the bloggy world, and am just starting to find out what’s available, mostly by clicking on people’s names in comments and visiting their other blogs. So I’m getting familiar with various names, and hope that this whole world isn’t an exclusionary click as someone said here. That would be a bummer, having just discovered it!

  28. Deborah says:

    JAW: Welcome! I’m so glad you found us. Please come back and share your thoughts. The LDS blogging world has its occasional moments of drama, but mostly it has enriched my life with interesting articles, discussions, points or view, and warm individuals. That’s what we are striving for here.

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