If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Maternal Desire

blue milk has re-posted one of her many fascinating posts.  In this one she discusses maternal desire and claims that it may be as hard to describe maternal desire to someone who hasn't experienced it as it is to describe sexual desire to someone with no libido. This statement brought me back to my very early twenties.

I remember being hit with the physical sensation of maternal desire at 22 or 23.  It was amazingly strong and oftentimes overwhelming.  At the time I likened it to both sexual desire and hunger pains only it was embodied in a different organ.  I felt desire in my uterus.  If you've never felt this than there is no explaining it but once it is there it is difficult to ignore.

I knew I would be a mother for as long as I can remember.  This was a fact I carried around with me the same way I embodied my gender.  I didn't play with dolls when I was young (although I had a large collection of stuffed animals) and I never was (and to this day am still not) much of a baby person.  I don't think all babies are cute or all children are precious.  I wasn't particularly interested in babysitting (except to raise some cash).  I never imagined my wedding or thought much about a husband.  But I knew I would be a mother someday in the future.

In my early twenties I was firmly established in a relationship and had just finished college.  The desire started slowly when I first became an aunt.  It was the first time I had a claim to a child.  I remember being fascinated by my niece (to be honest I remain fascinated by her today, she is extraordinary) in a way I had never been fascinated by a baby before.  In a year or two, the desire started to take hold and I noticed a physical sensation that could not be satisfied in any other way.

This desire propelled me to turn my established relationship into a marriage and, less than a year later, start an aggressive campaign to get pregnant (as is my way I couldn't just start trying, I had to make it a project).  Two months later I had achieved my goal.  Given the physicality of my desire, I assumed I would enjoy pregnancy.  I figured it would be similar to enjoying a good meal after you've fasted.  If I had thought that through I would have realized the error of my ways.  You barely notice food after a sustained hunger and you usually end up eating too much and feeling bloated and uncomfortable afterwards.  That was pretty much my experience with getting and being pregnant.

In an exceptionally blessed and privileged life, being Angel's mother has been the highlight.  Once he was born, I never felt that desire again.  I felt something vaguely similar when he left for college. Luckily I was able to recognize it for what it was: a physical desire to have HIM again, not any random baby.

These days I notice the urge for a grandchild is growing but those feelings are embodied in my arms.


Annie said...

I didn't become pregnant until I was 37. We'd never tried before that, and it only took a couple of months. I more or less gave my husband the ultimatum, that if we didn't at least try, I would always regret it, and I wouldn't be able to help blaming him. I knew I was of the age where it was pretty much now or never. He wasn't even working at the time- he was finishing an additional degree, and I was a full-time librarian carrying the health insurance.

My pregnancy went smoothly, with no problems for me. I went through the typical morning sickness, stoically, almost joyfully, leaving the reference desk to barf, brush my teeth, and return to the desk. If again, I'd love to have not worked during my pregnancy, but luckily, it all worked out for me to be a stay-at-home mom, after returning for a short time, part-time, keeping up the nursing through pumping, until my husband found the full time job he still "enjoys." (hates)

Pregnancy and motherhood was not necessarily a craving for me, an ache in the uterus- but once I really, really thought about it, and the natural deadline seemed looming, I knew it was what I wanted, and it was the best decision I ever made in my life to have my son.

Annie said...

What I forgot to add: My husband readily says it's the best decision he ever made, too! Once he saw our little son's feet kicking, at sixteen weeks for the amnio ultrasound, he was hooked- in for parenting, all the way- and though we don't always agree on parenting style, he's one of the most involved Dads, ever.

Grandkids- I need to wait a while, at least ten years, I hope. But I am looking forward to those days. I'd love to be involved in a baby's life again.

Anandi said...

I LOVE this line - it so describes how I feel, too:

"Luckily I was able to recognize it for what it was: a physical desire to have HIM again, not any random baby."