Owl convo slash part 2 of “Ten common fantasies about being a new mother re: feminism and postpartum depression”

I was wondering how I would edit all the tangents out of this, then I remembered that this is mah blergh. Book quotes are in bold, Owl quotes are indented and italic.

Reference for the book quotes is “Shoshanna Bennett, Postpartum Depression for Dummies“. Previous post is here.

“My Needs Shouldn’t Matter”

If one person in the family unit is continually sacrificing his or her needs, the family unit can’t be healthy. On the other hand, however, I don’t mean that everyone’s needs will be fulfilled at all times — that just isn’t realistic, especially with children. It isn’t always going to be exactly even every day, but the main point here is that, in order to have a happy and healthy family, each member of the family — young and old — needs to experience a family life in which all members “count.” A child can’t easily grow up to feel that she’s important and that her needs matter if she sees her dad constantly squashing his own needs. And, if the child is the only one who’s nurtured for years, her parents will burn out and it won’t be a happy home. So, it’s good for each member, including young ones, to learn to wait their turn and consider other people’s needs and wants.

The bottom line is that the days of the self-sacrificing woman who buries herself under loads of laundry and says, “That’s okay, in a few years I’ll be able to see my friends again” are over. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Rather, your family benefits tremendously when you take care of yourself in these ways on a regular basis.”

This is actually great advice for a lot of women. A lot of moms need to be told directly to take a break. Some moms go overboard with unhealthy “self-care” i.e. wine and Netflix. But pretty much all moms across the board need to be reminded to be healthy.
Telling them exercise is a selfless act of service to the kids isn’t a bad way to do it.
And it’s true, so that helps.

All that aside, this belief can’t be ascribed to either feminism or Hallmark movies.
This is more of a lack of experience slash immaturity thing.
I expect it takes a couple of kids before you can truly detach from the rearing process and see it objectively.
For moms, I mean. Most mentally healthy dads do this off the bat, whereas they get more emotional about the provision aspect.

Aside: This may be a temperamental thing, but I’ve always been comforted by the thought of the worst-case scenario.
When I snowboarded, I would think to myself “Relax or you’re going to die” and that would actually help.
With money issues, I just remind myself that I can always kill other people and eat their food, and there’s a huge spectrum of less desperate and dangerous acts in between me and that.
I suspect the comfort in that is from taking away the mystique by looking at it directly and analytically.
It’s like the difference between hunter and hunted.

I think there’s something to that, in the sense that 1) being able to think about a problem objectively and analytically takes away the fear of the unknown and 2) having a plan takes away feelings of despair and powerlessness

Yeah, you nailed it. It’s the difference between vague powerlessness and focusing on what you can control.

“Bonding Happens Immediately at Birth

With certain species, bonding is fairly immediate after birth (for example, geese). But for humans, bonding is a gradual process in which the mom and baby learn how to communicate with each other. The mom is taught, so to speak, by her baby what his signals mean, which allows her to learn how to respond to him. So, as you get to know your baby and spend time with him, bonding will happen more and more. Unfortunately, the depression and anxiety caused by your PPD can often interfere with the bonding feelings for your new baby.

Your baby is still bonding with you, even if you aren’t feeling much for him. He knows you’re mom — he’s quite familiar with your smell, heartbeat, and voice. When the PPD and anxiety lift, though, all those feelings that you were looking forward to feeling for your baby will be there — they aren’t gone forever as so many moms seem to believe.

For example, there’s so much unnecessary worry from moms who are separated from their infants at birth (due to health complications of either mom or baby). They’re anxious that the so-called “magic moment” is forever lost and that bonding won’t ever happen. Just remember, even infants who need to stay in the hospital for days, weeks, or months still bond fine with their moms. And rest assured that even though your baby will feel comforted and safe with the nurses at the hospital, no one will ever be able to replace you. If bonding only occurred immediately after birth, many adopted babies couldn’t bond with their adoptive moms — and you know that doesn’t make sense.”

Once again, the female mind is completely alien to the less solipsistic. But I can imagine how it would be stressful to think you’ve ruined your baby’s life right off the bat by not having a “love at first sight” experience.

and, of course, stressing out about ambiguous/insufficient social indicators is already a think women do constantly
so in someone predisposed to that, you do have the grounds for a real issue heere
^was thinking about the “not getting signals from your baby” bit, for context
but yes, i think an understanding of the “magic moment” thinking is key to understanding women
women are more than capable of grasping cause-and-effect, of understanding underlying mechanisms…etc
but they have to choose to do it, they have to choose to flip that switch and the default setting is absolutely not “on”
the result is that the experience of being a woman is one in which “things just happen”
note that this is also the case for a lot of men as well

I have, in fact, noted that.

anyway, things jsut happen and it maybe is your fault and maybe it isn’t and this constant stream of “things just happen and i don’t know if it’s my fault” produces the rollar coaster of emotion that is the typcial female experience

See, that’s also the case in my life but I don’t get the roller coaster.
What’s the difference?

i have to imagine this is heightened to extreme degrees following pregnancy, given the massive hormonal changes and (as you’ve noted before) the complete shattering of her view of herself

Yeah, neuroticism in particular is linked to female reproductive hormones. That actually came up in the book.

the intellectual mode is your default way of interacting with the world
things aren’t an emotional experience for you first, they’re more like a problem to be analyzed

Hmm, I wonder.

that’s my guess, at least. And it’s based pretty much on the fact that this is almost always how it is for me

I’m very rational deep down, but I suspect I’m also very emotional deep down.
And I’ve been known to feel feelings very strongly.
To be honest, I suspect there’s an aspect of psychopathy here. I may have strong feelings, but I never expect to feel things at all.
And of course I think I actually have fewer experiences of strong feelings, which helps.

this is one of those cases where i suspect psychopathy isn’t the right word because i think there’s something else going on here
but i’m still developing my theory on this so that’s all i’ve got so far

In proper psychopathy it’s simply the inability to anticipate negative future events, where mine is more broad.
I don’t anticipate positive feelings either.

now that’s interesting…

Anhedonia is a better word.

I will have to thnk about this more!
Anhedonia definitely is the right word in this case…or at least, better than anything that comes to mind immediately

It also helps that I have a great deal of confidence in myself.
Maybe not confidence in general, but at least confidence that I’ll do what I can in a bad situation.
I.e. I expect I would be difficult to kill.

the future is a lot less scary when you have a general idea that you are capable of handling whatever comes at you

It’s not hard for me to imagine nightmarish monsters getting frustrated while trying to kill me.
It’s a hell of a workout to kill a grown man with a machete.
I wonder what series of tangents led from postpartum depression to that statement.

yeah, it’s got to be

If you ever try it, make sure to wear your fitbit so you get the points for it!

All right, so the “bonding at birth” one also isn’t due to feminism so much as magical thinking, naturalistic fallacy, etc.
It’s also not Hallmark movies so much as the belief that good things come naturally and gratify instantly.

yes, definitely

“If you have to really work at it, some people say, then there’s probably something wrong with it. This kind of thinking is fatal to happiness.” -Brian Tracy
I see an enormous amount of this thinking on the Alt-Right, unfortunately.
I heard one really intelligent guy saying he was raising his kids to only consider how attracted they are to someone when picking a mate.
Because he’s all about genetic purity and takes his Nazi ideology very seriously that way.
He’s de facto sacrificing his children to it.
Wish I could beat some sense into him, but unfortunately he’ll learn it late in life through his grandchildren.

natural selection isn’t kind, but it is fair

It just bugs me when smart people waste their smarts for lack of character.
Nothing to be done about it though.
Well, in that one case I mean.

I feel the same way, because smarts theoretically indicates some kind of potential to be better, but you can’t save everybody
You just have to pick the ones you care about enough to try

Iron sharpens iron, but one iron can’t sharpen every other iron.

“Breastfeeding Is Natural, So It Should Come Easily

Stress is suddenly having two watermelons hanging from your chest and thinking you should automatically know what to do with them. After all, women have been breastfeeding for thousands of years — how difficult could it be? No matter how many classes you’ve taken with a doll positioned at your breast, having a real, squirming, chomping, fussing newborn is a whole different experience.

Even when you figure out how to position yourself and the baby just right, more challenges can arise if your baby refuses to nurse or has a difficult time latching on. When this happens, some moms will say “My baby doesn’t like me.” (I tell nurses in the postpartum unit that this type of statement is a warning sign of a depressed mom.) So, just remember that when a baby has difficulty or doesn’t want to nurse, which is extremely common, this has nothing to do with you — it’s not personal.”

Put this one in the same category of people thinking they live in a fairy tale world where you can trust your instincts all of the time.

Two observations so far, going through this list:

1) Feminism isn’t the dominant factor, it’s a small factor in a hodgepodge.
2) If there’s a dominant factor, it’s an unspoken primitivism which resists the idea that people in the past learned how to parent because sensible old people passed the knowledge on via vertical transmission of culture.

Basically: soft, decadent people prefer not to think, read, or learn from experience or the experience of others.
And modern white women, being the most coddled, soft-headed people in the history of the world, are colliding face-first with reality during the hardest moments of their lives.
And they’re going in thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk because they got a degree from Hogwarts.
As if it’s hard for an NPC to do what the professor says to do.

There’s a part of me that wants to make a mock college course.
Black people are good.
A) True
B) False
C) Science


“Mothering Is Instinctual

Parenting, like many things, is learned by trial and error — it isn’t at all instinctual. After all, there’s a reason why so many parenting books are on the market — every parent is searching frantically for the answers. If mothering came naturally, none of these books would be sold. To make things even more complicated, one method of sleep-training, for instance, may work for your first child but not at all for your second. So, as a parent, it’s back to the drawing board.

During my first bout with PPD, I remember thinking “The next person who tells me that I should just ‘know’ what my baby’s cries mean will get a pie in the face.” Either that or I’d start crying because I felt so inadequate. All my daughter’s cries sounded identical. If you feel the same, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. And it doesn’t mean you aren’t “in tune” enough with your child. Some babies are just more difficult to read both visually and audibly. Just don’t take it personally. In fact, if you ask your partner or a support person if he or she can tell the difference between your baby’s cries, chances are you’ll see you’re not the only one.”

This is just reiterating what I said before.
If parenting were instinctual then low-IQ people wouldn’t be such shit parents.
Like most things of this sort (what do I mean by that?), instincts are for listening to but not trusting.
They’re like an extremely smart, extremely manipulative, and extremely shortsighted advisor.

“I Should Feel Satisfied Being a Stay-at-Home Mom”

Some women, even if they held high-powered positions in the workplace before parenthood, feel satisfied working full time at home with their children. If this is you, it may have taken you by surprise. If you’re pleased with your reaction, great. If you’re embarrassed and think, “This shouldn’t be enough to fulfill me,” remember that the most liberated attitude you can have is total acceptance for whatever it is you feel. Discard the “shoulds.”

On the other hand, some women, in order to be the best moms they can be, need to have their intellect stimulated and need to have interesting adult interaction at work outside the home. This is totally normal and it doesn’t make you a bad mom. Remember: To each her own.

Even when you think that you’ll love staying home, you can never tell until you’re there. Most importantly, remember that no one has the “right” answer. Whatever works the best for you and your family is the right answer for you.”

This is a feminist answer to a problem created by feminism.
First of all, there is a right answer and a few wise people have it. You should probably make friends with them.
Second of all, the workplace is the least intellectually stimulating environment on the planet.


Getting right to the point, people who look to their bosses for a feeling of achievement have daddy issues.
Weak fathers.
I suspect people who are really into money have mommy issues, but that one is a lot more speculative.

external motivation in general isn’t something i’ve ever grokked, so i’m not sure i can be of much use here

Third, that Matt Damon speech from Good Will Hunting.
No one is taking away your library card.
No one ever said being a mom means you can’t run a triathlon, submit scientific research papers, write history books, and learn French.
It does, however, mean you can’t sign a contract committing yourself to a hard work schedule for money.
Which is a lot less glamorous when you call it what it is.

If it’s adult conversation you want, well we’re actually in the same boat there.
The only place I’ve found that is on the internet, personally.
And even then it’s a matter of sifting.
But I’ve never met a single person online or IRL who wanted to talk about physics in a serious way.
That includes university students in a physics program.
If that’s what you’re into, I can’t help you.

Anyway, this one is 100% due to feminist bullshit. If women in the past didn’t want to be intellectually stimulated, then no one would have heard of Jane Austen because men are not her audience.

“My Baby Will Be My Companion”

Talk about setting yourself up for failure. Newborn babies are less interactive than puppies.

This is related to a conversation I had with MM a while back. He was playing with the idea of having no high-IQ friends to talk to. I explained to him that normal-IQ friends can fill every need except loneliness.
You can’t feel understood by people who can’t understand shit because their brains don’t work very well.
This need is in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy so you can do without it, but feeling lonely is something to be avoided if possible.

“You can and will, I’m sure, have lots of fun mother-child time together, especially as your PPD lifts. Enjoying each other’s company is special and is something to treasure. Be careful with this fantasy, though, because it’s one that places unfair expectations onto your child. If you need your child to keep you company, you may end up running into problems, especially as she gets older and would, for example, rather play with a friend instead of you (which is normal).

If you’re having (or have had) a baby to, say, take care of your own loneliness or another need of yours, I suggest you find a therapist right away. Expecting a child to fill your void is inappropriate at best, and is a set-up for you both. Especially as your child grows up, becomes more independent, and starts voicing her opinions, it will be extra challenging for both of you if you’re expecting your child to take care of your needs. She has her own, and they need to be respected. And she needs a mom who will take care of her own needs as well.”

This indicates a discomfort with the idea of adulthood and responsibility in general. I wouldn’t categorize that as particularly feminist.

The idea of being friends with your children is very American and particularly Boomer. I will say that the reflexive anti-authoritarianism of feminism contributes to this.
All feminists have trouble with the idea of formal hierarchies, because they want to ascend informal hierarchies (status, prestige, flexes of indirect hard power, etc.).

Zero Dark Thirty, for example, was a very feminist movie (not that I’ve seen it, I’m fact-checking my instinct right now).

it’s a decent movie. wouldn’t say it’s explicitly feminist but definitely implicitly

I was guessing because of the torture aspect, and feminists being into BDSM generally.
Well, I should probably be more specific. Later feminists are all into BDSM, where early feminists were butch dykes.

Oh hay, that was the end of the list!

relevant to the topic, it’s hard to deal with the problem of unrealistic expectations because unrealistic expectations are america’s greates culutural product

Well, we can beat these people with a stick or we can wait for Mother Nature to do it.
At this point the only thing to worry about is pacing myself so I don’t wear out my belt hand.

the problem with enlightenment is that even if you can be enlightenened when hit with a stick, it still takes a lot of hits to save one person
still, nobody ever said that doing good in the world was going to be easy
more broadly, all things worth doing are hard

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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4 Responses to Owl convo slash part 2 of “Ten common fantasies about being a new mother re: feminism and postpartum depression”

  1. Pingback: Ten common fantasies about being a new mother re: feminism and postpartum depression | Aeoli Pera

  2. what says:

    >I don’t anticipate positive feelings either

    That’s just autism, in the looser sense of the word, in the sense of being robotic and ‘rational’. It took me into I was a teenager to finally acknowledge that the feelings I do feel are actually at all relevant to anything at all, and not just human error. Then I learned ignoring my feelings, whatever they are, makes no rational sense. Figuring out that intuition could lead to valuable insight was a great discovery. Too bad I’m actually hopelessly neurotic.

    You can deal with loneliness for a couple of years but it’ll eventually develop into a Hyde subpersonality, then it becomes a prerequisite demand for fulfillment. Watching yourself break out of an establish self-identity isn’t a fun experience.

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