Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Postpartum Androgens

A wild noise like someone scrambling to get in through the roof woke me a few nights ago. I was out of bed, alert, feeling down into her bassinette with one hand checking, staring into the dark hall outside the bedroom door. The noise came from the end room where we'd left the window open.

Normally I'd probably tiptoe to the door and peek but I marched around the corner into the room with blood pulsing through my face and straight across towards the window.

I stopped a couple of yards away, there letting my brain rouse itself from slumber. Several seconds went by, the noise, nothing visible in the window, me standing there, absolutely ready to kill anything that poked its head through.

It was hail.

I let out half a laugh but inside I was still wound up. Beloved thought it was hilarious.

"Did you think it was hail, or something else?" I demanded, to which she shrugged "Hail."

She trundled back in to check on little bear while I went downstairs to move a couple of boxes of books that were in a flood-spot in the garage. As I reached the foot of the stairs I saw that the sliding door appeared to be open. I tiptoed across the dark lounge and felt for the sliding bolt- yes, it was unlocked. I didn't move for a few seconds while I scoured the space between me and the kitchen. The pulsing blood was back.

I moved quickly across to the implement rack and selected something hard and definitive. I peered in every corner, the spare loo, the space under the stairs where we keep the wine alongside a yoga mat and vacuum cleaner. On autopilot. I moved quickly, using the shapes in the dark as I'd learned in cadets years ago and from walking in the bush at night in Kakadu.

Of course, we'd left it open. No-one else was in the house. Bear and beloved were safe. Me too, given I would not exactly set the world on fire as a Bruce Willis type. And after I calmed down I reflected for a long time.

I'm different, it's hormonal. And it's really striking and powerful; a drug.

Some fool on TV had a careless accident, almost killed a toddler, and I'm baying for the fool's blood. Abusing the constabulary when no charges are announced.

I see this:

Ms Stingel said she did not tell her father, who has since died, about the alleged rapes at the hands of Mr Clark and other men, fearing that he would have killed them."Dad would have shot them all, we would not have been here today," she said.

I think, blood oath, rightly so.

I have serious all-in arguments with people who appear to be defending any conduct at all that remotely and indirectly threatens my bear.

I'm not walking around angry, quite the opposite, I've been on an incredible high since the birth. It's just there, it just takes over when the elements of threat appear.

And I don't think I'd act on it unless the most desperate of situations prevailed. I hope not, little bear needs a dad here, by her side, not dead or in gaol.

But it's fascinating for what it teaches me about ancestry, origins and instinct. Because if you felt what I felt (and maybe some of you have) you'd know that this is chemical, a male variant of the mother's intense protective and nurturing instinct. It is visceral, no mere social construct, as much as it appears to play to so many constructs with their apparent origins in myth and legend.

The instinct is simple, and absolute. In the cave, mum's feeding and keeping bub warm. Dad's at the entrance, killing anything unfamiliar that tries to come in, or dying in the process.



JahTeh said...

I remember the '83 bushfires when the wind changed at night bringing the fire smell from the Great Ocean Road. Every kid was in the pool across the road but mothers hit that road running to see they were safe.

TimT said...

I am Armagnacd, hear me roar!

cristy said...


They make my blood boil too! As for those Bratz dolls - if one ever arrives in my house...

Anonymous said...

When I stopped taking the pill some years ago now, I got to know hormonally evoked emotions (PMT) and was absolutely astounded by how strong these were. It made me realise that we don't give enough credit to more physical-based and primal emotions and how much we are influenced by them!

Mark Lawrence said...

I know how you feel! Don't get me started about fools who don't stop soon enough at pedestrian crossings – or even fail to stop at all! – when I'm pushing the pram across the road!

Or cars who don't stop behind the tram when it stops to let us disembark (a Melbourne thing, as you know…) with the bub in pram/pusher. The number of times I've wanted to go over and rip side view mirrors off…

Congratulations, btw. I hope you are all well, and getting sleep.

paul said...

You know in a funny way I'm looking forward to those feelings.

I guess I already have them to some extent - I'm super protective of the bump. But by the sound of it that's going to multiply a million-fold.

It's about to become a very different world.

Brownie said...

You used to be a normal human being, and now you exist simply to protect Bebe Armagnac.

Keep up the good work, and avoid reading anything about the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Boysenberry said...

:) All sounds vaguely familiar.