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Thread: On Maternity and the Fickle Finger of Instinct

  1. #1 On Maternity and the Fickle Finger of Instinct 
    Forum Masters Degree invert_nexus's Avatar
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    It is the lot of the female, for the most part, to bear the greatest burden in caring for young. And instinct insures that the female is especially suited to this. To watch the young with a jealous eye. To watch the environment with a cautious eye. To eye the jealous with a vicious mind. To keep the young together. To teach them the ways of the particular species. To feed the young. To teach the young to feed.

    The list of the duties of motherhood is long. And, for the most part, the rewards are purely hormonal (aside from the reward of passing on genes which I'm not getting into here.)

    I've sat here and watched this little mother caring for her babes and at the same time watching another bigger mother going through paroxysms of her own in response to the little mother's brood.

    Instinct.

    The little mother has never given birth before. This is her first time. Imagine what it must be like to be an animal and pregnant for the first time. Instinct and hormones promote behavior but they cannot promote understanding. Six little puppies were wriggling around inside of her. Fighting for space. Imagine what she must have thought was happening. Parasites? Worms? Of course, she most likely never even considered the matter with that degree of understanding (although she had worms as a puppy and might equate the sensations as something similar. I.e. something inside moving around.)

    The hormones made her feel good about the situation. Made her not worry. Made her unconcerned (I should think). She didn't seek to understand her condition. The hormones were enough.

    (I understand that dogs don't seek understanding of things. I am unable to prevent a touch of anthropomorphism here.)

    The day of the birth she woke up acting strange. We had prepared a kennel for her. Nice and dark. Plenty of padding to round off the corners. She spent the day in there. Normally she is whining for release but on the day of birth she knew that was where she needed to be. She would go through cycles. In the kennel for a bit. Then out of the kennel for a while. I imagine it was a consequence of the coming and going of uterine contractions.

    But she knew.
    Instinct.

    And finally. At the end of the day. When the birth pangs began in earnest. She knew just what to do. She showed no surprise that these little gooey sacks of wriggling vermin were excreting themselves from her contracting uterus. She didn't pause to consider the oddity of the situation. She merely bent down and ate the placentas off of them. One by one. And cleaned them of the amniotic fluid. And chewed off the umbilical cords. All in accordance with the will of nature.
    Instinct.

    And now. She lays there. Teats full of milk and nourishment for these strange gifts she has been given and she guards them. The other dogs come close and she guards them jealously. The children come near, the same. Only with the adults that she has come to trust does she allow them to draw near to her precious little things. But, even then she cannot withhold that surge of jealousy when one of us reaches for her babies. She hunkers in and sniffs and licks. Puts her legs over them. Inspects us closely making sure we haven't surreptitiously abscounded with one of her wriggling brood.
    Instinct.

    She can't count. And I wonder if she can be sure that they are all there? Does she suspect that perhaps some have been taken? She was taken to the vet for a checkup and she was angered by the casual treatment this stranger treated her young with. Her little things. Does she, in her secret heart, suspect that there has been a theft? Does she wonder?
    I wonder.

    Instinct.
    Strange and wonderful instinct.


    And the big mother, you ask?
    Ah. Thought you never would.
    My sister-in-law. With a brood of her own.
    Not only her own brood, but at the moment she's fostering two children from another family because their mother was unworthy of children. Unwilling to care for them as they must be cared for.
    This big mother is full of the mothering instinct and she is willing where the other is not.

    (And yet, remember the jealousy. Imagine the jealousy of the deprived mother of this usurper who has her little ones? And imagine the contempt (reversed jealousy) of the big mother towards the other mother. Ah. Motherhood. Lovely, isn't it?)

    Now. I mention the big mother here for a specific reason. Because as I've been observing the little mother, so too have I been observing the big. Just days ago, she laid out such care onto her foster children. Little baby waking up in the night crying and loving mother awakes to care for baby. So sweet. Lovely. Innocent?

    But now. With these new babes. Babes of another. What has happened to that care for these foster children? It still exists, certainly, but diminished. Last night when the baby cried, she came out and was not very nice at all with it. No, cooing or kissing. Just. "Shutup." "What are you crying for?" "Go to sleep." Flat. Almost unemotional.

    And. Guess who she checked on first?
    Guess?
    You can guess.


    So. I'm curious as to the fickle nature of instinct.
    The problem with this observation is a simple one.
    The two broods are broods of other.
    It'd be far more telling if the child that she was treating more casually with the advent of the new brood was her own.
    Perhaps I'm witnessing a shifting of a secondary instinct. Could there be a difference in instinct directed towards one own true offspring and the offspring of other?

    And as to the jealousy. Little mother does show jealousy towards humans but devotes the brunt of her aggression towards her own species. Significant?


    One final thought. What of males? What part do they play? I have no males to observe. Not of the same species as little mother, anyway. That male is off somewhere else unconcerned with the result of his breeding.

    And the males of my own species? They're all coo-coo for puppies but practically indifferent to foster children.
    Just last night the big mother was talking about the deprived mother. Talking about how three of her children were already 'adopted' (their father now has full custody) and the tone of her voice was pure smug. My brother then takes part in the conversation saying that by the fact that the deprived mother isn't in jail that means that she is at least on the right track and that he wants her to have her children back.
    At this point, the big mother looked a bit chagrined and agreed. But, she did so half-heartedly. She would kill the deprived one if she had to.


    Motherhood.
    Maternal instinct.
    Fickleness.
    Jealousy.

    The body is a strange thing.


    Edit:
    An added thought.
    The puppies are valuable. A minimum of 600 dollars each. So this likely adds to the incentive of the big mother. But nothing to the little mother. Heh.

    Also. This is in the wrong forum. Isn't it? SHould be in behavioral science. Sorry bout that. Not used to the subdivisions in here.


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  3. #2  
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    coll, the puppies were stolen.... (101 dalmation's)

    it is all instinct i think,

    i was sitting in a doc office , and there was a clinic for babies to be born. one mom , had her 2 year old with her.

    th e2 year old was walking round the corner.. but kept coming back.. but beyond the corner was a door to outside.

    now the mom , she was sitting .. look'd calm a little worried, but then suddenly got up and went to the child as the child was going for the door.

    the door , child, were beyond the corner, out of eye view of the mom.

    now either the mom had an mental worry.. ( seriously she wasn't bothered till the child was about to go out....) because she couldn't see the 2 year old....

    or the mom saw the worryt in my eye's( because i could see the baby+ door+ danger)

    so was it an unseen instinct?

    it later emereged that the mom , could see the shadow of her Baby .. and once it was gon.. she went looking....

    i just thought it was revelent....

    another thing is...

    sheep and lamb's.

    the lamb and sheep, can reconize there own bletting .. and hence know which iswich. ever watch a field full of sheep.. and lamb's, cool .


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    Feel free to correct any false information, which unknown to me, may be included in my posts. (also - let this be a disclaimer)
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  4. #3  
    Forum Isotope (In)Sanity's Avatar
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    because she couldn't see the 2 year old
    Eeeshhh, still not a very good mother to let a 2 year old out of sight for a second. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just not a good practice.
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  5. #4  
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    true...but i was sorta watching her too... and i betcha the mom know that..

    and the baby kept coming back to see the mom, by looking round the corner
    Stumble on through life.
    Feel free to correct any false information, which unknown to me, may be included in my posts. (also - let this be a disclaimer)
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  6. #5  
    2112
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    The instinct doesn't really kick in until after the birth when the puppies make noise. Neither does the breast milk, which would hurt her if her puppies didn't drink it. Plus, when they do, some kind of calming hormone is released and it makes the mom feel good. Biology and instinct seem to go hand in hand.
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    Invert:
    There is something about all the 'babe' and 'little mother' in your thread makes this sound like Ender commenting on Baywatch aliens.

    And as to the jealousy. Little mother does show jealousy towards humans but devotes the brunt of her aggression towards her own species. Significant?
    I don’t think its as much jealousy as it is anxiety when she sees you holding them.
    Ever seen how a woman looks on children when they ask to hold her baby? Especially if it’s a new mother, which makes her understandably annoying oops anxious.

    Your little mother quite rightly does not trust a clumsy human with her babies, the way a new mother would not trust a child handling her infant.

    Small ramble-
    My smallest dog is a BITCH- a loner and vicious, towards all the other dogs and strange humans.
    The only people who know her as ‘sweetheart’- all be it a guarded one- are her caretakers, which is us.
    She’s so cool.

    So logically (or naturally?), I think, her instincts are less guarded against those who care for her as opposed to those that never have.
    Like other dogs and strangers.

    But now. With these new babes. Babes of another. What has happened to that care for these foster children? It still exists, certainly, but diminished. Last night when the baby cried, she came out and was not very nice at all with it. No, cooing or kissing. Just. "Shutup." "What are you crying for?" "Go to sleep." Flat. Almost unemotional.
    Qua mother.

    Anyway, I think its wedding syndrome.
    Or…whatever people call what happens to married couples when they go to weddings.
    The wife will wax nostalgic and turn to the balding miser sitting next to her and all in love again see him young and fresh the way she knew him.
    Her eyes see a full head of hair now where the world sees only sausage.

    This happens to august mothers when they see new mothers also, or for the first time hold their grandchildren.
    They get all instinctual and want to mother you and when they can’t go off and give to charity. Those inflamed with motherhood, I hear, feed their fetish with Chinese (ever been struck by how common it is to see 50 year old parents with cutesy wootsy Chinese babies?)

    Maybe this is why ‘big mother’ was all a sudden so much warmer to her real children than her fostered ones.
    She feels her body again.

    (And yet, remember the jealousy. Imagine the jealousy of the deprived mother of this usurper who has her little ones? And imagine the contempt (reversed jealousy) of the big mother towards the other mother. Ah. Motherhood. Lovely, isn't it?)
    How is contempt ‘reversed jealousy’?

    Motherhood as a power dymanic among pathetic mothers, ok.
    But en general?

    She can't count. And I wonder if she can be sure that they are all there? Does she suspect that perhaps some have been taken? She was taken to the vet for a checkup and she was angered by the casual treatment this stranger treated her young with. Her little things. Does she, in her secret heart, suspect that there has been a theft? Does she wonder?
    I wonder.
    Excellent.
    What a gorgeous bitch

    We kept a stray once under the house (named her Canti, neat dog)
    And she gave birth to eight.
    I, a curious wench, took one away and gave it a bath to see what would happen.

    When I put the pup back in, smelling clean, she treated it as an intruder.
    So it wasn’t one missing that did it.
    It wasn’t human intervention playing around with them.
    It wasn’t even purposely making them cry out in ‘pain’ that did it (bite or pinch the ear and the runt will squirm)

    What made her finally suspect something was the taking away its natural smell.
    Her pup looked no different than when before I took it, it was the exact same pup with the only thing that changed being its smell- and it was not even gone for long.
    This tells me that familiarity is smell, not sight.

    212
    The instinct doesn't really kick in until after the birth when the puppies make noise.
    What?

    Then what of the odd behaviour days before birth?
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  8. #7  
    Forum Masters Degree invert_nexus's Avatar
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    Abraxas,

    There is something about all the 'babe' and 'little mother' in your thread makes this sound like Ender commenting on Baywatch aliens.
    Funny. While writing it I felt more like the alien observing the curious creatures of Ender's homeworld. To an alien they all look alike. These fleshy things with teats and instincts.

    I don’t think its as much jealousy as it is anxiety when she sees you holding them.
    Good point. Perhaps you're right. I think you're partly right. Anxiety and jealousy combined.

    Witness. We check on them quite often too make sure that things are going smoothly. They were born 5 days early and we have been told that we're lucky that none have died. Even the runt is still alive.

    Anyway, often when I check on them one or more of the babes are stuck behind her and are whining and crying because they can't find a teat on her back. Well, what's your friendly local fiend supposed to do in a situation such as this? Open up the kennel. Crawl inside. And help them out. Each time I reach inside and behind her, she quickly whips her head about to watch (and smell) as I grab each one and deposit them in front of her. The anxiety is plain in her demeanor. She is worried that I am too clumsy to deal with them properly. That I'm going to hurt them accidentally. But. When I'm done, she continues to observe my hands carefully. And she won't relax until I stick my empty hands in front of her face so that she can smell that they are empty. That I'm not running off with her babies.

    So. I think it's both.

    However, this is an interspecies interaction. To her, we humans are something powerful and awe-inspiring. She trusts us. In fact, we had to change her box because the first box had the u-shape cut too low and the puppies kept wriggling out. Or, she'd get excited, jump up, and start barking with them still attached to her teats and she'd drag them out of the box. She'd nose them around desperately trying to get them back in the box, but in then end she would wine and moan until a human would come to help her. For some reason she doesn't want to pick them up with her mouth. She worries about them so.

    Anyway, in an interspecies relation such as this, the anxiety is present with only aftershocks of jealousy. But, in the same species relationships of these other dogs running about... there is no anxiety. It's all jealousy. The puppies whine and squeal and sound just like so many of their chew toys that it's uncanny. The other dogs are always trying to get up close to see what's going on in there. And the little mother hates it. She doesn't want them anywhere near her puppies. I suppose this could be a sort of anxiety as well though. Fear that the other dogs are going to eat her puppies.

    So. Do you think that I've anthropomorphized the situation too much then? Too bad Fraggle's not around. I know he'd have something to say on the subject.

    My smallest dog is a BITCH- a loner and vicious, towards all the other dogs and strange humans.
    Is this the one that holds a grudge?

    So logically (or naturally?), I think, her instincts are less guarded against those who care for her as opposed to those that never have.
    What about dogs that she was raised with? For instance, little mother was raised with another Pom and they're constantly cleaning each other and playing with each other. But all that has gone out the window in the face of these puppies. Doesn't grooming count as 'caring for'?

    It's kinda strange. Dogs are social animals and in the wild, they actually allow their young to be raised by the pack. (Dealing with wolves here.) The mother leaves the young with a surrogate mother at times while she goes out to hunt. But in dogs (this dog anyway) the instinct is subsumed. The only acceptable surrogates are the humans. The other dogs are all threats. Perhaps it is only becuase they are so young. Perhaps even wolf mothers guard their young ferociously until their eyes and ears have opened. Fraggle, wherefore art thou?

    Qua mother.
    Explain what you mean when you say Qua. I've seen you use it several times and it always reminds me of qualia, but I know that's not it. I've looked it up and it has something to do with roles? As in she's in the role of mother? Identifies herself as mother? Something like that?

    Maybe this is why ‘big mother’ was all a sudden so much warmer to her real children than her fostered ones.
    Ah. No. You misunderstand. It's not her own children that she is showing additional warmth to. It's the puppies. It's as if her mother instincts are now being directed towards the puppies rather than the fosterlings.

    But. It's not so much that she doesn't mother the fosterlings. She still cares for them. She just isn't so... sweet and good-natured about it anymore. In a way, you could say that she's being more real about her mothering them than she was before. Before they were cute little things. Bright and shiny. But now the sparkle's been removed and she sees them as little mischievous fuckers and not dolls.

    How is contempt ‘reversed jealousy’?
    When I first wrote this, I knew exactly what I mean. I'm afraid it's gotten a bit hazier since then. Basically what I was saying is that there is a relationship of jealousy between mothers. The deprived mother has every right to be jealous. It's her babies that have been taken away after all. But the big mother (sister-in-law) also feels jealous in that she doesn't want the real mother to have her children back. She doesn't stop to think of what if it happened to her. Oh no. If she did that then it would make her look bad. Dirty baby thief that she is. No. She holds the real mother in contempt, not really for what she's done or hasn't done, but just because she exists and is threatening to take back the fosterlings someday. The big mother expresses her contempt so smugly. Expressing with glee the condition of the deprived mother. Why? So that she can keep the children. No other reason. So that she can maintain the theft. And rationalize it to herself as right.

    Motherhood as a power dymanic among pathetic mothers, ok.
    But en general?
    Maybe so. Maybe it is only among the pathetic. That's all I have to observe at the moment.

    I, a curious wench, took one away and gave it a bath to see what would happen.
    Wow. I never would have thought that you would have interfered like that. Was this long ago? What happened to the puppy? Did you keep it and bottle-feed it then?

    This tells me that familiarity is smell, not sight.
    Absolutely. Dog's olfactory bulbs are huge, after all.
    I wonder if they can determine the loss of a pup through smell though.

    As an aside, even human mothers identify their baby through smell.


    2112,

    The instinct doesn't really kick in until after the birth when the puppies make noise.
    Yeah. What Abraxas said. The body was getting ready for the puppies long before they arrived. Even the calm acceptance of the wriggling parasites inside the womb is evidence of this.

    Neither does the breast milk, which would hurt her if her puppies didn't drink it.
    I don't think it would really hurt her. If it wasn't used by the pups then it would just stop being made.


    goodgod3rd,

    it later emereged that the mom , could see the shadow of her Baby .. and once it was gon.. she went looking....
    Mothers of toddlers need to utilize every energy saving strategy possible. The shadow was an excellent tactic. Reflections would also work. And a lot can be deduced from sound as well.




    While we're at it, the little mother has begun a new pattern of behavior.
    Digging.
    She is constantly nosing around the towels and blankets in her kennel. Pushing over her water and food bowls. Digging inside her box. And when she is let out for a bathroom and exercise break she jumps up on the couch and tries to dig in the cushions.

    It's like she's obsessed.
    She gets frustrated when she doesn't start digging through the cushions and starts whining like it's the end of the world.

    The only thing that I can figure is that her instincts are telling her to dig a burrow. But, shouldn't this have happened before birth? Not after?
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  9. #8  
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    ... hey.. instinct...
    thinking . my cat is soo damm smart. he found another cat on his terroity today.

    cat b,, the new cat form round town... was watching our house... cheakin it out for the past 2 months/
    my cat caught it today and they fought . i chased them... save my cat.

    my cat always sits on our back door step.

    but today.. after i cahsed cat B.. she returned to the door .. but quickly cahnged to under the car

    suprise attack!!!

    instinc of fighting..or smarts?
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  10. #9  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    The cat was protecting its territory. The attacking is not an instinct as such but just a means or a response to the "outrage" of another male cat intruding on "his territory."

    I am surprised that you all seem to grasp that our human responses are also instinctive. You know, I suppose, that this is an unwelcome concept to the religiously faithful. To them, we are by nature "cursed" beings originally "made in the imgage of God." Also, it is offensive to our secular concept of "free will." It is even offensive to Marxists who have to believe in the total maleability of human nature in order that we can, ultimately, be shaped to live in egalitarian utopias! So, an accurate understanding of human nature has to butt up against immense obstacles!

    What happens is that we have a whole series of instincts covering motherhood, hunting and social grouping. We are enabled to function in such immense hunting-gathering groups we now call "societies" only because we have common belief systems which enable us to condition or focus the way we express our emotions and instincts. They enable us to focus or condition them similarly so we can live together with the least disharmony.

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