So I’ve always secretly believed that maternal instinct is built into all of us women, its just something that comes naturally and is inside each of us, while paternal instinct is more a learned instinct that grows over time after the arrival of a child into a family. Its been an interesting two months watching W with Ava. The conclusion? Maternal instinct is a far more natural instinct than paternal. What comes as second nature to me when handling my daughter does not come as easily to W.
As an example, she’s not feeding every night anymore and so as a result, W and I alternate turns in getting up for her so that we each get an equal number of full nights rests. However, W seems to believe that he is drawing the short straw each time. You see, on the nights when I get up to give Ava her bottle at around 2am, I go quietly into her room, change her nappy, prepare her bed and giver her her bottle without any talking and very limited eye contact. Usually within 30 to 40 minutes she’s finished her bottle and has past out in my arms. I simply walk into her room, plop her into her prepared bed, turn on the baby monitor, walk out and close the door and go back to bed.
W is not so lucky and he gets upset when I ask if he’s not doing something that disturbs her. For him a 2am feed takes about 2 hours. Involves lots of frustration, putting her in her swing while he makes a new bottle for her after she’s finished the first one. Lots of walking, lots of rocking and about 10 attempts at putting her down before finally getting her to go to sleep. I’m starting to wonder if she’s not just playing up because its him? Or if he’s doing something that disturbs her or keeps waking her. Its hard for me to understand why we have such completely different experiences and its frustrating for him to have to go through this each time its his turn to see to her.
I’ve really begun to wonder if it doesn’t come down to maternal versus paternal instinct. Perhaps I’m just better at reading her and knowing what she wants when she wants it. I’m really not sure what to make of it, except that my poor husband is at his wits end!