“You may feel a tingling or burning sensation…when the milk lets down…. Don’t be concerned if you feel or see nothing; every mother is different. Simply watch your baby.” —Breastfeeding: A Parent’s Guide
A hair falls out. Notice how your belly hangs over the top of your jeans even at the baby’s three-month birthday—this you tell yourself is unacceptable
even considering everything— breathing tube, feeding tube.
At six weeks he takes up only a sixteenth of the long hospital bed, and you sleep beside him in a recliner for weeks.
The linea negra is fading fading though slower than the last time— let down.
This is what you get you tell yourself
when you let your husband wake with the baby, heat a bottle for the five a.m. feeding— the feeding, implying a sense of organization to the day that no longer exists— a slow swelling a slow swelling a slow swelling to bursting well, leaking really. A slow leaking.
Even three months after the fact you still feel pregnant, still feel your body responding to this other this small boy and the other less-small boy and the husband,
and aside from the two dogs you’re the only ♀ in the family.
You feed them feed them feed them—
let down again which means/is a sign that you’ve been away too long, a wet and heavy indication and don’t you feel the least bit guilty?
Poor husband— left alone with a toddler and a baby— can you imagine?
Remember pushing the stroller, less-small boy in his seat dogs straining their leashes small boy growing in your belly, you push pull (yank, really—dogs straining against their collars) and carry them home.
And another hair, more hair, handfuls of it each morning in the shower, a strand diapered in with the baby— be sure to check! one mother posts to the new-parents chat room, a cautionary tale: one of those hairs wound round the baby’s toe and she hadn’t noticed until it was almost too late and the baby almost lost his toe almost this shedding hair not just another of the indignities of birth and beyond but a danger to the family, a danger to the digits of the small boy— you and your shedding hair and your negligent-mother ways responsible for him having nine rather than his original ten ten fingers and ten toes! someone always announces triumphantly at the birth digits.
At night kiss the less-small boy’s cheek warm, chubby snoring, cockeyed in his toddler bed and be careful not to wake the baby.
And when the baby wakes— 2:45 three a.m. feeding be careful not to wake the husband, the less-small boy. Tiptoe through the dark house baby at your breast.
The dogs shift in their beds, repositioning themselves, irritated at being woken yet again by your arrival yet again crying bundle in your arms in the middle of the night.
They resume their gentle snoring, and upstairs the husband, the less-small boy snoring, too. The baby nursing, falling slowly back into sleep.
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