“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.
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
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
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
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
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

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
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

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—
three a.m. feeding
be careful
not to wake the husband,
the less-small boy.
through the dark house
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
falling slowly
back into sleep.

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