Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

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Don't fool yourself. Don't waste your time with that. It's better to eat now and drink water, and wine, also, because later on there will be no stopping, no respite, no sleep and no meal.

You will meet shock, sharp as pins, and have side stitches that will stop your breath. Shock is clean pain, in pure form. Nothing happens to your own body but parts of you that could have become other things stop living. You open up your entire bloodline to conductive piping and analysis, grab the rolling post, and go at a blind run.

No stranger to shock, however, your partner will know what to do. He'll stop you, lay you down, helpless, bring up your legs, comfort you, and make promises. This is a technique to pass the first hours but will be impossible to tolerate. The unbridled agitation in your joints alone will make you scream, never mind the news. But the job of mollifying is what he must do. Allow it or suffer extra guilt later.

You will look into the grave, you'll have to. You may be rendered anything: helpless, despairing, enraged, it won't matter. It'll be as if they've ripped the book or the baby from your arms.

Because all has been optimism until this moment. Your humble, sleepless lurching has been worthwhile, you've been insatiable, the wanting never abated as you expected, it became engorged. The sun only belongs to you, everyone agrees with that most literally. The purging of your heart, the milking of your every force, is quintessential and remorseless and beyond sound; often all you are is the reverberation of what you were and what you offer, you are a ringing in your own ears, your offspring, a bell.

He, however, will be less moved: stalwart, familiar, full of respect, but saddened. His earth will rock a little, like a hammock, while yours pitches right off the axis into freefall.

Afterward, you'll begin to stitch something back together, but it won't be the same. For him, everything will be the same, even you.

You'll eat together, but he'll eat more. First hungry, then you'll slacken, become ineffective, liberated.

You'll climb into a boat together, go away across the river to see a friend in mourning, not make it, and come back.

The diagnosis.

Jessica Steiner of Jackson Heights, Queens, writes the blog SWEET ANIMAL about her 6-year-old son with autism and her 4-year-old daughter with extreme attitude. She has a long-suffering husband and an overindulged pit bull.

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This is gorgeous and captivating.
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