Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
They Say Nine Months On Nine Months Off

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Except the baby is right here
breathing in my arms.

My body is just a whole different body
ligaments longer, softer
stretched by 40%, my doctor said,
ruined.

He is young, about to have a baby of his own.
I don't tell him
bodies are not ruined
by this blooming.

People comment on the baby weight
again, coming off

And I think of the baby strapped to my chest
the springtime sun right here in arms
breathing miraculous ragged breaths
and how the midwife said you are a good mammal.

I know a woman who has heartburn
from pregnancy, years after her son's birth.
She said they change you forever and labor—
it's just one day of your life.

How I clung to that in the silvery unreal
hours of the morning, walked
through contractions
until my legs unhinged
I sat on the sidewalk,
groaning. We are made
to change like water, conduit
and rushes, cycles and waves.

The baby, she is right here
a whole ocean—
and they worry
about the weight.


Jamie Shanahan (maiden name Houghton) is a poet, essayist, and teaching artist.  She published her poetry chapbook, Burn Site in Bloom, under that name with Musehick Publications in 2017, and her work has been featured in many journals, such as High Desert Journal, Magnolia Review, Picaroon Poetry, Thief Fiction, Utterance: A Journal, and more. Last year, she won second and third place in The Source Weekly’s poetry contest. In her spare time, she refinishes furniture, walks in the woods, and spoils her husband, daughter, and three dogs.


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