Love Works Like This: Moving from One Kind of Life to Anotherby Lauren Slater
“Is even the most clenched heart capable of it?” Lauren Slater asks about love, in this original, eloquent, and illuminating book about how we discover what love truly is. Slater, career-oriented and willfully autonomous, charts her own personal journey and decision-making process, starting with a list of the pros and cons, about having a child. The cons are many, the pros only one: “learning a new kind of love.” But what will that love look like? How does one reconcile the needs of the self with the demands of others? How do couples go from the dyad that is a marriage to the triad that is a family? And how can Slater adjust to losing precious control of her own carefully developed life?
Slater’s complex biological and psychological history also lies at the core of this unique and yet strikingly universal story. One of the first people ever to take Prozac, she chronicles the impossibly conflicting advice regarding pregnancy and antidepressants, and explains the rationale behind her eventual decision to stop taking the medication during her first trimester. This is Slater’s first encounter with self-sacrifice, and for her a crossroad at which modern medicine and basic human love meet.
Love Works Like This is a richly written book by “an enormously poetic and ebullient writer” (Elle magazine), an author who writes with “beauty and bravery” (Los Angeles Times Book Review) about falling in love, about growing into the ability to put someone else’s life ahead of your own, and about the rich rewards we can draw from the courage to exchange one kind of happy life for another.
- Random House Publishing Group
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- 5.20(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.78(d)
Read an Excerpt
You can hold it in your hand. You can define it, a multipronged sex steroid with an exacting beauty and a mission inscripted in its code. If you peered closely, and if you had, on top of that, excellent eyesight, you could see progesterone, its molecular pattern like a series of tiny tiles forming a ring. The tiles are weightless, and yet indescribably weighty. They are not glass, or clay; they are not granite, and certainly not cement, but they are indescribably weighty, planetary almost, as heavy as the moon, as certain sucks of air that bring down planes and birth big winds, progesterone. Respect it, as a hormone, as a physical force, for it is, she is, the primary chemical of pregnancy—pro-gestation—she is heat.
The first symptom of pregnancy, days before the store-bought test turns its colors, is heat. Under the influence of progesterone your body’s temperature edges up as much as one degree. In a body built for homeostasis, that degree is significant. Raise the earth’s temperature a simple single degree and the tarmac will melt, the seas swell. Similarly, raise the body’s temperature just this tiny increment and it will mean one of two important possibilities. You are fighting an infection. You are building a baby.
Which has, just this minute, slipped down the piping of the fallopian tubes and is burrowing into the uterus. At this point, the baby is very small, smaller than the hormone which sustains it.
The baby is a few, marvelous cells, and very unstable. A simple glitch and it will bleed out your openings. Progesterone, on the other hand, is solid. Its cells, like tiny tiles, strong as a suck of wind; it brings the baby down.
The strange thing is, progesterone is so similar to testosterone in its excellent design and yet so different in its spirit.
Progesterone is undeniably female. It is, or she is, made not of protein, like the peptide hormones are, but of fat. Many molecular structures in our body are held together by protein, but the sex steroid progesterone is held together at its core by cholesterol, so maybe, in your hand, it has a Crisco quality; maybe it casts not a shadow but a shine.
Like the neurotransmitters—serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, which send chemical signals to the brain with a da da dum—progesterone tells your brain—da dum, da dum—to build up the endometrium in the uterus. In this sense, progesterone is not a minimalist hormone. It leans toward excess, toward velvet, toward a thickening of the blood. Under its spell, the womb’s endometrial mat goes from a thin brown covering to a thick crimson pile, a wild, expensive carpet, bedding fit for a king. No amount of money could buy a mattress with the thickness, the precision, the pure comfort that progesterone produces; here is where you started your first perfect sleep. Shhh. Every night, when we lie down, we remember this, our original bed. Shhh. Quiet now. Your period is late. Maybe, inside of you, you can hear her coming.
Meet the Author
A 1999 National Magazine Award nominee, Lauren Slater has a master’s degree in psychology from Harvard University and a doctorate from Boston University. Her work was chosen for the Best American Essays/Most Notable Essays volumes of 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999. Her previous book, Lying, was chosen by Entertainment Weekly as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2000. Slater lives with her family in Massachusetts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Another reviewer wrote"She doesn't seem interested in the baby." This is typical of Slater, she's written of permanently having no interest in her husband either. It must be hell on earth in this woman's house.
I thought this book was incredible. So compelling and lyrical and honest and sad and celebratory all at the same time. I'm going to go and order all of Slater's other books.
Thinking this to be a book about a mother's love for her baby, it is more a book about self-preservation. She doesn't seem interested in the baby and says that motherhood is "entirely undramatic, filled with small pleasures and multiple inconveniences". Perhaps this is true for Slater. For me, motherhood is a reward that requires constant work but gives equal joy. Her husband seems more concerned with their baby; he hates formula and when mom Slater suggests that they let their baby (then just 2 mos.) cry it out, he replies "That's barbaric." However, this is a good book for women who didn't truly connect with their babies from the start and need to know that they are not alone. Plus, Slater is an excellent writer... it's just not for moms who really love being moms