Love Works Like This: Moving from One Kind of Life to Another

Love Works Like This: Moving from One Kind of Life to Another

2.6 3
by 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


“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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pregnant women will find much food for thought in Lauren Slater's Love Works Like This: Opening One's Life to a Child. Psychologist Slater (Prozac Diary) remembers how she made the decision to have a child. She made a list of pros and cons, and upon siding with the only "pro" ("learning a new kind of love"), began the journey toward motherhood. In a diary-like format, she tells of her violent mood swings, disturbed appetite and uncertainty at holding a child's dress in her hands and "finding it definitely not cute." Largely a personal, biological and psychological history, Slater's book is ultimately uplifting. (May 21) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Slater (Prozac Diary) prefaces her latest work by emphasizing that it is a "travelog" rather than a diary. This results from her choice of format: an abridged daily planner charting the expansion of her belly, the age of the fetus, and the sometimes beautiful, sometimes scary thoughts of a woman whose life is slowly changing. At the heart of this piercing memoir is Slater's struggle to become a mother in the face of bipolar disorder. At once sad and miraculous, the text reveals the quandary an expectant mother faces when she must take drugs that could harm the unborn child (she stopped taking Prozac during the first trimester but then resumed). It is clear that Slater wrote this not only for women like herself but also for her daughter. In the end, she realized that having a child was as important to maintaining a normal life as was her medication. An original take on an oft-discussed subject, this is highly recommended for all pregnancy and mental health collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From practicing psychologist and noted memoirist Slater (Prozac Diary, 1998, etc.), an unflinchingly honest and evocative account of her decision to have a baby-and its consequences. Happily married, fulfilled by her writing and practice, enjoying the emotional stability her regimen of drugs provides, Slater is ambivalent about becoming pregnant. Her husband Jacob has always wanted a child, but she is wary of maternity. Estranged from her own unstable and vituperative mother, Slater worries that her own mental illness will prevent her from being a good parent. She fears her medications might harm the fetus, but when she stops taking them, all her symptoms return. The progesterone flooding her body in the first trimester, she learns, can bizarrely affect a woman's brain. Prescribed a mix of lithium, Prozac, and Klonopin, she feels more stable but is still apprehensive about her underlying condition and the medications' potential effects. Amniocentesis and two ultrasounds are reassuring, though Slater remains concerned about possible postpartum depression. As she records the usual physical milestones of pregnancy, she also confesses her irrational fears: that Jacob is smitten with an artist who makes mobiles from car tires, that perhaps she should be "an aunt" to the baby and live in a different part of the house. Her labor is long, and she has to undergo a Cesarean. Slater feels proud that she doesn't suffer any postpartum depression, but she takes a few weeks to bond with daughter Eva. When she does, she falls as deeply in love as most mothers do and appreciates that "like so much in life, being a mother is entirely undramatic, filled with small pleasures and multiple inconveniences thatonly over weeks and months leave marks of any significance." Thoughtful and unsentimental, with just a few well-earned warm and fuzzy moments, and particularly encouraging for those taking similar medication who are contemplating pregnancy.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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