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The Afflicted: Sarah Masterson, 37-year-old Alexandria author of child-rearing field guide DC Baby, and mother to two D.C. babies: 4-year-old Ava and 7-month-old Charlie.

Diagnosis: Baby overboard. When Masterson moved to D.C. with husband Noah and 1-year-old Ava in 2005, she struggled to find a handbook for relocating with a baby in tow, so she wrote her own. But Masterson can feel overwhelmed by her postpartum profession. “I have this terrible fear of being the woman who can only talk about being a mom,” she says.

Symptoms: Childlike wondering. The self-published guide (its second edition came out this month) allows Masterson to afford part-time nanny services to lighten the load of raising two young kids. The mental load, however, is more difficult to mediate. “You begin to think, if your creative work is about the mothering and all the other moments about your experience are also about the mothering, does everything else about who you are get lost?” says Masterson, who has been writing professionally since she began covering the police beat for a Texas paper at 18. “I want to fight like hell to not just be someone’s mother. I want to show my daughter that mothers are full human beings.”

Treatment: Foster mothers. Since penning the book, Masterson says she’s taken comfort in connecting with kindred D.C. spirits—fellow moms who can occasionally keep the conversation off the mommy track. “One of the nice outcomes of having written the DCB book is that I’ve gotten connected to lots of other women in D.C. who had high-powered careers before becoming parents,” she says. “So that does give me good company for talking shop instead of talking kids.”

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