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Monday, November 21, 2011

Motherhood Mondays: The best book for mothers-to-be

When I was pregnant, I noticed a funny phenomenon...

Some other mothers, even those who were trying to be nice, would often regale me with "horror" stories about parenthood--from saggy boobs to sleepless nights to temper tantrums. They were probably just trying to be amusing. But I was like, um, dude, did you not notice my giant belly?

So...

After hearing one too many of these stories, I did what any mature 31-year-old would do. I called my mom.

"Will you please tell me some of the good things about becoming a mother?" I asked her, my chin wobbling. "Some of the lovely little moments?"
Happily, she launched into a reverie about how sweet newborn babies are and how you experience beautiful everyday moments with your child that people don't often talk about and how her three children are the joys of her life...

Then she gave me an amazing book: Great with Child by Beth Ann Fennelly. After learning that her friend was expecting a baby, Beth Ann decided to write her friend a letter every day of her pregnancy. She published the letters--all about motherhood, marriage and life in general--in this book, and they're warm, wise and absolutely wonderful.

Since Beth Ann is a poet, her writing is often lyrical. One of my favorite lines: "Has your belly button popped out? Ah, the pregnant belly button: the knot of an overblown balloon, its puckered mouth holding back too much air, the cheeks stretched thin with the effort."

Reading Great with Child renewed my HUGE excitement for Toby's arrival. I was so grateful for this funny, lovely book about motherhood -- it calmed my nerves during my pregnancy, at a moment when I really needed reassurance. It reminded me that motherhood is beautiful and wonderful (which it really is!). I'd highly recommend the book to all pregnant women (especially fellow worriers) -- it's basically a 220-page pep talk!

I'm curious: Which books did you read when you were pregnant? I'd love to hear your recommendations. And did you feel like other moms told horror stories, or were people more ginger around you? xoxo
P.S. Belly shots and pregnancy hair and my mom when she was pregnant in Paris.

164 comments:

{Oh Sweet Escape} said...

i've never been preggers before but the saggy boobs thing really terrifies me. haha. just being honest here.

Stephanie said...

Thank you so so much for posting this! I am five months pregnant and all I get are warnings and horror stories about how I don't know what I'm getting myself into! It's comforting to know there is another mother out there who didn't want the bejeezus scared out of her.

Joanna Goddard said...

omg, stephanie, ha, isn't it the WEIRDEST?! i couldn't believe the things people told me! :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great read! I also have a favorite book I press into the hand of mother-to-be - "Waiting for Birdy" by Catherine Newman. She gets it - the tenderness and the exhaustion you feel - at the same moment. I read it over while nursing my baby and her warm, experienced voice felt like the only friend who understood.

Joanna Goddard said...

waiting for birdy, sounds so lovely! oooh i'm going to look that up.

meesch said...

I'm not pregnant, nor will I be anytime soon, but you're completely right - all I ever hear are horror stories about pregnancies; cravings, weight gain, mood swings... no one ever speaks of how wonderful it is to soon be bringing a new life into the world! NO MORE COMPLAINING LADIES, some of us aren't fortunate enough to experience that miracle!

-meesch
http://www.aperfectkindofday.com

aislin said...

i'm won't be pregnant for a few years (at least!) but i absolutely love your motherhood mondays posts! so much.
and yes, i'll probably go out and buy this book. because you said it was amazing. and because you have really awesome baby bump photos!

Alicia R. Ambler said...

One of the things I've learned through the experience of pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood is to stop listening to what people tell me is going to happen.
They told me I'd hate being pregnant once I hit 8 months, and I was still totally happy to stay pregnant up until I delivered. They told me I'd lose my sense of myself in labor, but I was with it the whole time. They told me I'd start feeling depressed 2 weeks after her birth and the high from labor went away, but I've been riding that wave ever since.
Motherhood has taught me to trust myself and my body, and that's a lesson I'd like to pass on to future pregnant friends :)

Joanna Goddard said...

alicia, such wise words.

abigail jane schrag said...

I am "due" on Saturday, and cannot wait to experience labor. My worries and fears lay hidden behind the fact that I chose to take those horror stories and scrap them. I asked my mom as well to share my own birth which I knew was special and a wonderful moment for her. I started to collect successful labor stories so that when labor starts, which literally could be any moment, I embrace it with a sense of wonder and hope, not fear and horror. And I know it's psychotic to think that I could manipulate my babies emotions about birth as well, but I'd like to believe that my baby can somehow absorb the wonder and magic or birth as well if I am able to project those emotions. I can't wait.

Jessi said...

i have to get this book! i'm 23 weeks preggo and i'm ALREADY freaked by everyone's horror stories...

to add to it i'm also going to be leaving my job (yikes) in order to be a full time mom (then i'll start up a new career as a real estate agent within the first year or so).

i'm so afraid of my changing future! is this a good idea? will i love it as much as i hope i do? what if i'm no good at all this "MOM" stuff...?

and then pregnancy books just scare the living bejesus out of you! i know my body will never be the same, but is that necessarily a bad thing? what if its better? :)

thanks so much for your ALWAYS helpful hints and positive outlook...

me AND my baby appreciate it.

thanks again,

Jessi
finnpuppy@gmail.com

Allison said...

I hated the horror stories, no one ever talked about how wonderful motherhood was, just how awful childbirth was! I actually just wrote a little blog post on 'What I Wish I Knew about Motherhood (Before it Arrived)' www.retrocycled.blogspot.com) I wanted to give my pregnant friends some advice that no one gave me, without being a harpy :)

Thanks for the book suggestion!

robyn said...

Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions was my absolute favorite. It's her journal from her sons first year and it's so honest and reassuring at the same time. Hysterical at times too. My son is almost 2 1/2 now and I was just thinking about the book a couple of days ago...a part I found particulalry amusing. It still made me smile.

Coco said...

Seriously. So many women just keep telling me to wait, it's so much work, it's hard, it's impossible, etc. etc. etc. I'm so tired of hearing it.
As a non-mother, sometimes it feels like they don't think I can handle it. It becomes discouraging. I know I will be a good mom, why are so many people so harsh about it? I understand it will be difficult but the great things usually are. You have to work for the great things. Stop being so negative!!

Sarah V @ Prairie Hive said...

I can't wait to check out this book. I'm at month 7+ of my pregnancy and have been getting increasingly nervous, scared, sad, etc. (AND the horror stories get worse once you get bigger - Geez!). This sounds like a great way to soothe some of those fears and reassure myself that we did the right thing! Thanks!

Chessa! said...

omg. I heard so many awful and crazy things from some people that it made me wonder if they even liked their own children! It was difficult not to roll my eyes half the time. I realized that I was totally judging but isn't funny how people can be like that sometimes? I called my mom and my sister all the time just like you called your mom. It's not like some days I don't feel delirious or overwhelmed but the lovely and amazing definitely outweighs the stressful. And even now sometimes people will see the baby running and happy or whatever and they say things like: "oh, just wait until her molars come in, she won't be so happy then...or just wait until x, y, z and she won't see so happy and easy then..." why do people DO that? I want to say to them: "Even if you think it, can you not control yourself?" does that happen to you now? I feel like in NY it happens all the time bc so many friends have told me that they've had similar experiences.

Anyway, I wish I had this book when I was pregnant since it sounds wonderful and like the perfect gift for any mom-to-be:)

Notes from Holly St. said...

I read Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood throughout my pregnancy. It made motherhood seem fun and hip rather than super serious.

I use to hear horror stories all throughout my pregnancy and I would get so upset because it made me feel even more freaked during an already hormonal and uncertain time. What's funny is that now that my baby is 9 months old and going through her stages, I hear moms still warning me of the things that are yet to come. For example, when she started to crawl all I heard was "Oh, just wait until she starts walking. Then you really have your job cut out for you." But what I've realized is that things are not nearly as scary or difficult as people make them out to be. I'm learning to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. People also told me about the terrible twos and how difficult girls are to raise - none of which I have experienced with my children. Or at least every thing has seemed natural and enjoyable no matter what the stage was called!

Briana said...

I'll have to get myself this book! People have definitely been telling me horror stories and I'm like, "Really? You are really telling me this right now??"

And my belly button is going to pop any day now. I'm hoping for Thanksgiving, just like the meat thermometer on the turkey. ;)

Chase, Paige, baby Link said...

I'm almost 2 weeks overdue with my first and all I hear are negative things and it makes being super pregnant even harder! I'm not even miserable being this pregnant but hearing other mothers tell me their horror stories really frustrates me because I know that being pregnant is a true blessing, not a curse. I'm happy to be pregnant since a lot of women won't be able to experience it.

rebecca said...

I'm not pregnant and not trying yet, but my husband and I know we want to start trying to have kids in the next year or so. My sisters-in-law who have been through pregnancies a few times always get chatting with each other about the horrors of pregnancy. I always have to tell them to quit it! They make it sound like utter and complete misery. BUT I know their sweet children, and even though I'm just the aunt, and not the mom, I can already feel pieces of the great joy children bring. So nothing people say is going to scare me out of my want for children.

Thanks so much for sharing this book. I'll have to look it up when the time comes.

Katie said...

Gift for pregnant friend? Check. This looks like a beautiful book. Thanks for sharing.

Ballad of Seasons said...

absolutely agree with aislin! I'm not a mother-to-be for a few years, but I love your motherhood monday posts Joanna, (and reading them to my boyfriend too :) lots of helpful information here!

xoxo,
Betül

http://balladofseasons.blogspot.com/
@balladofseasons

Barchbo said...

I feel like I spent half my pregnancy saying, "You know that doesn't upset me, but there are a lot of pregnant women who might be upset by what you just said. I am sure you didn't mean it that way."
If people did say things that bothered me, I told them to "stop killing my pregnant mom buzz."

I read the Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy. And a lot of chick lit, since those days seemed to be fading into my rearview mirror with rapidity.

Stacy said...

I have never had any children, nor have I ever been pregnant, but I have experienced this in regards to marriage, (future) pregnancies, menstruation, anything! I've found that people like to highlight what they've made it through by telling others all of the gory details.

courtney - larking. said...

Robyn, I was just going to mention Operating Instructions! Wish I had known about Great With Child -- it sounds wonderful.

I am a crazy book nerd and have read upwards of 20 (really and truly) pregnancy and parenting books (my baby turns 6 months on Thanksgiving!) and the bottom line is that NO book can fully prepare you for any of this stuff. I hate admitting that, but there it is!

Kathy said...

I'm six months pregnant with my first child and I actually hear more positive comments than scary ones. I'm pretty good at scaring myself though. My advice to other expectant moms (and something I should follow, too) is to stay off Google!

Jam-packed Life said...

I'm 15 weeks, and I've got the usual suspect (What to Expect ...). But I've also gotten Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, and I've been reading a couple of birth stories every week. They're so full of positives!

luke and pamela said...

oh i wish i had known about this book! my favorites were written by ina may gaskin - she had me feeling all mama-earthy and wmade me want to simplify and do things the way they did in the 70s. :)

Pink Princess said...

Sounds like a lovely recommendation! Will have to look it up. Thanks for sharing!

Josephine said...

Sounds like a gorgeous book!
Joanna, we were pregnant at the same time (my son Oliver was born just two weeks before Toby :-)

I actually craved ALL information – I lapped up stories, good, bad and ugly. It never put me off! I figured the more I heard/read, the fewer surprises there would be ;-) Of course, it's one surprise after another once the baby actually arrives!

While I try not to give unsolicited stories/advice now that I'm on the other side of the coin, I totally understand why others can't seem to help but share their 'horror stories'. Childbirth and motherhood are such mind bending experiences that you feel the need to talk it out to make sense of it all yourself!

I didn't read any books about parenthood when I was pregnant. I was focussed on preparing myself for labour first! I read and re-read a book called Birth Skills by Juju Sundin. A great read if you're trying for a minimal-intervention birth!

Girlie Blogger said...

Wish I knew about this book when I was pregnant. I just went online and researched as much as I could.

http://www.thegirlieblog.com
http://www.geekettegazette.com

barbye said...

I can totally understand what you're talking about. I am nowhere near pregnant but I feel the world is always trying to scare me. The horror stories are ridiculously too common, and I really wonder sometimes why would I ever consider it?

But I always take a breather and remember in elementary school when you hear about your period. I remember how the education class left us all scared as teachers shared their horror stories about the pain and how there would be days we wouldn't be able to leave the house...things that left us in panic.

Then a couple of years later, that moment came and I didn't even realize it until I got home from school one day. I freaked out and all that mom mushy moments came. And it was all ok.

So I always like to think about that, and assure myself, that this always happens =P

Elise said...

definitely got the horror stories! my doctor told me something interesting though. it was in reference to childbirth, but i think it applies to all aspects of motherhood. she said most women don't tell stories about easy, normal labors and births, because they don't make great stories. same thing with motherhood...you never hear stories about the one time your baby sat quietly playing with toys while you read a book, you hear about the one time your baby refused to eat, and made a mess all over the floor :)

Kate said...

Both my husband and I found people would launch into all the 'horrors' of parenting. I found most books were also filled with 101 things that can go wrong during pregnancy, so I decided not to read anything!

Occupy Style said...

such a great post Joanna! i've bookmarked it for when that time comes... :) thank you!

Anna - Krulik said...

But, you know, I think is good to hear all these horror stories, cause you will be prepare for worst :) and then just nicely disappoint :)
I'm mother of two, in two weeks I will be mother of three :) I know that there are plenty of wonderfull moments but motherhood is not only happy time.

M said...

I have 4 kids and I have to say, I don't recall hearing a lot of horror stories (other than with my first pregnancy, and that was from the nurses running the birth class we had to take). Oh, and a neighbor told me that I might have postpartum depression. Which is always a possibility, but at the time I thought: Way to keep it positive, neighbor!

However, I hosted a baby shower for a friend a couple of weeks ago and was shocked when my best friend started telling the mom-to-be about the difficult birth of her first child. I wanted to say: "Hello? You're scaring her."

B. said...

This is so true...i had complete strangers at every corner tell me : SLEEP NOW!!!!!- it seriously made me paranoid ... thats all i would think about every night while trying to fall asleep... I actually purchased books on how to train your baby to sleep through the night... i was so scared... and then she came... and nothing mattered anymore.. was i tired? sure! but the love i felt was like nothing i ever felt before and it made up for everything i had my baby and i did not care much about sleep.... i also worried about my breasta....they are about half the size they used to be and i am still shocked how much it does not bother me AT ALL.....(all you need is a great bra:)

Martha said...

I really didn't read any pregnancy books, but I did read a lot of childbirth books. I loved Ina May Gaskin's books, Spiritual Midwifery and her others. For me, they were just an amazing pep talk that under all these different circumstances, women gave birth to healthy babies, naturally. It made me approach childbirth like an athlete by making myself emotionally and physically prepared. Of course, like an athlete, the game doesn't always go as planned, but being in a good mind space is a big part of it!

Gab said...

I dispise women's negative, scary comments. I say back "no thanks", or "let me stop ya there, I'm so happy:" Then they tend to feel stupid. I disagree with people when they say just smile and say thanks. Why would I let them feel like they are saying something helpful when they are just producing negativity?

Will definitly pick up this book, thanks!

April in Autumn said...

I was sitting at a lunch table one time with a pregnant co-worker and was terrified by some of the stories the older women were sharing with her. I did not need to know some of that information at this point in my life. I walked away a little pale rethinking my decision to ever have children (which,I'm sure, is temporary). I can't imagine how she felt!

Elizabeth said...

I read 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' when I was pregnant (7 months ago). The advise was clear, supportive and helpful and made me feel much more relaxed. Though I wish I had read something as tender and uplifting as 'Great With Child' too.
I got horror stories a lot and mostly from my mother! The most common story from her was about how when she was pregnant people would tell her awful things - and then she would go on to repeat those things to me!!
I enjoyed pregnancy but found it hard too and I'm LOVING being a mum. The next time I meet a pregnant woman I will stress the joy of mothering (from conception to whenever), and not the temporary discomforts :).

Aya said...

My mom, who has been an L&D nurse for nearly 30 years, still marvels at the beauty and wonder of childbirth and rearing. She always tells me that "we were made for this." Women have been doing this for thousands of years and we're equipped to do it. I find that very comforting and reassuring. Despite all the fear mongering, I know that it's something that I'm, that we're all, completely capable of doing.

My mom gave my best friend Ina May Gaskin's book, which my friend found inspiring and comforting. My friend was confident, excited and calm and owed it to this book. My mom keeps about a half dozen of these books at all times to give to people. Though I haven't given birth yet, I've read it and highly recommend it.

http://www.amazon.com/Ina-Mays-Guide-Childbirth-Gaskin/dp/0553381156

JWK said...

Haha I'm pregnant for the second time and people are STILL telling me horror stories!!! I just ordered the book and can't wait to be reminded of all the amazing things that come with a new baby :)

Michelle said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am 37 weeks pregnant and FED UP with people only sharing the horror stories. It would be nice if people thought before speaking and shared the positive sometimes. It can't be all that bad...people are still having kids, in many cases a few times over. Very timely post. Thanks!

Alexa said...

I LOVE that book!!! I am not a mom yet, but I snagged it when I interned at Norton (the book's publisher)and sometimes re-read it for her beautiful musings.

I loved her line about wondering what she did with her hands before she had a swollen belly to caress....ahh, so beautiful.

It is going to come in very handy one day :)

Shawnee said...

i will have to keep this book in mind for my future! i think pregnancy is a beautiful thing. others telling the horrors of it does not help expecting mothers. it all goes to the head, and causes worry!
i am going to pass this on to every woman i know who is expecting:)

great post:) xo

Lauren Kent said...

sounds lovely :)

KAB said...

Lovely post!

I heart that you referenced this book! I actually had Beth Ann as a professor in college and her poetry courses were amazing.

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

I'm glad people told me "horror stories" and wish I heard more of them... because then when many of them happened to me, I didn't feel so alone, and when some things DIDN'T happen to me, I felt that much more in love with my baby and grateful. If people ask me "what's it's like," I tell the good and the bad.

I wish, for example, somebody told me about labor shakes... that way when I started trembling uncontrollably and couldn't breathe, I would know it was "normal" and that I wasn't about to die.

Rachel Joins the Fray said...

Interesting that so many people hear horror stories. No one said a single bad thing to me and I would never said a negative thing to a pregnant woman! However, the one time someone said something negative to me was in an airport - I was very pregnant and this woman trying to control her 3-year old said to me something like, "You better enjoy it now because it's all downhill from here." Who says that??? Poor crazy lady. I still think about her because I couldn't believe anyone would say something like that to a pregnant stranger, even on the most trying toddler days!!

Shawnee said...

ps: hearing about all of the 'horrors' before i am even pregnant OR married doesn't help the having kids thing! but then people like you and other sweet bloggers reassure me that yes, having kids is definitely something i want to do:)

Lindsey Cram said...

Thanks Joanna!

My dear friend is pregnant right now. I feel like I am nesting with her, as I have been knitting up a storm for that wee one! I loved that little excerpt, and I bought it right away. Call me impulsive but I just want my friend to get all the encouragement she can get. :) Thanks for the tip.

Let's Talk Trunk

Delondra said...

I'm pregnant with my first child and was so relieved after reading "Fearless Pregnancy: Wisdom and Reassurance from a Doctor, a Midwife, and a Mom". The main theme of the book is that you shouldn't worry so much; your body knows what to do. And they also say you shouldn't listen to the horror stories, because every single mother's experience is different. I loved it!

Where My Heart Is said...

It was too long ago for me to remember the books but I remember the horror stories that everyone had to share! It was such a lovely surprise when my babies were born and none of the stories were true :)

Taylor K said...

Ugh! That is awful. I am a doula and hate it when people tell my clients horror stories. My little sister is pregnant and is freaked out by breastfeeding. We attended a charity event together and two women there told her how AWFUL and painful it was! I wanted to kill them.

My favorite book to give moms is the Thinking Woman's Guide to Giving Birth.

Lus said...

I live in the same town Beth Ann does and she is a much revered and beloved poet/teacher/friend, and a fabulous mother to three ridiculously awesome kids. It's nice to know that people love her and her workas much as we do!

Anonymous said...

while i was pregnant i was reading a childrens book with my niece and nephew about a little boy whose mum was pregnant, can't remember what it was called.. but i was bawling my eyes out by the end of it, much to the amusement of my niece and nephew. I remember one line the little boy in the book says about his mums belly "I wish that there were windows, so i could see inside".

staceymcbride said...

I agree completely! I'm 6 months pregnant and just wrote a post - http://bit.ly/u9wBP1 - on all the positive things that have happened because all I ever get are horror stories! I wanted people to know it's a pleasant experience.

And I'm glad to hear the same about when the little one actually arrives. I'm adding Great with Child to my Christmas Wish List.

mary-kathryn herrington said...

i know Beth Ann ( I live in the same town, Oxford, Mississippi that she does) and had the pleasure of taking a writing class from her several years ago as well. Having heard many of her wonderful stories in person made me love this book even more! I've given to many a friend as a baby gift! sort of feels nice to give them something for them to enjoy!

Hannah said...

I actually had the best pregnancy (besides some sciatic pain) and honestly, my "happy place" is daydreaming about my life while pregnant-- each thing felt so novel and special. I really felt a strange connection and bond to my unborn daughter. The sad part of it is when I share this with other mothers I feel judged, like I'm not a part of the "mom club" for not having an awful pregnancy with so much sickness and discomfort :-( I actually feel the same about motherhood. I LOVE staying home with my sweet baby girl but I feel looked down upon by others because of it. It makes me sad that we don't have more of an appreciation for the positives to pregnancy and motherhood. There is nothing more beautiful.

Courtney Suzanne said...

I also read the Mayo Guide, which was so useful without being scary. I purposefully avoided the "What to Expect" books because I'd heard they were more about scaring than telling.

Christen said...

I read Operating Instructions by Anne Lamotte during my pregnancy. It's one of my favorites. I've been meaning to revisit it, now that my daughter is 18 months, I'm sure I'll be reading it with new eyes.

I remember getting the horror stories too. Now, I try to be very positive when talking about motherhood, especially to pregnant women. It's funny, people almost seemed surprised when you speak positively about your child instead of complaining.

Emily Lauren said...

Loved this post. I'm going to get the book and read it, it sounds wonderful. I don't remember horror stories, but am glad I didn't get too many (would've freaked me out).

My favorite book for newborn preparation is The Happiest Baby on the Block. I learned SO much from it and it gave me the tools to calm my crying baby (actually babies, since I have 2 now) when they came. It gave me SO much confidence as a new mother and made the transition to motherhood easy. It's now the most important thing I give in every baby shower gift. Maybe Great with child will accompany it :)

Amy Lauree said...

I would hear horror stories from acquaintances or family members about miscarraiges that someone had, a still birth that happened to someone they knew, a friend that lost her baby after bith. It was terrible! I finally got the courage to say, "You know what, those just aren't the kind of things I need to hear right now." It was like they didn't realize how awful that would be to hear as an expectant mother, but it worked and I stopped hearing those terrible scary stories- for the most part!

Christen said...

I've heard Let's Panic About Babies by Alice Bradley and Eden M. Kennedy is amazing. I'd really love to read it, they're both brilliant and hilarious.

Sunny Rising Leather said...

How delightful - I need to check out that book asap - and literally today my belly button began its popping out-ed-ness - just the top is out, and it looks hilarious!!

xox,
Allison

joeycake said...

Waiting for Birdy is one of my most FAVORITE books! I think you would just love it, Jo:)

Anonymous said...

I had the exact opposite experience. During my pregnancy, all I heard was how wonderful it is to have a baby. Then I had my little peanut and my world was turned upside down. I was in total shock. The pain. The tiredness. The moods. The fights. The reality of motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks and I personally wished that some of my mommy friends would have warned me. For the first year, I wondered if I was the only mom who couldn't get it together since all my other mommy friends only spoke of their rose-colored happy motherhood experiences.

Elena said...

Thank you for the book recommendation, Joanna, it looks lovely! And thank you for this post, I am pregnant and I can really relate, I get an awful lot of people who say "good luck!" in that way that isn't the nicest, and "say good bye to sleep!!" that sort of thing. I hope I remember not to do that when I'm an experienced mama!

Anonymous said...

I think the lack of sleep is one of the biggest downsides. But the warmth of a baby against your chest outweighs everything else, except in moments of downright fatigue. And then there is that first smile...

Renee Camilon said...

I started singing when I read your post. Thank you! My little baby boy, Oliver, is 7 months old and let me tell you, I still get the comments. How my body will never be the same and that once I stop nursing, my boobs are going to be smaller then they were before. Yes, so I have 10 more pounds to loose before I can fit in my jeans, but I don't care. What an honor and more to be able to give birth to a living being. I think it's beautiful. I can't see my life any other way. Yes, sleep has changed a little, our place isn't immaculate, but it's okay, our minds and bodies adjust. It's amazing!

I am sooo tired of the negative comments!!! Thank you again for this post. The funny thing is, Chris, my husband and I were just talking about this last night. I still might peek at the book:).
XO! Renee

Lauren at TwIn Style said...

I was at a baby shower yesterday, and there were some horror stories going around. I felt bad for the mother-to-be, and I just tried to avoid that kind of talk altogether.

Jessie said...

this book that you write about sounds so sweet.

during my pregnancy, i started to feel like the more i read, the more worried i grew, so at a certain point, i just stopped reading about becoming a mother and focused on what it felt like to be where i was.

i would keep up with the weekly emails i´d get from some website i signed up for about the development of what was growing inside, but i just needed to relax. so i caught up on my new yorkers and read a lot of lorrie moore instead, and in the end, was just as unprepared as i would have been had i read most of the books they tell you to get.

everyone is different; i find it a little strange when people offer their experiences as though it will be yours, too, even though they may be trying to be helpful. what is nice are words of encouragement!

Lexie, Little Boat said...

i LOVE beth ann fennelly's poems! she was a visiting professor at my college (knox college!) and she is *incredible*! so happy you found & enjoyed her book.

Jesse said...

some people tell way too many scary stories, both when i was trying to get pregnant ("maybe you should wait awhile, life is SO different after you have a baby!") to now when i am pregnant (:sleep now, you'll never sleep again," etc). i'm trying to stay really positive and realistic; as i won't know what labor or being a mom is like till it's my turn. it also helps to surround myself with positive people who love being moms, but also love their lives:)

liz @ bon temps beignet said...

I have 8-ish more weeks left. I think I'll have to speed read this book!

I can't lie, the stories I've heard about delivering scares the ever livin crap out of me... hello episiotomiy! I need a pick-me-up.

betseykerr said...

I am 7months pregnant with my 1st child (a boy!)...and I am continually amazed at the terrible stories I hear. I really am amazed that women are not more supportive to one another. My favorite was a woman telling me that "ahh...boys could care less about there mothers as they get older..." and she knew I was having a boy. Amazing (and I don't beleive this, I know PLENTY of mama's boys). So, I made a decision, to tell expectant moms the beautiful things about being pregnant, focus on the positives, not to 'sugar coat' anything, but give the hard stuff in small doses...and only when asked.

kate said...

I found the "What to expect" books to be excessively rigid and bossy. Especially about food I mean of course you should eat as healthfully as possible when you're pregnant (and in general), but an Icecream cone once in a while will not hurt! My sister gave me a sweet book called "Baby Love.--a guide to calm parenting." I don't recall who wrote it and I passed it on because it was to perfect not to share. It had lots of lovely pictures and simple, miminal advice about all the basic parts of life with a baby--sleep, eating, bathing, outings, family visits, etc. It emphasized that you don't really need all that plasic equipment that fills the baby departments of the big box stores. I also adored Anne Lamott's "Operating instructions." I had the priviledge of hearing Anne read from one of her subsequent books ("Plan B" ) and was able to tell her how much that book meant to me. I found that the books about childbirth just terrified me. (I feak out easily, which is probably why my sister gave me a book about calm parenting.) I had a very good experience in my second birth (VBAC) which I credit to a midwifery practice in whom I had complete trust.

abbey said...

i'm 7 mo. and am basically in constant disbelief of the things people - often times complete strangers - say to me on a regular basis. for some reason i am most at risk in line at the grocery store...
thank you so much for this book rec. ordering straight away, still a little teary (again, 7 mo.) from the line about her belly button.

Molliee said...

adorable photo!!!

Marie-Eve said...

I am actually trying to get pregnant. I am 31, and since I got thirty, the same people, mostly my colleagues, ask me everyday if I am pregnant. What is this obsession with having to be pregnant absolutely at 30? Anyway, since then, they have been telling me horror stories, which only scared me and made me want to postpone the moment I would get pregnant. Those horror stories are definitively annoying... Thank you for the book suggestions, I will look into it and try to leave all these stories behind me...

when BABI speaks said...

looks like a cool book! i've never been pregnant but i will definitely read this book as soon as i am expecting! nice post!

Babi
www.whenbabispeaks.com

Abby said...

There are SO MANY books (not to mention blogs!) out there, I think it depends what you want to know/hear.

Like some of the others here, I thought What to Expect... was too rigid and bossy, and just for me personally, Ina May's books were too crunchy. I mostly just wanted to be shown how to balance being the same person I was pre-pregnancy and preparing for my new role as a mother.

So I adored The Panic-Free Pregnancy, which uses scientific data to back up or refute all the traditionally-held ideas about what's permissible while pregnant. I didn't talk about it a lot while pregnant though, because I would already get enough grief as a visibly pregnant woman having my morning coffee without me touting some book that backed up my decisions with science!

Also, as a first-time mom, I love The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay -- it helped me feel at least a little normal while I was adjusting to my new life!

Bailey@PeppermintBliss said...

I still can't believe this happened but at a party last Christmas when my husband and I were first telling people we were pregnant a family friend asked me how miserable I was and if I had just been deathly ill the whole time. When I said that no I had felt pretty great she goes, "Oh, those babies never stick."
I mean. The woman actually told me that because I was having an easy pregnancy I was probably going to miscarry. I just cannot fathom what she was thinking.
So yeah. I get it!

Christian said...

WAITING FOR BIRDY -- by Catherine Newman -- I send it to everyone I know who is pregnant, seriously -- it is just so wonderful.

People can be pretty crazy when it comes to offering "advice" -- especially here in the South!

That is one of the best thing about more then 1 kid - you just naturally exude the "dont mess with me, i know what the __ im doing" vibe. ;)

I'm Julie said...

"The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy", by Vicki Iovine. It's as if your best friend is telling you everything about pregnancy. She doesn't shy away from telling the truth, but she is FUNNY. And she clearly adores her kids. I read it several times during each of my (four!!) pregnancies, and have given it to every pregnant girlfriend I have.

TheBeautyFile said...

Just passed this on to my best friend who is now 36 weeks preggie!

Tragic Sandwich said...

I don't tell people about my birth story unless they've already had their baby. It's not that mine was horrible, but it had its challenges. Everything turned out fine in the end, though--and why does an expectant mother need anything but that in her head?

As for books, my favorite was The Panic-Free Pregnancy. It really helped me ask questions to maintain perspective rather than freak out about minute odds.

Cait Kovac said...

Another great read is Letters to My Son by Kent Nerburn, not focused on expecting mothers, but it's a wonderful book for parents or anyone...

ana {bluebirdkisses} said...

I actually loved the Mayo Guide to Pregnancy...its just medical stuff but that was my biggest worry. I heard every horror story known to man as well, but I didn't care. I still don't. The boob thing, the stretch marks, the weird post pregnancy belly button...it is what it is...the marks of motherhood and its beautiful.

My OB of all people, said one of the most insightful things during my pregnancy. He said, "I work at a fertility clinic as well as here, and any one of those women who wish they could get pregnant would trade in every stretch mark in the world for a chance to have a healthy baby in their arms." I stopped caring that instant. Motherhood is amazing to me and I love what my body is like now.

emily said...

I was just saying this to a mom friend of mine! I'm not even pregnant yet and she's already got me terrified to have a baby - something about "when you're pushing out the head, there's about 3 seconds when you wish you would die" - no thank you! Today I told her she's only allowed to tell me nice things from now on or I'll never be having kids! Or I could just read this book :) Love Motherhood Mondays!

claire-elisa said...

I love your blog for exactly this type of post. I love the idea of this book and would have enjoyed it when pregnant. I will be getting this for my best friend for sure.

You are such a glass half fun person like me - even a glass full person!

Veralynn said...

As I'm heading down the home stretch of my first pregnancy (due in less than a month!), I've been shocked at the "helpful" information people feel like they need to share with a visibly pregnant woman! I've gotten yelled at by complete strangers while shopping not once, but twice, about circumcision and everything that can go wrong (the funny part about this is that I never even told these strangers what I planned on doing for my son because it's really none of their business!), how I will never sleep, how I will no longer love my dogs and I'll forget about my husband.

I'm actually looking forward to labor and birth. Ina May Gaskin's books, along with studying HypnoBabies, have helped my sense of peace and trust in a natural labor process and an open mind should I suddenly need medical intervention. I'm just in awe of this process and thankful (after having a rough time getting pregnant) for the experience.

(Note: I find What to Expect is most useful as firewood, and I didn't really enjoy The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy as a whole but one of my single most useful mantras for pregnancy constipation issues came from that book: "It's got to come out sometime." So ridiculous but at times I was tempted to write it on my bathroom mirror in lipstick.)

elisa said...

There is so much fearmongering when it comes to birth and pregnancy. And the thing is, it is such a wonderful, amazing experience if you let yourself love it and surround yourself with the right people. I was lucky to have friends that had amazing childbirths, who gave me great advice and were honest, without scaring me.

And yes, being a mom is hard work, but so amazing at the same time.

the Hawks said...

Oh, I'm SO grateful for you, Joanna, and especially this post (and all those about BFing). My dear friend Stacy and I noticed that a lot of women complain about pregnancy (and often also complain about their husbands) and that we would-NO MATTER WHAT-never complain about the experience. We know too many women who can't have children or who have miscarried or lost their son or daughter later in life.

And we found that in being so positive, we never had a moment of regret or disappointment in the experience!

And as to the reality, it's true---people make such a big deal about such strange things! I'm all for being an educated woman. Know what happens during each week of pregnancy; know exactly what and why your body does what it does during labor; know your options for care during and after delivery. Wear a bra at all times and you won't get those saggy boobies (I'm on my 2nd kiddo who will be only 15 months younger than the 1st).

Oh, I felt like I was lied to before because IT IS SO DARN GOOD!

Kelsey said...

Yes! I hear that people do that, I'm already dreading that when I'm pregnant one day. I'm so sensitive. Did you ever find a way to politely tell people to stop...I'd love to know! Thanks for this recommendation, hadn't heard of it.

Rebecca said...

Someone wrote me a note on a card that said, "Your life is about to change..." I initially rolled my eyes because I was sick of people saying things like that. (Yes- people don't think and love to share their horror stories!) Anyway, the rest of the note said, "for the better." Such sweet and true words!

Pretend Fancy said...

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this one, but I love Blue Jay's Dance, by Louise Erdich. She wrote about her experience being pregnant and having a young child in such a beautiful way that you want to underline the entire book. She is honest without being scary--often humorously so. One of my favorite lines from the book is when she talks about sleep deprivation: "The grounded pleasures--nursing, touching the exquisite fonatanel of our baby, a yellow-pink fragrance of sun-heated cotton and tepid cream, gazing eternally into her mystery eyes--are only tempered by sleep deprivation. We know why prisoners break more easily without sleep. I give up, I'll tell you anything, I want to say to her sometimes, nearly weeping." Sorry, it's just SUCH a lovely book I had to quote it. :)

Nancy said...

I loved reading birth stories because they reminded me that women have been doing this since the beginning of time, and if they could do it, i could do it! my favorites were ina may gaskin's spiritual midwifery and guide to childbirth.

Shane, like a boy said...

Joanna, thank you so much for posting about this book! While I am not pregnant or a parent, Beth Ann Fennelly was my poetry professor my senior year of college (at Ole Miss, where she was/is a writer in residence and an instructor). She was an amazing teacher and a very fun mom! She was actually working on the collection when she was teaching the course I took, and she would talk about it. She also shared with us the most wonderful collection of her favorite pregnancy/mom poems, and I still have it because I loved it so much! I am so glad that you enjoyed the book and are sharing about it!

Katie F said...

I just has my first baby four months ago. I was petrified of labor and ended up having a c section. It was not nearly as bad as I expected due to all the horror stories. I will def be ordering this book to read. It looks so cute and I'm always looking for a new book

spark said...

I think I am going against the grain here but whilst I was pregnant with my baby girl, lots of women gave me advice and words of wisdom about what their own experiences were. I felt honoured that they shared their feelings with me (pain, happiness, joy, lack of control, tearing etc) and grateful that they were trying to pass on their knowledge to me. After I had my girl I also felt that a lot of women were processing what they themselves had been through/ were currently experiencing. During the birth, I really felt I heard all those voices in my head reminding me that they themselves had been there and were with me still. I was encouraged to continue along knowing that I would join them at the end with my baby in my arms, and be able to be a part of the chorus helping another new mum along.

Teresa said...

I was obsessed with reading birth stories, which can be a little dicey on the internet. I heard about a book right after I gave birth called Belly Button Bliss - just positive birth stories, and gave it to a few pregnant mamas.

It seemed like the more positive I was about pregnancy the more people dragged out the horror stories. And forget telling people you planned on a natural child birth. You might as well say you were planning on birthing the baby through your nose.

I was constantly teased at work that I would have a ten pound baby and I would respond with something from Hypnobirthing class - "My baby will be the perfect size for my body." We were both right. My ten pound baby was born naturally; it was hard work but completely wonderful and I can't wait to do it again!

Shauna Nep said...

Thanks Joanna! I now have the perfect Hanukkah gift for my beautiful sister, who just had her first baby (Benjamin).

You are wonderful!

Anonymous said...

All of these posts are so encouraging because my husband and I are about to start trying to get pregnant. It's not other people that are scaring me about pregnancy, I'm scaring myself!!! I know I want to have a family and I'm 34 years old. All of the stars are aligned, but I'm just terrified of the thought of my life changing so much. And I know the change will be for the better, I just can't seem to get past my own fears. Is this the case for anyone else? Could use some book recommendations for when you are in the "thinking about getting pregnant" stage. These positive comments have definitely made me feel better though... And also reading Motherhood Mondays posts. Thanks Joanna! -Laura

ROCHELLE said...

I am an anomaly I think - I have only had one child - and I hate to say it, but my pregnancy was amazing! None of the horror stories, I only gained the 15-20lbs and it was off within the month - and I had him all natural - no drugs, easy labor...So whenever I see a mom to be in the middle of a horror story nightmare - I tell her mine...and I dont forget to tell her that as soon as you see your beautiful baby's face you will forget all about any pain! its totally worth it - however I may sing a different tune if I ever have baby #2...

the lye's said...

The Parents Tao Te Ching has a very special place in my heart because of the calmness it brings to motherhood. My husband and I read it often to remind ourself that being a parent is the greatest blessing (stress and all). It's a very short read (first time I read it in a couple of hours) but the impact it has on your life is simply priceless. HIGHLY recommended! Thanks for your suggestion, can't wait to read it!

Anonymous said...

oddly enough, no one has told me horror stories during my pregnancy, most people have said how wonderful it is. although, when someone does say something even the least bit negative, i just shrug it off to them, basically saying "it doesn't bother me to be puked, peed or pooped on, it's a fact of life and i'm expecting it."

my favorite is when dads tell me how awesome having kids is. it's so sweet to hear a middle aged man tell me how their son or daughter at 16 years old still makes them amazed at the miracle of life, and how fulfilling it is for them.

Lacey said...

I really enjoyed "From The Hips." It was a nice first book to read, as it offered different options without being judgemental. I am also finding Dr Sears's "The Birth Book" helpful.

When people find out that my husband and I are planning a natural birth, all I get is horror stories and comments like "TAKE THE DRUGS!!!!" I found the movie "The Business of Being Born" pretty reassuring, and extremely interesting.

I'm 27 weeks and feeling huge. Looking forward to meeting this little person!

Lacey

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joanna, and thanks everyone. Its like walking into a room full of people who make you feel you're not alone. Phew! Now can someone tell my husband that its normal that I worry too bloody much?

- Grace

Robaldinho said...

i think that a balance between fearmongering and honesty can be struck. also, i think it's important to take others' experiences with a grain of salt since everyone's bodies, births, and babies are so different. the most truthful thing i can say about motherhood is it's the hardest, most joyful, most exhausting, most worthwhile thing i've ever done.

Melissa Jade said...

I feel like all that strangers tell me are horror stories- but all my mother/aunts/grandmothers tell me are wonderful stories.

I can't decide if they are hiding the horrific truth from me to selfishly get a new baby in the family, or if they are giving the real low down!

Julia said...

Somehow I missed the horror stories. All I heard were the good things and how wonderful labor, delivery and the newborn experience was. I didn't read any pregnancy/birthing books - just could never get into them. So I was very sanguine about the whole thing. I wish someone had told me how hard it was, though I probably wouldn't have believed them anyway.
My labor and delivery wasn't terrible but once I had a newborn in my arms, I felt like I had just been hit by a train. Postpartum sucked and continued to suck for approx 7 months. It took me that long to recover from the birth (had some complications) and start enjoying motherhood. Totally worth it though, coz am doing it all over again - expecting my second one in a few months ;-)

jen fuller said...

i got really sick of people telling me "oh you just wait.." when it was referring to something negative. it kind of jump started me and my husband's super positive outlook on parenthood, because we don't ever want to be one of the complainers. its all in the attitude i think!
Smoking Crayolas Blogspot

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I would love to read this!

Currently in my 24th week and LOVING being a momma kangaroo. Especially with all the kicks and rolls I feel each day. It's such an amazing feeling to have this little fellow growing and thriving inside me.

When I first got pregnant, all I worried about was stretch marks, sagging boobs and losing my figure. Four miscarriages later (and finally a very healthy pregnancy on this fifth try), I don't care if I lose my figure, if my boobs sag and if I get stretch marks (although I'm blessed to have none now). Those things don't matter now. All I want is a healthy and happy baby boy and I will use my body and all that it is capable of doing to take care of this baby.

Lara

Liz said...

so excited to see this recommendation! one of my best friends is pregnant (due in 5 weeks!) and I'm thousands of miles away in Amsterdam. Just ordered it and had it shipped to her house. Sounds like the perfect read as she's anticipating baby's arrival :)

Roanna said...

I was hoping that certain acquaintances of mine had exhausted their store of horror stories about birth and nasty ignorant comments... I was wrong and I now avoid them at all costs. I don't know if i'm even more sensitive than i already am due to hormones, but the baby is definitely teaching me what's most important: the baby, my husband and the cat, of course! Everyone else I'm nice too and when they cross the line I do my best to ignore what they say and then call my mom to check the truth!

Lisa said...

Slightly off topic, I feel like I also got a lot of the "oh, just you wait" advice when my husband and I got engaged. Well-meaning friends trying to give advice on marriage, but in the process making it sound like a terrible thing that, if you don't martyr yourself daily, will blow up in your face. I was like, "please someone, tell me something good here!" Amazing how "good advice" can be so discouraging.

Anonymous said...

I followed my doctors advice from the beginning, his advice was "Don´t read, specially not online! And don´t let anyone tell what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what is good, this is your pregnancy, if you have any concerns you can call me at any time."

Results: A really relaxed young mom, good birth and the best baby in the world, and I never had to call my doctor.

I see now, that there are many things that other moms experienced as a bad thing, but I didn´t find that horrible. So if you hear and read about things before you try them your self, and other people describe them as horrible, of course you will find them horrible too.

P.S. For sagging boobs worriers, you might get lucky like I did and get a "free natural push up" from breastfeeding.

Anonymous said...

i have to speak to the opposite of many here. looking back to when i was pregnant (9 yrs ago). mommy-blogging had only just nipped the surface online and most of the women i spoke to had nothing but wonderful, blissful things to say about motherhood...they might give a negative anecdote but then follow it up with an 'oh, just kidding' laugh. most of the pregnancy books i read touted motherhood as the 'end-all' experience to life.

after having my child, many of the feelings i had were plagued with guilt and disappointment, mostly because my day to day experiences were not living up to all of the perfect moments i had been told to expect.

i think it's easier today. there are more women (and men) speaking honestly and openly about what parenthood really is...hard work. sometimes lovely, yes, but harder than you can ever imagine pre-child.

and like one of the first commenters, i also found a lot of solace in Catherine Newman's blog Ben and Birdy. she remains one of the best voices out there for new (and not so new) mothers

Allison said...

Jo, thanks for this post!! I am 25 weeks pregnant and your words could not have come at a better or more opportune time. I can't wait to check out that book! It looks fabulous. As I have always said (and which applies more now than ever!), how you approach life is a CHOICE. How we think about pregnancy, birth, and parenthood is also a choice, and how we communicate about it to others is a choice. We can look at the negatives and dwell in pessimism and fear, or we can embrace the positives and turn our faces toward the sunlight (including in our child's eyes!) I choose sunlight every time. Peace!

Caitlin said...

I drove myself crazy reading books about sleep schedules and nursing schedules etc....I wish I hadn't read anything at all! I wish someone told me that the only things you need to know are: feed your baby when she's hungry, let your baby sleep when she's tired, and cuddle with her as much as possible!!

Anonymous said...

Of all the books out there, my favorite book for babies is Nursing Mothers Companion

Michelle Kendrick Hartney said...

It's so true! What was really annoying is when women would go into horror stories about childbirth. (Often they weren't even their own birth stories, but other horror stories they were passing along) I remember thinking, really?? You have a pregnant woman standing in front of you (hormones!) and you know she is going to be giving birth soon and you choose to tell her the worst of the worst of what she's about to experience!? My favorite book by far was Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. It is full of positive natural birth stories that reminded me that childbirth is something our bodies were made to do!

Megan said...

I think people (usually women)gleefully telling horror stories has a lot to do with our culture's emphasis on trying to outdo each other with how busy we are or how hard we work. Plus, there is a strong "mommy martyr complex" that has become popular in the past couple decades, which I despise.

The thing is, everyone's experience of pregnancy and motherhood is going to be so different: we all have different personalities, different bodies, different ways we respond to things, and especially, DIFFERENT children. For example, I get major pregnancy brain, and a lot of my friends don't. I have gotten PPD and postpartum thyroiditis after my other pregnancies, and I don't personally know anyone who gets both things (I have medications I use for both). So, for me personally, pregnancy and the postpartum period are really rough, but on the other hand, I've discovered that I am fantastic with nurturing and understanding my little kids. Other women might struggle with different things than me.

I am due in Feb. with our third, and even though it's been a challenge lately, and I expect a much bigger challenge in the postpartum period, I'm not afraid of what comes after that. I can't wait to have another person to love and get to know.

In any case, it's the relationship between with one's child that matters more than any challenge related to parenting. There are no words I could ever find to express how much I love my kids, and how deeply satisfying it is to have them in my life.

Jennifer said...

Yes, this drives me insane! I've noticed it especially at baby showers - of all places, this should be one where the pregnancy/baby/mother is celebrated! I think this negativity really promotes fear and probably even leads some women to make decisions based on other people's negative experiences (like not breastfeeding because of horror stories, for example). I'm glad you have been so open about motherhood - the good and bad - it's nice to read happy stories on the internet!

And this book looks adorable - I'll have to pick it up. Happy Thanksgiving!

Caitlin said...

While I am not pregnant nor a mother - this is such a great post! I have friends who worry some of the same things! I will be purchasing this book for them ASAP! Thanks for sharing!

xo
Caitlin
http://hauteeyes.com

Joanna Goddard said...

megan, what a beautiful comment. such wise words. and julia, that makes a lot of sense; it is surprisingly hard, especially at first with a newborn, and i don't think anyone/anything/any story can prepare you for it! (although of course it's worth it:) and i love hearing all these comments from moms-to-be who are expecting sweet new babies--how exciting!!!!!!!! :) :) :)

Carrie in AZ said...

I am 39 weeks pregnant and loved the experience of being pregnant with my first child. I, like everyone else here, have had people (total strangers even) regale me with their tales and stories. I may in the minority but I love this time and this precious season. It's such a special time and it will be the only time I have like this with my daughter. Sure, it's uncomfortable. Sure, I'd love to wear my old clothes again. But I am growing a healthy baby! What could be better!? so when people start to tell me their tales (especially that of labor and delivery...people LOVE to tell you those horror stories. Especially when they discover we have been preparing extensively for a natural birth) I tell them hanks but no thanks. My 'witty comeback' is ''...well since no two pregnancies are alike, no two deliveries are alike. Wish me luck!'. and I love how people act as though pregnant women are dumb! of course we are aware that are bodies and lives will change! Is that the beauty of it all?

Jana said...

"Up the Duff" by Kaz Cooke (Australian) had me truly belly laughing (it gets a bit like Santa in the end doesn't it? - where your belly seems to move up and down autonomously.)

It's sort of like a naughty "What to Expect" - which I read simultaneously so I felt balanced :) She is totally honest and totally hilarious - it's very 'real' while not being scary.

I'm 4 weeks away from #2 and feeling great and I have my own birth/newborn war stories! Bottom line - totally worth it.

Claudia said...

You have to trust your instincts and try to avoid the negative stuff... I think people like much more telling the horror stories than the beautiful ones... but it's insensitive to "frighten" moms-to-be.... Just because someone had post-partum, doesn't mean that other mom-to-be will have it.... or saggy boobs/belly or whatever... I'm a mom of two beautiful sons and with motherhood comes good and bad things... but the good outweigh by far the bad... so much so, that I would love having more children!! Kisses

No Drama Mama said...

That sounds a lot better than What to Expect! (which is really just one horror story after the other--do NOT buy)

Smith And Ratliff said...

The photo makes me wish it were warmer so I could go to Rockefeller park today!

Deyse said...

I've never been pregnant, but I once went out with a group of friends who had kids, and all they talked about was the bad stuff! It made me question whether I want to have kids...

Anna Claire said...

YES! Why do they feel the need to tell horror stories?? Even women who are normally nice and you'd think have good judgment will tell you in detail about their episiotomies or whatever.
I actually had an awful birth experience so I've made it my mission to always talk about the good associated with motherhood and pregnancy. Because there's so much good there, and pregnant women are nervous enough as it is. It's our job as women and mothers to support & encourage each other :)

MaviDeniz said...

I don't have any kids, and from all the stories I've heard I don't think I want any, EVER. I've heard a lot of people say that if they could do it all over again they wouldn't have had kids. These aren't women in their 20's either. I've spoken to women in the 30's -50's. I'm actually horrified of the whole pregnancy and labor thing. I think I would be in complete misery for the whole 9 months. I think it's just a huge sacrifice that I don't think I'll ever want to make. Kudos to those that are able to spend their life taking care of another.

MarissaMP said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this! I'm in my first trimester, & I find it so discouraging that rather than ask me how I feel, people often ask questions like, "Are you throwing up? Aren't you sooooo nauseous & tired?!" When I tell them that I feel great, they quickly retort, "Oh, just wait- it will get worse." I mean, even if it does, how will that comment help me?! Anyway, I can't wait to read the book you've recommended. One thing that has helped me is a very kind act from my best friend: She sends me sweet pictures of her 2-year old, to remind me of all of the moments I have to look forward to. :) It's heartwarming & makes me smile.

Crispin Korschen said...

You need to watch this wee video .......i think it explains the joys and painful moments of motherhood so well
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8K9s7_k3TM&feature=player_embedded

good luck........it's a wonderful journey

crispin

Joy Light said...

This was a great post, I read a really sweet hippy book about home births each time I was pregnant (my "baby" is 15 years old now!) And I birthed all my boys at home. I loved how I felt when I was pregnant (oh, could I please stay 5 mos gone, please please please) so much energy, a wonderful rosey glow was mine all the time. I got plenty of sleep because I went to bed at a reasonable hour. . . Best wishes to you with your little one and wow, the gift of life is truly a gift, along with all the personal adjustments!

jessa said...

I have two vivid memories of hearing unwelcome horror stories: The first was during a pedicure early on in my pregnancy..I hadn't announced it yet, but the people I was with knew and the lady doing the pedicure started telling me how terrible childbirth was and how naughty her kids were!

The second was when a friend had JUST given birth, a mutual friend told me how she had a scare with hemorrhaging after her little guy was born and it sounded really terrifying! He started with "I probably shouldn't tell this to a pregnant woman, but..." Sheesh!

I do my best to show only excitement at the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth, also regarding parenting. Yes there are challenging moments, but there are SO many beautiful joys to outweigh them!

I had a healthy pregnancy and drug-free natural delivery so I try to encourage people with how much I enjoyed both of those.

krisel keeper said...

On the one hand I agree and know EXACTLY what you're talking about. I've never heard so many "facts" (opinions) on what was healthy/unhealthy for a baby in the belly. I was so traumatized I was afraid to move. But I never heard any of the reality of parenthood from fellow parents. I only heard the Hallmark version and when we had my daughter I was in shock and angry no one told me some of the "truths/pains/shockers".

I can tell you this, now that I'm pregnant for the second time....no one says a peep when the second one is on the way. It's actually funny. Without my daughter = many opinions. With my daughter = not a word.

I want to think everyone just wants to help but I must say the silence in this case is golden.

Lindsey said...

one stupid woman actually informed me i could die giving birth. When i was 8 MONTHS PREGNANT!!!

it seems some women feel they need to say SOMETHING, anything and it's easier to think of the negatives especially if they don't have personal experiences themselves to relate with.

Kay Jay See Bee said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I want to go buy this book now. I'm only 10 weeks, so no one really knows I'm pregnant yet except for a few people. I can't wait to see what stories I end up hearing.

I did get this book, "The Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy" by Vicki Iovine, which I'm reading right now. I actually really like it. She talks to you like one of your friends and tells you how it is. From what physical and emotional changes to expect to the medical tests you might have to take.

Anonymous said...

Everyone told me wonderful stories about pregnancy before I got pregnant. Once I "joined the club", I got the horror stories (or the truth!). I really don't get mad if someone shares their horror stories because it is a physically grueling experience for some/many? I try not to dwell on it of course. I had some really bad experiences w/ pregnancy but I didn't get stretch marks, which was something people warned me about. It's different for all!

Kate said...

I did lots of smiling and nodding at those horror stories, while I closed my ears off to them! I wish I had had the courage to say something, but I'm too polite and non-confrontational. Now that our son is 8 months old (today!), we have learned to just trust ourselves. We know him best, and we'll ask when we need help.

It's a children's book, but one that I love dearly is Ma, There's Nothing to Do Here! by Barbara Park. It's a fantastic shower gift, and it really perked up my spirits toward the end of pregnancy... "I can hear the tick-tock of your happy heart-clock." Precious.

Hang in there, pregnant mommas! XO

nina corvallo said...

Thank you for this post, I also mostly just heard horror stories about pregnancy , birth and motherhood. And I for the longest time thought that all of that was not for me. And I never wanted to be pregnant, now, at 38, I am 17 weeks pregnant,and loving every minute of it! And am blessed with a wonderful pregnancy.I expected all sort of awful things and feelings -- and none of it has come true. I think perhaps I have never been this happy!

BananaSaurusRex said...

Aren't strangers funny? They say the darndest things. I threw "What to Expect" away after the first chapter. When I told a friend that I was scared of giving birth, she gave me Spiritual Midwifery (by Ina May Gaskin). It's SO hippy-dippy (not that there's anything wrong with that) and it really helped!

erstwhiledear said...

I LOVED this book too! I kept looking up her photo on google, and thinking "can I be this woman? She is so wonderful!" Her language is unbelievably warm, sexy, embracing, creative. Just love!

I was thinking of her line about snot-covered babies, and kissing them anyway, just today.

Anonymous said...

For those who said they fear saggy boobs: my boobs did not get saggy; they actually got bigger and stayed firm, although this is long-term. Short-term, they did deflate for a while. (But I will admit that my body did change. Mostly not for better or worse.)

Missy said...

I totally agree with this post! You would hear so many horror stories, leaving you to wonder why anyone has kids at all.

Truth be told, I felt this same way when I was about to get married. It seemed like at all the parties I went to when I mentioned I was engaged it was a green light to complain about how horrible their husbands were. And then I got married myself and it has been wonderful.

Maybe it's because happiness doesn't sell? I suppose it's always more entertaining to tell the horror stories :)

Anyway, the BEST book for new parents is called
Be Prepared, a Practical Handbook for Dads

http://beprepared.net/

It's SO funny, go check it out. I give it to all my friends when they get pregnant.

Maria said...

I've always known I wanted to be a mother. But lately, spending time with my sister-in-law (who has 3 boys under the age of 5) and her moaning about her kids has really got me thinking twice! What is the point of having kids?!

Not to mention all the physical changes: saggy boobs, stretch marks and whatever the heck your nether regions end up looking like.

I've also wondered whether the physical act of love changes - does it feel different? Is it as pleasurable? Sorry, I know these are really shallow reactions but these points are part of my life as I know it right now. I'm sure my feelings will change once I fall pregnant (and I will hopefully become a lot more selfless!), but I also don't want to lose myself and my life as it is now in becoming a mother.

My mom has never had a bad thing to say about being pregnant, giving birth or raising children. She beams everytime she talks about any of these things and I love her for that!

Maria xx
http://www.cheekypinktulip.blogspot.com

Kelli L.S. said...

When I read this post, the book sounded so perfect for a friend of mine that I ordered it immediately. It arrived yesterday, and I've been reading it before pass it along - it's lovely. I'm giving it to a friend who is three months pregnant and is already dismayed/discouraged/intimidated by the more traditional pregnancy books. I think Ms. Fennelly's words will bolster her spirits greatly! I see this book becoming a regular on the baby shower gift circuit!

Elise Noel said...

Thank You for posting this. My non-pregnant, non- mother friends love telling me horror stories :D So appreciated!

Sandy a la Mode said...

i am 37 weeks pregnant and have only read the mayo clinic guide to pregnancy. it's a pretty clinical book but it's been good. this definitely seems like a book i should pick up though!

essure arizona said...

You'll be normal for sure. Just be positive.

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female obgyn said...

That would be normal to any pregnant woman.

Generic Cialis said...

Thanks for share this fantastic article with us.

I was hoping that certain acquaintances of mine had exhausted their store of horror stories about birth and nasty ignorant comments... I was wrong and I now avoid them at all costs. I don't know if i'm even more sensitive than i already am due to hormones, but the baby is definitely teaching me what's most important: the baby, my husband and the cat, of course! Everyone else I'm nice too and when they cross the line I do my best to ignore what they say and then call my mom to check the truth!

Cialis Online said...

Wow this article is really interesting.

I actually loved the Mayo Guide to Pregnancy...its just medical stuff but that was my biggest worry. I heard every horror story known to man as well, but I didn't care. I still don't. The boob thing, the stretch marks, the weird post pregnancy belly button...it is what it is...the marks of motherhood and its beautiful.

Thanks for share.

Wendy Wainwright said...

I was 37 when I conceived my first (and only so far) child and 38 when he was born. I had always wanted to adopt and had heard all those horror stories. I was surprisingly clueless about everything going around/on in the world of pregnancy and motherhood despite most of my friends having kids already. I found that I suffered from some severe social conditioning - you can't get pregnant after 35! (eh, first try) - you can't conceive a healthy child after 35! (eh, not true) - those were the things that scared me before ttc and during the first 20 weeks. The second 20 weeks of my pregnancy were mostly just miserable and I felt mostly pissed off at the long list of discomforts I'd never heard about before (like how much your feet hurt when you stand up in the morning and pretty much every other moment of the day and occasionally still at 12 weeks pp). I was afraid of the pain of childbirth, terrified of huge needles (epidural), and didn't think I could have a c-section without being put fully under. I was a rebel and refused to attend child birthing classes, played the epidural by ear, etc. In the end I was in labor for 16 hours, my contractions started 2 minutes apart (WTH?), I had the epidural (pain can remove fear of needles), and I had a relatively uncomplicated vaginal delivery considering I apparently have world's most narrow birth canal. Who knew? I was given an episiotomy and I'm happy with that since they were discussing vacuuming, using forceps, and emergency c-sections to remove my baby. I pushed for three hours (without the epidural, they turned it off for the pushing). I also gave birth in a local hospital overseas. I don't regret (at all) refusing to attend child birthing classes, I don't regret not having a birth plan (not that it would have mattered where I delivered anyway), etc. I'm really quite pleased with my whole delivery experience. I never want to be pregnant again though, that was miserable. I read the Mayo Clinic book since it was sorter and slightly less terrifying than What to Expect, and I read Bringing Up Bebe (hey! you can parent like that! in France.). Oh, and I decided to formula feed before conceiving but kept an open mind. My mind didn't change, I have exclusively ff and I am very happy with that decision as well.

Jessica Forsythe said...

I am 38 1/2 weeks pregnant right now (and ready to be done!) with my first child and I find it SO annoying that everyone has to tell you all of their horror stories or make negative comments about how you will never sleep again, your life will be over as you know it, etc etc... I mean god, what a morale killer. I find myself just blowing most of them off. Most of my reading has been on natural childbirth and positive birth stories so I haven't read much about motherhood in general. Trying to get through my hopefully out of hospital unmedicated water birth first :)

Joanna Taccone said...

Hi Joanna, what a great post! I just bought the book for my sister who's due in just a few short weeks! I write about small blogs and found yours to be just the epitomy of greatness! You can read my feature here: http://awakencurioussocial.com/2013/07/16/a-cup-of-jo/ Hope you enjoy! Also a huge fan of the mothers around the world series! You're raising the bar for all small bloggers out there.

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