Whether you are looking for a gift for a pregnant friend or for yourself, here is my brief take on the few pregnancy books I’ve read lately:
Great with Child by Beth Ann Fennelly
This book is a series of letters that Fennelly, then the mother of a 3-year-old, wrote to her pregnant friend. This is complete opposite of all those medical pregnancy books. This book is about the joys of pregnancy and motherhood. Fennelly talks about how motherhood made her feel more connected to a community and reengaged her ability to play and her deep love of music and singing. My favorite letter, though, talked about a study done determining how children become lifelong readers… one of the top contributors was having parents who were readers. So I know I can keep up with some of my reading because it’s going to make Baby Girl appreciate it more. This book was mostly warm fuzzies for me and is great for reading when you are feeling a little anxious about impending motherhood. I also think it would make a good gift for the pregnant readers and writers in your life, as it is written by a poet and focuses a lot on language and reading in children.
Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy
Belly Laughs is a short, humorous read about the various changes and indignities the pregnant body undergoes. It’s not masterpiece of writing, but it was funny and relatable and a nice fit for the times when pregnancy starts making you feel sorry for yourself. It’s nice to know you aren’t the only one who gets cravings based on whatever food is on television or that you aren’t the only one who doesn’t fall into the “pregnant and wants to have sex all the time” category (which every other pregnancy book insists is a real thing that happens to everyone). I got this as a gift and think it would be a fun gift for any pregnant lady… even those who aren’t big on reading. I finished this off in a couple hours.
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
Operating Instructions actually is a journal of the first year of Lamott’s son’s life, so it only deals with the very tail end of pregnancy, but I still found it an interesting read for this time. Lamott is an addict in recovery who has become pregnant accidentally and is rearing her son as a single woman in her mid-thirties. The fact that none of that fits my own situation and the fact that most of the journal deals with life with her son made this book hard for me to relate to. It was still interesting to see her move from the dark, sleepless nights with a colicky newborn to a more hopeful and rested state with an older baby. It didn’t really ease my fears of living with a newborn, but I think this book is more on realistic side of things– newborns aren’t easy, dealing with your own issues and those of baby is tough, etc. I’d recommend it for those who enjoy the memoir/journal type of story. I also think this book would be appropriate for mothers in alternate situations… most of the pregnancy books I read deal with married women and don’t address any of the shortcomings a mother might feel because her past and present mental health issues.
And finally, a brief word on that tome, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I skimmed through a little bit of the book early in my pregnancy, but ended up returning it to the library pretty quickly. It was a bit preachy and I felt like it was talking down to me, especially in the nutrition section. I have spent the last 5 years losing weight and putting it back on, trying to manage my diet and trying to maintain an exercise program. I know what I should be eating, but that does not make it easy for me to eat healthy, especially when pregnancy has me hungry like a teenage boy and craving things like chocolate pop-tarts or french fries with ketchup or fast food fish sandwiches. Trying to guilt me into eating healthy “for the baby” just makes me angry. I have a real problem with anyone who wants to make me feel guilty about my choices for my body and my baby, so this was not the book for me, though I know many women have found it helpful. Anyways, I’m not sure I’ll sway anyone away from reading this book during their pregnancy, but approach it with caution. And I don’t think I’d buy this as a gift for anyone… give them something fun and sweet to read, not something telling them how to be the perfect pregnant lady!