Maybe I should skip the review altogether: suffice to say I didn’t enjoy the book at all. But maybe I should do other readers a favor and let them know why I didn’t find it worthwhile.
I have nothing against being honest about the difficulties of motherhood and the practicalities of childbirth, because basically I came to this book to get a higher view on the intense juggling exercise my life has become since Baby Smithereens’ arrival. I consider myself blessed because I have a loving husband who believes in equal parenting, a dependable nanny, a demanding but well-paying job, this whole combination making it possible and enjoyable, but it’s still a tough challenge.
Instead of talking about balance and remaining level-headed about all these changes, the book gave me 250 pages of whining, to basically let me know that my life was over. Of course, childbirth is not romantic and the early months of motherhood are a period of deep turbulences, but here I am, with Baby Smithereens’ now 10 months old: I work, he thrives, as you can see I read and blog (less time for fiction, but I’m sure it will improve), we still see friends and our home has reached an acceptable level of order and cleanliness (by no means perfect but it never was).
What annoyed me most is the unclear purpose of the book: it’s a mish-mash of psychological and medical advice, medical and social history going back to the Middle Ages, of personal experiences, of interview of other women arbitrarily chosen. It really isn’t an academic book, but even for a pop-psycho book it’s not structured enough. I found it messy and rambling. There are a lot of assumptions and generalizations about how couples react, how friends react during and after pregnancy, and in my opinion she underlines the negative aspects and not enough the positive. In that vein of literature I loved Ann Lamott’s Operating Instructions, which was honest, emotional but very uplifting despite the hardships she experienced.