Falling pregnant is a beautiful, mythical experience rich with opportunities for growth and self-love. It is also a rude induction into a world where, as a woman, you acutely realise that your body and your choices have become part of the public domain. Yet no matter how vocal others are about your physical appearance and the impending challenges of motherhood, it is difficult to find reading material that is real, but also supportive. I have found myself craving tenderness, humour and real stories. Here are a few books that have really helped me.
Great with Child, Beth Ann Fenelley: This magical series of letters between a poet and her student celebrates pregnancy and childbirth in whimsical, lyrical writing. I loved the intimacy of the writing, and the small, day-to-day moments she captures. It's one of those hard-to-find word of mouth books that gets passed from mother to mother, so you know it's good!
Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott: Anne's book on writing, Bird by Bird, is my absolute favourite instruction on creative writing, so it wasn't surprising that I loved her diary of her son's first year. This is the perfect account of a different kind of motherhood. Anne is single, scrappily employed and struggling with money. Yet despite her obstacles she is armed with faith and surrounded by love. Real and heartening.
The Mama Bamba Way, Robyn Sheldon: About halfway through my pregnancy, I decided to ditch my gynae for a midwife and pursue a natural birth. This decision got me addicted to birth stories. A reinvigorated confidence in my body made me seek our stories who had meaningful, positive natural birth experiences. The book is clearly self-published and not perfect by any means, but it helped me feel confident in my new decision.
How to be a woman, Caitlin Moran: OK, this is only one chapter, but I absolutely loved Caitlin's account of the birth of her two children. It's real, raw and uncomfortably funny. Besides, I think it's important to brush up on one's feminism when you're on the cusp of fulfilling such a traditionally feminine role.
In addition to these books, I have really benefitted from reading birth stories online and connecting with other women. Just be sure to stay away from online pregnancy forums, as those breed paranoia and are toxic! Ultimately, the breadth of human experience is so wide, that there is no predicting what any person's pregnancy or birth will be like. The main function of reading is just to have some company.
Would you add to any of these reads? I only have a few weeks left so I would love to hear!