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on June 22, 2006
This is a truly fantastic book for women in unplanned pregnancies.

Whether you consider yourself too young, too old, too poor, too sick, or too overburdened to welcome a child right now, or you have some other special circumstance (such as rape) that makes you doubt your ability to be a good mother, you will certainly find a story you can relate to in this book. It's one of the few resources I've found that encourages women to look at an unplanned pregnancy as an opportunity rather than as a problem to be solved.

Fields acknowledges how easily pregnancy can seem like an inconvenience, a stumbling block, or even a tragedy. She knows, from personal experience, the deep anguish women feel when they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. And she understands the feeling of fear and depression that accompany unsupported pregnancies, or those that occur in less-than-ideal circumstances.

I only wish more people would acknowledge how common this type of pregnancy is. (According to the National Institutes of Health, about 60% of all pregnancies are unplanned--that's three million women a year.) We can safely assume that not all of those three million women were overjoyed to learn of their pregnancy. But that's not something we talk about much in our society, is it? That's why it's wonderful to hear Fields and the women profiled in this book being utterly and completely honest about how they were anything but happy to find out they were expecting.

Fields' main point is that what initially seems like a crisis and the worst thing in the world can ultimately transform into a blessing, as you come to realize you can handle what you have been given, and that you actually do want and love the child you are carrying. She believes that the transformation happens at different times and in different ways, but almost always happens. Sometimes the transformation means embracing parenthood, and other times it means choosing adoption (which is given a small amount of attention here--but the real emphasis is on parenting.) In both cases, the ambivalence felt early on begins to change as a woman struggles through the solitude and difficulty of the pregnancy. Eventually, it turns into an acceptance of motherhood and love for the unplanned baby.

Some readers with different beliefs may be a little uncomfortable with the Christian viewpoint espoused in the book ("the Maker of life doesn't make mistakes," etc.), but Fields is essentially gentle in her writing and doesn't force her faith on others.

I applaud this book for talking about a topic that we as women don't talk about enough.

We don't always get to choose the circumstances of our motherhood, but we can and should inspire each other to rise to the occasion. As Field notes, unplanned pregnancies can feel like a kind of death, but they have the possibility, and the probability, of changing into something joyful.
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on May 17, 2006
Pregnant and unprepared, scared, feeling trapped - if this describes you or someone you know, Surprise Child will powerfully speak to those needs. Author Leslie Leyland Fields, twice surprised in her forties, interweaves her stories with those of others - diverse women whose lives are radically interrupted, gradually transformed. I read it straight through today, could not put it down. With candor and warmth, Leslie talks us through pregnancy, page by page, month by month. She shares how she and the others weathered the fears, the guilt, the dreaded changes: in body and spirit, finances and family life, vocation and dreams and plans. Readers will find no judgments here, only hard-won insights, caring companions. Brief and compelling, Surprise Child features three sections, one for each trimester. Unfolding stories culminate in the epilogue. Unbelievable resources in the back offer more reasons to hope, more ways to cope. This is the book I needed years ago, the one I'll be giving to friends for, as Leslie says: "All of us are here in this book to say, yes, the tunnel winds and twists, but it does open into light."
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on April 28, 2006
Leslie Leyland Fields is a gifted author with a talent for transparently communicating her thoughts, fears and experiences. In her book, she traces her own journey and those of other women in different stages of life as they tell their stories of "surprise children". If you have a friend coping with a surprise pregnancy the best thing you could do for them is send them a copy of this book. It is brimming with hope!
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on May 8, 2006
Whether you are unexpectedly pregnant or blissfully planning your child's nursery, Surprise Child is the book for you. Leslie Fields takes an unflinching look at the realities of having children, and her readers come away with a sense of having developed a friendship with a woman who is compassionate, experienced, and painfully honest about her own struggles with pregnancy. And, no, this is not just a book for women. Men, too, need to read this powerful book about women and their unwanted pregnancies. It will be enlightening and enriching whether you are a husband or single, whether you've had children or not. The poignant stories of the twenty-five women in the book are not dramatized, but completely believable and convicting. I finished the book with tears in my eyes. Fields deals with the complex issue of unplanned pregnancy with a compassion and encouragement and gave me the hope that there are other women like me who have persevered through unplanned pregnancy and have better and richer lives because of it.
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on June 6, 2006
I have never been in a "surprise child" situation, but once I opened this book I couldn't put it down. Leslie Fields writes so compellingly and beautifully about the realities of pregnancy and birth, anyone involved in parenthood in any way will feel pierced to the heart by this book. Fields tells the true stories of many women here who have overcome the overwhelming challenges of unplanned pregnancy by clinging to hope and finding courage they didn't know they had. Hope and courage is required of all parents, but these brave women are especially inspiring. Most important, Fields gives us in this book the gift of truth. Without diminishing the wonder and joy of motherhood, she is willing to speak frankly about what any pregnancy costs in a woman's life. Women faced with the grief and pain of unplanned pregnancy will be greatly relieved to find that someone understands and is willing to speak of anger, pain, loss--yet still point the way to hope.
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on May 31, 2006
I like Leslie Leyland Fields on any topic. I was touched and fascinated at the first page and read it through in that setting. This book is honest, poignant, raw, helpful, and rich. Though I have never had a suprise child, I've been pregnant and have heard about the unexpected from friends who run the spectrum of excited to unsure and upset. I related to this book on both those levels and feel like I've been reminded to embrace my children and not just endure them, that the growth of a child within offers the possibility and delight of my own personal growth by giving life to and loving another. This books lets you know how the author and others worked through the surprise to the joy and it helps you believe that you will, too, whatever your circumstances (even rape). This book is a good read for anyone and an excellent resource for those helping others through the unplanned pregnancy!
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on March 9, 2007
a much needed addition to the literature on pregnancy. Many sound examples of how it takes time to sort things out and why it is so important not to make quick and seemingly easy decisions that can be regretted the rest of our lives. Often what seems so unexpected and life altering can be one of the best things that ever happened to us. Shows self-sacrifice in a very positive light that enhances one's own life and also many others. Displays the strength of women and how an altered path sometimes ends up much more rewarding and successful even for a career.
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on October 21, 2007
I received this book as a gift from one of my best friends after we had talked on the phone about my unexpected pregnancy. I was so depressed and I was feeling completely overwhelmed before I started reading this book. This book helped me think positive about things, has given me hope, and lets me know I am not alone (I felt horrible for the way I was feeling about the pregnancy). I highly recommend this book =)
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on April 5, 2010
My husband found this book for me when we found out that we were pregnant unexpectedly. We had planned on not having more children so I was having a tough time dealing with the pregnancy. Reading this book gave me the comfort of knowing that the emotions I was feeling were not unusual. I'm keeping this book around for the entire pregnancy to reveiw as I have more trepidation on what's to come.
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on August 24, 2008
As the Executive Director of a Pregnancy Resource Center, I purchased this book to use as a reource for women--especially older-who come to us with a totally unexpected surprise, and are not sure they can deal with another child. Perhaps she's older, or has many children already. This testimony is honest and encouraging for those who are truly surprised and need help to see the blessing of another child.
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