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Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family Paperback – March 29, 2005

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Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family + Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother + Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143034774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143034773
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A memoir is a success when it transcends the personal incidents about which it is written. So, while it's true that mothers expecting their second child will find the most to relate to in this exposé of domestic life, Newman's volume is a success because it never gets mired in self-centered pity or satire. Rather, hers is an honest and tender exploration of a particularly vulnerable and lovely period in life, a work that all readers can enjoy. Adapted from Newman's online journal, "Bringing up Ben & Birdy," the book opens with the author's discovery that she's pregnant for the second time. "Run and tell your teenaged daughters!" she jokes. "It's not enough to keep some birth control stashed in the drawer of your bedside table-you actually have to use it." Along with waves of nausea and strong food aversions, Newman's pregnancy provokes worries about the ways in which the coming baby will alter her treasured relationship with her first child, a toddler named Ben. But as the unborn baby, known as Birdy, becomes more of a reality, Newman realizes that the love she feels for her first child is only expanding. The author bravely endures every mother's worst trials, from suspicious prenatal test results to angst of the more philosophical nature, but her sweet, self-deprecating humor keeps the book rolling lightly along. And once Birdy arrives, Newman ushers readers through the early milky days of babyhood, her insight casting a gentle light on both the ugly and transcendent moments. Honest, tender and funny, this book is so good that readers will look forward to reading more about this marvelously ordinary family.


"Might be the funniest—and most astute—account of a mother's first years with her child since Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions." —Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and Before You Know Kindness

"Catherine Newman's new book about the rock and roll life of newborn parents is hysterical... Don't give birth without it." —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Baby Bat's Lullaby

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book is great for anyone who is pregnant or has young children.
S. Stevens
I think I even like it better than Operating Instructions, which is also an incredibly excellent book.
cambridge reader
I laughed out loud again and again and read several passages out loud to my husband.
Stephanie Samphire

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Laurie on April 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of all of the gems I've stumbled across on the internet, one of my favorites has to be Catherine Newman's "Ben and Birdy" column. I always have to smile when I realize that it's the beginning of a new week and there will be a new chapter posted. Usually I end up reading most, if not all, of it aloud to my husband, albeit in bits and pieces. Some of it I share because it is simply hysterical, some because it captures the essence of what I feel with my own 2 and 6 year olds, and some because it can nearly make me cry. Basically, she sums up the roller coaster of motherhood in a few perfect paragraphs, and this book is a continuation of that. As far as I am concerned, it is a must-read for all mothers -- a definite addition to the baby shower gift. I doubt that anyone can read it and not feel touched, and grateful, for having done so. Unlike so many other books that you find yourself reading when you're pregnant or a new mother, this one doesn't make you more worried, more unsure of yourself, or more depressed. There's no overwhelming amount of dire possibilities that you've never considered, no second guessing all of your parental decisions, no nail-biting. This is like sitting down with the best of friends and having a good long laugh, or cry, or "aha" moment that boosts your mood and makes you feel less alone. The anecdotes are so refreshingly real -- it's a relief to find out that there's someone else out there just like you -- you're not the only one who misunderstood, or worried all night, or said crazy things to your husband. And it's clear that she is such a good mother and that her children are lucky to have her, and it's easier to believe that you are too -- for all your flaws, things really are ok. This is a totally unflinching, unselfconscious look at motherhood, and it's beautiful. Buy the book. You won't regret it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By K. Corn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book would be at the top of my list for any parent or parent-to-be. It is simply that good and original, with a special, unique voice. And I say that after picking it up half-heartedly, thinking, "Oh, no..not ANOTHER parenting memoir" I thought I'd read just about every variation of that sort of book that was out there. In fact, for a time it was an obsession of mine.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn't stop reading this one, as the author was totally honest about both the trials and the joys of parenting, revealing the hardships as well as the rewards - in detail, yet with such quirky humor that I was laughing out loud for a good share of the time.

What makes this book special is the way she describes her daily life and the personality of her young son, Ben, in a way that makes clear how exasperatingly difficult her job can be one moment, how sweet the next. She is clearly not the "perfect mother" (is anyone?) and her courage in revealing her doubts, fears and foibles is oddly comforting to read.

This is a book for those of us who want to be good parents but need communion with those who are like us - aspiring to be better at our job, but having moments that are all too human as well, when we don't live up to our hopes, our expectations. It is this author's particular gift that she is able to own up to these moments without excuses or defensiveness, shedding new light on the complexities of parenthood, admitting that she was surprised by the radical changes in her life, even discombobulated by them at times. And yet she also comes across as a devoted and loving mother, fiercely passionate about her children. I absolutely loved this book!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sheryl A. Lemma on April 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Catherine Newman, famous for her marvelous work as a columnist on BabyCenter.com, extends that column into a book that every parent should read. This is no sugar-coated, rosy-eyeglassed view of parenting; it is absolutely real. The love, the frustration, the worry (oh, the worry!) ... it's all there. Posts to Catherine's BabyCenter column all say essentially this: "Catherine, thank you so much for writing about my life! I know that I am 'normal' thanks to you! Have you been peeking in my windows?" This book is an extenuation of that column. Buy it -- read it -- but be sure to set aside some tissues, a good chunk of time, and find a place where you can laugh out loud. This is simply the best parenting book (and column) I've ever read (and I've read MORE than my share!)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Lane on April 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Set aside the boring, earnest, and "useful" books on your parenting bookshelf, and pick up Waiting for Birdy. Catherine Newman is an incredibly gifted writer and parent. She captures exactly why parenting is so wonderful AND so hard. Reading her book (and her columns on babycenter) makes you feel like she was spying on your life -- that moment at preschool ("Are we really the parents?"), the endless "Whys" of your 2-year-old. I liked this book so much more than Operating Instructions.

For those of us who parent outside the "mainstream", Waiting for Birdy is a subtle endorsement of those ideas. Catherine co-sleeps with her children, nurses into toddler-hood, practices gentle discipline, and admits her own shortcomings. This is a great book to give to someone who has been questioning your parenting choices (Catherine makes all of this seem so normal), or to try to influence new parents to do something different.

I hope this becomes a best-seller!!!
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