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You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman: Diary of an Older Mother Hardcover – April 21, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Geezers with children," Ladies Home Journal columnist Newman calls herself and her husband, "whose cumulative age exceeds one hundred." Being older may have complicated Newman's attempts to get pregnant—it took seven years and plenty of technology—but it also may have relaxed some inhibitions. Other women may joke about fertility treatments ruining their sex lives' spontaneity, but few would describe their husbands gazing at them "with about the same degree of pleasure as Sisyphus looks at a rock"—which he immediately denies, making her feel even worse because now "I'm making my husband fake it." After a hilariously nauseous pregnancy, culminating in the birth of twin boys, Newman looks at them and thinks, "I wonder if they'd look less like space aliens if I penciled in their eyebrows." Breastfeeding? She knows it's good for the immune system, but "for that I have the dog. I figure that having a golden retriever lick your head every day must have immune-system-enhancing qualities." Apart from the irreverence, Newman's older mom status allows her to take a more critical perspective on parenting. Watching herself get sucked into anxious observation of her boys' motor skills, she wonders where "this wild obsession with developmental milestones" comes from. She realizes parenting has turned her into a homebody, which is fine, because just "[l]iving, in the sense of breathing and functioning, becomes way more important than having a life." While humorless and/or politically correct readers may bristle at Newman's antics, everyone else will be rolling in the aisles, reading out funny parts to perfect strangers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Newman spent seven years and $70,000 trying to get pregnant before conceiving twins at age 40, casting herself and her 66-year-old husband, John, into the category she calls "geezers with children." Newman chronicles the joys and frustrations of late-life first-time parenthood, starting in 1995 with the ordeal of modern techno-conception, a difficult pregnancy, and the birth of twins. John, a retired British opera singer, cool to the idea of starting a family so late in life, continues to maintain a separate apartment, while Newman struggles with a golden retriever, twin boys, and a nanny within 750 square feet of space in Manhattan. Newman recounts 20 months of juggling a career as a freelance writer and primary responsibility for the twins--one robust and bursting off the growth charts, the other scrawny and provoking constant health scares. She is brutally honest--and funny--about the wear and tear of first-time motherhood on middle-aged women as well as the physical and emotional toll on a marriage when one partner is determined to have a family and the other is reluctant. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax (April 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401351891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401351892
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,715,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book excitedly, because of the paucity of reading material directed at someone like me- a 43 year old, first time mother via infertility treatments, with a long and successful professional career. Then I started reading, and my excitement deflated.

I don't think she was really committed to anything other than publishing a compilation of forced hilarity sit-com entries.

I thought her style was trying to emulate Ann Lamott....but with the cynical, savvy-New York City angle (Sex-In-the-City with babies and their poo), and without the heart or introspection that make Lamotts "Operating Instructions" so precious.

How does this book represent good writing? She has not communicated so much to us... her motivation to get pregnant without the support of her husband, the complicated reasons why she has a very unconventional life, why she accepts incompetence from her contractor, why she is cowed by a Nanny. I suspect it could be more interesting if we, again, got a peak at some real heart here. Instead we get to read about how much money she can spend (except...well..not on a CRIB or DIAPERS...her friends/family have to come up with that for her after the babies are born), Manalo Blahnick shoes and exquisite catering...its often a very superficial and disappointing read that I basically slogged through.

I have no doubt Ms. Newman is a wonderful mother and partner who deeply loves her children and husband...and I would have liked to read about that side of her, and that can be done with humor interfaced with self exploration. If she had gone just a few shades deeper she could have made a very engaging book for many of us, especially if she was less enamored with her fabulous lifestyle and more committed to an internal journey.

But hey, this is 2005. We don't ask for depth and character anymore. We're satisfied with a yuk.
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Format: Hardcover
Judith Newman's memoir of becoming a first-time mother of twins in her early forties is more than light reading, but much less than it could have been. Newman writes well, she's funny and, yes, she's honest, but SELECTIVELY honest -- for one thing, how does a freelance writer, even for top-shelf magazines and newspapers, come by those tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars she almost casually strews everywhere in pursuit of Manhattan real estate, nannies, baby clothes and all the other accoutrements of modern living? You get the feeling that there is a lot she's not telling you.

Newman, a dyed-in-the-wool urban sophisticate who moves easily among Manhattan's media elite, is good at what she does and is nobody's fool. She is well trained to see all glasses as half-empty, and this is one media professional who turns a gimlet eye on the media; parents' magazines, kids' TV (save for 'Sesame Street' and 'Mister Rogers'), and even 'Goodnight Moon' come in for a pasting. Would that her critical judgment was as finely honed where her personal life is concerned. This book, amusing and a page-turner though it is, turns into a classic illustration of Smart Women, Foolish Choices. By the end of the book, you wonder why on earth she's stayed with her superannuated, selfish jerk of a husband (one wonders what his reaction was when he read his wife's extremely unflattering depiction of him, that is, if he bothered to read the book at all), not to mention the controlling Jamaican nanny (whose sister she hired for the twins' first three months at $250 a DAY -- do the math!), not to mention her judgment in keeping a golden retriever in a cramped Manhattan apartment, even after the twins were born.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading this book made me think of a quote I once read, from Saint Teresa: "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones."
I loved reading Ms. Newman's articles in Ladies Home Journal each month, especially because her twin sons are almost the exact age of my own twin sons. I ordered this book hot off the press, and I wanted to love it, but...
I just can't help but feel sorry for Henry and Gus, should they read this book someday, when they come across the journal entry on page 41, dated April 2, 2001, which begins with, "I want you dead..." I have to say I found this really offensive, and I am speaking only as a Mom, and not because of any particular religious or political concern.
The rest of the book was okay, save for the fact that I found her husband to be a completely self-centered jerk, but that's not Ms. Newman's fault. I don't know - if you strongly dislike a character in a book, and the book itself is non-fiction, does that mean you don't like the book itself? No, I guess not.
So, I am giving this book 4 stars out of 5, because it was entertaining, and for the most part, I enjoyed reading it, but the 1 star I took away was for page 41.
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Format: Hardcover
I had my twins at 35 after fertility treatments and still had a difficult time relating to the woman in this book. Not because I like things sugar-coated or pretend that motherhood is always a bed of roses. But for a far better written realistic account of how tough new babies can be on your psyche,read Anne Lamott's Operating Insructions.

Judith Newman had a charmed life, with the full time nanny and never bothering to breastfeed even one week,even though the babies were preemies and one had very serious weight gain issues for months.There are some funny lines, but mostly I just found myself disgusted with her and being happy i checked it out from the library instead of buying it.
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