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The Second Nine Months: One Woman Tells the REAL Truth About Becoming a Mom. Finally. Hardcover – January 7, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Before I had children, the closest thing I had to exposure of mothers and babies consisted of those things you witness in a store. And there's usually two kinds of mothers (with a small fraction falling in between, and thus being less-noticeable) - the ones that are flogging overtired screaming kids at a time when any reasonable mother would have their child in bed, and you're thinking "Oh, poor kid, I am SO not going to be *that* kind of mother." And then there are these placid-looking women, their hair is done, they wear make-up and pretty (clean) clothes, and everything their kids say, they respond to with a sentence that ends in a high lilt. I don't suppose I really thought I'd be that kind of mom, but since I've had children, I've wondered, are these women really as happy and engrossed as the lilt would have you believe, or is it just part of the social we're-in-public script?
I've wondered how many women enter parenthood, having all their lives been utterly prepared to be independent, feminist, autonomous beings, only to have no preparation at all for the realities of motherhood?
As evidenced by the birth and rearing of my second child, preparation for the for the absolute worst case scenario can allow you to enjoy having any child-rearing situation that is the exception. Our first was 2 weeks sleepy, 5 months colicky (8-10 hour screaming spells. daily). Our second, though I expected her to be the same, was an entirely different - though not blissfully easy - baby. But I was prepared, and overall was better able to cope with the difficulties she presented (like when she developed eosinophilic proctocolitis at 4 months of age and began pooping blood).
So, unlike many of the terrified readers of this book, I think it should be mandatory pre-childbirth reading. I wish I had read this *before* having kids. Like my dad always said (almost jokingly, mind you), "Keep your expectations low and you'll rarely be disappointed." I mean, if you go into this whole venture knowing that you might not sleep for 5 months, that the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding contains only one true statement - and that's the title - and by the way, that some of just don't have what it takes to be great 'artists' - And if you know that babies sometimes don't just cry, they scream and scream and scream until your brain feels like its been in a blender, and you don't remember your own name, and you find yourself browsing the refrigerator when you intended to go pee, and you can't remember just how long you've been sitting there staring at that bottle of ketchup not understanding what you're seeing, and then... wait, what was I supposed to be doing again? When your life is turned freaking upside down, you can comfort yourself by saying you knew this could happen, and it isn't like a meteor dropped out of the sky and blasted everything you thought you knew and understood about the world out of existence. Maybe it could prevent that massive train wreck of disappointment, inadequacy, and self-loathing when all the sometimes-half-truths you read in the Sears' books turn out to have no relevance to you or your current situation.
So, I think that in a world where we don't communicate 'real' things as often as we should, that a book which lays out one woman's truth for all to pick apart and critique and maybe glean some profound new knowledge of motherhood from - whether it's applicable to your own situation or not - is an act of bravery and kindness to all women. I know that I still censor myself in daily conversations, and that I've avoided altogether writing about my experiences as a mother because I simply don't have the confidence to overcome the inevitable negative comments and blatant judgments (i.e. Vicki would have bonded with her baby if only she'd had a midwife) that this account of mothering and others like it draw.
So, why did I give it only four stars?
I wish I'd read it sooner. There were things in the book that didn't 'click' for me, because of differences in viewpoints, parenting styles, and there are certain parts of the book where Vicki portrays her attitude as being really cavalier on a number of occasions. I'm not sure if this is how she actually felt or what was conveyed by her style of writing and the distance she had from her situation when she began writing.
Too, I couldn't relate to virtually anything in the second half of the book. I've never gone back to work. And, in spite of my reservations about allowing the whole breastfeeding, co-sleeping, stay-at-home-mom thing (and all the many many details of trying to attain perfection in that area) rule my entire existence, they are things which for all practically purposes have swallowed the person I used to be an spat her out in some murky form I don't recognize or know what to do with. So maybe I'm a little envious of Vicki's release from a good percentage of the day-to-day drudgery and repetition of motherly duties, and her ability to find herself again. I don't think this works out so quickly for stay-at-home-moms. Or maybe I'm wrong and the rest of them are 'loving every minute of it'
In any case, I certainly wouldn't write the book off just because you, as a reader, might not agree with or understand every moment of it. The truths and the honesty it contains are worth far more than these small differences.
Kudos to the author for exposing her deepest feelings of inadequacy and "bad mommy" moments. I myself was plagued with the same thoughts.
It does get easier as your child gets older. I myself did not bond with my firstborn until he was at least 5 months old. Take heart new moms, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.