Book Review: What To Expect When You’re Expecting

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Our ModernMom Book Club is a way for our readers to express their thoughts and ideas on things they’ve read, sharing their insights with our community of moms. Join the conversation, and tell us what you thought about this book in the comment section below! 

 

How many of you have read this book, plan to read this book or proudly display it on your bookshelf? Thought so.

If you could see me right now, I’d be shaking my head. Because I just don’t get this book or the mini-empire it’s spawned. The first in the series, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting“, has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 500 weeks. That’s a long time. It’s sold 17 million copies and according to USA Today, is read by 93% of women who read pregnancy books.

Now, there’s a new book out, What to Expect in the Second Year, as well as a movie coming out next week that’s based on the first book. You might recall that the first book has no story line, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from making one up. I can’t wait.

But back to the books. Clearly, I’m in the minority of people who while finding the book useful, would never claim it be a “pregnancy bible,” as did the New York Times. I will admit it’s a great resource and reference guide, if you’re into that kind of thing. For many reasons that are too complicated to explain here, I’m not. Never have been. To me, those kinds of books just stoke our already-high levels of parental anxiety and like women’s magazines, make us question ourselves and our choices, leading us down the dangerous road towards self-doubt and negativity.

For example, I never really cared whether my pregnant belly was exactly the right size and once I had children, I didn’t care if they were in the perfect range for height and weight or whether they were eating exactly the right amount of fruits and vegetables. I had other things on my mind. At the time we were having our babies, my husband and I were both also having some fairly major career crises – at the same time. His business was falling apart. My ambition had suddenly disappeared and all I wanted to do was stay home. All that led to a fairly serious marital crisis and so, I didn’t really have the time or energy to worry about whether I was getting enough exercise during pregnancy or whether my toddler was potty training at the right age.

I knew I was lucky to have two healthy, normal kids. I didn’t want to overwhelm my exhausted brain with worry about numbers and statistics and things I should be doing. I did the best I could. And that was enough.

I work with a lot of mothers, teaching them how to write their stories of motherhood at The Momoir Project and we talk a lot about books and from what I’ve heard, the What to Expect book series causes a lot of undue stress. Don’t get me wrong. The kind of information provided in those books is important and useful, but maybe it’s the format and how that information is presented that causes so many of us to lose faith in our instincts and our own inherent knowledge as mothers. Or maybe it’s just me.

Bottom line: check these books out. Read them. But don’t worry about whether your child is in the 80th percentile for weight, or whether you are screwing them up for life by having a family bed. Trust yourself. Pick up a novel – if you have time to read.

 

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