Friday, January 4, 2013

What to Read When You're Expecting

Brace yourselves...we've got another Bowden-bun in the oven, which translates to another 6 months of pregnancy overload and unsolicited advice on all things baby. Ok, hopefully not, but I'm a sharer by nature, so if I know something (or think I know something) I want to tell you all about it. I can't help it! So humor the wanna-be-expert in me, and allow me to drop some knowledge for a minute.

Last time I shared my baby registry tips, but since we're much earlier in the game this time, I wanted to share what was on my bookshelf pre-baby. If you find yourself "in the family way" hopefully I can save you some browsing, by highlighting a couple of winners.

The Ultimate Pregnancy Guide for Expectant Mothers: A Daily Guide to Ensure a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy
Dustin bought this one for me, and I loved it. (He actually secretly got it before we got pregnant, and had it wrapped and waiting for the day we got a positive test. And if that's not the most romantic thing you've ever heard of, then you just might live in The Notebook.)  It's very simple, but very informative. It seemed to nail exactly what I was going through...even down to the day (It was creepily accurate sometimes...Can you see me, book?!) This is a good alternative to the traditional "What to Expect When Expecting" (which I have a copy of, but never really got into.) Plus, I like that this version doesn't inundate you with every tiny thing that could ever, ever, ever happen to you, and scare the bejebus out of you with rare worst case scenarios (I mean, what's not to like about that?)

The Working Gal's Guide to Babyville: Your Must-Have Manual for Life with Baby 
I got this from the library in the midst of one of my (many) pregnancy panics- this one entitled- I Have No Idea How to Work and Raise a Baby, What the Crappity Crap am I going to Do, Don't they Make a Handbook for This Sort of Thing? (Volumes 1-5). So, yeah. I was a little desperate for some working-mom specific info and guidance...and was pretty disappointed by what's out there (mostly, what's not out there- i.e. "a handbook for this sort of thing"). But I found this, and read through the majority of it through the course of a one day business trip (oh, the irony.) Overall? Eh. There were a couple helpful things in here, but it was also a little cheesy at times. As desperate as I was for situation specific guidance, it was a little too customized at times. Like pens for women. Turns out sometimes a mom is just a mom, whether she works or not, and not all advice needs to vary based on how your family earns a living. Overall? If you're wigging out about how to juggle everything- Bail on the book, and call a friend who's been there. And if you don't have a friend that's been there? Email me. (I promise not to refer to you as "gal".)

The Mommy Docs' Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth
I pretty much got this instead of taking a birthing class. Because I'm responsible like that. Why commit to a formal learning environment and expose yourself to one on one instruction when you can just skim a few pages written by a bunch of super photogenic lady docs? (For real...did they choose the writing team based on who would look good on a cover?) I realized pretty late in the game (like...35 weeks?) that I had read a ton about being pregnant, but was juuuuuuust this side of ignorant when it came to the whole "getting the baby out" part. My plan was to not really have a plan, but I didn't want to sound like a backwoods teenager, when we got to the hospital, so a last minute cram session seemed like a necessary step. I pretty much skipped the pregnancy part of the book, so I can't vouch for that, but the sections on the birth process were pretty helpful. It is very thorough though (think textbook, but not as boring) so if you get this one, don't feel like you have to read everything. If I read too much about pregnancy, or birth I would start to freak myself out a little and panic at all the possibilities and details, so I tried to keep it somewhat high level, and just get a working knowledge of the whole thing. But if you're one of those "have to know everything types" this book will definitely get the job done.

The Happiest Baby on the Block
In a similar vein, I should confess that not only did I sort of neglect to read up on the whole birth thing...It also didn't fully occur to me that I should probably research a bit about the whole baby thing. Like...what to do once the bizarro little creature is out and about, and everyone expects you to protect, feed, clothe, and generally raise it. It's not because I'm dumb (ok, not that dumb). I just got caught up in the magic of pregnancy, and wasn't too thrilled to immerse myself in the harsh realities of parenting until I actually had to. And while I do think the adage of "ignorance is bliss" can be accurate (and comforting) to woman in the last stages of pregnancy, I also realize that a bit of background knowledge on children, might just be a good thing if you're about to have one. Unfortunately I honestly don't remember much about this this book because I skimmed it pretty fast as a formality towards the end of my pregnancy. But...I think it was good? Man, this is turning into the best advice column ever. You better not be skimming.

New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding Alright, you're either into this, or you're not, and my advice is if you get this....skim it. It's got great info, but it also has the cheesiest, most annoying stories you ever heard. (and drawings. OH the drawings!) Plus- at least the first two chapters, (and really a quarter of the book in total) is blatant "why nursing is the best thing since sliced bread- but actually forget bread- breast milk is the best thing since ANYTHING" type propaganda, which is annoying, but also pretty unnecessary. I figure anyone reading the book already want to nurse. There's no need to jump on the high horse of preachiness to convert the converted. But that being said, nursing can be a challenge for a variety of reasons, and this book is super valuable in helping prepare you for what to expect. For me personally though, I think too much in advance reading would have just freaked me out about how hard it might be, so it was better used as a reference after the fact if I had questions or problems. (Or if I was desperate for a pencil rendering of a 70's era mother tandem feeding twins. It's pretty good for that too.)

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
Ok- warning: some people get OBSESSED with this. Meaning, they use babywise as a verb- as in "oh yeah, we babywise. obvi.". Like they've cracked the code and found the only acceptable strategy to parenting an infant. To which I say: No. But! There are some good ideas in here, so long as you don't throw your brain out and become a babywise zealot. (And opposite warning: there are some people that think this book is the devil. Like any of the schedules are rigid, baby-prison scare-tactics. To which I also say: No.) I'm a middle of the road babywiser (as with a lot of things), so just picked and chose the things I thought seemed worth following, and ignored the parts that stressed me out or didn't fit with our life. I found the example schedules SUPER helpful, but then again some of the advice was a bit too "prefect world" and left me feeling like a failure that I wasn't able to get my baby on an exact schedule from minute one.

The Guy's Guide to Surviving Pregnancy Childbirth and The First Year of Fatherhood
Last one: This is the one and only baby related book Dustin ever read (now you see why him buying me a book is extra thoughtful. It's so not his wheelhouse). He found it pretty funny and mildly helpful, but it's by no means a textbook like informative guide. The main benefit to this book is that it at least made me feel like he was involved in the process. There's only so much a dad-to-be can do, so reading something, anything, goes a long way to show they're invested in the whole thing. (That and footrubs. Those go a long way to show everything.)

OH- and last minute bonus pick (because my book cover collage looked better with eight pictures...And because this might be the book I actually read the most of...)
Beyond Ava and Aiden: The Enlightened Guide To Naming Your Baby
Ok, nevermind the obnoxious title (would you have read this post if I branded it "The enlightened guide for reading books about baby junk"? I hope not.) This is actually a pretty fantastic book...if you're a stressed out pseudo-hipster who agonizes excessively about naming your child (hello, Courtney Bowden!) Naming the baby was in my top three list of pregnancy tasks (along with designing a nursery, and eating grilled cheese sandwiches), and I took the study of names VERY seriously. (see also: why I didn't bother with birthing strategies and parenting philosophies. I was busy preparing to bestow a moniker on my princess). Online research is king in this area (as are spreadsheet rankings, old school arguments and least in the Bowden household) but if you just can't get over the idea of thumbing through a real live volume of name inspiration (which, no lie, was one of my favorite pastimes as a kid!) then this is your book.

That's the long and short (and the very, very long) of it. All you experienced mamas out there...did you have any must reads?


  1. I'm in the "wanted to burn baby-wise" camp, but other than that great recs! I still loved/love Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child b/c apparently not all kids know how to sleep and that's something us parents have to teach them. ugh. Least favorite early parenting lessons are teaching kids how to sleep.
    so excited for Bowden #2

    1. To each his own, right? That's why I try not to get too fanatical about any one thing....Even if it works for one baby, who knows about the next one! But I do agree with you on sleep. Who would have thought you'd have to teach someone to sleep? I'm so good at it now!!

  2. Noted. Oh the advice you will need to give me someday far far away...

  3. I read a great book about having 2 kids..Beyond One by Jennifer Bingham Hull.

    1. Ooooh love that. I requested it at the library!

  4. I am excited about reading Bowdenisms, the pregnancy adventure part deux. :)

    I have Babywise, but considering Noah has seen Leno many, many times I think it is safe to say I didn't live by it.

    I, for one, enjoyed a book called Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. It appealed to my sick sense of humor. Love how you are able to glean bits and pieces from books without reading too much into them all.

    And now you get to live your wisdom.


    1. Happy, I think you mean how I was able to glean wisdom without actually READING too much at all. ;)
      This will all be useful when you're pregnant one more time, right?!