REVIEW: Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood

Book by Anne Enright

REVIEW: Making babies: stumbling into motherhoodOf all the books that pregnant women have by their bed, surely none are as engaging, terrifying or reassuring as Making Babies. Irish author Enright recounts her experiences having two children with humour and candour. Upon first seeing her unborn daughter on the ultrasound, Enright says, “It looks a bit disgusting.”

She is stunned by how terrible she feels, and how others consider this a commendable sacrifice rather than unfortunate circumstance. During prenatal class, Enright realizes there is “a fundamental problem here, of design. The hole just wasn’t big enough. And there was no escape now.” She likens the physical trauma of childbirth to “being run over by a small car—from the inside.” And yet, as soon as her baby emerges, Enright is elated. She and her husband conceive again soon, only to realize “no one gives a toss about your second pregnancy.”

Enright is full of advice. She suggests that wives who demand their husbands raise their cleaning standards actually lower theirs. She encourages women to happily consume alcohol once the baby sleeps for 12 hours straight: “Drink your head off for the first three of them, and when morning comes, you might feel poisoned but you will not be poisonous.” She recommends against looking in the mirror while holding the baby; that emphasizes the imperfections that come with age. And she advises tossing baby clothes after the first wear to avoid drowning in dirty laundry.

Acknowledging the paranoia that besets many moms, Enright includes a list of items under the heading, “How to kill your baby.” Among the ways: “suddenly jealous pets,” “fungally infected honey” and “an open cutlery drawer.” She admits that with each child, she has lost part of her old self but gained some newness, too. It’s a fair trade-off. “I will have to have more babies . . . until I am completely crocked, completely happy, and hardly there at all.” As days and years go by, “The baby is crawling and I have forgotten the girl who could not crawl. She keeps replacing herself.” The same could be said of mom.

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