Friday, 13 January 2012

Making babies

I know all about making babies, right? I've got four after all, and the making of them was the easy bit.

And anyway, even if I did want to find out more about it, not only would I (being me) be too embarrassed to buy a book about it, I certainly wouldn't be advertising it on the internet...

That's what you're thinking, isn't it?

Well, it's ok. You're safe.  You can relax.  This is a book review, and it is a book called Making Babies but it's not what you're expecting. Or at least it's not what I expected.

And that's why I'm reviewing it, because I was asked, for the first month of the Tots100 Book Club, to pick a book that meant something to me, and to recommend it to another blogger. And although I tried I couldn't pick anything else.

Because I want the whole of the Tots100 to read this book. And then I want them all to email me and tell me what they thought.  Because I found I couldn't read this book dispassionately.  Maybe we can never read any book dispassionately, but this one took it to an extreme.

It was actually sent to me over a year ago, by the lovely Pants With Names, when I was newly pregnant with M.  And I couldn't read it.  I tried, I really did, but it was too close to what I was experiencing.  I couldn't divorce Anne Enright's "indifference to the world" from mine.  As she says,  I was "generally, as opposed to locally, pregnant" and I was, as she was, a mess.  I was in the middle of  "the stupidity of it, the blankness, the senseless days and the terrible, interrupted nights".  And I couldn't cope with reading someone putting into words better than I ever could (although goodness knows, I tried) the immediacy of that experience.  It was like having someone else pick your scab.

B, on the other hand, had no such qualms.  He picked it up and snorted with laughter the whole way through it.  I couldn't supress the suspicion that he was actually laughing at me, and not at sentences like:

"Every couple you meet is in an advanced stage of negotiation, whether thy have children or not... Marriage is like Churchill and Stalin breaking off, at Yalta, for a quick shag. Oh all right then, you take Poland"

And after I had M, it was still too raw. Still too new.   She says:

"The body has no imagination; this is why you never take a jumper with you on a warm day, just in case.  The body has no memory, which is why sex is always such a surprise"

and in reading this book, in the newness of new life, I was forcing those memories and I just wasn't ready for them. 

Six months later, M back on the weight chart, sleeping through and feeding happily, and I devoured this book much as he does whatever concoction of mush I shovel at him.  If I say it's a collection of essays about motherhood, that's true, but it's so much more than that.  Anne Enright says she wrote it because she "felt it was important.".  She "wanted to say what it was like".

And, for me, it is, and she did.  In a way no pregnancy guide ever could.  This book is motherhood. In 193 pages.

But, as I say, I couldn't be dispassionate about it. And maybe I still can't. Which is why I'm recommending it to Trish, of Mum's Gone To.   She loves her books, and we've had lots of good chat about books, but she's well out of the baby stage, and so I'd love to know whether this resonates with her as it does with me.  Let me know...

There is so much more I could say about this book, but I'll never say it as well as Anne Enright does these:

On having a second child:
The most surprising thing is that the love repeats as much as the pain

On maternal guilt:
And still there is an overwhelming sense that no matter how properly we reproduce, we are all DOING SOMETHING WRONG and no one knows what it is.  

On out-grown clothes:
You can never give it away because you still don't believe it - any of it - you need proof that they were once so small.

On toddlers:
She is only two.
Though sometimes, I am two, too.

And on children:
They are our enduring love.

Tots100 Parent Blogger Book Club


  1. Love the fact that you are honest enough to say you didn't like a book at a particular time. I can see why you found it grating. You've intrigued me - I may have to read it!

    1. Ooh! I have got it too! How exciting. Thank you anyway - and yes, you should read it. I hope Trish won't take offence if I say you were my first thought - but apparently the States is (are? I never know) too far away.

  2. Thanks for thinking of me as a recipient for the book: an interesting idea to get the opinion of someone who made babies (well, just the one) many years ago. Looking forward to reading it x

    1. You're very welcome - will be very interested to see what you think.


I know. I'm sorry. I hate these word recognition, are you a robot, guff things too, but having just got rid of a large number of ungrammatical and poorly spelt adverts for all sorts of things I don't want, and especially don't want on my blog, I'm hoping that this will mean that only lovely people, of the actually a person variety, will comment.

So please do. Comments are great...