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text 2017-08-19 04:48
Book 46/100: A Spiritual Guide Through Pregnancy by Margaret Hammer
Spiritual Guide Through Pregna - Margaret L. Hammer

This book definitely fills a gap in addressing the spiritual side of pregnancy rather than just addressing the physical/medical/emotional aspects of it. However, it falls short in that it makes a lot of assumptions about the type of woman who is reading it -- it always refers to a woman's partner as her "husband," for example, as if only those who are traditionally married would have an interest in the spirituality of pregnancy. There is no acknowledgment of single motherhood or of other sorts of partnerships -- same-sex partnership, committed relationships that are not marriages, etc. The spirituality is distinctly Christian, which is OK, although it seems then that the title should be a little more explicit since "spiritual" is such a broad term. But some of the meditations are moving and insightful, and the questions could provide some really good journaling prompts. I wish I had found the book earlier in my pregnancy so that I wasn't rushing through all the meditations during the final trimester -- the reflections are definitely more meaningful when read at the proper time in the pregnancy journey.

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review 2017-06-26 01:44
35/100: Hypnobirthing - the Mongan Method by Marie Mongan

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan MethodHypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie F. Mongan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I might come back and give this book 2 stars after I actually give birth if I decide it's all bunk.

But for now, I like the Mongan method philosophy (on paper, at least!) of birth being a natural process that should be approached as such, with as little anxiety or drama as possible. I definitely agree that we need to move away, as a culture, from ideas of the stress of childbirth as being fodder for humor or hysteria as we so often see portrayed in sitcoms and movies. I also think that if changing your mindset about labor reduces your anxiety leading up to birth, even if the birth process itself is harrowing, you've saved yourself all that unnecessary stress in the preceding months.

This is a comprehensive, holistic book that goes beyond the hypnobirthing relaxation techniques, so that even if you don't practice the techniques (which I have been practicing, but I'm not very good at them) you can find value in the overall philosophy. A couple things that bothered me, though, were more typos than should have been present in a non-self-pubbed book (especially in the "new/updated" chapters, as if they'd rushed those off) and a total lack of acknowledgment about some of the special circumstances that make human childbirth different from childbirth for other mammals who suffer less through it, such as our massive heads/big brains.

Still, I'm glad I read the book and also that I took the class, and I would recommend both together rather than trying to get by with just one or the other.

View all my reviews

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review 2017-02-22 02:10
Book 4/100: Expecting Better - Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong by Emily Oster
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong-and What YouReally Need to Know - Emily Oster

Around the Year Reading Challenge #TBD: A book you are embarrassed to read in public

I wasn't actually embarrassed to read this book in public, but I was reading it before I had announced that I was pregnant, so I was keeping the book secret.

Now that I'm no longer keeping a secret (and couldn't if I wanted to if you saw me IRL), I'm happy to talk about this book.

I am not an economist like Oster, but I very much related to her obsession with knowing exact numbers and exact reasons behind different pregnancy outcomes and advice. I've spent countless hours Googling (often in vain) for specific statistics and studies to back up general pregnancy/conception advice. Oster looks at a lot of these studies so you don't have to. I loved the tone of this book, which is empowering in that Oster believes women are capable of weighing the risks themselves and making their own decision rather than blindly following conventional wisdom.

Oster's overall takeaway is that women can be much more permissive during pregnancy than one might believe -- moderate drinking is OK, moderate caffeine is OK, invasive genetic testing is not really that dangerous. While she can back all this up and a lot of women will probably feel freed by her information, I still ended up following pretty much all of the "conventional" wisdom because I am so risk averse that even a small increase in the chances of something going wrong is more than I'm willing to take. But it is nice to know I don't need to stay up all night worrying if I give in to the craving for an occasional coffee or sip of beer.

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review 2017-02-08 17:12
The Nearness of You/Amanda Eyre Ward
The Nearness of You: A Novel - Amanda Eyre Ward

Brilliant heart surgeon Suzette Kendall is stunned when Hyland, her husband of fifteen years, admits his yearning for a child. From the beginning they’d decided that having children was not an option, as Suzette feared passing along the genes that landed her mother in a mental institution. But Hyland proposes a different idea: a baby via surrogate.

Suzette agrees, and what follows is a whirlwind of candidate selections, hospital visits, and Suzette’s doubts over whether she’s made the right decision. A young woman named Dorothy Muscarello is chosen as the one who will help make this family complete. For Dorrie, surrogacy (and the money that comes with it) are her opportunity to leave behind a troubled past and create a future for herself—one full of possibility. But this situation also forces all three of them—Dorrie, Suzette, and Hyland—to face a devastating uncertainty that will reverberate in the years to come.

Beautifully shifting between perspectives, The Nearness of You deftly explores the connections we form, the families we create, and the love we hold most dear.

 

Ahh, this one had so much potential and so many moments where I almost fell in love with it, but it simply covered too much ground in too little space.

 

Suzette was an absolutely fantastic character. She's an accomplished surgeon and there are many scenes that show her in surgery, and to me, that was just so darn cool. I had so much respect for her and as this is a piece of life I don't usually get through literature, I was excited to experience it. I also really respected her not wanting to pass on her genes due to her history of mental illness, yet her openness to having a child despite. She had so much strength, but she wasn't perfect and didn't always act as I thought she would. Seriously, I love Suzette.

 

The other characters I wasn't so into. Dorrie felt too simplistic and I was saddened by how she evolved during the book. Hyland gets a little characterization but I never really grow to care about them. While I normally adore having books told from many character's perspectives, I felt like there were too many perspectives in this one and it made it hard for me to really engage.

 

But ultimately my biggest issue with this book was how fast it moved. I normally have the opposite problem, yet in this case, I felt like there were many sections of life that needed to be expanded. The gap between the first and second parts was where the book really lost me; a significant period of time passes and I want to know how the relationships between the characters evolve in that section.

 

The prologue sets up the ending like a ciffhanger, but I felt like it was kind of obvious how the scene would be resolved. A plot twist came late that was cool and explained a little bit of Dorrie's motivations, but felt like it was there for shock value. I did love the entire concept of having a surrogate mother and the idea of motherhood, but this book simply attempted to cover too many points. Though it was an easy read, I think that if it had been twice its length, I'd have liked it twice as much.

 

Though I recommend this book for people interested in the topic, this book failed to capture me.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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