Monday, March 30, 2009

Dooce.com, It Sucked and Then I Cried, a memoir of motherhood that isn't all tea and skittles

I thought I'd take to motherhood easily,having wanted a baby for a long time and also having had to endure fertility treatments to get pregnant. I didn't. This book is for women like me and women like Heather B. Armstrong, creator of the popular site (Dooce.com), a woman with a wicked sense of humor and the guts to reveal the nightmarish side of new motherhood. Hormomal imbalances, a tendency towards depression and other events eventually led her past the point of handling life without therapy and help.

This is one of the few books I've read which revealed much of what I felt as a new mother. This book, It Sucked and Then I Cried (a title which works on so many levels, even evoking monster movie images) had a tendency towards depression before giving birth. Then she had a baby and fought to keep that depression from overwhelming her life, all while adjusting to a baby who slept very little and screamed - A LOT.

I related to this book because I had a baby very similar to Leta, Armstrong's infant daughter. A baby who rarely slept, who screamed often and who hated to hold still. He grew into a delightful child and an even more delightful adult but those first months of parenthood were a shock to my system...and all this happened before postpartum depression was taken seriously.

Reading Heather Armstrong's book made me feel understood -and should help other women who don't find new motherhood to be all they expected. Hormonal imbalances and fluctuations are real and sleep deprivation and active or fussy babies CAN take a toll on some women.

Also, even in the midst of her most despairing days, Armstrong manages to find some humor. If I'd read this book when I felt depressed or sleep-deprived in the first months after giving birth, it could have been a huge help. I hope it finds its audience.