Category: Book Reviews

The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine

I asked around for recommendations of good baby books, and I have to say that the feedback I got on the Girlfriends’ Guide was overwhelmingly positive.  So overwhelmingly positive, in fact, that it’s the only baby book I have actually purchased so far.  Admittedly I bought it through Thriftbooks and paid less than $4 for a used copy, but still…

All that good feedback really built the book up in my mind to this awesome, fantastically witty Baby Bible.  As a result, I’m grappling hard with some disappointment issues over parts of it.  Don’t get me wrong, there were several times when I flat-out laughed my butt off while I was reading it, and it really does have some great advice.  But there were also aspects of the book that really annoyed me and caused me to put it down when I first opened it a couple of weeks ago.

I hate the way the author tends to talk about husbands and fathers-to-be.  It’s condescending and has a downright nasty feel in some parts — sort of a “You can’t experience this, so you have no importance or relevant input into the process whatsoever” superiority.  Don’t get me wrong; I strongly suspect that there will be lots of times when I want to throttle Southern Honey for “doing this to me” and “subjecting me to this bullshit.”  But I can’t get behind some of the sentiments that seemed to leak through about husbands.

I went back to the beginning and tried to skim for mention of husbands.  Most of what I saw made my chuckle or at least smile, right up until I got to the “Pregnancy Insanity” chapter with its section on “I think I hate my husband!”   She writes, “Let’s start with the simple premise that, by virtue of being a non-female, your husband will have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be you right now… That’s enough right there to qualify him for the title of World’s Most Annoying Man.  Trust your Girlfriends when we tell you that … your husband thinks that pregnancy has made you irrational, emotional, and unpredictable — all of the things most husbands hate in a person, especially a wife.”

This paragraph really bothers me, and I think I’ve  figured out what bothers me about it: The way it’s worded.  You see, I don’t know about anyone else, but irrationality and unpredictability don’t necessarily bother husbands alone.  They’re two characteristics that I sure as heck wouldn’t be fond of in a friend, much less a mate.  Having someone dislike the fact that you’re sobbing one minute, laughing hysterically the next, and threatening to slit someone’s throat immediately following doesn’t make him or her the World’s Most Annoying Anything.  The whole thing seems to dismiss the fact that men are facing a sometimes complete personality change in their spouses when pregnancy strikes, and they probably don’t have an easy time dealing with it.  I don’t anticipate enjoying it that much myself, so I can only imagine how Southern Honey’s going to react.

Just say “poop,” darn it!  You throw about words such as “bullshit” in several places, so why are you so hesitant to refer to the baby (or mother, for that matter) pooping?  And whatever happened to the use of the words penis and vagina?  I have not once, not in my entire life, referred to my nether regions as my “peepee,” and I have no intention of starting now.  In all seriousness, every time she referred to defecation as “making poopoo,” I had to physically restrain myself from throwing the book across the room.  It was too needlessly cutesy for me.

Those complaints aside, now that I’m at the end, I am still glad that I bought the book.  You can tell where the author’s preferences lie on most subjects (like having a baby with the help of a midwife at a birthing center), but I like it when an author’s bias is clear.  I hate trying to parse paragraphs for meaning; I’m just too lazy for that.  And she has a genuine sense of humor about pregnancy and childbirth that had me laughing out loud more than once.

What I really liked were the practical tips for getting rid of horrors like hemorrhoids and what you’ll need before the baby is born versus what you can go out and pick up later.  Her list of things to pack for the hospital was helpful, too.  I haven’t stayed in a hospital overnight since my own birth, so I could completely see myself forgetting thick, comfy socks and ending up sending Southern Honey or my mom out for foot warmers to turn my feet from ice cubes back into slabs of flesh.

Overall, I give the Girlfriends’ Guide one and a half thumbs up.  She used the phrase “make poopoo” a few times too many to earn a full two thumbs.


I have a confession to make: I’m a bookaholic. A bibliophile. A reading junkie with the strained eyesight to prove it.

A corollary of that is that I’m an avid researcher. When I start thinking about doing something, I spend a great deal of time looking for books on the topic and reading about other people’s experiences and discoveries. For example, when we got engaged, I must have read fifteen or twenty books on weddings and marriage, including one that was so firmly anti-marriage that I never did make it all the way through – the excoriating language for people like me who fall for what the author sees as the asininity of the institution left me feeling incredibly depressed and guilty for wanting to go through with such a patriarchal ceremony. (Obviously, I got over it.)

When we decided that we were going to start trying to conceive this year, I started looking for resources. There are hundreds of books on pregnancy and childbirth out there. I had no idea where to begin, so I asked the experts: moms.

I got some great recommendations and started checking out some from the local library to see if there were any I’d like to have on-hand full time one of these days.

The one I have found the most informative and well-written so far is Pregnancy For Dummies. The book is written by two OB/GYNs, one of whom is herself a mother and organized by trimesters, with a follow on section about serious problems that can occur during pregnancy.

I think what I enjoyed most about For Dummies was the straightforward way information was presented. The authors combined medical advice, reproductive education and anecdotes from real mothers in a well-organized and easy-to-read format. They also included more detailed medical data, clearly delineated from the rest of the text so that mothers-to-be can read or pass over it as they desire. (Nerd that I am, I read it all. I couldn’t help myself.) Best of all, they managed to deal with topics such as miscarriage, anencephaly, gestational diabetes and genetic disorders without being sensationalist or alarmist. In fact, most of that information was separated out into its own chapter at the end of the book, to be read only as needed.

I opted to give it a pass.

So far, of the books I’ve read, Pregnancy For Dummies is the only one that has gone on my list of books to purchase. I didn’t get the shivers reading about horrible things that might happen to my future child in utero. Instead, I found myself feeling reassured by the constant advice to call the doctor if I felt like something wasn’t right.

I totally admit to being freaked out by the amniocentesis diagram, though. And the description of the procedure required to get an epidural. Neither of those things sound pleasant, although at least the epidural brings pain relief…

The good: I found an excellent resource that didn’t leave me terrified that I’m going to have hideous complications or give birth to a mutant rat.

The bad: I can’t seem to find a copy of the new edition for less than about ten bucks, even online.

The ugly: That amnio drawing. Seriously. I completely recommend skipping that page. It still gives me the willies…