Sunday, September 18, 2005

What were you expecting?

What to Expect When You're Expecting was my pregnancy bible. When I learned I was pregnant, I hied me to a bookstore and hung out there for a few hours, checking out all that was on offer. Then I bought me one. Just one. One single solitary pregnancy book. (And a Lemony Snicket volume.)

It seems many people don't like the book nearly as much as I did.
[I]n its third decade the book has turned into a publishing conundrum: It is the most popular and widely trusted book in its category and yet is coming under such regular criticism that its authors are revising some of its key tenets. The reaction comes in part from expecting parents who call it a worst-case-scenario handbook. (Nicknames include "What to Freak Out About When You Are Expecting" and "What to Expect if You Want to Develop an Eating Disorder.") Though many parents swear by it, a startling number protest that, instead of emphasizing the wondrous process of fetal development, the book dwells mostly on complications, including the pedestrian (anemia), the more exotic ("incompetent cervix") and a catalog of horrors at the book's end ("uterine rupture").


Maybe cuz I'm not a very touchy-feely wonder-of-childbirth kind of person. Maybe cuz I rather enjoy considering worst case scenarios. Yet I still basked in the glow of pregnancy. I like information.

No doubt, the book requires regular updating to adjust for scientific advances as well as for society's sensibilites.

However, what truly shocks me is that someone might purchase a title (nonfiction — a manual! for pregnancy! not exactly a one-size-fits-all experience) based on some expert's recommendation without having a clue what might be inside, without cracking the cover, without having achieved a personal confidence that "this book is right for me."

(Based on my "success" with this book, I got myself the follow-up What to Expect the First Year, but I never did read the whole thing. Mostly I'm just winging this child-rearing thing. With a little help from my blogging buddies.)
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