When Will I Sleep Through the Night? An A - Z of Babyhood by Eleanor Birne
|When Will I Sleep Through the Night? An A - Z of Babyhood by Eleanor Birne|
|Genre: Home and Family|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: An honest, personal and humorous look at the trials (and joys) of pregnancy and babyhood.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: March 2011|
|Publisher: Profile Books|
When it comes to parenting, I have discovered that a lot of people lie. They lie about sleep, about tantrums, about feeding and nappies and the effects of a screaming newborn on your marriage. There are books galore, and Mummy blogs, and tweeters all happily proclaiming how marvellous it all is, first of all being pregnant, then giving birth, and then raising the baby. It's all glowing skin and sunshine smiles and meeting friends for coffee. I quickly stopped reading anything baby-related when I was pregnant because I was sick as a dog for 5 months, I had an awful labour and that first year with my little girl was almost impossibly difficult and totally consumed with the horror of a non-sleeping baby. Now, four and a half years on from giving birth and (mostly) sleeping all night long I felt able to open up this latest baby book, mainly because the title roused such familiar feelings in me.
Eleanor Birne's book is refreshingly honest. It probably wouldn't make the most reassuring reading for a new mum-to-be, but it will give you a more realistic overview of what it quite probably will be like! I enjoyed that she chose a different way to approach the subject, so instead of it being a diary where you read progressively through her pregnancy, birth and afterwards she's instead made it an A-Z, each with a heading such as 'books' or 'crying' or 'dread' and then she just writes her thoughts about it, about what her little boy did, how she felt, things she'd hoped for and the realities of day to day life with a tiny baby.
This isn't meant as a handbook at all, and thank goodness because there are enough of those around putting the fear of God into parents that they're doing everything wrong. It's rather a collection of the author's reminiscences. There are moments of humour, thoughtfulness and also sadness, and it feels very intimate, as if you're a close friend of Eleanor's and you're sharing her life for a little while. I enjoyed how it was broken up into such short segments. Most of the entries are just a page, or not even that, and it's very easy to dip in and out of - perfect for reading whilst doing one of those seemingly interminable feeds with your newborn.
One thing which annoyed me, however, was the way she refers to her son as 'N' throughout and her husband as 'D'. I understand she might wish to protect their identities, but perhaps they could have had pseudonyms instead as it grated on my nerves to be taunted with an initial but no idea what their real names were! I also was a little disappointed when you discover in the book that actually her little boy did sleep through the night, from about 3 months old! He does start waking again when he's 6 months but still, I had that hard-done-by mum feeling of someone whose baby was regularly waking three or four (or more!) times every night for many, many months without a nice, long 3 months of sleep in the middle!
I think it's important to have honest accounts like this available to read. When reading all the baby sleep guides, or the how to have a happy baby books you can get lost in the advice and become anxious that everything you're doing is wrong. It's refreshing, and reassuring to read of someone else whose baby obviously hadn't read the baby books that decree nappy changing should last 3 and a half minutes exactly before spending 5 minutes of tummy time, then going down for a nap. I had many moments of 'me too' as instead this book told of struggling to leave the house on time, problems with breastfeeding, hoping that a Cesarean is required so you don't have to give birth naturally, arguing with your partner, worrying about going back to work. It's all here. Under the heading 'Middle of the Night' she writes The middle of the night is a lonely place. Ever since I was a child I have had a dread of finding myself awake when everyone else is asleep. At three in the morning it is possible to feel as if you are the only person in the world. It's nice to know you're not alone, and there are many, many others out there doing that 3 a.m. feed too. If you're not one of those perfect 'yummy mummies' then this is the book for you!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: This was my beloved, much-used reference book during my daughter's first year. If you're into celeb baby memoirs then you could try The Baby Diaries: Memories, Milestones and Misadventures by Tess Daly.
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