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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Book Review: From the Hips by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris

I'm blogging today for the MotherTalk Blog Tour for From the Hips: a comprehensive, open-minded, uncensored, totally honest guide to pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris. For more information about this book, check out the From the Hips website or the authors's blog.

Finally! The book I wish I had when I was pregnant with my first child. I spent so many days and nights poring over The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy--a book I loved--and lingering in the bookstore catching up on What to Expect When You're Expecting--a book I refused to buy on principal because I thought the advice was unrealistic and preachy. If From the Hips had been in print then, I would have made it my go-to book, my pregnancy and parenting bible.

From the Hips is full of good, un-biased information. And besides just presenting things in an objective manner, the authors Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris also present both sides of most issues. Knowing both the for and against arguments of such potential parenting landmines as circumcision, breastfeeding, epidurals, etc. is a must for any mom who wants to open her mouth in a group of other women and speak publicly about her decisions. It's not safe to assume everybody circumcises their sons or everybody breastfeeds. Lots of moms make different choices and many feel very, very strongly about the ones they make. Knowing both sides of any parenting issue can help an indecisive parent make a decision; it also can help a empathetic parent understand how to best support another mom when she makes different decisions.

Perhaps the best way to explain what I most like about this book is to give you Odes's and Morris's ten anti-rules for parents-in-progress:

  1. Everyone's an expert, but you're the authority on yourself and your baby.

  2. Confidence is more important than instinct.

  3. Strive for imperfection.

  4. Parenting is out of control.

  5. There's no such thing as a natural mother.

  6. Shift happens.

  7. Babies are people, not problems.

  8. Frustration, resentment, anger, exhaustion, exasperation, aggravation, jealousy, nostalgia, regret, etc., don't make you a bad parent.

  9. Look forward, not backward.

  10. There is no right way.

Amen, sisters! I like information of this kind repeated to me over and over again. No matter what choices you've made as a parent or think you might make, this book will help you feel you're doing the right thing. I don't know about you, but I need to know that I'm doing the right thing on an almost daily basis. Confirmation, please! Even if you're not getting it from the type-A moms in your playgroup, you'll get it from this book.

I'm planning on giving this book to every pregnant mama I know. I also believe it has value for moms and dads who already have a squirming bundle of poop, pee, and--oh ya--joy. From the Hips covers pre-pregnancy and pregnancy, as well as what happens when all of the help leaves and you're alone with your stitches and the thing that no longer wants to sleep. It talks about healing your body after having a baby and healing your mind, too. Adjusting to a life that now contains another is difficult; the authors know this. Do you have questions about formula feeding, co-sleeping, and how best to silence your mother-on-law's opinion that babies should be smeared in baby oil every night? This book has your answers.

I am particularly enjoying the section titled, "It takes a village (but maybe not the one you're living in)". In it the authors provide a modern day definition of family:

The modern family can include single parents, unpartnered coparents, adoptive parents, biological parents, step-people, friends, donor dads, surrogates, baby daddies, two moms, two dads, significant others, ex-significant others, grandparents with significant others, and probably a lot of other possibilities we're forgetting. The idea of family can be flexible, but the reality is solid: "Family" is who the baby learns to trust and count on regularly. They may or may not share genes.

This book is well-written and never feels dumbed down. The graphics are appealing and I like the liberal sprinklings throughout of quotes by real parents, anonymoms. Although I think either a woman or a man would benefit from reading this book, it does seem to be written for a female, mom-centric audience. For that reason, I probably would not buy it for a dad-to-be, but for a mom-to-be, this book could be a lifesaver. I can't wait to turn over the copy I received to a friend who is pregnant with her first.

The publishers were kind enough to send me two uncorrected proof copies as well. As far as I can tell, they're very close to the finished product except they're printed in gray scale instead of color. I'm keeping one for myself but does anybody want the other one? First one to let me know, gets it!