A few weeks ago, Your Intrepid Gestator was interviewed by The Washington Times for an article about the latest edition of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Once considered the grandmommy of all pregnancy books, the What to Expect… series has fallen a little out of favor, what with that impossible-to-obey diet section, the seemingly endless pages of worst-case scenarios that could be lurking beneath your normal-seeming symptoms, and what’s with the frumpy rocking-chair mom on the cover?
You can read the article here (I show up to crash the joint on page 2). It’s actually really interesting, because the author is keenly aware of these criticisms, and has sought to correct most of them in the newest version. Even the cover got a makeover! She gets to wear JEANS! And STAND UP! Ship your women back to the fundamentalist compounds — the pregnant women are getting all kinds of uppity.
Oh, I kid. What to Expect… was the first pregnancy book I ever bought — right when we agreed to toss the birth control pills but long before we conceived. Once I finally (FIN.UH.LEE.) got pregnant, however, I hightailed it back to the bookstore in search of an alternative guide, because my nerves couldn’t take any more. And this really wasn’t the book’s fault — in the pursuit of being the definitive, comprehensive guide to pregnancy, What to Expect… simply became TOO comprehensive. They couldn’t talk about X and Y without talking about Z, but unfortunately for us all, Z was the 1-in-32893803495702454 case of a spontaneous outbreak of the ebola virus in a perfectly healthy pregnancy, or something.
Basically, it was Google, and a thousand paranoid ill-advised searches for “weird rash 6 weeks pregnant missed miscarriage omg flesh eating disease,” all printed out and numbered by chapter for your convenience.
Here, the book sits at the top of the Product Ratings page for garnering the most reviews of anything we list. Lots of love, and lots of hate. Lots of accusations of being “old-fashioned” and “one big guilt trip.”
And in fact, the Internet seems to be a driving force behind the book’s update. Women are turning to other women. We don’t WANT to know everything that can go wrong, even though we might THINK we do. We want to be told that everything is okay, that X, Y and Z are ALL normal and harmless, and that we’re going to laugh at how neurotic we were about this someday when our baby is up at 2 am for the 132nd night in a row. We want reassurance that you don’t have to do pregnancy perfectly to have a perfectly healthy baby, because none of us are perfect.
And so the What to Expect… books are getting back in touch with the thing that made them so popular, to begin with: they were written by a MOM and not a doctor. No perfect pregnancy diet, no dire consequences lurking behind every bag of Oreos. It really sounds like the book has been completely overhauled to reflect the modern pregnancy, which is most definitely NOT spent contemplating your bump in a rocking chair for nine months.