A remarkably absorbing series of stories about real couples dealing with pregnancy and baby's first year. Squire (The Slender Balance, 1983) selected five couples who represent a cross-section of the middle class, ranging economically from low-rung civil-service workers to high-powered professionals, geographically from Cape Cod to southern Maryland, and culturally from homogeneous high-school sweethearts to a mixed Italian Catholic-Jewish marriage in which traditions clash. The author interviewed her subjects in person and by phone at least once a week, eliciting sometimes startlingly intimate tales of their joys, dreams, frustrations, and sex lives, as well as less dramatic but at times more revealing stories of self-centered frailties and petty bickering about dishes and diapers. Some of the couples seem better matched than others but all show tenacity in trying to rebalance a relationship pushed askew by nine months of pregnancy and the advent of a baby. Especially eye-opening are the concerns of some of the husbands/fathers: regret that they cannot ``grow'' a baby; envy as they watch their wives nursing; fear of sex during pregnancy and sometimes for months after the birth. Squire organizes her material chronologically, from October 1989 through September 1991, with episodes from each couple's experience related to dates along that time line. The technique is disconcerting at first but maintains narrative tension to the end. As in a good novel, these real-life characters elicit cheers and boos, sympathy and disdain—and greater understanding of the emotional minefield walked by new parents.
Read full book review >