Penn State psychology professor Belsky and writer Kelly team up to produce a lively and realistic appraisal of the crucible of first-time parenthood. Studying 250 married couples in central Pennsylvania over a seven-year period, Belsky concludes that the first year of parenthood is the most stressful, as mothers and fathers grapple with everything from changing work schedules to going without sex and sleep. Belsky's findings--among them, that one out of every two marriages declines after an infant's arrival and that career women are particularly vulnerable to marital unrest after childbirth-- will surprise some readers, particularly those who romanticize parenthood. Much of Belksy's study centers on interviews with three young couples--Ron and Sue Akers, Jennifer and Calvin Renselear, and Lem and Tina Carlson--as they move from the gladness of late pregnancy to the madness of caring for a new baby. All the couples are still together seven years later, but only the Akerses appear to have grown closer through parenthood. Although focusing more on parenthood's agony than its ecstasy, this should nevertheless provide food for thought for anyone who is expecting.