Ladies’ Home Journal columnist Newman shares all in her debut memoir, a chronicle of the heart-stopping perils and fierce joys of motherhood in the fifth decade.
Nearing the end of her 30s, living in New York and married to John, a retired British opera singer in his mid-60s, the author felt it was time for motherhood. After several miscarriages and failed fertility treatments, she tried in vitro fertilization and soon found herself pregnant. At 40, she gave birth prematurely to twins Henry and Augustus, who at first remained in the neonatal unit while Newman returned to her one-bedroom apartment. Builders were in the process of linking that apartment to the one above it she’d recently bought, but of course the babies came home before the work was done. Her living room became the nursery, and her husband spent more and more time uptown in his own apartment, leaving Newman to cope alone. John’s initial hands-off attitude to his sons—he claimed the children made him feel trapped—made the first 18 months Newman describes even more fraught. As she addresses the tensions in her marriage, she also notes the other sea-changes in her life: no sleep, no regular schedule, and constant worrying about money, the twins (Augustus is underweight and shows some developmental lags), and her relationship with their excellent but critical nanny. New York caregivers, she learns, are as competitive about their charges as the mothers: “to the nannies of Manhattan, their child cannot have too much; it’s the other children who are spoiled.” Though determined not to use TV as a sitter, the author happily admits to relishing the peace provided by baby videos and Teletubbies.
An edgy appreciation of the way children take over your life, your space, and your heart, no matter your age.