With a stiff measure of gallows humor, Harper (MFA Program/Univ. of San Francisco) rides the physical, mental and emotional waves churned by impending motherhood.
The author was 35 when she became pregnant for the first time, and she faced the adversities of being an older mother, especially the hormones that “played on my system like friendly demons.” The second trimester replaced nausea with a hunger so deep it felt primitive—one of Harper’s appealing characteristics is the elemental, primal sensibility she brought to pregnancy—a manic nesting urge and the quickening that came with the first felt movement of the baby. Then came sciatica, and her body grew ponderous, as did her mind, a dumb happiness of contentment. There was discomfort and pain throughout the pregnancy, but labor introduced her to the genuine article: “each contraction, its beginning, its swollen, mind-splitting climax, its slow release.” After enduring 40 hours of labor, her smile returned as she and her husband left the hospital, feeling like a couple of miscreants who had found a bag of money that didn’t belong to them: “How could we have been entrusted with such a thing? What were we to do now?” With her new daughter, Harper’s borders shrunk, and her life became minimized. Though she was nearly undone by the tedium of a mother’s chores, she writes, “if the crushing love that I felt for her made me newly and forever fearful of morality…there was something else, too, something with wings rising now like hope, or gratitude, or grace.”
A sweet, immediate articulation of the experience of pregnancy, birth and early motherhood.