What happens when two smart, funny writers decide to pen a guide to pregnancy and babies? You get a book with a laser-eyed infant on the cover, that’s what.
You also get a gut-busting, side-splitting read about the perils (and the perceived perils) of impending motherhood and baby-raising. Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy are the authors of the newly released book Let’s Panic About Babies!, a tongue-in-cheek “self-help”book written for those women who enjoy taking a step back from the new-mother madness every once in a while with a nice cleansing guffaw.
Here’s a short sampling from chapter three of the book, “Getting Used To This ‘Pregnancy’ Nonsense”:
“Your abdomen is expanding at a rate that will cause your regular pants, upon buttoning, to explode in a cloud of dust, but your pride won’t yet allow you to consider the elasticized maternity panels that loom in your future. We understand … kind of. We ourselves kept our weight down with the help of steely self-discipline, breathtaking genetics, and Alice’s ability to control her colon with her mind. But we hear the gaining-weight thing happens to other people.
Many women in this alarming and swollen time don’t know how to clothe their changing body. Some try cinching the gaping waistband of their skinny jeans together with twine; others leave the house wearing nothing but body paint and a broad smile. Do not do these things. A beach towel fastened with an oversize safety pin is not a bohemian toga—it merely makes you look like a toddler who’s wandered away from the kiddie pool.
If you’re concerned that the world won’t know the difference between morbidly chubby and commendably knocked up, here are a few suggestions to get you started down the path to Unmistakably Pregnant:
1. A serene, I-meant-to-look-like-this expression
2. Empire-waist anything
3. A low-riding tutu is festive!
4. How about an inner tube?
5. Something with a ruffled, pleated, puckered, and/or ruched midsection. They make those, right?
6. A horizontally striped speed-skating suit
7. A T-shirt that reads IAMPREGNANT, NOTFAT
8. Acropped shirt. With a cropped jacket over it. Let your belly breathe!”
Our Associate Editor Rachel Reiff Ellis caught up with Alice and Eden in Atlanta at their first stop on the Let’s Panic About Babies! book tour, and got an inside look into the minds of the women behind the wise-cracking words:
How did the idea for Let’s Panic About Babies! come about?
Alice: About five minutes after I found out I was pregnant, I went clinically insane from worry and ran out to purchase every single book about pregnancy that the stores would let me take. Then I read every single book, plus maybe each book’s bibliography, and then I went online and joined every single message board. I was sure that if gathering a little bit of information would be helpful, then a LOT would be SUPER-HELPFUL. Instead I found that each book, while containing useful nuggets, did nothing to assuage my panic—in fact, they fed it.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson then, but when Henry was born I ran out to buy every parenting-a-newborn book, only to have the same weird, alienating experience. I’m a slow learner.
But eventually I did calm down. And then I started a blog! And became friends with Eden, and we got to talking about how these books are ripe for parody.
Eden: Alice came to me with an idea she had for a book where the narrator is an OB/GYN who becomes increasingly unreliable as the book goes on, until the advice she’s giving to pregnant women is just completely insane. So we adjusted the idea to include two doctors who were slightly nuts from the get-go and who’d argue and give conflicting advice throughout the book. And then later we decided to add the parenting advice that now comprises the second half of Let’s Panic About Babies!
What are the things you think new mothers tend to panic about the most?
Eden: I hear a lot of women worrying about toxins in the environment, and of course in the food they give their children. Could you inadvertently poison your baby by letting her eat a genetically modified arrowroot biscuit while she plays on a carpet that’s releasing deadly chemicals in a room where someone smoked a cigarette fifteen years ago? It’s not all that likely, but if the chance exists, the seed of panic has been planted.
Alice: I think it’s always two things: eating, and sleeping. And for good reason. Most babies, we have found in our incredibly scientific anecdotal studies, are either good sleepers or good eaters. (If they’re both, watch out—you’ve probably given birth to a superhero. Or serial killer! It could go either way.)
How did you cope with your first days and months of motherhood?
Alice: I cried a lot, and forgot to shower. Oh, do you mean how did I cope in a MENTALLY HEALTHY way? I think joining a new-moms group was the smartest move I made. No one else wanted to talk to me about mastitis or getting spit-up out of leather.
Eden: I ended up in a mom’s group where all the kids were a year older than my son, which wasn’t ideal but I got a lot of good advice from women whose memories of what I was going through were still fresh. Otherwise, blogging was what really helped me regain my sense of identity—or rather, forge a new identity so that motherhood wouldn’t swallow me whole.
What one broad takeaway do you want your readers to come away with after reading this book?
Alice: Above all else, this is a humor book. I hope moms and almost-moms will read it and laugh really hard, although not hard enough to wake the baby. Their takeaway, I hope, is: “I should buy this book for everyone I know.”
Eden: That inappropriate laughter is the best medicine. And that they should do the opposite of everything we say in the book.
You totally want this book now, don’t you? Yeah, we thought so. Leave a comment below, and we’ll randomly select one winner on Monday, March 21 to receive a free copy!
Visit Alice and Eden’s website at lets-panic.com.
Congratulations to the winner, Nichole S. of Beavertown, OR! Enjoy the book!