Had I read Elisa Albert’s After Birth a decade ago, I would have been fuming. Talk about an author forcing readers to put their angry pants on. And their judgmental pants. And their ‘I’m being deliberately-provocative-to-make-you-furious pants. And their let’s-judge-other-mothers pants. Instead, I found it mildly amusing. I’m far enough out of the baby-zone to know that no one really gives two shits whether you had a c-section or a natural birth; breast-fed or bottle-fed; co-slept or put the baby in a cot at the other end of the house.
“The baby’s first birthday. Surgery day, I point out, because I have trouble calling it birth. Anniversary of the great failure.”
And yes, some bits made me laugh (because the audacity, because new mothers will either go mental or identify with it) –
“He’s an awesome baby, a swell little guy. Still a baby, though, of which even the best are oppressive fascist bastard dictator narcissists.”
“Sometimes I’m with the baby and I think: you’re my heart and my soul, and I would die for you. Other times I think: tiny moron, leave me the fuck alone…”
There’s also a lot of truth about the emotional intensity of mothering –
“…he’s completely and totally dependent, which is very intense, but it’s not love. Over time I have to let go of him. That’s love. That’s the work.”
That intensity, the relentlessness of mothering was what I remember as being the bit that warranted the “Why didn’t anyone tell me this…?”.
I suspect most readers will be distracted by Ari’s self-righteousness, her anger and distrust of other women, and perhaps miss some of the truths that are buried in her vitriol.
3/5 It’s meant to be funny, right?
I received my copy of After Birth from the publisher, Random House UK, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Ari is all about whole foods. But I did detect a chocolate chip cookie weakness – these from How Sweet It Is.