The vibrant cover of this book drew me in immediately (yes, I am THAT person who judges a book by it’s cover). It was also a Salt Publishing book so I knew I was on to a winner people!
I started this one dreary evening during the bus ride home from work. Within the first 5 pages the author had described a Manchester bus route I knew well and a bus company I was at the time availing myself of the services of. I had a big stupid grin on my face by the time I’d got off that bus. It’s always nice to find familiar places or settings in a book. I also knew straight off that the authors style of writing was going to keep me interested. So down to earth and utterly engaging.
This is a memoir of the authors journey through pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood in not the most ideal of situations. At the age of 22 and a student at University in Manchester, Emily Morris finds herself pregnant by a man who in hearing the news sends her an email saying ‘enjoy your shitty, snotty, vomitty twenties’ and promptly disappears.
Unceremoniously plunged into a world of doubt, Emily initially struggles with the decision to keep the baby. Obviously she does, and what follows is a rollercoaster ride of confusion, fear, struggles and obstacles.
It is so refreshing to me to read an account of motherhood right from conception that isn’t painted in a picture perfect light. Having had a few struggles myself, I could fully empathise with the author. The world of babies and motherhood is not always a perfect one and the more voices that normalise this the better.
When Emily is forced to move back home and live with her mum, leaving her hedonistic university days behind her, she yearns for the friendships and lifestyle she once enjoyed. Her move to Manchester was a big leap of independence which she relished and she quickly realises that moving back home although at first feels like a step backwards enables her to have the support she really needs during her pregnancy.
I adored the relationship between Emily and her mum. The occasional snarky comment but oh so much love and support. Such a lovely connection.
Emily’s labour story is something that brought back memories for me too. Getting told off by the midwife for hogging the gas and air and having a birth plan that was no more than ‘caesarean please, if not all the drugs’!’.
The days immediately following her sons birth are tough for Emily, struggling to breastfeed and settle Tom, she returns home to her mum’s house, no partner to help her and having not felt that immediate rush of love for her baby that everyone talks about. Again I could draw massive comparisons with this and again it was refreshing to have someone be so honest about it. It made me feel totally reassured that I had been ‘normal’ all along!
At one point after her baby’s birth, Emily says she was ‘wide awake, brawling with nature’ and I found that this chimed with me so much. That’s precisely how it feels ‘brawling’!
Those initial newborn days are ones I look back on with a little dread in my stomach. Emily struggled with some post natal issues and at times found it difficult to even get out of bed or leave the house. But as time goes on and Tom starts to grow, her bond with him and her relationship with motherhood in general grows ever stronger.
This book ends on such a positive note (and I positively DID NOT have a tear or two in my eye, must have been the dry air on those Manchester buses!).
If you’re in need of a searingly honest, not always pretty but very humorous take on single motherhood then this book is for you.
Another great Salt book I would heartily recommend.
See you soon.
Bookish Chat xxx