Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Tour -- It Sucked and Then I Cried

Two months ago, I joined the Barren Bitches Book Brigade, sponsored by Mel at Stirrup Queens. On this book tour we read, "It Sucked and Then I Cried," by Heather B. Armstrong, a well-known blogger, Dooce.

Each of us in this bloggy book club was asked to submit questions and then choose from a the list three questions to include in today's post.

You don't have to be in the club to read along, nor is it a prerequisite to have read the book as I think some of the themes are universal.

Note: Since this book is about pregnancy and the first year of raising a child, there are references below to my own experience of raising my three kids -- a singleton and a set of twins.

I enjoyed this book and could relate to many of the situations Armstrong described. Heather tells her story in such an honest and open way. At times, I felt as though I was a good friend reading her diary. In it I also learned about the seriousness of postpartum depression.

Here are the questions I selected:

Question #1: If you are in a relationship right now, do you relate to how Heather talks about her husband, Jon, and what a great father and life partner he is? From what she described about Jon, what qualities do you have or want in your life partner?
When Heather writes about her relationship with Jon, she has so much respect and gratitude for Jon understanding her and all of her self-perceived idiosyncrasies.

I loved it in the end of the book when she is describing Jon and their relationship prior to the baby (pg. 236). She goes on to write, "I never thought I'd find the man who'd love to read my daughter her bedtime stories..." Heather constantly describes how he is a wonderful father to Leta.

My DH is a wonderful father to our three sons. Even though they are in middle school (teenagers), he can still wrestle with them, tickle them, and play with them. In addition, he helps them with their homework, is there for the tough times (misbehaviors, talking back, whining, etc...) and yet, he is SUCH a great father.

You may think...of course he would love them like that. They are his children!! But these three are NOT his biological children. He adopted them after their father passed away a year ago.

I am touched at how he so easily opened his heart and welcomed not only me, but all of the chaos that goes with raising three boys. HE had a choice and made the choice to be their father, 100%, in good times and in frustrating times. He is there and I find that truly amazing!
Question #2: If you had postpartum depression to the degree Heather describes, would you have the courage to check yourself into a psychiatric ward?
I did not experience postpartum depression and in reading Heather's book, I feel very lucky. It sounds completely overwhelming. What seems unfair is that when you first have a baby, everything in your world has shifted. There is this new being that you completely love and are in awe of...but boy are they demanding. And everything that WAS your life has been moved out of the way to make room for your new baby.

In addition, you aren't getting enough sleep, your body is changing to accommodate no longer being pregnant and possibly nursing. Your relationship with your spouse shifts. Instead of seeing your husband as your lover and best friend, you now see him in a completely new a father. Everything feels different!

Then add to that shifting hormones and depression...that just seems like torture!

For me, it would be difficult to check myself into a psychiatric ward because I have a belief that I should be able to handle situations like this. But last year, someone close to me committed suicide because of depression. The question on everyone's mind was, "Why didn't he get help?"

I hope I would have the courage to get the help I needed if I had had postpartum depression. I hope people who love me would encourage me to seek help. From my experience last year, losing someone close to me, NOT seeking help is a lot worse than not asking for help.
Question #3: What 2-3 specific situations, quotes or stories did you most relate to throughout the book? (I found myself laughing or becoming quite reflective at times because something Heather had written about struck a chord for me and I’m curious if the other readers related to her book in this way).

In Chapter Six: "You Have to Feed the Baby...Through Your Boobs..." there was a particular paragraph that brought back so many memories...and made me laugh out loud. It is when she is talking about breastfeeding. I remember the "stapling" feeling she so vividly describes:

"The only way to describe it to a man is to suggest that he lay out his naked penis on a chopping block, place a manual stapler on the sacred helmet head, and bang in a couple hundred staples. The first two staples might hurt a little, but after that it just becomes numb, right? And by the eighty-eighth staple you're like, AREN'T YOU FULL YET? But then the comparison really fails because a man doesn't have two penises, and after stapling the first boob the baby moves on to the other boob and the happy stapling begins ALL OVER AGAIN." (page 83)

In Chapter Nine: "The Dive that Turned Into a Belly Flop," Heather describes turning into her mother and instead of using free time to sleep, she busies herself doing chores, trying desperately to catch-up. I laughed when reading this part because even though my kids are in middle school, I STILL can slip into this mode:

"The baby's birth, however, seemed to have tripped a latent portion of my DNA that caused at least half of my brain to be consumed at all times with the thought of chores that needed to be done. In the time it took Jon to change Leta's morning diaper I could have the dishwasher unloaded, bagels toasted, coffee brewed, bed made, and dog pooped, and that was only if the diaper hadn't leaked. On the frequent occasion that she was covered in pee and Jon had to take a few extra minutes to change her clothes, I could wallpaper the living room and mow the lawn." (page 125)
Overall, a very good, entertaining book with so much insight on pregnancy, birth, postpartum depression, and the first year of a baby's life...and how it changes your life.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens ( You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.


Lori Lavender Luz said...

I really like the quotes you chose.

And yes, I agree with your assessment of your husband. :-)

after iris said...

Your husband sounds like a wonderful man and a wonderful husband.

And the breast feeding quote is brilliant! I've just ordered this book, so thanks for sharing!

Kristin said...

Great review and the parts you chose to quote make me want to read it even more.

Furrow said...

It sounds great. I'm going to have to take a look. Though I'm not sure I had full fledged PPD, I had a rough time, and I can fully relate to the quotes!

loribeth said...

Thanks for a great review. Lack of sleep would be a biggie for me, I think. I get grumpy enough when I don't get enough sleep as it is. It must be horrendously difficult trying to run on a few hours of sleep at a time, night after night after night.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I love how you describe your husband and the choice he made to enter that world of parenting three boys. And if he has Lori's approval, I know he must be great :-)

Delenn said...

I loved reading your review. Liked seeing the quotes you picked. Your husband sounds like a very open hearted man.

Rebecca said...

The way you describe your husband and children is so beautiful. Family is a concept that definitely transcends genetics.
I also LOVE the quote you picked out about Heather wallpapering the living room. I got so much vindication after reading that.
Thanks for your review!

Bonnie said...

Sheri, I really love your comments. I had heard of this book but now you've inspired me to put it on hold at the library!

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

I read Chapter 6 a few weeks ago, and it just seemed kind of amusing. Since then, I've given birth and started nursing. Now that you remind me of the stapling part, what she said makes so much more sense.

Phoebe said...

I love how you describe your husband. I would do the same thing too with my stepsons if their mother passed away!

I'm sorry about losing the person close to you to depression. Having been to the edge myself, I can honestly say that you can not get help when you are that sick. When it gets that bad, and it does, you get tunnel vision. It's like being in a black hole that you can not get out of. The only good thing from my experience is that I can explain to people who have had a loved one die from suicide what it is like, because it is so incomprehensible to the survivors. Depression is an illness. Your loved one was not himself. The illness killed him, not him. I know when I was that bad off, I really needed someone to take me to get help. I was not functioning enough to get the right help myself. Mental health care is horrible in this country. Even if you do try to get help, the system is difficult to work in. When you are mentally ill, you may not have the capacity to deal with our broken system, and then you will not get treated properly. Many psychiatrists just prescribe medication, and more than medication is needed. Sometimes, the wrong medication is prescribed, and it makes the mental illness worse (happened to me). Treating mental illness is multifaceted, and our western medicine just does not treat it that way. On top of that, there are many societal barriers and judgments to understanding mental illness. It's really a sad situation. I'm sorry for your loss.