I regrettably don’t read as often as I’d like. In fact lately, I’ve literally been craving reading a book. Hard covers and greyed pages flipping between my fingers. So when I cracked the cover of ”It Sucked and Then I Cried“ yesterday afternoon, my brain felt like a dried-up sponge soaking in ever paragraph and syllable it could. Then seven hours later, I closed the back cover. I read that 250 page book in seven hours. I can be a voracious reader, when it’s something I’m interested in… or when my brain has been completely starved of something printed NOT on the Internet.
Heather Armstrong is the author, and I’ve been following her story for nearly five years with a level of stalking that is only legal when reading personal blogs. I’ve mentioned Dooce here before. She’s irreverent, brutally honest, her writing style enviable, and she makes me laugh. I’ve watched the growth of her site, and daughter, and become a huge fan, cheering her on as she becomes one of the most famous bloggers around. It makes about as much sense as how emotionally involved people become with reality TV stars. On a recent trip to Austin where I attended the SXSW conference for work, she spoke in a panel discussion about blogging on the morning of my last day. I’d waited the entire five days to see her speak, hoping I’d maybe bump into her in one of the hallway shuffles that felt like class getting out in a large, geeky high school. The guys I attended with teased me a bit as we sat behind her husband at the panel and I cooed over the “khaki trench coat maternity jacket she got at Target!”, defending that the only reason I knew that was because she’d blogged about it. Of course! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet her afterward, and she was generous enough to let the giddy twit in the second row take a photograph with her.
So, the book. One of the major themes of Heather’s story at Dooce.com has been her battle with post-partum depression following the birth of her daughter five years ago. She’s always been very open about it – about the fact that her depression lead her to some of the darkest places a mother can go. She checked herself into mental hospital after six months of sleep deprivation, feelings of hopelessness and throwing milk jugs at her husband’s head had finally taken its toll. This book is that story. I laughed out loud several times, often having to stop reading for a few minutes to catch my breath. And I only cried in the last couple of pages of the book. I loved the book – and yet it completely freaked me out. Talking about her insatiable craving for nacho cheese Doritos (which I love and God save the soul who doesn’t let me have any if that becomes my maternity craving!), her level two episiotomy, how her daughter NEV-ER wanted to sleep and her screams could wake coma patients, how she and her husband didn’t have sex for SEVEN MONTHS after they had the baby, and of course, the post-partum depression, it all left me wondering why I would voluntarily “do this” to myself.
It’s in those last few pages, when I eked out a few tears, that she reminds why I, and she, wanted to “do this” to ourselves. Heather is now six-months pregnant with another little girl and I’m really thrilled for her. I’m so hopeful that this time is different, that this time she and her husband are able to not only cope, but thoroughly enjoy the new little addition to their family. I appreciate books like hers. She didn’t sugar coat a damn thing. In fact, she brought up a lot of things about pregnancy and post-partum that most people avoid or just don’t talk about.
So, to say thank you – here’s a link to buy Heather’s book, “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown and a Much Needed Margarita.” If you buy it from this link, Heather will get some cash to buy Doritos and margaritas, and 4% of the purchase will be a donation to BabyOrBust.com. Everyone wins!