Prenatal and Postpartum book catch-up!

After having Birdy and tackling her colic and my postpartum depression and anxiety, I feel like it takes me for…ev…er to get through a book. The other week my mom saw my then-current read sitting on the couch and said, “My GOSH you’ve been reading this book for weeks!” To which I responded that my average reading schedule seems to be about six weeks at the moment, and she remarked it used to take me six HOURS, ha. But, I’m happy to report that my most recent finished book only took me ONE week to get through, which makes me kind of excited. It ties in with Birdy starting to go down for sleep earlier. Most nights.

Anyway, here are my book recommendations from right before Birdy was born, to the present. I’m not including cover pictures for these, because, time. But you can find them if you are so inclined :-).

Prenatal reads:

1. Half of What You Hear by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

2. Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy — Truthfully, I was pretty nervous about this read, because I adored the Anne of Green Gables series growing up and I was worried this book would just ruin everything. But it didn’t! I loved it and felt it held true to the original spirit brought about my L.M. Montgomery.

3. In Her Bones by Kate Moretti

4. The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert

5. Mary Berry: Recipe for Life by Mary Berry — If you love yourself some early days of The Great British Bake-Off and seriously miss Mary Berry on the Netflix screen, give this book a go.

6. Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand — TBH, I wasn’t completely-bowled-over-with-wow for this book, but it did manage to make me interested in the follow up book that is apparently coming out at some point; so, honorable mention.

Postpartum Reads:

1. The Children by Ann Leary — My mom passed this on to me after rescuing it from a B&N bargain bin. I wasn’t sold on it, still being in the early throes of PPD/PPA, but I started it and slowly worked my way through, and ended up really enjoying it (which was lovely because it felt like it had been so long since I’d had the will or energy to read anything)!

2. More Than Words by Jill Santopolo — Real talk, the sex scenes in this book seemed cringe-worthy awkward and in my opinion could have been done with a bit of less-is-more, BUT the core of the story was good.

3. The Dream Peddler by Martine Fournier Watson — A bit heavy, but completely lovely.

4. The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick — Loved it! Every bit as delightful as her earlier work of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

And that’s it! I’m actually going to have to go back to the library this week for a new read, which I can hardly believe. I’ve been avoiding it because, as I stated earlier, it’s been taking me six weeks to get through a book and I can only check out a book for two weeks at a time and late fees would have undoubtedly occurred. But I’m going to summon my courage and try it!

Aaaah, new book pile

Although I have been trying to use the library more, sometimes it’s just so nice to get some new books you don’t have to return (I’m a bit notorious for late fees).

Lucky for me, Hubs and my mom gifted me some new books/B&N gift cards for Christmas and my birthday, so I’ve now got a whole delightful stack waiting to be read!

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I’ll let you know how they are!

I’ve also now got a newly refurbished waiting-in-the-wings book list for when I need to start up with the library again. Here are a few from that list:

The Someday Jar — Allison Morgan

This is How it Always is — Laurie Frankel

The Hate U Give — Angie Thomas

Sugar — Kimberly Stuart

Marilla of Green Gables — Sarah McCoy

The Shadows We Hide — Allen Eskens

The Bookshop — Penelope Fitzgerald

In Her Bones — Kate Moretti

The Home for Unwanted Girls — Joanna Goodman

…and several teacher-y books 🙂

A backlog of books

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to utilize my local(ish) library more often and make sure I always had a book going. I like to think my habit of reading before bed helps my stress level :-). At any rate, here are some books I’ve read recently(ish) that I would recommend:

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

bestpeople

Amazon

I wouldn’t call this a “feel-good” book, but it makes you think and I think the story is told well. The book is told from differing viewpoints of several characters throughout the plot. Some you immediately dislike, as I imagine you’re supposed to, but some you are just rooting so hard for to figure their lives out.

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

forgetting

Goodreads

This is an easier read, but engaging and sweet and nice to have if you’re a right-before-bed reader like me.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Tattooist

Barnes and Noble

Historical fiction based on actual testimony from a tattooist in the concentration camps during WWII. A thinking book for sure, but one where hope is overarching.

 

I’ve also read several books in the Tracy Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni. Normally I’m not a huge series reader, but these are pretty good, especially when I get an itch for a suspenseful read. https://www.robertdugonibooks.com/books

I know there aren’t many recommendations here, but many of the books I’ve read in November/December were mainly pass-the-time reads…as I like to think we all have from time to time.

 

Back-to-school book recommendations

oliphant

Source: Goodreads

This was a bit slow to start for me, but so glad I stuck it out! Reminded me of “Britt-Marie Was Here”, which I loved.

guernsey

Source: Goodreads

Confession — I only read this after I saw the Netflix movie. It’s written completely in the format of letters, which I wasn’t sure I could get in to at first. But, again, I’m glad I stuck it out.

stillme

Source: Goodreads

Third in series, “Me Before You” and “After You” came before. I honestly only started the series because I was in an airport waiting for a flight and needed a book. I didn’t actually expect to like it, but I did!

yesplease

Source: Goodreads

Hubs and I love Parks and Rec, and at some point I remembered that Amy Poehler had written a “memoir”. This one’s random, a little quirky, but has surprising moments of soulfulness. Worth it :-).

Belated books

This is past due (Get it? Because of past due books at libraries? I know, I’m hopeless.) but here are the last book recommendations from my vacation reading last month. As it turns out, I hadn’t read the Harlan Coben one!

thewoods

Source: Goodreads

languageofsecrets

Source: Goodreads

brokengirls

Source: Goodreads

Back to school time is always a bit hit-or-miss for me as far as getting to the library for some new reading material, so I’m currently rereading some of what’s already on my bookshelf. But once I get my hands on some new reads that I think are worth sharing, I’ll let you know!

“Expecting Sunshine” + some real talk

chute

Photo source: Amazon

Last week, I finished one of the books left over from my beach book list. This one was a memoir, entitled “Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss”.

When I found out I was pregnant again, I went in search of a book that would help me in this next phase like “Empty Cradle, Broken Heart” had helped me at the beginning of the summer. Somehow, I caught a line on this book (by Alexis Marie Chute), and decided to try it. I am so glad I did.

Though our personal stories are different, there was so much in this book that I was able to relate to — that I felt “finally, yes, that’s what it feels like!” To give a brief overview: Chute was 25 weeks pregnant with her second child, a son, when they discovered that her baby had a condition that would cause him to be stillborn. Afterward, she throws herself into any distraction she can find to help her get through the first year after her son’s death. The book picks up at the end of her “year of distraction”, and goes through the entire nine months of the pregnancy that follows (her third baby); it shows her grappling with the grief of losing her son, in addition to her fear of what could happen with the new pregnancy (and throw in there that she’s also trying to parent her daughter — y’know, NBD).

As you all know, I found out at 12 weeks that my baby had died. Because Charlie died prior to 20 weeks, it was considered a miscarriage (a missed miscarriage, in my case). I’ve found that for the general public, miscarriages don’t hold much weight. But lordy do they hold weight for the parents of the baby. What I’m getting at, is that to the people who love their baby before it even “gets here”, it really does not matter what embryonic/fetal/whatever stage the baby was technically in. This really stood out to me when I was reading this book. So much of what Chute describes thinking and feeling, I felt a personal connection to.

At one point, Chute describes how shortly after the death of her son, Zachary, she and her family were visiting her mother and stepfather. Her husband had to go back to work, and she was struggling with needing him with her and feeling abandoned while trying to cope with the grief. She describes finding a golf tee in the garage, and jamming it in to her hand (her family discovers this and helps her find a counselor, and also brings up the potential that she may be going through PTSD). Now, I know this may be difficult to hear, and part of your brain probably jumps to self-harming as destructive. Which it is. But I think what she was trying to describe is that after going through this kind of loss, you have so much inner turmoil, so much pain inside of you that no one can see or seem to understand, and you just want some kind of physical pain, some kind of physical manifestation, to almost combat what you’re feeling inside. Almost like a balance. At least, this is what I inferred while reading it. And again I thought, yes.

I did not harm myself physically during my grief, but I understand about the forcefulness of inner turmoil. I understand having an amount of pain take you over, with a magnitude that you didn’t even know was possible. I get what she meant. I started counseling pretty soon after we lost Charlie, and I took steps to take care of myself even when it felt almost ridiculous to do so. Like Chute, I attempt to distract myself by jumping back into work right away. I thought that would help. But it backfired, so I had to do something else. I wanted the grief to just happen and be over (no one wants to feel pain like that, no matter how much love it speaks of), but that wasn’t an option. I had to go through it. All of it. I still do.

My heartbreak over losing my first baby isn’t gone, it never will be. But the pain has become less intense, for which I am grateful. My first baby is still a part of this new pregnancy, my total fears for the new baby coming directly from my grief of losing Charlie. Of not knowing. Of not being able to protect my children no matter how badly I try. And when hubs and I do have children (working hard on making myself think “when” not “if”), they’ll know about Charlie. It won’t be a secret. Chute talks about this as well.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re in a position even vaguely similar to mine, this book might be worth it. I wish I could give you more direct passages that spoke to me, but I actually let my mom borrow the book so she could get some kind of idea of what I’ve been feeling. (So, if you know someone who’s been in a position even vaguely similar to mine, and you want to try to understand more, you might be interested in this book as well.)

Food for thought.

If you want to learn more about the author, you can check it out here: www.alexismariechute.com

Beach vacation + beach books

Tomorrow we leave at o’dark-thirty for the beach! I’m very excited and can’t wait to spend the weeks with hubs being on an official vacation. While last summer’s Pacific Northwest Roadtrip was amazing, it was also super tiring and I’m grateful that our vacay this year consists of doing a whole lot less by the sand and surf. Especially with everything that’s happened in the last six months.

Naturally, I will be hauling along a sack full of books. My list includes:

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss by Alexis Marie Chute

The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello

The Woods by Harlan Coben (I may have read this one before, but I can’t quite recall and I’m not against reading a book twice as long as it’s marginally interesting.)

The Language of Secrets by Dianna Dixon

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Another Day by David Levithan

Now, I sure I won’t get through all of these books, but I am going to make a good dent!