Ciara's Reviews > Maybe Baby: 28 Writers Tell the Truth About Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness, Ambivalence, and How They Made the Biggest Decision of Their Lives

Maybe Baby by Lori Leibovich
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Mar 19, 12

bookshelves: baby-pregnancy-infertility-parentin, read-in-2012
Read in February, 2012

this was kind of just okay. it's a collection of essays by people writing about why & how they decided that they did or did not want to become parents. i think part of the issue is that there's really no way to write about that topic without sounding trite. i think most people more or less have their minds made up & no essay is going to convince them to make a different choice. & no one can really articulate why or how they made their decision without falling back on arguments so well-worn that they have become cliches. ie, "i just always knew i wanted to be a parent." "i knew from seeing my partner interact with our friends' kids that he would be a great dad." "i just wasn't willing to slow down my career." "i always knew parenting was something that didn't interest me." okay...how? why? these are the questions no one can really answer in a new or interesting way.

complicating things even further is the fact that pretty much all the contributers to this book are working professional writers, mostly based in or around new york city. therefore, their lives are pretty different from most people's lives. one contributer writes about how she realized that her ex-pat life in france didn't mesh well with a baby, so she had to throw in the towel & move to a rambling beach house in maine or something instead. wow. that must have been so hard for her. amy richards writes about decided to selectively reduce her natural triplet pregnancy (she seriously went on & on & ON about how she conceived triplets naturally, no fertility drugs or treatments, & with absolutely no awareness of how this definitely could sound like bragging to someone who IS undergoing fertility treatments or taking drugs in an effort to conceive just one baby) to a singleton. she writes that despite having been a high-profile feminist activist & writer for a decade, she'd never heard of selective reduction before. i don't doubt that this may very well be true, but...REALLY? fucking seriously? i really think that says more about richards's very selective reading on feminist topics than it does about the secrecy surrounding selective reduction. specifically, i don't think that richards spent much time reading or educating herself about pregnancy & motherhood before she got pregnant & decided to be a mom. that kind of thing isn't uncommon, but it kind of speaks to a certain lack of intellectual rigor, especially coming from someone who basically portrays herself as a professional feminist. & her argument for the selective reduction basically boils down to, "i didn't think i could easily afford three tuitions to summer camp, but when i told people that, they thought i was a selfish jerk," without exploring at all how maybe some people might be justified in not being real impressed by "summer camp" as an argument. i mean, hello.

this was kind of the heart of the problem with the entire book. it felt like people were writing to a deadline & to the anthology parameters more than they were really exploring their motivations & desires. i'm sure that they WERE mainly writing to a deadline & to anthology parameters--that's pretty much what working writers who do a lot of freelance work do. but to a reader, it felt like empty calories. i am not that interested in reading a collection of essays that were just written for the resume. i really hoped that some of these authors would be able to craft an original, compelling essay about why they did or did not choose parenthood. i'm disappointed.
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