And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O’Connell

This is a raw and unapologetic memoir about the author’s experience becoming a mother. It was a refreshingly honest account that did not shy away from the pain, inconveniences and overwhelming experiences that are part and parcel of the journey.

The memoir starts in New York when the author was a late-20s hopeful writer, and within pages we are swept up in finding out that she is unexpectedly pregnant. I really enjoyed the honesty and humanity that leapt off the page and instantly made the author’s experience relatable (even to me as a non-mother). So many memoirs of motherhood exclude women who have not experienced the journey first-hand, so I particularly appreciated how inclusive this one felt.

This was also a fascinating parallel to read following my recent read of Jessie Greengrass’s ‘Sight’ – a literary fiction reflecting on motherhood and perceptions of one’s body. Where ‘Sight’ contemplates motherhood in a very introspective manner, O’Connell’s memoir  exposes its gritty reality, and labours the need to give women the autonomy they deserve during motherhood (rather than treating women like delicate little flowers). Later in the memoir she recalls a writer that she drew from during her own pregnancy and how she set up this utopian image of the perfect birth and it’s attainability for all women. Months after giving birth to her son, O’Connell is listening to this writer interviewed on a podcast and breaks down when she admits that it isn’t all sunshine and roses, and that if we told women it was a painful awful experience no one would want to go through it. In many ways I feel like this memoir is the book that O’Connell was looking for to guide her own experience of motherhood as she embarked upon it.

What is so effective about O’Connell’s book is that she does share so much of this pain, and I think her experience arms and empowers other women with more realistic expectations than are sometimes proffered by social media and other books on the experience.

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This was a short but compelling read, and I greatly appreciated O’Connell’s humor and candor sharing such intimate moments.

Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown & Company for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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