Sunday, May 24, 2009

It Sucked and Then I Cried, by Heather B. Armstrong

I read this at the same time that I'm currently reading The DaVinci Code. If I've learned anything about my reading habits in the past few months, it's that I can read two books at once. In fact, I'm going to add another button at the sidebar, "Also Currently Reading," so I can show all of my kittens every tome I'm engaged in.

I first learned about this book from my bloggy pal Pooba. The author originally had gained notoriety in 2002 for being one of the first bloggers to get fired because she wrote some very nasty things about her employer online. She took her blog down, moved to Utah with her husband, and started it up again, but didn't blog about work this time.

Instead, she blogged about such things as pregnancy, birth, and postpartum depression, all of which are chronicled in this book.

Armstrong makes it clear from the beginning that she did not like pregnancy. At all. She can be very graphic in her descriptions about the ways that pregnancy has changed her body and how it functions, especially when she writes about the way she has to contort herself in order to go to the bathroom. Anecdotes such as these can be downright whiny, but in other instances, are very comical.

One of the funniest chapters in the book was about the birth of Armstrong's daughter, Leta. The title, "Labor to the Tune of Janet Jackson's Nipple," says it all right there. Armstrong went into labor during the Super Bowl that had the infamous "wardrobe malfunction," and as she watched TV while giving birth, the nipple appeared again...and again...and again. She mentions this often as she also writes about how painful the whole process was.

Then Leta comes home, and baby makes three. Armstrong writes about the many life changes that she experiences as a new mother, from sleep deprivation to breastfeeding to sleep deprivation to packing one's whole life into the car for a ten minute drive and, oh, did I mention sleep deprivation? At the end of nearly every chapter, right after Leta's birth, Armstrong includes a letter that she writes to her daughter every month, on the anniversary of her arrival. She writes about Leta's growth milestones, to her favorite things, to how she swells up with love every time she looks at her daughter.

One of the things that intrigued me about this book, and one of the reasons why I borrowed it from the library, was its account on postpartum depression. Or rather, the book jacket summary promised an account on postpartum depression. I was expecting Armstrong to go more in depth about her experiences with this, but she doesn't. She devotes a chapter to it, when she checks into a mental hospital for treatment, but even so, she kind of glosses over it, save for several mentions in previous chapters. When she does write about it, she's very honest, open, and forthcoming about how she felt during this experience. I just wish she went into more detail about it.

It Sucked and Then I Cried definitely had its highs and lows. Truthfully, I was expecting much more out of this book than I actually got out of it. I found it was very disjointed and unorganized at points. It kind of read as if she took a series of posts from her blog,, and had them bound and sent them to a publisher. Maybe this book was meant to be read this way, but I wasn't too much of a fan of it.

I wasn't that disappointed with this book that I stopped reading it in the middle. It just didn't capture my attention that some other books are known to do.

That having been said, I suggest checking out some more of Armstrong's writing over at her blog. She's a great writer, very funny, frank, and honest, and you also get updates on what has happened since Leta was a baby. It's well worth the visit.

I just wish I could say the same for the book.

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge, and my 2009 Pub Challenge. For all of the archives, click on the buttons in the right column.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm this book is probably not my cup of tea...the Da Vinci Code however is one of my favs. I read it in a day. Yes, I'm crazy.

And yes, I can be reading 5 books at once. Again, crazy!

Jenners said...

Interesting ... I haven't read anything on Dooce ... but if you blog, you can't help but hear about her -- usually jealously as she is living the dream that all bloggers want (making a living doing it). I'll skip the book but I'll check out the blog perhaps.