If every woman read Meaghan O’Connell’s “And Now We Have Everything,” they would think twice before getting pregnant.
O’Connell, a former writer for New York Magazine’s “The Cut,” decided to write her memoir “And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood before I Was Ready” when she realized the world lacked an honest, up-front look at the not-so-great reality of what pregnancy and motherhood really meant.
Tracking her life from early pregnancy to the treacherous year after her child’s birth, O’Connell’s memoir is humorous and heartbreakingly honest. O’Connell brings the reader along for every battle she faces from her impending and ultimate motherhood. From the choice to keep her baby, to the horrific reality of the 40 hour labor, O’Connell includes every part of being a new mother that everyone seems to accidentally leave out when writing their mommy blogs and maternity books.
The most admirable thing about “And Now We Have Everything” is O’Connell’s willingness to hold nothing back in her depiction of pregnancy and motherhood. Instead of reflecting back on her pregnancy and first year as a mother with logic and a deft editing hand, O’Connell writes her book like a brutally honest diary. From every fear she had, every moment of questioning if having a child was a mistake — she wrote it down. O’Connell’s utterly flawed form of motherhood is funny, sad and somehow relieving in its imperfection.
While the book focuses itself on motherhood, O’Connell’s musings and questions also touch on the unsure world of womanhood. O’Connell wraps up the expectation of traditional women in their fertility, and the expectation of the modern woman in their expectation to not want, or rather need, children and the fight between the said expectations that occur. O’Connell, in all her questions, presents the clear bind that most women find themselves in — the fight between pleasing the world around them and understanding what they themselves want. This recurring theme pops up at all stages of O’Connell’s story, from her choosing to keep her pregnancy, to choosing a birth plan that ultimately fails and not feeling like the doting parent she should be.
While O’Connell’s window into the world of motherhood is intimate and real, it — at points — seems almost too personal. O’Connell shares every single detail of her pregnancy as well as her relationship with her fiance. The heavy-handed oversharing can at some points make the reader feel as if they need to turn away and take a breather from the book. While her willingness to share can be commended, it can also make things a little awkward.
O’Connell’s musings, especially those of her actual birth can occasionally come across as over dramatic, but hell, I’m sure pushing a human being out of your body is quite a dramatic event. These over-dramatized thoughts that slip into “And Now We Have Everything” only seem to add to the charm, authenticity and humor that makes up O’Connell’s story. At points she seems paranoid about every little thing that could go wrong with her or her baby, and whether or not anyone actually believed the pain that she was in.
“And Now We Have Everything” is the brutally honest and witty take on motherhood that everyone needs, no matter their gender or desire for children. Full of whimsical truths and bright humor, O’Connell is a writer to look out for in the future.