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November 19, 2012

Reading in the First Trimester

I have so much trouble reading when I’m 6-12 weeks pregnant. As I’ve done it twice now, I can say for a fact that I am the problem and it’s not necessarily the books I encounter, all of which seem to me to be absolutely intolerable. In my first trimester of pregnancy, I completely lack the patience required to overlook the (often obligatory) parts of any book that are intolerable, and understand its fundamental goodness. I can’t read a book that’s very long either, because eventually it becomes associated with nausea and even the thought of the book makes me want to puke. I have a similar relationship with Calgary– every time I go there, I’m 6 or 8 weeks pregnant, and I can’t even think about it anymore. And with Cloud Atlas, whose first pages I read in Calgary and therefore never again.

Another book I can’t handle is Cybele Young’s A Few Bites, which is so so good! But the book came into my life when I was six weeks pregnant and when Ferdie is presented with his lunch of broccoli, carrot sticks, and ravioli, my stomach heaves. I can no longer eat broccoli, which is bizarre because I’ve always loved it, but no longer, temporarily I hope. We’ve had to ask our organic food delivery to stop bringing it because every week I threw it out.

There is Nicola Barker’s The Yips, which I bought in Calgary but Calgary was not even the problem. The biggest problem I think is that it was not as good as Burley Cross Postbox Theft or Darkmans, and I was so unhappy (and feeling sick) while I was reading it. There were a few weeks where I hated everything, and not just books, but then I started reading A Very Large Soul: Selected Letters of Margaret Laurence, and began to feel better. Correspondance and short stories were the trick I guess, fragments, and perhaps this was why I was so elated to discover Isabel Huggan’s The Elizabeth Stories–finally a book to fall in love with. And the Susans anthology. And slowly, slowly, I was happy to find that I could love books again. (I am not sure that Calgary will recover so easily.)

So yes, this is a round-about way of saying that after being the first woman ever to have a baby three and a half years ago, I am going to pioneer the act of having a second at the end of May. Literary trauma aside, I’ve had a relatively easy first trimester and have been so grateful for Harriet’s mornings at school so that I’ve still been able to get my work done. Grateful too that we dragged out Harriet’s napping through the weeks when I needed it most. Also that emotionally, I’ve have a much easier time of it this time around–with a three year old running around, less apparent miracles are easier to believe in. I have faith this time, and it’s so refreshing not be crazy (though we’ll see how long the sanity lasts. In my experience, it comes in limited quantities only).

I am excited and terrified, and hoping that everyone who promised it would be easier second-time around wasn’t lying. I am really excited for Harriet to become a sister. And most of all, I just feel enormously lucky, that this decision whether or not to have a second child was one we had the freedom and good fortune to make for ourselves.

18 thoughts on “Reading in the First Trimester”

  1. saleema says:

    This is such an interesting phenomenon for you to trace. Have you noticed any difference in your writing? And is there any hope for broccoli and Cloud Atlas way down the road, if not for Calgary?

    Congratulations on your wonderful news!

  2. Sara says:

    Hey, what lovely news!

  3. Nina says:

    Yay, baby! And books and broccoli, but there will be time for them later. Enjoy your glow!

  4. Trish says:

    How wonderful! Most heartfelt congratulations, Kerry!

  5. Sarah says:

    Congratulations! People always thought I was crazy when I told them I couldn’t read for some reason when I was pregnant. Now I’m not the only one!

  6. Claire says:

    Congratulations to you and yours! And I’m another who can’t read anything longer than a four sentence paragraph when pregnant…

  7. carin says:

    Well, based on my tolerance levels for obligatory bookish intolerations… I must be perpetually 8 weeks pregnant. [And at my age that is some kind of miracle.] Still, it explains a lot. 😉

    BTW, also reading and loving ‘The Elizabeth Stories’. Isn’t ‘Celia Behind Me’ just so gorgeous, on so many levels?

  8. Melissa Fetherstonhaugh says:

    We served no broccoli in Calgary.

    1. Kerry says:

      I know. It’s all in my head. You served spaghetti and meatballs and they were delicious and we have even had them twice since, which is saying something. I mean no disrepect to your hospitality, or even to your fair city. xo

  9. patricia says:

    Yay!! Such wonderful news.

  10. Amy says:

    Yeay to happy, healthy pregnancies!

  11. Laura says:

    I noticed changes too. I choose short books towards the end both times, and after my first, I didn’t touch a book for six months (NOT normal.) I think that was a symptom of postpartum depression, in hind sight.

  12. Sheree says:

    Love. I send you love.

  13. m says:

    Congratulations! May your pregnancy be full-term and healthy.

    As for the second baby being easier, it is, but there are things that are harder. Emotional things. Different things. We can email if you’d like. It’s the third that’s the easiest!

  14. m says:

    p.s. I hate the entire country of Germany because I had morning sickness when I was there.

  15. Kate says:

    Hey, me too! 22 May. My last-throes-of-the-nausea book was Emma Donoghue’s latest. Perfect tiny bites for the food-averse.

    As a big David Mitchell fan, may I recommend Black Swan Green? So funny, and also, smallish manageable chapter chunks.

  16. Kristin says:

    Congratulations! That is wonderful news. 1st trimesters do strange things to us. I could not stand the smell or taste of tea (especially green tea) or coffee during all of my pregnancies. When I am not pregnant I live on both beverages, so that took some getting used to. Anyway, I’m very excited for you guys!

  17. sassymonkey says:

    I am clearly very, very behind in my blog reading but congratulations!

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