I didn't realize how little I knew about it [childbirth] until I read Meaghan O'Connell's wry, brutal And Now We Have Everything ... The memoir industry runs increasingly on the unique, the superhuman, and the grotesque. People climb mountains, escape kidnappers, visit heaven and report back. But And Now We Have Everything shows how the most normal thing in the world — having an ordinary, healthy baby after an ordinary, healthy pregnancy — means being visited with all possible extremes of pain, fear, and love. O'Connell renders this normal and horrific experience real, in both emotional sweep and brutal particulars.
O’Connell addresses that fear, and many more, with the kind of clear-eyed wit that you can only hope that your more experienced friend will possess ... There is a very particular sort of mania in being pregnant, one that either thrums beneath the surface or rushes screaming to the fore, and it’s this maddening dichotomy that O’Connell distills onto the page with such attention and care ... In a world increasingly littered with half-conceived stories that purport to offer a peek into the process, O’Connell’s charmingly neurotic, confessional ruminations feel justifiable in their untidiness, their emotional grit ... And Now We Have Everything stretches beyond the well-worn narrative grooves of the delivery room, although O’Connell’s keen observational acuity throughout those pivotal scenes is nothing short of a blessing.
This is not a book about the wonders of motherhood but about the tension between culturally inherited ideals and the realities of lived, bodily experience. 'What if we treated pregnant women like thinking adults? What if we worried less about making a bad impression?' O’Connell asks. Describing motherhood with brutal honesty and a sharp wit, And Now We Have Everything does just this. The result is a delight.
...there has been an upsurge of books that focus on motherhood, and this memoir is a vivid, often harrowing example of the genre ... O’Connell is open, too, about the competing feelings of fear and desire, shame and artistic ambition ... Her book is a testament, a gift to mothers who might want their realities confirmed, as well as to everyone else.
...a completely honest, often neurotic and searingly funny memoir of her pregnancy and childbirth ... And Now We Have Everything is a welcome antidote in the panicked-expectant-mothers canon — though its fast-paced and gripping narrative will appeal to nonparents, too.
O’Connell does a fine job at putting the reader in her shoes, including the scene leading up to giving birth ... The book is funny and sarcastic, and readers will appreciate O’Connell’s passion on the subject, which is evident in the prose.
O’Connell’s straightforward admissions made me anxious at times, but I was also incredibly grateful to her for putting them on paper. My own fears about being the best version of myself, kids or not, were alleviated through reading about another person’s struggles with the same issues—and with the guts to admit how inadequate and alone she felt. Her direct, punchy writing style...translates well to a book-length format, where she has room to explore all avenues of a thought or an anecdote before concluding with a startling clarity ... Her book is a welcome approach to both confessional writing and writing about motherhood ... she names the messy feelings that so often shame us into hiding and in doing so, gives herself, and anyone who can relate, a bit of room to breathe.
In this compact narrative, the author begins slowly, telling her backstory and working through the 'wow, I’m pregnant' stage of telling her friends and adjusting to her body as it changed over the months. She incorporates humor and honesty, but this part of the story will feel overly familiar to many readers ... For current mothers, the author’s story will resonate deeply. For any woman contemplating having a child, O’Connell provides an accurate depiction of what it can feel like to be a new mom, both physically and emotionally ... A well-written book that provides refreshingly candid insight.