We Talk To This Busy Author And Mom Of Four

Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books: The Ultimate Guide to Conception, Birth and Everything in Between and The Mother of All Baby Books: The Ultimate Guide to Your Baby's First Year, is here at Pregnancy & Baby! Read Ann's advice on everything from keeping romance alive amidst the structure and stress of baby-making to weathering the storms of morning sickness to preparing for the birth of your dreams.
Nancy J Price

Q: The bookstore shelves are overflowing with pregnancy books. Why did you decide to write another one?
As you've no doubt noticed by now, pregnancy books tend to fall into one of two distinct categories: bossy books that treat pregnancy as a nine-month exercise in deprivation and that leave you feeling like a bad person if you ingest so much as a single Tylenol® during your entire pregnancy; and humorous books that treat pregnancy and birth as one big joke. (Hey, I enjoy a laugh as much as the next gal, but there are times when I'd prefer a hefty serving of hard medical facts!)

The Mother of All Pregnancy Books doesn't fall into either of these classic pregnancy book traps. It doesn't pretend to know what's best for you (like preaching to you about the evils of eating junk food during pregnancy, as one bestselling pregnancy book likes to do). Nor does it waste pages and pages discussing such inane topics as your fantasies about your obstetrician (the type of subject that another bestselling pregnancy book takes particular delight in talking about). Instead, The Mother of All Pregnancy Books arms you with the facts so that you can make up your own mind about such important issues as nutrition during pregnancy, prenatal testing, pain relief during labor, circumcision, and breastfeeding.

Q: The Mother of All Pregnancy Books is your third pregnancy book. How is it different from your other two pregnancy books?
My previous pregnancy book, Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Loss, was written specifically for parents who've been through the heartbreak of experiencing the death of a baby. And my other pregnancy book, The Unofficial Guide to Having A Baby, is more of a pregnancy reference book. I would expect that a lot of people will want to read both The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and The Unofficial Guide to Having A Baby because they are complimentary titles.

Q: Obviously, you must enjoy writing about pregnancy.
Some people think that I've made a career out of being pregnant. And, if the truth is to be told, they really aren't that far wrong. With six pregnancies and three pregnancy books under my belt, I guess you could describe my interest in pregnancy as nothing short of an obsession!

Pregnancy has been a passion for me ever since the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child a little over 13 years ago. After a year of marathon babymaking attempts and a desperate, tear-filled visit to a fertility doctor, I'd finally managed to hit the jackpot! There are no words to describe the joy that I felt the day that the hospital laboratory called to tell me the good news. And even when morning sickness kicked, my breasts became so tender that I could no longer sleep on my stomach, and that classic first-trimester fatigue knocked the wind out of my sails, I was still euphoric. How could I not be? I was pregnant.

My passion for writing about pregnancy is an attempt to capture that magic over and over again. Since my husband has let me know in no uncertain terms that the babymaking factory is closed, I've had to learn to settle for the next best thing to actually being pregnant: writing about it!

Q: What is it about pregnancy that you find so compelling?
To me, pregnancy is nothing short of a sacred, life-altering experience -- one that almost defies description (although, of course, that hasn't stopped me from trying!) Even though I've written well over half a million words about pregnancy during the past three years alone, I still haven't run out of things to write about. I only wish that I was an artist so that I could capture some of the magical moments that are so difficult to describe in words: the Mona Lisa-like smile of a pregnant woman as she feels her baby's first flutters and the tears of joy and relief that a woman experiences as that final pushing contraction sends her child shooting out of her body and into the world.

Back in my pre-baby days when I first fell head-over-heels in love with the man I would eventually marry, I thought that I'd experienced the most powerful love a person could ever hope to experience-romantic love. The moment I gave birth to my first child, I realized I'd been wrong. While the love between two committed partners can be intense and exhilarating, there's no form of love more potent or more pure than the love between mother and child. I'm compelled to write about that bond again and again.

Of course, that love doesn't come without a price. Just as the most joyous times in my life have been the days I spent cuddling and nursing each of my newborn babies, the most devastating heartaches I've ever experienced have also been pregnancy related: the frustrating year when a hormonal imbalance wreaked havoc on my efforts to conceive, making me wonder if I'd ever realize by dream of becoming a mother; the shock of having my fourth pregnancy end in miscarriage; and the utter devastation of finding out that my fifth baby was going to be stillborn.

Over the years, I have had a smorgasbord of different pregnancy experiences-experiences that manage to find their way into my books and articles time and time again: I've experienced everything from the joy of giving birth to a healthy baby (four times!) to the heartbreak of losing babies through miscarriage and stillbirth. I've experienced natural childbirth, a forceps delivery, and a highly medicated delivery (when my daughter was stillborn four years ago); and I've had my births attended by every conceivable type of caregiver: midwives, family doctors, and obstetricians. (Hey, no one can accuse me of not doing my homework!)

While researching my various books, I've had the opportunity to interview hundreds of women about their pregnancy experiences -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. What I've discovered is that we all share this common bond by virtue of having shared one of the most powerful experiences imaginable. It's almost as if any woman who has ever given birth has earned membership in a secret society -- a society that's exciting to belong to, but that has pretty brutal initiation rites (everything from stretch marks to labor contractions!)

Q: So is there another pregnancy book in your future?
I've moved on to the baby and toddler stage for now. I've just finished writing The Mother of All Baby Books (which will be published by Hungry Minds in June 2002) and now I'm hard at work on The Mother of All Toddler Books. Does this mean I'll never write another pregnancy book? Never say never!PregnancyAndBaby.com


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