Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: The Sh!t No One Tells You

The front cover may be drenched in pastel colors, but the title is the first thing that grabs the reader. The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby's First Year is an eye-opener in more ways than one. It takes a special author to title a chapter, "Having pets did not prepare you for this (crate training is not an option so take that off your registry).

Author Dawn Dais is a mom to her eighteen- month-old daughter Vivian (the baby inspiration for this tome), partner to Becky and creator of this hysterical guidebook to new parents. Hospitals should be contacted and a copy of this book should be shoved into the bleary eyed new parents' hands as they stumble to their cars with their new baby in tow.

Dais lays out the necessary hardships of raising a child, particularly the first sleep deprived year. Each of the twenty eight chapters tackles one subject that new parents should be made aware of but usually aren't, unless the advice giver is cackling as they walk away. The book starts with tackling the labor (Dais claims that this is the easiest part to the first year of your child's life) and states that under no circumstances mention mucus plugs while reliving your birth story for friends, real life or Facebook. The explosion of fluids that a being less than ten pounds can expel, teething, memory loss and the fact that you will probably want to divorce your partner (if one is present) in the first year are all laid out in the barest of terms. She is brutal but funny in her honesty, that parenthood is an amazing journey that will deepen your heart but is also an incredibly difficult and harrowing experience. She also includes testimony from dear friends and relatives in her life, ranging all over the spectrum: married, single, how many kids, work situation, etc.

The heart of the book is when Dais acknowledges "the most difficult part of new parenting is the conflicting emotions you feel, and your fear of even acknowledging those different emotions, let alone sharing them...So that's what I've set out to do...Warn you about all the shit no one is telling you...Knowing you are not along actually helps a little."

A lot of parents do feel alone in the daily struggle of parenting. Said situations are not helped in the slightest when we are inundated by celeb magazines praising women for snapping back to their pre-baby shape (your body may not get there, Dais also notes and even if you do, your body may have a new "normal") or people touting how amazing their children are and have been accepted to college at 14, etc. Yes, parenting can be a fulfilling rewarding experience but it's also going to be incredibly hard. Parents need to forgive themselves, be kind to themselves, be honest, have a support system and make sure to get the hell out of the house upon occasion. This may be a blunt book about the reality of babies, but it's a necessary book for parents to have.

(Photo Credit: Seal Press/I did receive a review copy of this book.)

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