Melanie J. Pellowski’s newest book, The Pregnancy Primer, is a heartwarming tribute to early motherhood. I breezed through the book over a weekend; one chapter in, I decided I’ll order a copy for my own sister-in-law! Somehow Pellowski feels like a friend I’ve never met. She seems to intuitively understand the ups and downs of pregnancy and the unspoken anxieties that tend to plague new mothers. Reading The Pregnancy Primer left me with a feeling of triumph. Parenting is hard and mothering may be challenging, but Pellowski reminded me that I’m doing a great job. The book, set to publish later this year, would make an excellent baby shower gift!
I’ve been a mother for three years now and still consider myself a rookie. So many others have far more experience than I have! As soon as I announced my pregnancy, people gave me unprompted advice on nearly every part of parenting. I’ll be honest: this felt patronizing. Who are they to think I wasn’t perfectly capable all on my own? Three years of parenting helped me understand how right they were. Carrying, birthing, and raising a baby really does take a whole village! From now on, Melanie Pellowski is one of those people in my own tiny village. Her kind words resonated with me even now, four years after I got pregnant with my firstborn. She reminded me of what I needed to remember: I’m doing alright at this mom gig.
As a person with anxiety, research helps me feel more in control of any situation I face. Over the years I’ve read hundreds - if not thousands - of parenting pieces (blogs, articles, books, or literature). Many of these well-intended resources are imbued with bias in some form. Some even cross the line from personal preference into outright mom-shaming! Pellowski manages to walk the fine line between helpful guidance and unhelpful condemnation with grace. Not once did I feel she was unfair or harsh. Quite the contrary! Her gentle words of encouragement made space for a wide variety of parenting styles. The Pregnancy Primer is filled with gentle affirmations that would help any mom - myself included - feel good about their parenting choices.
When I was pregnant, I was inundated with advice from all angles. Even the most well-meaning people said some pretty worrying things to me! Family members told me my plans for birth without pain relief was a “nice idea” but not practical. “Just wait until you’re having contractions - you will definitely change your mind!” Not so with Pellowski. She offers unbiased truths about what she calls “natural birth” as well as epidural pain relief. Without a hint of judgment, Pellowski offers encouragement to laboring moms. The whole book feels like a labor of love from your best friend, cheering you on when people are dragging you down.
Not only is the baby book sweet and tender, but it also looks so stinkin’ adorable! From a design perspective, the soft pink title pages and diaper pin page markers are the perfect touches. It’s going to look great on my sister-in-law’s bookshelf! In a few chapters, Pellowski includes a baby-centric playlist. The labor chapter gave me a few chuckles: she includes “Help!”, “Ring Of Fire”, and “If I Could Turn Back Time”. That list is a hilariously tongue-in-cheek take on the thoughts that might cross a mom’s mind while she is actively in labor. I might even snag a few of these suggestions myself for a few of my doula playlists!
I particularly love the blurbs from moms of all ages. Every few pages, Pellowski gives her friends (and her own mom) a chance to chime in with the perfect sentiment for expectant moms. The quotations are sometimes funny and always heartwarming. My personal favorites include a reminder from Jenny, one of Pellowski’s loved ones. Jenny reminds new moms that babies can feel their stress and tension. It’s true! As someone with anxiety, I understand exactly how hard it is to “just relax” - and how infuriating that suggestion can be. Instead of coming off as dismissive, Jenny’s quotation is encouraging. She doesn’t claim that there’s nothing for a new mom to worry about; instead, she prods first-time moms to find ways to relieve their own stress.
The word that comes to mind is "balance". Pellowski is able to speak into the lives of all new mothers without pushing an agenda. At one point, she reaffirms a mother’s instinct. Who is the real expert on a given child? Someone with a degree, or the child’s parent with hands-on experience specific to that little one? Somehow, Pellowski upholds the validity of both perspectives. Doctors and professionals are necessary in some cases, but a mother’s gut instinct is valid and should not be ignored. This kind of even-handedness makes this book perfect for first-time moms. When they’re being bombarded with opinions and advice from all angles, The Pregnancy Primer can be an oasis to help overwhelmed moms-to-be feel grounded again.
The Pregnancy Primer is a fun read, easy on the eyes, and an uplifting addition to a new mom’s personal library. But I haven’t even told you about my favorite part yet! Interspersed throughout the book, Pellowski includes writing prompts and ample space to record your thoughts. She even includes two whole pages to try out and practice writing baby names! These journaling pages make the book deeply intimate, as each mom will personalize it with her own thoughts and feelings. Each chapter includes a place to reflect on the theme, guided by short phrases to elicit a response.
The invitation to journal is also an endorsement of intentional parenting. Rather than letting pregnancy “just happen” to them, Pellowski encourages moms to take ownership of the things they can influence. By thinking deeply about the “big picture” issues in life, moms (and dads!) can feel more prepared to parent once the baby arrives. I am still ruminating on one chapter in particular, where Pellowski asks the reader to reflect on their parents’ successes and failures in the adventure that is parenting young children. The next prompt then pushes the thought exercise one step further. Of those successes, which will you adopt into your own parenting style? I’m three years and two kids into this motherhood gig and I still learned so much from The Pregnancy Primer!
Part memory journal, part inspirational quotations, The Pregnancy Primer is the third book published by Melanie Pellowski - and the first on motherhood. All in all, The Pregnancy Primer is a sweet addition to the world of parenting books. I look forward to snagging one of the first copies once it hits stands!
BabyGaga luckily received an unpublished copy of The Pregnancy Primer by Melanie J. Pellowski. The preceding review is the opinion of the reviewer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of BabyGaga.com or its parent company, Valnet.