Tag: pregnancy

Little Women | Louisa May Alcott

In that last month of pregnancy, strangers asked me the same questions on repeat: When was I due? How was I feeling? Did I know what I was having? I didn’t mind this. What I did mind was the track that conversation sometimes veered onto after I answered that last question with, “A girl!” Sometimes, people gave answers that warmed my overworked heart: “Oh, four girls! How sweet!” or “I’m one of four sisters! It is so much fun.” But sometimes the answers were less heart-warming:

“Just wait until they’re teenagers.”

“Oh well—keep trying for that boy!”

“Your poor husband!”

A much smaller, fully rested me would laugh those comments off. But at nine months pregnant, there were hormones involved; I couldn’t even pretend that the comments were funny. I knew we were excited about life with four daughters and that we weren’t “trying for a boy,” but I was too tired to explain that again and again to strangers in the bulk food aisle.

Little Women | Little Book, Big Story

So I came up with a parry that redirected that conversation into safer, more joyful, more literary waters. Here’s how it worked:

Well-meaning stranger in the check-out line: “Do you know what you’re having?”

Me: “A girl!”

Stranger peers over my shoulder, obviously counting the daughters trailing behind me like ducklings, and raises her eyebrows. But before she can comment, I finish, ” . . . and we’re reading Little Women to celebrate!”

Her eyebrows drop and the stranger smiles. “I loved that book when I was a little girl!” And just like that, we’ve left off discussing monthly cycles and man caves, and started discussing, instead, our favorite March sisters.

Little Women | Little Book, Big Story

Set during the Civil War, the story of the March family recounts the adventures of four sisters—sweet Meg, unconventional Jo, gentle Beth, and precocious Amy—as they help their mother hold down the fort while their father is away fighting in the Union army. The Marches are one of the literary families who seem to belong to the reader: their home began to feel like home as we read, their struggles began to feel like our struggles.  This book is filled with so many memorable scenes that it was a joy to watch them weave into the shared memories of our own family.

I wasn’t sure if Little Women was too far about the heads of my 5 and 7-year-old, but they were warmly wrapped up in the story after the first few chapters. They each called out their favorite sisters and laughed aloud over the antics of Jo or Beth’s kittens. We read only the first part of the book (we’ll save the second, with its weddings—and funerals—for when they’re older), but already Little Women is a favorite in our home—not least because we now have our very own Josephine:

Josephine | Little Book, Big Story


Little Women
Louisa May Alcott (1868)

Nesting

The baby blanket is done; the countdown is on. With only a half dozen days left until this baby is due, our house looks like a nest built twig by twig—if the twigs were baskets of small, pink laundry and empty chocolate bar wrappers.

My husband is diligently working his way through a to-do list that mysteriously grows longer with every item he checks off, and the girls have decided that we must name the baby Rosamund Rose Rosenburg (they even insisted on it with adorable, mom-wilting eyes). I, meanwhile, am doing practical things like napping, re-reading Anne of Green Gablesand taking photos of myself in the mirror.

Though not typically given to taking photos of myself in the mirror, I had to take this one, because it is, in fact, the only photographic evidence that I was ever pregnant with this child. My belly crept into a few photos taken for this blog, but otherwise, there is a noticeable lack of pictures of this pregnancy (one of the perils of being the family photographer or, I suppose, the fourth child):

Any day now | Little Book, Big Story

But I like this photo: notice the birth ball to the left and the basket of unfolded onesies to the right? That, my friends, is a visual summary of the final weeks of pregnancy.

Knitted patchwork baby blanket | Little Book, Big Story

But to all of you who have sent us sweet wishes and prayers for the coming weeks: thank you! Thank you for the love you’ve all shown our family and for the kind inquiries into our life in these last few weeks. Your emails have warmed my heart the way a cup of Earl Grey does.

Before I disappear into newborn-land for a while, I wanted to give you all a glimpse at my plan for the next few months. I have one more Easter post to share with you later this week, as well as the results of the Slugs and Bugs giveaway (which you can still enter until 3/17!), and then—after sharing a baby photo or two, of course—I’ll retire quietly into life with a newborn, a toddler, two big sisters and one patient and loving husband. I hope to be back around mid-April with a slew of new posts for you, beginning with a review of one of my favorite books about a family of four sisters.

Knitted patchwork baby blanket | Little Book, Big Story

Until then, dear readers, thank you again. I am so grateful for you—even the ones I don’t know by name. May your Easter be filled with joy and song!


For the knitters out there, you can find the baby blanket pattern I used (and modified: I used worsted weight yarn and US 7 needles, and cast on 23 stitches per square) here.

Starting a new notebook

Remember our family notebooks? I’m starting a new one!

A few months ago we learned that our family is going to grow bigger by one! We have been thinking (and speaking) in exclamation points since then. I mean, Mitch and I are excited, but the enthusiasm of these two knows no bounds:

Little Book, Big Story

Phoebe has no idea what’s coming.

Little Book, Big Story

It’s too early to tell yet whether this will be our fourth daughter or first son, but the girls have put their vote in for a little brother, to be named either Robin Hood or Peter (as in, Peter “The High King of Narnia” Rosenburg). We, on the other hand, have only seriously discussed girl names. Whether they get their wish or not, we do know that this baby will be well-loved by not one, not two, but three big sisters.

To celebrate, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite books about babies:

HOW TO BE A BABY, BY ME THE BIG SISTERby Sally Lloyd-Jones

How to Be a Baby (By Me, the Big Sister), by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

Sally Lloyd-Jones writes a charming manual on how to be a baby—from the perspective of a six-year-old girl. So funny, you’ll laugh a little too hard when reading it aloud (I’ll say only this: “baby jail”). (Read the full review.)

HOW GOD MAKES BABIES, by Jim Burns

How God Makes Babies | Little Book, Big Story

If you, like me, are a chronic over-explainer who dreads those “How did the baby get in there?” questions not because you fear you’ll say the wrong thing but because you fear you’ll say too much, this is a great book to have on hand. Jim Burns says just the right amount about babies: how they’re made, why they’re made, and what life will be like when they’re born. (Read the full review.)

GOD GAVE US YOU, by Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave Us You, by Lisa Tawn Bergren | Little Book, Big Story

On the other end of the spectrum is this sweet book. Perfect for little kids who don’t need a biology lesson, just a lesson in where they came from, God Gave Us You is a keeper. (Read the full review.)

How God Makes Babies | Jim Burns

The Talk. It’s coming—you know it is. One of these days, your child is going to ask you—probably in mixed company—how that lady got a baby in her belly. Or why your son has different equipment than your daughter. Or, the classic, where do babies come from?

And you will hope for grace and ease and for just the right words. You may say gently, “Well, we can talk about that more when we get home,” or you may turn beet red in the check out line and panic while the English language escapes you. Or, you might have a copy of How God Makes Babies at home and feel like now, now is the time to pull it out and have The Talk.

How God Makes Babies | Little Book, Big Story

For us, that time came around midday last Friday. In anticipation of the more pointed questions of our five-year-old, I fully expected to hear the ” . . . but how did the baby get in there?” line of questioning during this pregnancy, and so on a friend’s recommendation I bought Jim Burns’s book, How God Makes Babies. I am nothing if not preemptive.

But for a number of reasons (many of which came from this post), we decided not to wait until our kids started asking questions, but to broach the subject ourselves, since we want our girls to know from an early age that these are things we can talk about together. We want to hear their questions and help them find the answers.

And so I said a quick prayer that Lydia would keep only the information that she needs now. Then I curled up with her and read How God Makes Babies. The book turned out to be an invaluable resource, as it covered pretty much everything one could hope for at an age appropriate level: who has which private parts, what they’re for and who can and cannot touch them, plus (most pertinent for our family) how a baby grows and develops and eventually makes its way out into the world.

How God Makes Babies | Little Book, Big Story

Burns gives great, concise answers to complex questions, but doesn’t oversimplify. He explains marriage well; he explains sex and puts it in its intended context. As a chronic over-explainer, I was thankful for a book that gave measured answers to such big questions without overwhelming readers with useless detail.

I do not expect our conversations on this topic to end with this book, but for now, the door is open and the book is on the bookshelf. I even read selected passages to Sarah, and now both girls love to read over the pages about the baby’s development, which is, perhaps, all they need for now.

How God Makes Babies | Little Book, Big Story

How God Makes Babies comes with an age recommendation of 6-9. I also ordered a copy of God Made Your Body, which is aimed at a younger audience (ages 3-5) and focuses more on how cool our bodies are, how we’re all different and so on, while deftly sliding an explanation of the differences between boys and girls into the narrative. It also talks about pregnancy and birth, so the girls have really enjoyed that one, too. And no one has used awkward terms in awkward circumstances (so far).

Of course, be sure to pre-read these books before you read them with your kids, and use your discretion about when to introduce which topics to your kids (you can always spot read relevant sections of the book and save the rest for later). You know them far better than I do.


How God Makes Babies
Jim Burns (2009)

God Made Your Body
Jim Burns (2009)

How to be a Baby, by Me the Big Sister | Sally Lloyd-Jones

Certain authors are going to find their names liberally sprinkled throughout this blog. I should tell you up front that Sally Lloyd-Jones will be one of them.

Like that cool aunt who doesn’t pat heads, pinch cheeks or pull kids onto her lap but just sits on the floor and listens to them, Lloyd-Jones speaks right to children—not at, around or down to them. Also, she works with the most original illustrators and magic happens. It just does.

You probably know about Sally Lloyd-Jones from her classic, The Jesus Storybook Bible. You probably don’t know about her from her How to Be . . . books, of which there are, fortunately, three: How to Be a Baby, by Me the Big Sister; How to Get a Job, by Me the Boss and How to Get Married, by Me the Bride. I was hard-pressed to pick a favorite, but I finally settled on this one because it was the one we met first, and because it makes a great gift for a new big sister. And, as you know, we’ve been in the market for those lately.

How to Be a Baby (By Me, the Big Sister) | Little Book, Big Story

How to Be a Baby features one of the best narrators of my recent acquaintance (Flavia de Luce being another): a little girl, unnamed, who has handily written a guide for her younger brother full of helpful advice like,

When you’re a baby, it’s not good
because the wind can blow you over.
When you’re a baby, people eat your ice cream for you,
because ice cream isn’t appropriate for babies.

And you’re not allowed to TOUCH ANYTHING.

She is quirky and endearing and speaks like an honest-to-goodness child (as opposed to an adult trying to sound like a child, which is another thing entirely). Sue Heap’s illustrations bring the whole thing to life with texture and color and drawings that look deceptively simple and perfect.

Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

These books make great gifts for children or adults, so if you know a big sister, a bride-to-be or an unemployed friend who really needs a laugh, look no further than the work of Sally Lloyd-Jones.


How to Be a Baby, By Me the Big Sister
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Sue Heap (2011)