Parenthood is full of secrets. The pregnant body, labor, the mysteries of a new child, the transformation of relationships—men and women are themselves reborn as they become parents. Birth: A Literary Companion collects the work of fifty accomplished writers to guide new parents through this complex emotional terrain.

Arranged chronologically—from early pregnancy to late infancy— Birth can be read solidly or dipped into in the middle of the night. Here, a curious reader can find a frank, funny essay about breastfeeding, a vividly accurate story about labor, or a tender poem about the terror of holding a newborn child. Birth covers the huge emotional spectrum that new parents pass through—from fear and loathing to uncontainable joy. Embracing all kinds of parents—gay and straight, mothers and fathers, married and single, adoptive and biological—the book unlocks, through literature, the secrets of parenthood that science and society rarely reveal.

An enduring guide to the emotional and spiritual changes of parenthood, Birth will be an important addition to both parenting and literature bookshelves.

“Kristin Kovacic and Lynne Barrett have identified a new genre, birth literature, and delivered something extraordinary: a companionable anthology, an imaginative guidebook—a spiritual Baedeker—to the daunting country of parenthood. It ought to be essential reading for anyone who is setting out for (or has already entered) this strangely beautiful, alarming, and mysterious territory.” —Edward Hirsch, author of How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry
“In this marvelous anthology, a chorus of extraordinary writers has been summoned to examine the endlessly fascinating experience of human nativity. In tributes that vary from joyful to unflinching to troubled to lyrical they honor that most fundamental, most immutable truth: all births are complicated, emotionally.” —Madeleine Blais, author of Uphill Walkers: A Memoir of a Family
“. . . In a splendid new anthology, Kristin Kovacic and Lynne Barrett identify a genre they call 'birth literature.' They deliver an imaginative guidebook—a spiritual Baedeker—to the daunting country of parenthood.”—Edward Hirsch, Washington Post Bookworld
“In this vibrant literary collection of short essays and poems, sacred hushes fill in pregnant days, women anguish at night, parents travel through the dissonance that occurs when the raw invasion of life head-butts doting smiles, the veneer of parenting joy. . . . There is terror, here, and pain, along with transcendence and beauy, and it's all gorgeously written. Birth shares the intimacies of this passage, a collage of the beauty and beastliness of parenting . . . it is a much-needed addition to shelves of parenting books that teach nursing methods and exalt birth, a la Hallmark, without delving into the alarm, tender glories, and transformations it brings.”—Foreword

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Publication Details

Publication Date
276 pages, index
Trim size
6x8 inches