Excited to have my first piece in The Washington Post‘s “On Parenting” site, one of my favorite new columns. I originally titled the post “Let’s Keep Books & Babies Separate,” although it’s been renamed by On Parenting’s wonderful editor, Amy Joyce, to “Writing a book is like giving birth? No, not at all.”
As readers of the book will know, I end The Good Shufu before I give birth, so there is nothing in the memoir about the experience of actually having a baby in Japan.
I’m anticipating writing a bit about this in the next book (if, as my friends hear me say all the time, I can actually get the mini to sleep through the night so I can really start to write again), but here’s a sneak peak of what some of the experience was like and of why, in part, I believe that pushing out a book and pushing out a baby have about zero in common:
The pain of writers’ block has nothing—let me repeat: nothing—on the pain of childbirth. After 48 hours of contractions and then 8 hours of being chemically induced (again, with nary an epidural in sight), my baby still lodged inside me, my cervix stuck at 8 centimeters, I felt like I was being simultaneously drowned and lit afire from inside. The pain, quite simply, was inhuman. People say you forget the pain of childbirth, and I may not be able to conjure perfectly the intensity of the physical torment now, but I am still mystified, still scrambled from the inside, when I recall lying prone, legs hoisted, thrashing wildly, while my husband and a roomful of people in starched uniforms watched me lose touch with my sense of myself as human. And I was one of the lucky ones: if you look at childbirth throughout history and in most places today (or even just take into account my own age and medical history) I’m way more fortunate than most. After all, both my baby and I ended up totally healthy and fine.
See the full piece here at The Washington Post online.