My Piece in Washington Post on how Writing & Giving Birth Have about Zero in Common

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.”

Here’s how it starts:

As any reading parent knows, a common claim made by writers—female and male—is that ‘writing is like giving birth.’

As a woman in my 40s who couldn’t sustain a pregnancy but who finally scored a memoir deal, few comparisons rankled me more. Now, as a 47-year-old new parent with a spanking new book to boot, I’m still frankly baffled by the equation.

When, after nearly five years trying and failing to have a baby, well-meaning friends tried to cheer me with, “Well, at least you’ll be giving birth to your book soon,” I wanted to respond, Really? But I bit my tongue. I was thrilled to have a book deal. Who I was to complain? (Out loud, at least.)

But truthfully, the book deal didn’t come close to compensating for, or even seem relevant to, the experience of turning 45 and hearing doctors tell me I had statistically a zero-percent chance of ever getting to meet my baby.

Then I became pregnant naturally at 45 and half. I live in Japan, where my husband is from, and at four months past my 46th birthday, I gave birth in Osaka to a healthy baby girl. So I suppose I had one more chance to compare the experiences—the incredible good luck!—of creating a book and a baby that would both live to see the light of day….

See the full piece here at The Washington Post online, and learn why I think the experiences of pushing out a book and a baby have about zero in common.

10 thoughts on “My Piece in Washington Post on how Writing & Giving Birth Have about Zero in Common

  1. Congrats on getting Published in the WP! I appreciate your fresh and interesting argument on this topic.

    I have never given birth to a child am in the process of bringing through my book- I definitely refer to the latter as giving birth but I do know that they are a very different kind of birthing process.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just had a chance to read the piece, Tracy. Very well said. Though I’ve never had children, I see both writing a book and birthing/raising a child as difficult and rewarding — but in no way comparable — endeavors. Kudos to you for undertaking both!


  3. They really “rejected” your request for an epidural?!? That’s BARBARIC! (….unless there was some legitimate medical reason for this, of course — not just a cultural one.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa. Yeah, it felt pretty barbaric to me, too. Their medical reasoning was a general one: that it can effect blood pressure (whether the baby’s or the mother’s, though, I can’t remember) and that all-natural was better for that reason. This is a very common standard in Japan, where epidurals for non C-section births are pretty much unavailable except for in a few places and a few cases. It still bothers me, actually, more than 2 years after giving birth. I can’t believe they expect women to go through natural child birth when there is a way to prevent such suffering. Which of course is my cultural bias, but I hold onto it pretty strongly.


      1. Not just natural births — I had two c-sections in the US, and then my third in Tokyo. I was horrified to discover afterward that morphine, or other strong narcotics, are withheld from women recovering from this surgery “for their babies’ sake.”

        I know there’s good & bad in Japan, but I don’t like the one-size-fits-all approach toward childbirth & post-partum care. My cultural bias leans toward supporting all medically possible birth choices. You want to give birth in your living room with midwives, and there is no medical indications why you can’t? Great! You want an elective c-section for your own personal reasons? Also fine — and no one else’s business except yours & your doctor’s.

        Liked by 1 person

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