And Now We Have Everything (O'Connell)

And Now We Have Everything:  On Motherhood Before I Was Ready
Meaghan O'Connell, 2018
Little, Brown and Co.
240 pp.

A raw, funny, and fiercely honest account of becoming a mother before feeling like a grown up.

When Meaghan O'Connell got accidentally pregnant in her twenties and decided to keep the baby, she realized that the book she needed—a brutally honest, agenda-free reckoning with the emotional and existential impact of motherhood—didn't exist.

So she decided to write it herself.

And Now We Have Everything is O'Connell's exploration of the cataclysmic, impossible-to-prepare-for experience of becoming a mother. With her dark humor and hair-trigger B.S. detector, O'Connell addresses the pervasive imposter syndrome that comes with unplanned pregnancy, the fantasies of a "natural" birth experience that erode maternal self-esteem, post-partum body and sex issues, and the fascinating strangeness of stepping into a new, not-yet-comfortable identity.

Channeling fears and anxieties that are still taboo and often unspoken, And Now We Have Everything is an unflinchingly frank, funny, and visceral motherhood story for our times, about having a baby and staying, for better or worse, exactly yourself. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Meaghan O'Connell's writing has appeared in New York Magazine, Longreads, and The Billfold, where she was an editor. She lives in Portland, OR, with her husband and young son. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
For every What to Expect When You're Expecting (and its ilk), there should be a What to Expect When You Weren't Expecting. But, strangely, there isn't, so Meaghan O'Connell has committed her experience of accidental pregnancy and motherhood to the page.

Stripping away the mythical fantasies of motherhood, O'Connell delivers a poignant and funny look at what it means to be a parent in our current time. The warts-and-all examination is powerful reading for anyone with or without kids.

The kind of book I wished for when I was pregnant. Pulling no punches, the writing is blunt, honest...This should be required reading that your doctor hands you after you see the two pink lines on the pregnancy test.

Part memoir, part guidebook, And Now We Have Everything captures all the fears and anxieties mothers-to-be have, but still aren't allowed to say out loud. Smart, insightful, and searingly honest, Meghan O'Connell's exploration of motherhood should be on every expectant parent's baby registry.

Frankly speaking, this is a must-read for anyone with a mother, anyone with a baby, anyone who knows anyone with a baby—anyone.

A well-written book that provides refreshingly candid insight into the physical and emotional changes that take place during pregnancy and early motherhood, times that are both "traumatic [and] transcendent.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for AND NOW WE HAVE EVERYTHING … then take off on your own:

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS presume you are a woman and are pregnant or have been...

1. In the first essay of Meaghan O'Connell's book, she says, "A baby was the thing we were trying to keep out" and also "Part of me loved this feeling, of being steamrollled by life, of being totally fucked." Talk about those twin yet contradictory emotions as they relate to the author's experiences and to those you might have felt when you learned you were pregnant.

2. Follow-up to Question 1: In what other ways would you say that O'Connell explodes—or at the very least, undermines—the myth of the glories of motherhood?

3. How much of O'Connell's roller-coaster ride throughout her book resonantes with your own experiences, either in pregnancy, labor, or the earliest weeks with your first child?

4. Are parts of this book cringe-inducing? Do parts of it make you uncomfortable?

5. In the chapter "Maternal Instincts," O'Connell talks about feeling trapped between, again, two extremes: "nurturer and stalker, human and animal." What does she mean?

6. Early on, O'Connell obsesses over the baby's safety. Do you think that our culture, with the constant hype of life's dangers, has made parenthood feel more dangerous than it is? Not to say that we shouldn't be extra vigilant, but should we "be afraid, be very afraid!"—remaining in a constant state of heightened alert? Or is it wise to be extra cautious, given that new parenthood comes with no instruction manual?

7. Presuming you are already a mother, do you wish this book had been available to you during your pregnancy?

8. Talk about the toll on O'Connell's relationship with her new husband and on her career.

9. What is the significance of the book's title: And Now We Have Everything? Is it ironic or sincere?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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