The Fourth Trimester

Toward the end of my pregnancy, I picked up Great with Child(W.W. Norton, $15.95), a collection of letters from poet and author Beth Ann Fennelly (The Tilted World) to her newly pregnant friend. Full of insights large and small about what it means to shift from pregnant person to parent, this book made me realize that while I had spent much of my pregnancy reading about what to expect while pregnant, I was still entirely unsure of what to expect once I actually had a child. I loved science-minded Emily Oster's Expecting Better(Penguin Books, $17), so I quickly purchased her Cribsheet (Penguin Books, $18),which promised the same data-driven exploration of the many parenting decisions I'd face in my child's early years.

fortyIn my early postpartum weeks, I flipped through the pages of The First Forty Days by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger (Abrams, $29.99). Though ostensibly a cookbook (with recipes for nourishing soups, snacks and teas), it is also filled with warmth and encouragement for new mothers navigating a difficult--and significant--time of change. I explored this transition in a more analytical way with To Have and to Hold: Motherhood, Marriage, and the Modern Dilemma (Harper Wave, $26.99), in which clinical psychologist Molly Millwood dissects the frequently gender-imbalanced world of parenting.

In the throes of sleep deprivation, I picked up Alexis Dubief's Precious Little Sleep (Precious Little Sleep, $16.99),packed with tips for helping babies sleep (it works: I am writing this column during a solid two-hour baby nap). Up next: All Joy and No Fun (Ecco, $15.99), in which Jennifer Senior explores whether or not children make their parents happier. I'll have to get back to you on that one--naptime, it seems, is over for today. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm