Book Review Series: When We Became Three
Allison M. is a children’s librarian. True to librarian stereotypes, she loves reading, knitting, and baking. She has a husband and one daughter and is still working on getting some cats.
When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family by Jill Caryl Weiner
“A low-maintenance and pressure free, wise yet whimsical way to capture all the milestones and special moments of your own special family.”
My daughter’s first birthday quickly approaches and I surprise myself with how many conflicting feelings I have about that. I am filled with pride as I watch her wobbly little legs walk around the room, when she communicates with sign language that she wants more, when she stacks the rings all by herself. It is amazing how the smallest, goofiest things make me want to brag to the entire world about how smart and great she is. Then there are the more bittersweet moments when I think about how she used to be so dependent on me. We would spend our days in the nursing chair and the nights mostly the same. I could hold her for hours on end and she never squirmed or tried to get away. It hasn’t even been a year yet and there are so many things I already miss, so many things I never want to forget. The image of the way she threw her head back and pouted her lips every time she fell asleep nursing and let go of the breast. It is the most tender of moments. And because it all goes by so fast and there are so many changes along the way, I love the whole idea of keeping a baby book.
This baby book is a great choice for so many kinds of parents. People like me who are not into cutesy frills and cluttered pages are going to love the clean, fresh look. Couples who have a really strong sense of who they are as a couple are going to love that this book puts such an emphasis on the parents – who they were before baby came along and all their thoughts and feelings along the way. It is a lot of fun to fill out together as a couple. Who knows, maybe during one of those rare date nights once baby is finally asleep on her own? It is important to reminisce about days before baby to remember why you fell in love and started this crazy journey in the first place. Then when you’re both exhausted and emotions run high, you are more likely to remember the things you love about your partner and hopefully not focus so much on the things that drive you crazy.
Each of the chapters start out with a fill-in the blanks mad-libs type page to get you started. As you go along there are multiple choice lists, many of which are on point and pretty hilarious, as well as plenty of spaces to just reflect and describe things in your own words. The baby Olympics Section especially made me laugh, with events like “Marathon Nursing” and the “Diarrhea Dirty Diaper Dash.” It goes along pretty linearly for the first four chapters, which are all about how parents met, life before baby, preparing for baby, and the baby’s first month. Chapter five is Baby’s Firsts, Parent’s Firsts. I was surprised when it did not go month by month, step by step, but it is organized more by theme than by developmental stage. For example, all the pages about baby’s first sounds, smiles, communication, and words are together and then the book moves on to baby’s first bottle, feeding, solid foods, etc. Grouping things together like this was a great idea, especially when babies don’t all develop at the same pace so there is no feeling bad if you get to the “8 month section” and your baby isn’t crawling yet or something like that.
It is clear that the author is making an effort to be respectful of all parenting choices. In the sections about feeding there is room to be inclusive whether the baby is breastfed or bottle fed. And the section on childbirth says it is “judgement free.” I think Weiner did a good job covering most average parenting attitudes and approaches; however some parents who favor a more attachment parenting style might struggle to fit their experiences in. For example, in the sleep sections there aren’t options or spaces for talking about bedsharing or cosleeping. And the solid foods pages assume all babies first eat purees and baby food, though if you are doing the baby-led weaning approach to solids, you can easily work around and find room to share your experience. The same is true of gender stereotypes. For example, there are mentions of daddy watching sports, or questions like, “Does Daddy do Diapers?” Those kinds of things, however, were few and far between and really I am impressed with Weiner’s efforts to fit this book into a wide variety of family types. Like I said, nothing in here is going to offend, regardless of parenting style. It is your baby book, so if something doesn’t fit, change it up, make it yours. Really that is the case for any baby book, and I have found for any kind of parenting book at all – take what works for you and your family, leave it for the parts that don’t!
All in all, I love this baby book. I think it is especially great for people like me who aren’t necessarily “baby book” kind of people. I love having a way to record my memories of my little one that doesn’t seem like a lot of work or a whole production. When We Became Three makes baby books fun and I recommend this as a great gift for nearly any couple as they become new parents.
This is a part of the Exponent Book Review Series and Cyber Monday Giveaway. By making a thoughtful comment on this post, subscribing to the Exponent, or making a donation to Exponent II by sending a PayPal donation to firstname.lastname@example.org, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of many books being reviewed! Check the intro post for information and terms. Entries accepted until the 5th of December 2015.