Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Dear Poppyseed by Alice Grist

A Soulful Momma's Pregnancy Journal

In essence this is a book about the spiritual journey of a pregnant woman.  It is a very personal account, full of personal hopes, personal philosophy and personal struggles.  Some people will find it speaks exactly to where they are at; others will find many elements that they connect with while appreciating someone else's perspective; still others will find themselves puzzled by the experiences Alice describes.  If you're not engaged with the story after the first entry, don't read on - it's not for you.  That said, I think those people will be in the minority.

As someone who is deeply spiritual, but in a very different way, I found this book somewhat challenging to read from that perspective.  I will do my best to write an open review, but if you're uncomfortable with new age philosophies, I would advise you to avoid this book.  I, personally, found myself intrigued with her thoughts and experiences.

Alice's journey is a unique one in her spiritual choices and path, but at the same time, at heart, what she expresses is something most mothers will have felt on some level - the joy of feeling that small life growing within you (although many will not feel anything in the early months).  When someone is so connected with her own spirituality, her own self, it is not surprising that she would have a greater awareness - perhaps because of greater expectation - of what is happening to her body, and her reflections make fascinating reading.

A mother of five, who has learnt to be at peace with my own chaos, I have always enjoyed being pregnant, that sense of privilege having a new life given into my care.  And so I feel great sympathy with the emotions Alice expresses - yet I can't help a certain amount of fond scepticism reading the hopes and expectations of this new mother and smiling knowingly as she comes to terms with elements of this truth:  As spiritual as it is in essence, (for me) pregnancy, childbirth and parenting is probably one of the most earth bound things in practise.

One of the lovely things about this diary, is the way Alice writes to her child, describing the world they will enter with a real grace that recognises the bad and encourages the good, wrestling with her own fears.  I think we all, as parents, need to help our children to have a realistic picture of the world - protecting them, without leaving them unprepared; arming them without creating anxiety or aggression; empowering them to be the agency of positive change in the world they are born to.

Alongside the spiritual journey, which is the unique selling point of this book, this is simply an honest description of the emotions, struggles, joys, guts and gore of pregnancy - and not just pregnancy but relationships and self-discovery.  It's about the hopes you have, the things you resolve you will do, and the ways you measure up to and fail those hopes and resolves.  If you are pregnant I would recommend trying to read it alongside your pregnancy rather than all in one go.  If you read it before you're pregnant, I think you'll find the whole thing a bit overwhelming - but then that is true of many birth stories.

Reasons you might like this book

If you like books that are beautifully written, the style is emotive and elegant
If you feel being pregnant is / was / or should be the centre of your life while you experience it
If you want a fresh perspective on what is happening in your body that goes beyond science or even emotion.
If you enjoy life stories

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