Night Sweats: an Unexpected Pregnancy

Crossett, Laura

I've now read the material in this book three times, once as a series of blog posts, the second time in manuscript and now as a gen-u-ine book. Three times, and each time I was dazzled by Laura's honesty, insight, generosity, kindness, love, snark and beautiful writing.

The title pretty much tells you what it's about, the non-LC subject headings give you a few more clues:

Crossett, Laura--Confessions.
Pregnant women--Mental Health.
Christian biography--United States.
Pregnancy, Unplanned--United States. [Extra fun: search your favorite library catalog for "unplanned pregnanc*" and see what subject headings your results yield.]
Wayward spinsters--Iowa--Iowa City.
Intrauterine contraceptives--FAIL.

(Disclaimer: I am friends with Laura, and I helped with the subject headings.)

As is typical with me, the more I like a book, the less I am able to adequately say why. I bookmarked a record ten passages I loved, so I'll share and annotate a few of them for you.

I keep thinking about what I'd be going through if this had happened in Wyoming. No Emma Goldman Clinic or Planned Parenthood just across town, but a two and a half hour drive to another state, and having to arrange time off from work, and someone to drive me, and yet at the same time trying to keep it all a secret--it would be hell, and I suddenly realize just how hard this is for many women--practically hard, not just philosophically hard.


Yesterday I told everybody [that I'm going to have the baby], or everybody who knows [that I'm pregnant]. Many of the people who had heretofore not expressed opinions suddenly had them, although not all.

I'm good enough friends with Laura that she told me about the pregnancy much closer to when she peed on the stick than to when she made her internet announcement, but I'm not close enough that I would give my opinion on what she should do. I can think of only one person I've felt close enough to suggest that she could possibly do something, and even saying that might have been a mistake. Oh, except my spouse. It's possible that I tell him what to do suggest options all the time.

I know that the doctor I saw at my first visit and the midwife I saw last week don't see me as just Unplanned pregnancy / single parent. I didn't feel in any way when I was talking to them that that's what they thought of me. But of course they have to cooperate with a records system full of controlled vocabulary--something my librarian friends will recognize as useful but frequently evil.


We show love in my family mostly by doing things, by showing up: doing dishes and laundry, making dinner, buying things that need to be bought and sometimes a few that don't, putting clean sheets on beds and having cold beer in the refrigerator. I've sometimes wished we were more demonstrative, that we talked more about things other than how the towels are getting their final rinse or the dishes in the dishwasher are clean. But maybe in the end that's all there is to it: the mugs, the laundry, the things we do.

I love this section, maybe because I come from a family of talkers, not doers. We can discuss our love, but aren't always good at the doing (that's the name of the chapter, btw "The Doing"). And I do think that life is often about the little things. Unlike Laura, I am not religious, or even spiritual, but I do have some thoughts on things. I think nothing matters and that everything does, that you should fight injustice, but that it's just as important to just live--eat, cry, hug, wash clothes.

My loathing for Dickens is well-known, if inexplicable. My mother hates Hemingway for similar non-reasons; the baby's father hates Milton, although he said a couple of months ago that he was coming around on Milton, or at least some of Milton. It may be just Paradise Lost that he hates. I love Paradise Lost. My mother loves Dickens. There are people who love Hemingway, although I don't think I'm close to any of them.

Librarian literary nerdiness, mixed in with a university-affiliated family.

The Bible is full of women who have become accidentally pregnant. Lacking sticks to pee on, they instead have angels to deliver the frightening news. Well. The angels are frightening. In most cases, the news is welcome, since the women are frequently old and considered barren.

Laura is a Christian--an educated, pro-choice, critical thinking Christian, and her religious identity is an important part of her story. At the time of her IUD FAIL, Laura was "old" (over 35).

So yeah, read her book. It's not in an OCLC member library yet, so it might be hard to borrow, but since Laura has lots of librarian friends, keep an eye on WorldCat for it.

Jun 17 2013


#1 Emily

IUD-FAIL is the best. This sounds like pretty much THE book I'd like to read right now. Thanks for the heads up.