The "fourth trimester," or first 3-4 months of your baby's life will be strange. You will likely have many conflicting emotions; joy and dread, empowerment and self-consciousness, and, perhaps the hardest for me to reconcile, boredom and feeling totally overwhelmed. One way that I dealt with this was by reading... books! Especially with my first son I read a lot of books while nursing and holding a sleeping baby. I reached out to some of my friends to get suggestions for what they enjoyed reading during their fourth trimesters:
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
This might seem like a strange pick for a postpartum read. It’s a coming-of-age story about what happens to humanity when the days and nights get longer and longer and longer. The longer stretches of darkness and daylight impact circadian rhythms, ecological systems, and ultimately create a post-apocalyptic world. The story was everything I needed for that moment in my life; interesting, exciting, readable, and not too heavy or dark.
Recommended by Nina (me!), mother to Caleb (4) and Asher (1)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, is a series of letters by a dying father in the 1950s to his young son. The letters explore his memories of his life's joys and sorrows as well as his daily life and love for his little boy. I found the book's unique exploration of family relationships very healing and inspiring during the early postpartum days.
Recommended by Whitney, mother to Leon (3) and Geno (1)
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
The Royal We is a total fluff book about an American girl engaged to be married to the heir to the English throne. It's very Kate and William (if Kate were American, that is), and I loved it.
Recommended by Abby, mother to Mae (1)
The Science of Mom: A Research-based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year by Alice Callahan, PhD
The Science of Mom was a tremendous resource and comfort for me in those early months. All those questions you go searching the internet for about your new baby - handling initial care decisions in the hospital, early development, feeding, sleep, sleep, sleep, more about feeding and more about sleep, vaccines, starting solid foods and most importantly, making sense of all the information you're reading - Callahan is there to help with a calming, evidence-based hand. She gives you the straight science within the context of powerful personal experience and understanding, like a wise older sister who is also an experienced scientist.
Recommended by Amy, mother to Isaac (1)
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding edited by Judy Torgus
I loved "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding." While it was pretty heavy on "breast is best," it was the first book I ever read that made it seem like nursing isn't always effortless, that nursing a baby could mean exclusively breastfeeding or a just a teaspoon of breastmilk a day in addition to formula. It was so comforting to me, it took a lot of the pressure off. I had to supplement here and there around 4 months and it was The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding that opened my eyes to that being normal and ok, that I could keep going and supplement or not supplement.
Recommended by Sarah, mother to Georgie (7) and Leif (1)
...and more suggestions:
I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes
In the Woods by Tana French
What Mothers Do: Especially When It Looks Like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen
(Thank you Kate and Laura!)