A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood, review and giveaway

A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood by Lisa Catherine Harper is a wonderful book. It’s a memoir about pregnancy, which along with Lisa’s personal story, also includes some facts and research about pregnancy and labor over the years as well as anecdotal stories (You know, all those stores we can’t resist sharing: This happened to my mom, when my sister was pregnant. . ., I heard that if you . . . etc.).

At first I agreed to review the book, because I knew that so many of our readers here are new moms, or pregnant, or hoping to be pregnant, or planning to be pregnant again sometime in the future. But I was also drawn to the fact that it had recently won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction prize, meaning it wasn’t just another memoir, it was a literary, thoughtful, well-written memoir.

And it didn’t disappoint.

With absolutely beautiful prose, Harper discusses the ups — such as sharing the news with others, seeing the first ultrasound, feeling the first movement, and first time she saw her baby — with the downs, such as debilitating sciatica, sleeplessness, food aversions, nausea, prolonged labor.

I imagined her trying to carve her way out, seeking ever more space. A punching heel, the tickling of tiny fingers, the thrust of the knee. An elbow swells, a knee forms a small hillock. My belly rose in hills and sharp peaks, undulating waves, and one night, what might have been a forearm or a shin rose to form a small ridge. I felt like a world, with a world inside me.

A Double Life, page 73

I have two children. I’ve been pregnant three times and don’t plan to become pregnant again. I’m not all goo-goo over babies (pun intended, forgive me), however I did enjoy being pregnant, and as Lisa Catherine Harper conveys time and again in her book — there is something spectacular about being pregnant that ushers us into that entirely new world of motherhood (I would imagine that the process of adoption, which can take much longer than 9 months, often performs the same function). But reading A Double Life, wasn’t like reading a “What to Expect” type primer. For me, with my last pregnancy being 7 years behind me, it was like a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to remember that first nine of months of motherhood (and the last segment is even devoted to the “Fourth Trimester,” as those first 3 months out of the womb are often called). I also think that this would make a fabulous gift for a mother-to-be, whether it’s her first pregnancy or her fourth, or even to a grandmother-to-be, so that she can remember her own pregnancy as she’s living her daughter’s.

I also invite you to check out author Lisa Harper’s guest post at 5 Minutes for Books about World Read Aloud Day, and specifically some of her favorite poetry books for children AND another on her favorite books on pregnancy and motherhood.

I have a copy to give away to one of you (U.S. shipping only please). Leave a comment if you’d like to win. We’ll announce the winner on March 21.

The winners of Cinderella Ate My Daughter are #13 Holly, #41 Debbie, #71 Missi.

Written by 5 Minutes for Book reviewer and managing editor Jennifer Donovan, who blogs about her own “double life” of motherhood at her blog Snapshot.


  1. says

    Like you I have two kids, and remember my pregnancies fondly but without longing to repeat them. This sounds like a wondeful book.

  2. Deborah says

    I’m pregnant with my third now. It would be interesting to read a book capturing the good parts of pregnancy, because I feel like – so far – this pregnancy has been an afterthought while I chase the other two around.

  3. says

    I’ve been pregnant twice and have 3 kids also. I really doubt we’ll ever have another but sometimes I wonder. Both my DH and I came from families of 4 kids…so it will be different to just have 3. But…we already have more kids than anyone else in our families!

    Thanks for the chance for another good read!

  4. melissa n says

    i just had our first baby in december, and already thinking of baby #2, lol. i’d love to read this book1 :)

  5. Jen B. says

    My memory is based on number of children at the time, was I pregnant or did I have a newborn? Having four children has made the last decade all about being pregnant. Although I enjoyed it at the time, I am now moving on to a new decade in my life but the memories of all those pregnancies, deliveries and the foggy 1st 3 months of each of their life will always be cherished. I’d love to read this to relive it all and then pass on to my sister-in-law!

  6. Mona Garg says

    I have a 5 1/2 year daughter and was lucky in that my pregnancy and delivery were easy considering I was of “advanced maternal age.”

    I always enjoyed books/movies/tv shows about pregnancy – – both fact and fiction.

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