I’m re-reading Beth Ann Fennelly’s Great with Child, Letters to a Young Mother, a book given to me by a dear friend shortly after I became pregnant. I read most of it in a tent in the woods, in a lawn chair by the crackling fire way up in Island Pond, Vermont, where we camped when I was 14-weeks pregnant. The book is a collection of letters Fennelly writes to a friend who is pregnant with her first child.

Back then, I was focused on the passages about pregnancy, so much so that I hadn’t remembered how much Fennelly writes about her almost-three-year-old. The evolution of language, the toddler’s amusing-exasperating ways, and the struggle to balance writing and mothering. I love that it’s written in letters, the confiding tone.

“The [wedding] dress doesn’t fit because it can’t close over my back–my rib cage expanded as my lungs shifted to make room for the baby. Somehow the rib cage not fitting seems fitting. Claire expanded my world from the inside out. Why shouldn’t the twin streams of my breathing shift in their riverbeds? Why shouldn’t my ribs cage the memory of holding my breath over that cathedral I filled with the other?”

(Post 257 of 365)





2 thoughts on “Re-reading”

  1. Oh how wonderful. How have I never heard of this book? I must get it instantly. I too love that it is written in letters (of course I would love that). Also I love that you are re-reading. That seems very much like slow living and fully taking everything in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just know you will love this book and this author/poet! It’s beautifully relatable, the pregnancy days, the toddler days, the balance between writing and mothering. At one point she’s off at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, fretting about having left her toddler–until she has a gin and tonic. Here’s a link to one of her recent poems called Reduced Sentences over at The American Poetry Review:


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