Born in England in 1947, Daphne Morrison worked as a journalist for a women's weekly magazine before coming to Canada in 1970 where she has researched women's health issues for the Vancouver Women's Health Centre. Her interviews with fifteen women of differing ages and backgrounds form the basis of Being Pregnant.
Being Pregnant: Conversations with Women
A woman who gave up her baby for adoption. A woman who had lost her baby because her husband beat her. A woman who was pregnant as an au pair girl in Shaughnessey. An arthritic woman. An immigrant woman who didn't speak English well. A successful business woman.
These are some of the 15 anonymous women interviewed by Daphne Morrison for Being Pregnant: Conversations with Women (New Star $9.95 $17.95), a frank look at some of the commonplace but undiscussed aspects of modem pregnancies.
"There are a lot of how-to books about pregnancy and childbirth right now," says Morrison, who works for Vancouver Legal-Aid, "but they seem to be written mostly for the white, married, professional woman. That's only one place on the overall spectrum."
Morrison, who is single, began her book during a planned pregnancy under what she describes as relatively ideal circumstances. "I simply started to wonder what it was like for women around me in other situations and from other cultures. I started to talk to women of different ages and backgrounds."
Her pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Her interviews continued. "I was surprised by how much women still don't talk about things that intimately concern them. Time and again the women I talked to would ask me to tell them about what other women had said to me about being pregnant."
The result is a book that is full of details about how pregnancy can effect women in the workplace, their relationships, their self-images and their visions of the future.
"Most people say, oh, congratulations, you're pregnant," says Morrison, "but I found there's an incredible amount of ambivalence involved. There are definitely women who feel fantastic about being pregnant but things are also very hard for women a lot of the time."
Morrison's book harkens back to her reading of Maternity: Letters From Working Women, an English book published in 1915 about women with very little money who nonetheless persevered with their pregnancies.
By providing intimate and realistic testimonies from a wide spectrum of women about their pregnancies, Being Pregnant, with photographs by Robin Barnett, presents fortifying truths rather than exercises, recipes and doctor's advice. The sisterhood of women is affirmed and the strength of individual women is celebrated.
As the necessity grows for both spouses in a family to work outside the home and for single parents to find daycare alternatives, Ellen Derrick Belton's A Nanny For Your Child (SelfCounsel $7.95) will increasingly provide information on sample contracts, interviewing approaches, provincial employment standards and enlisting an agency's help.
[BCBW Spring 1987]