Cheryl Strayed, Emma Straub, and Leslie Jamison are just a few of the great authors who call themselves fans of And Now We Have Everything, Meaghan O’Connell’s strikingly honest account of motherhood that covers everything from the ravages of breastfeeding to postpartum sex (or the lack thereof). Her memoir about her unplanned pregnancy explores the less Pinterest-y side of new motherhood in a way that feels both frank and fresh.
O’Connell spoke with EW about what compelled her to write the book, and whether she was comfortable digging so deeply into discomfort.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you want to write And Now We Have Everything?
MEAGHAN O’CONNELL: I want women to feel less bad about feeling bad, basically. And to normalize that [having a child] is sort of an identity crisis, a family crisis. It’s a big upheaval, and you don’t have to feel like a failure if that’s how it is for you. I was writing for myself before I had a baby, my friends who were curious about it and had no idea what it would be like. I wanted to try to connect with them in a way where it wasn’t like, “You’re not going to understand until you do it.” I wanted to close that gap between mothers and non-mothers so it’s more imaginable.
You’re very honest about how parenthood affects work.
I was worried when I was pregnant that I wouldn’t care, that I wouldn’t have ambition anymore. But I wanted to write more because it was something I knew how to do. I’m not good at not knowing what I’m doing, [and] babies are so opaque and unpredictable.
You’re pregnant with your second child. Are you more prepared this time around? I went back to my therapist to make a plan for postpartum.
She said, “You can get on SSRIs, but the first line of defense is to get some sleep.” So me and [my husband] will make sure I get at least four to five hours a night. And if that means we have to give the baby formula, that’s fine. We are going to be less aspirational and more realistic.
Was your second child a surprise like the first?
We planned it. We started trying when my son was around 3, and that’s when I was like, “Okay, I like kids, but I have a hard time with babies.” But you just have more perspective. You’re going to have a hard year maybe, but it’s worth it because you’re creating a human being.
You can purchase a copy of And Now We Have Everything here.