Books — Belly Laughs

A pin-up’s view on pregnancy

Jenny McCarthy’s guide to nine months of weight gain

By Amy Diaz []

Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth, by Jenny McCarthy, Da Capo Life Long, 2004, 165 pages.

Yes, that Jenny McCarthy.

And, yes, I was no fan of MTV’s Singled Out either but it is quite refreshing to read about pregnancy from the point of view of someone who clearly didn’t enjoy it all that much. McCarthy doesn’t glow, delight or coo. She complains, farts and, despite all attempts to prevent it, poops in the delivery room. She is clearly delighted at having a child and, considering that she’s shown off her assorted parts in Playboy, is willing to go through the work to get there. But she does not pretend that it’s easy, fun or pain-free.

What amazes me is the amount of complete hooey that is repeated in the perpetuation of the “joy of motherhood” myth. In a recent discussion with a pregnant friend, she brought up the point that the whole pregnancy period is 40 weeks—which is really more like 10 months than nine. (Yeah, yeah, the extra days in a month, blah—my pregnant friend agreed that when you have a living, watermelon-sized thing growing in you, you really don’t care what kind of frivolous claims the calendar makes.) Had I known about the 10 months, my friend said, I might not have been so eager to get involved in this project.

McCarthy uncovers and explains, in unembarrassed detail, other unpleasant surprises hidden inside the pregnancy bag. Many of them are bathroom related (peeing, constipation, that whole pooping on the delivery table deal). Some of them are body-related (she gained 60 pounds—her boobs alone weighed five pounds each). Some of them are sex-related (ironic that sex, once it gets you in this position, stops working for you).

This is not some scientific What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It’s more a long bitch session. But, and here’s the surprising thing, McCarthy’s bitching is entertaining. Perhaps it’s because her career—built more or less on being blonde and cute—has focused so completely on her many extraordinary physical attributes, it’s amusing to hear her speak frankly about the way those attributes changed.

Nothing’s better for the average girl’s self-esteem than a Playboy Playmate with cellulite.

Though you can’t build a pregnancy around the knowledge herein, McCarthy’s book provides something nonetheless invaluable to the process—a dose of reality and the sense that others have felt the same lack of miraculous wonder at water retention.

- Amy Diaz

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH