I think it was for my birthday last year that I received the book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. I specifically asked for it, but am just now (like, today) getting the chance to finally dive into it. I'm about halfway into it and won't pass judgment on it yet, but I will say that I am finding it to be devastating. Not emotionally, cry my eyes out devastating, but very moving and enlightening. I'm not totally crazy about the writing style, but the story is really engaging and I have read almost 200 pages this evening.
The most moving thing about it so far, however, are the descriptions of motherhood in the Hmong culture. Working in rice fields until the go into labor, then carrying pails of water to the hut for cleaning the child after birth. Laboring alone, with the exception of the husband to bring a cup of hot water. Giving birth to, as the mother in this story, fifteen children. Then to have seven of the children die. The book isn't even about the mother, but it's my mind's focus as I read it.
Moreover, I am reading about the hardships of the people and especially the women in this book and thinking that I would never survive. I could never have worked in rice fields or delivered on a dirt floor. I'm too weak, too easily influenced by my body's complaints.I was sick throughout the entire first trimester, nearly incapacitated. Now I develop this (very minor) complication that has kept me from doing anything for three days. Yesterday, I called to get my Orange Goo test results. It was normal (yay cupcakes!), but my bloodwork came back wonky - I'm anemic, probably due to iron deficiency. This is a relative relief to me, as I have been feeling awful the last few days with no energy and constantly tired and achy, but also, naturally, this is a source of worry. Is the Turnip getting enough oxygen? Maybe I should have a steak for the sake of the Turnip? I can always go back to being vegetarian after the Turnip's arrival. I know that this is extremely common at this point in pregnancy and is, most likely, complicated by my vegetarian diet. Still, it makes me a little nervous.
I'll let you know how it all works out, both for me and with the book.