It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather B. Armstrong
“During the four years I spent in college I collected over a hundred limited edition cereal boxes because I had a lot of free time that I was not wasting on other things, like being a normal human being.” – Heather B. Armstrong
You just laughed out loud reading that. Come on, don’t lie. That’s my all-time favorite sentence from dooce.com, the personal website of Heather B. Armstrong. Heather is a stay-at-home mom who makes her living writing about being a stay-at-home mom. It’s kind of like an Internet version of Jon and Kate Plus 8, except this has fewer kids (the Armstrongs have three daughters: a five-year-old and an infant) and its not lame. I’ve never actually seen Jon & Kate, but based on the covers of every single magazine in the universe they appear to dress their kids identically, which is a huge red flag as far as coolness is concerned. Heather and I have little in common. I am neither pregnant nor a self-described recovering Mormon in Salt Lake City, and even if I did own my own home I probably wouldn’t care enough to renovate the bathroom. But I think she is funny as hell, so I read her website and now I’ve read her book, It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had A Baby, A Breakdown, and a Margarita.
It Sucked and Then I Cried focuses on Heather’s pregnancy and the subsequent post-partum depression that led to her brief stay in a mental institution. I don’t know a whole lot about post-partum depression and I’ve obviously never experienced it, but I thought Heather did an excellent job describing her wildly differing emotions: a feeling of love for this baby she helped create that’s so powerful she could burst, and a deep feeling of helplessness and dread at the idea of spending another day with this baby who won’t stop screaming. Though mental health issues are often regarded as shameful and taboo conversation topics, Heather was remarkably candid and left nothing out; from the time she threw a gallon of milk at her husband to the view that admitting herself into the psych ward as the best thing she could have ever done for her daughter. And through it all, she remains really, really funny.
It Sucked and Then I Cried reads as if the entire book is an email (albeit, a 270-page email) the author wrote you while she was bored at work. Though I was familiar with her writing, I initially found Heather’s constant NEED to CAPITALIZE THINGS kind of annoying. Eventually though it grew on me. Heather is like that person we all know who tells all the really funny stories and when she types in all caps, she’s exaggerating words for comedic effect, just like she might actually speak to friends "Yeah, but then you FELL down the STAIRS!" It’s just her style and definitely goes in with the book’s conversational tone.
I would recommend Heather’s book to almost anybody. If you’re a particularly devout Mormon, you may be offended at references to her mom’s Mormon Mobile – “a car large enough to hold 22 children from three different wives and still have enough space left over to pick up a fourth wife down at the local middle school.” If you’re not into humor of the bodily function variety, you will definitely be turned off because there are lots of gross things; such as enemas and squirting breast milk and dogs eating their own vomit. But if you can appreciate Mormon mockery and fart jokes, definitely read It Sucked and Then I Cried – you will laugh your ass off.