Review: Things I Wish I’d Known edited by Victoria Young

Review: Things I Wish I’d Known edited by Victoria Young

Things I Wish I’d Known was recommended to me by a friend who used to work in Waterstones, because she said that so many pregnant customers said it was a necessary read before giving birth. I thought I might as well give it a go: it’s a collection of non-fiction essays – always a fast read – and I was sure that something one of the mothers said would resonate with my experience of pregnancy.

I actually ended up relating the most to the first essay in the collection, written by Adele Parks. In it, she discusses her fears that her individuality would be dismissed after the arrival of her child and that she would just be referred to as “—-‘s mother”, a worry which I’d discussed with a few of my friends towards the middle of my third trimester.

“I’d had a vision that it would be just me, my husband and our baby. Naive, I know. I felt extremely connected with my baby and I adored him, but I was not always comfortable with the new people who entered my life. I sometimes found them to be a distraction from the real business of mothering.”

– Adele Parks

This was another fear which I shared with Parks.

When we learnt that the midwife and the health visitor would be appearing at the house regularly throughout the first couple of weeks of the baby’s life, I was filled with trepidation. I knew that it happened to all mothers and we weren’t being picked on, but I’m a very anxious person and I hate the tension that comes with knowing someone will be coming to your home but not having a definite time for their arrival.

We were told it could be any time between 9am and 4pm, and I was filled with worry: what if we’d just managed to get her to sleep, and the midwife turned up and started poking and prodding at her? The one piece of advice that we kept hearing was to never wake a sleeping baby!

However, reading that I wasn’t the only mother who shared these worries helped put me at ease. I still wasn’t looking forward to their visits, but at least I no longer felt terrified of them… And when they did arrive, they were all so lovely. It was actually nice to have some contact with the outside world, because we were living in our own little bubble for the first few days.

Another valuable piece of advice came from Emma Freud:

“Don’t forgot to read a couple of chapters on what to do with the baby once it’s born. It’s very easy to use all your energy learning about the birth (which lasts about one day) and forget to learn about looking after the thing that gets born (which lasts about 81 years).”

After the antenatal classes I felt pretty prepared for the birth, so I was beginning to think ahead to what we would do when she arrived… But I hadn’t done any research regarding it, which was a little short-sighted. Luckily, a couple of days before reading this essay I’d picked up a copy of Baby Milestones (and will be reviewing it at some point!) so I made that a priority read and learnt a lot of indispensable advice that I used during the first few days of her life. Unfortunately, because she came early, I hadn’t completely finished it… But I’m reading a week at a time, so that the information is fresh in my mind.

Those two essays were my personal favourites, but the entire collection is a joy to read. Some are scarier than others, but if you’re fed up with people skirting around serious topics and you just want to hear straight-up honesty, you’ll adore them.

The most important thing is that all of these stories are true and none of them are sugar-coated. If you want a real idea of what it’s going to be like to have a newborn baby, Things I Wish I’d Known will give you that.


If you’re interested in learning more about Things I Wish I’d Known, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you! 


If you’re a parent, is there anything you wish you’d known before your little bundle of joy arrived?