All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Peace, Love And Khaki Socks – Kim Lock

on April 21, 2013

Peace Love Khaki SocksPeace, Love And Khaki Socks
Kim Lock
Midnight Sun Publishing
2013, 333p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Amy Silva lives in Darwin with her longterm boyfriend who is in the Army. After several mornings of feeling sick, Amy finds herself staring at not one but two positive pregnancy tests. The baby was unplanned and Amy has a hard time at first dealing with the news and the fact that her boyfriend is about to shipped out for 6 weeks on an “exercise” mission in Malaysia doesn’t help. Some women love the respite from their Army boys but Amy isn’t one of them. She misses Dylan when he’s not here.

And so Amy begins the pregnancy journey – she’s rather clueless and finds herself booked in to see Darwin’s hottest OB and struggling to find the advice and support she needs. Disillusioned by the medical process, Amy begins looking into a homebirth, despite the obvious reluctance of her husband to come on board with the idea. She’s decided to take back the power of her own body and the only way in which she can do that is to birth at home.

But Darwin is a town like no other, with extreme weather conditions and Amy is going to have to fight her way through a tropical cyclone and repair her friendships and relationships first.

This is one of those novels that I’m ultimately torn on, overall. Whilst reading it, I liked it a lot – I found Amy rather funny and likeable and her relationship with her childhood sweetheart Dylan, was lovely. Amy and Dylan are both from Victoria so in terms of him being posted to Darwin, they’re lacking in family support. Amy doesn’t mix much with the other Army wives/girlfriends and tends to think most of the Army men are douches. This type of judgement becomes a staple for Amy’s character as she proceeds to judge pretty much everyone in this book. I don’t fault her too much for that, human beings are judgemental by nature. However, I think the way in which she acted whilst pregnant was spoiled, self-entitled and pretty much stereotypical of a woman who expects the world to stop because she’s managed to conceive.

I do think that this book presents a bit of an unwise bias towards birthing. I’m not against homebirth, I think that it should be a more easily viable option for women who meet the criteria and choose to go down this path. It’s not something I would choose – watching my son being born blue, having a paed and three others work on him while my midwife soothed me and reassured me that everything would be fine means that I want more than just one person with me. But every medical experience Amy has in this book is negative, from her first appointment with her GP to all her appointments with her OB, to her scans, to talking to a friend who is a midwife. There is not one positive thing said about hospitals, doctors or the midwives who work in hospitals. It’s all unnecessary intervention, failed inductions, C-sections, disinterested OB’s and rude GP’s. And I don’t deny that happens – but it’s perfectly possible to have a fabulous birth experience in a hospital, or for some of those interventions to be necessary. Just as it’s possible to have a homebirth that isn’t fantastic. Both of those scenarios are glaringly absent from this book. Hospitals are presented as really quite stereotypical evil and uncaring and homebirthing with a midwife the birthing nirvana.

Amy does an appalling lack of research into pregnancy and what happens. She expects everyone to sit down and go through everything with her like she’s a kindergarten child learning how to write. And yet there’s no mention of the multitudes of booklets and printouts and information that gets distributed with each pregnancy from caregivers. When I was pregnant with both of mine, I received information on every single test I had, from the blood tests to the ultrasounds to the tests that may not be necessary such as an amniocentesis. I don’t believe that anyone goes through their pregnancy not being given so much as one handout. And if you do, then it’s rather easy to empower yourself and find out the information yourself. Amy’s hysteria towards the dating scan and the nuchal translucency scan was a bit tiresome and she didn’t end up having the 20wk morphology scan at all. Now that’s fine – some women are not interested in knowing either way and are prepared. But Amy didn’t clearly state that. She was too busy being concerned about having to pee or whether or not the scan was harmful – maybe you should’ve looked that up or asked before you had one? Dating scans aren’t necessary, some places don’t even do them. The nuchal scan is totally optional (and not covered by Medicare) but the 20wk scan is highly recommended by practitioners. Once again, you can choose not to have it, hospitals cannot force you to submit to any tests. This book also neglects to mention the “birthing halfway” option which is with a community based midwife in the public hospital.

I get that a first pregnancy is confusing – I had one! But at some stage you really have to take control and actually make it your business to know what’s going on. Doctors and the like are busy, seeing hundreds of women per week. Checkups are mostly standard unless you’re in the high risk category (which Amy would not even know, she didn’t have a scan that would’ve alerted the caregivers to any potential issues). Most appointments last a few minutes – Amy even kicked up about having to provide a urine sample. Is it really that big of a deal? It’s peeing in a cup for crying out loud.

However – apart from the fact that I’d have liked to see a more balanced portrayal of childbirthing options and practitioners, there were other parts of this book I did enjoy. Amy and Dylan’s relationship is fantastic – from the way they both react to the surprise pregnancy to the way they are at odds over her decision to homebirth. Because it is Amy’s decision, she gives little regard to Dylan’s feelings whatsoever which I get. It’s her body, she has to do it. My personal choice is that something that affects both my husband and I, we decide together. The two of them had quite strongly opposing views and naturally, none of them budged. It felt very realistic because I can see men being apprehensive about having babies at home. Plus, it’s not the way most people are familiar with babies being born in this day and age and it can be quite a stretch to open your mind to the possibility. I also thought the actual childbirth scene in this book was amazing. I’ve read a few birthing scenes in books and none of them have come close to my experience. Amy’s labour was about 15 times the length of mine but her description of the pain and the pushing felt spot on with what I felt. Both my births are a rather dim memory now but my second which was half the length of my first, was so intense I felt disconnected from it for days. It was the way in which my body chose to deal with it, I think! Amy’s labour sounds like my idea of absolute HELL but this just reinforces how personal an experience it is and that we need to do everything we can in order to just get through it. It only lasts for a while and then you get the payoff.

Obviously I think this book will resonate with supporters of homebirthing and particularly those who have had one themselves. Some might find it all a little bit hard to deal with and like me, believe that the lack of mention of anything possibly going wrong is idealistic at best, ignorant and dangerous at worse. In birthing there are never any guarantees, be they hospital or at home. People do still die and so do babies, it’s a very unfortunate fact of life. In some, those medical interventions are necessary and they’d die without them. I do think that painting one as the answer to everything and the other as the trouble is just a little too hippy cliche. That aspect of the book didn’t work for me at all, but there will be people out there who’ll fervently agree with every word.

7/10

Book #98 of 2013

awwc20121

Peace, Love and Khaki Socks is the 41st novel read and reviewed for AWW2013

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7 responses to “Peace, Love And Khaki Socks – Kim Lock

  1. Great review. I actually avoided reviewing this one because I didn’t want to tred in the murky waters of birthing options! To each their own (personally, had I not had a C-section after labouring for 30 hours, both my son and I would have died!).

    • I think it can definitely be a murky area – personally I’m of the mindset of “whatever works”. Whatever is needed to get the best result, and there’s no doubt that intervention is a crucial part of the birthing experience at times.

  2. Sally says:

    Excellent review. Very well put. I get to meet the author in a couple of weeks as she is coming here to Darwin to launch her book. I picked up on the bias too. But other than that really enjoyed the story. My eldest daughter is reading it now – she is 5 months pregnant!

    • Meeting the author should be very interesting! I definitely like the way she writes and I think a bias is ok but there was just too much negativity on medical birthing in this one for me personally. I hope your daughter enjoys it… is this her first child? The birthing scene might freak her out, haha. That’s a loooong labour.

  3. […] by Lara at This Charming Mum; Marcia at Book Muster Down Under; Bree at All The Books I Can Read; Shelleyrae at Book’d […]

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