Kate Carbery on 'Becoming Mum'

Kate Carbery's debut novel, 'Becoming Mum; How to Survive Childbirth and the Early Months of Motherhood,' hit the shelves last week, after a great launch in Hodges Figgis. Kate gave us some of her thoughts on writing the book and being a mother.

I never planned to write a book. I never thought of myself as a writer. I have realised, though, that writing is not just about words written beautifully on a page - it’s also about where those words have come from and the message they bring to the reader. The words I have written in Becoming Mum have come from forty women and five men. Quotes from interviews with them have made their way on to every page of the book to help deliver clear messages to new mothers.

After the birth of my first baby, four years ago, I had great support from sisters, close friends and a newly-created mother and baby group whose weekly meetings were held in one of our houses. Some of us had been unable to breastfeed and came together because we had felt excluded from breastfeeding groups. Some of us just wanted someone to talk to about the challenges that new motherhood had brought to our lives. This got me thinking about the importance of community and peer support; I’m not sure how I would have fared without it. I was inspired to create a support group in a book, where new mothers could benefit from the hindsight of these wonderful women and men.

I interviewed five women initially, and created a proposal which I sent to a few publishers. Luckily Liberties Press liked what they read and Becoming Mum was born. At this stage, I was five months pregnant with my second baby. I had a lot of work to do. I knew that if I didn’t get most of the work done in that last four months, it might never get written. I had a fire in my belly (as well as a baby) and I was determined to get Becoming Mum on the shelves. I interviewed in the morning when my daughter was at school. I interviewed in the evenings when she was in bed, travelling all over Dublin and also around the country. Much to her delight, I plonked her in front of the TV when someone was good enough to come to my house for an interview. Thankfully my son didn’t arrive early and I got the bulk of the book written before he came.

The interviews were sometimes therapeutic for both the interviewees and for me. Many interviewees had never talked about their experiences before because they couldn’t or because nobody asked. I was reminded about my first birth and it prepared me for the birth of my second baby. The baby presented partially transverse, facing the wrong way, got stuck and was a whopping 10lb 15oz. Physically I was a wreck but I was mentally a lot more prepared for whatever the birth would bring and emerged much stronger as a result.

When the book arrived to my house the week before the launch, it was the first time I think I ever had a proper movie moment. You know the one; the book was posted through the letterbox wrapped in brown paper (ok, it was in a brown paper bag, but still...). It was on the floor and as I picked it up I felt a real moment coming on. It felt great - really great. All the wonderings and doubts about whether I could really write a book faded away and I realised that I was a writer after all. 

'Becoming Mum' is now available in all good bookshops and on our website.
An excellent gift, either to yourself (!) or for the pregnant woman/new mum in your life.