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As my pregnancy continues, I am still reading more about it all. After finding Jools Oliver's book to be a really helpful read, I started on Tess Daly's book and once again have found a little gem of a book that I would recommend to all pregnant women. What's more, this one doesn't just cover pregnancy, but the first couple of years of being a mum too, so there is plenty of useful information in here.
Tess Daly is a television presenter who is probably best known for presenting Strictly Come Dancing, which is one of my favourite programmes. She is married to Vernon Kay (a presenter I find rather annoying) and they have two daughters Phoebe (born in 2004) and Amber (born in 2009).
Her book The Baby Diaries is subtitled 'Memories, milestones and misadventures' and is a beautifully presented hardback book with blue and yellow pages inside, a lovely yellow cover and bright pink spine - definitely a book many women would pick up to look at. Inside, it's just as interesting with lots of photos of the family (some posed, but most candid) and it is peppered with drawings done 'by Phoebe Kay, aged five' which are very sweet too.
The book was published in 2010, has 288 pages and I bought it from Amazon UK for £9.14, though the cover price is £14.99. It is well organised into chapters which begin with early pregnancy and go all the way through to the birth. There are then sections on dealing with a newborn baby, the first six months and deciding to have a second child. There are loads of great tips and practical advice on lots of important topics, including birth options, ultrasound scans, what you need to buy for a newborn, working mums and introducing solid foods.
Tess also writes in detail about the births of her daughters - having Phoebe by Caesarean and Amber naturally. I think every mum loves to hear about other women's experiences of the labour and birth process - I know I do! She writes about it all honestly and doesn't try to 'pretty it up' too, which is great.
Now that I am in my Third Trimester of pregnancy, this book is ideal for me as I am still interested in the sections on pregnancy, but also not too far from the birth, so I found those parts just as fascinating. Many pregnancy books or celebrity 'mumoirs' do tend to concentrate on the nine months and the early days of having a newborn to look after, whereas this book will have a longer shelf life and I can see myself dipping into it for more tips as the months go on.
Tess Daly's writing style is good and readable, without being overly flashy. She comes across as an ordinary mum who just has a glamorous job; I never felt she was 'above me' so I found it easy to relate to her throughout. She includes little bits about her own childhood and her relationships with her family as well, all of which seem very strong. There are some lovely photos from her childhood as well.
Amongst all the text, ever so often there are sections that are printed in a cursive style to look handwritten - in a similar way to those in Jools Oliver's book. This makes them easy to find when you are flicking through. There are three pages on Birth Advice and three pages on what you need to pack in your hospital bag (for your labour and for your newborn baby). Both of these are interesting, informative and written in a friendly, helpful way that doesn't seem preachy or patronising.
Some other reviewers seem to have found the book to be rather sanitized and all a bit too perfect, as though Tess didn't suffer with any embarrassing symptoms, but sailed through it all looking stunning. Personally, I didn't find this at all. She details her experiences with morning sickness, mood swings, varicose veins, heartburn and the like. She also explains how difficult she found breastfeeding, which I was interested in, as I've had mixed experiences breastfeeding my older children and am unsure how long I will be able to do with this new baby.
It is true that she says she never napped during pregnancy, which I can't relate to, as my body is insistent I need a nap whether I want it or not (both in the First Trimester and now in the Third) and it really does feel like I've been drugged with a sleeping tablet and have no choice whatsoever! But all women are different and if Tess coped without a nap - well, good for her.
Admittedly, there are no photos of her in the book looking particularly awful, although the ones of her just after giving birth are (understandably!) not the most flattering, but she just looks exhausted rather than rough. While Jools Oliver's book included plenty of her looking terrible (and one of her leaning over a sink to be sick!), Tess appears beautiful throughout and with a neat bump. She also writes more about pregnancy fashion and style than I am particularly interested in, preferring to be comfortable in Mothercare's maternity range than to shop with designer brands for something I'll wear twice. But you would expect that in Tess's position, as I don't have to present TV shows or turn up at awards ceremonies. I can relate to the dilemma of how to keep one's legs hair-free when you can't see them over your bump though!
Overall, Tess Daly's The Baby Diaries is a fun book, beautiful to look at and filled with interesting and useful information about pregnancy and motherhood. It is well organised so you can jump to the sections that are most relevant to you, or you can just read it straight through like I did, as it holds your interest well. I would definitely recommend this and think it would be a great present to give to a pregnant woman or a good way to treat yourself.
For my recent birthday I received The Baby Diaries: Memories, Milestones and Misadventures by Tess Daly. I love these pregnancy diaries and have read quite a few so I had high hopes for this one.
I wouldn't say I am particularly a fan of Tess but I do think her husband Vernon Kay is quite a good presenter. To be honest I find some of the banter between her and Bruce Forsythe on Strictly Come Dancing quite cringe worthy.
I had added the book to my wish list at www.amazon.co.uk and as it was only £8.49 in the hardback edition I was quite impressed as the rrp is £14.99.
When I received the book I was really impressed with the look of it as it is very pretty and all the pages are coloured in pastel shades and there are lovely soft focus pictures throughout of Vernon, Tess and their two young daughters. I was a little disappointed that there seemed to be no 'real' pictures like Tess barely able to move in the later stages of pregnancy or immediately post birth looking worn out and windswept. Don't get me wrong the pictures are beautiful but I would have preferred to see the real Tess.
The first thing I noticed was that despite being called the baby diaries it wasn't set out like you would expect from a diary. The book does progress from finding out through the three trimesters and into the first eight weeks and weaning and various other topic but it's not a diary.
The book is nicely written and polite and everything seemed a bit sanitized and innocent to be the story of someone's pregnancy and birth. I appreciate that she might not want to open up her life like that or admit to puking on her own shoes with morning sickness but then why write the book? As a Mum of four including a newborn of six weeks old when I read the book there is no kidding me that everything about pregnancy is feeling like Mother Nature herself and glowing with pure joy.
One thing that I did find annoying about the book was that it was littered with helpful advice or medical advice or explanations about procedures or medical terms and I didn't want all that. If wanted to know that sort of stuff I'd buy a Dummies guide to Pregnancy or something like that. I wanted to know how Tess felt both physically and emotionally and how she is just like you and me and that we all experienced the same things during our pregnancies. If anything this book only emphasised the fact that our worlds are miles apart and she is living a very different life to me.
I wouldn't say I didn't enjoy the book but it was a little disappointing and I really don't think I gained very much by reading it. I'm glad I didn't buy it myself and I certainly wouldn't have paid £14.99 for it.
On the whole an easy read most definitely aimed at the first time yummy mummy set rather than us mere haggard sceptical mortals.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Vermilion (18 Feb 2010)
Tess Daly is a familiar household name, thanks to her appearance as a presenter on a number of prime time television shows, as well as being married to fellow presenter, Vernon Kay. I love reading other people's accounts of pregnancy, childbirth and becoming a parent so Tess Daley's 'The Baby Diaries' obviously appealed to me, not least because I am currently expecting my third child. I originally spotted this newly released hardback book on display in Mothercare and fell instantly in love, even though I'm not particularly interested in celebrity culture in general.
This is a beautifully presented bound hardback book with a mix of girly pastel colours and, on flicking through, featured lots of attractive colourful photographs of Tess and her two girls which had my hormones all a-flutter! Despite this, I am too much of a tightwad to pay the full RRP of £14.99 (as it was extortionately priced in Mothercare) knowing full well that I could get it for much less online or elsewhere. Fortunately I later discovered the same book in the 'new release' section of my local library and was grateful that hormones hadn't got in the way of thrift! My first impressions were reinforced when I started reading this, as the inner pages are also beautifully coloured with differing pastel shades and the whole book has a real quality feel to it, which would make this an attractive and thoughtful gift for an expectant mum (perhaps as part of a baby shower).
The first disappointment for me was that, despite the rather miseading title, this book wasn't laid out in a diary format at all. Instead, it was sectioned off into chapters and sections. While the sections are logical and follow important milestones and the three trimesters of pregnancy, I was looking forward to reading a more personal diary-based account of Daly's pregnancies and early parenthood. I find diaries (both fictional and non-fictional) make excellent easy reading material as they are so easy to dip in and out of and really give an intimate insight into somebody else's feelings and experiences.
Daly apparently completed this book when baby number two was just eight weeks old (!) but a lot of it seems to be written with the benefit of hindsight as Daly writes about her experiences with both pregnancies at the same time, rather than giving a chronological account. In some ways, this could be a positive as it gives the writer the time to reflect on particular events and experiences but this book lacks the sincerity and intimacy of a contemporaneous account, particularly regarding something as emotive and irrational as parenting a young baby in the throes of chronic sleep deprivation, for example.
Becoming a parent, as Tess points out at the start of this book, is a real leveller as people will be going through the same changes and similiar experiences, regardless of their class, profession or any other differences. For this reason alone, I expected to be able to empathise with Tess as she recounted the journey from her early days of pregnancy up until early motherhood. More than anything, this book just highlighted how very different mine and Tess's attitudes towards pregnancy and parenting actually are. Clearly, Tess is a former model and a celebrity and this shows!
The chapter on pregnancy includes quite a substantial section relating to 'style' and the issues that Tess had finding suitable outfits for her various presenting roles during pregnancy. Tess talks about managing to 'hide' her pregnancy at 32 weeks when she attended the BAFTAs which seemed a little strange to me. Tess was also at pains to point out that she didn't get any stretchmarks (grrrr!), no pelvic floor mishaps and she managed to get back into her pre-pregnancy jeans within a few weeks of giving birth, whilst at the same time criticising the media for the way in which they present celebrity parents post-birth. Another big focus for Tess was juggling parenthood with full-time work, which is an issue that many of us have to face - although I don't expect many women will return to work just six weeks after giving birth as Tess Daly did!
Tess does state that she is in no way qualified to give advice to other parents (or parents to be) but, despite this, the book is littered with little 'tips' and comments about typical parenting/pregnancy dilemmas. I found this less useful than a first time parent probably would, but I was impressed that she managed to pull this off without sounding totally condescending towards her readers. Sadly, Tess's experiences are not likely to mirror those of the average non-celebrity parent and knowing what helped to distract her toddler during long car journeys (listening to her father presenting on the radio) probably isn't going to apply to many other people! Likewise, Tess's account of her second hospital birth (and natural delivery) featured Vernon Kay pacing outside on the balcony! Somehow, I don't think this is a feature of most people's NHS hospital birth!
Sadly, having read the entire book, I don't feel that I've gained any real insight into either Daly and Kay's relationship or their experiences as new parents. I was also surprised by the lack of humour within the book. Normally, pregnancy childbirth and early parenthood provide no shortage of humourous incidents to recount and the subtitle 'memories, milestones and misadventures' implies that this will book will contain lots of funny little anecdotes relating to babies and parenthood. The only funny incident that stands out for me was actually about something that happened to one of Tess's nephews rather than involving her own children. Perhaps she was conscious of offering herself up for unnecessary criticism as a celebrity parent?
In all, I was a little disappointed by the actual content of the book. I'm not a big follower of celebrity culture but I did expect to read more about Tess Daly's life and feelings. I don't feel like she really wanted to share her true innermost thoughts with her readers and seemed overly conscious of how everything that she wrote could possibly be (mis)interpreted by others, leaving the book lacking in true emotion and depth.
Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading this and absolutely love the physical appearance of the book. This would probably be better received by a first-time mum as Tess's tone is generally very positive and upbeat about pregnancy and parenting and she does impart some useful information in an easy to read,non-patronising manner. Likewise, a celebrity obsessed reader might enjoy this although I would imagine they might also be disappointed by the lack of true insight into Daly and Kay's relationship and their day to day life as a family.
Despite these reservations, it is certainly a book that would grace any bookshelf beautifully, perhaps illustrating the point that in the celebrity world style is more important than substance?