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Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic (1999)

by Martha Beck

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7992820,780 (3.92)16
"He says you'll never be hurt as much by being open as you have been by remaining closed." The messenger is a school janitor with a master's in art history who claims to be channeling "from both sides of the veil." "He" is Adam, a three-year-old who has never spoken an intelligible word. And the message is intended for Martha Beck, Adam's mother, who doesn't know whether to make a mad dash for the door to escape a raving lunatic (after all, how many conversations like this one can you have before you stop getting dinner party invitations and start pushing a mop yourself?) or accept another in a series of life lessons from an impeccable but mysterious source. From the moment Martha and her husband, John, accidentally conceived their second child, all hell broke loose. They were a couple obsessed with success. After years of matching IQs and test scores with less driven peers, they had two Harvard degrees apiece and were gunning for more. They'd plotted out a future in the most vaunted ivory tower of academe. But the dream had begun to disintegrate. Then, when their unborn son, Adam, was diagnosed with Down syndrome, doctors, advisers, and friends in the Harvard community warned them that if they decided to keep the baby, they would lose all hope of achieving their carefully crafted goals. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened. Expecting Adam is a poignant, challenging, and achingly funny chronicle of the extraordinary nine months of Martha's pregnancy. By the time Adam was born, Martha and John were propelled into a world in which they were forced to redefine everything of value to them, put all their faith in miracles, and trust that they could fly without a net. And it worked. Martha's riveting, beautifully written memoir captures the abject terror and exhilarating freedom of facing impending parentdom, being forced to question one's deepest beliefs, and rewriting life's rules. It is an unforgettable celebration of the everyday magic that connects human souls to each other.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I love it when overly intellectual people have to rely on unscientific phenomenons like faith and hope and magic. I think being able to let go of factual reasoning and open our minds to blind trust stretches our narrow minded boundaries a little wider. Beck speaks to having a premonition before her son, Adam, was born. There had been almost mystic signs he was not going to be an ordinary child. Throughout Beck's pregnancy inexplicable events pushed her to believe in decidedly unscientific miracles. The problem is both Beck and her husband, John, were obsessed with facts. Overly driven to be successful (two Harvard degrees each), they couldn't wrap their brains around giving birth to a Down syndrome baby. Expecting Adam is the story of letting go to perfection; the releasing of ambitions; the saying goodbye to lofty goals...and saying hello to an angel. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Nov 16, 2018 |
Incredible story. Loved it. ( )
  zaya1 | Aug 31, 2017 |
What a great book! It is a memoire that can be enjoyed on a few levels, and I enjoyed it on all of them. The author, Martha Beck, writes about the birth of her second child, conceived when she and her husband were both pursuing fast track, combined Masters/Phd programs at Harvard. Pregnancy brings with it an array of unpleasant physical symptoms that go far beyond simple morning sickness, but also a number of wonderful, unexplainable, otherwordly occurences. Partway through the pregnancy, amniocentesis shows that the baby has Down syndrome. Against the advice of doctors and academic advisors, she and her husband decide to continue the pregnancy. Before the child is born, the couple realize that both of them have been having similar, unexplainable experiences. Over time, they gradually let go of their previous, driven, academic selves and begin to accept a different reality. The changes they experience are profound, as are the lessons they learn from their son after he is born. If this was all there was to the book, it would be a good, worthwhile read. What makes it a 5-star, must-read book is the fact that Marth Beck is very funny. Very funny. This book goes onto my all time favorite book shelf. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
The subtitle of this memoir is: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic.

John and Martha Beck were both working on their Ph.Ds at Harvard when they conceived their second child. Martha suffered severe nausea throughout the pregnancy, as she had with the couple’s first child, and the pressure to succeed at Harvard caused her to do everything she could to hide her condition from everyone but immediate family way past the time when most pregnant women would happily show their “baby bump.” Still, even that additional stress didn’t fully explain how “different” she felt, or the things she experienced. When she learned the baby she carried had Down syndrome, she fought against her doctors and virtually everyone she knew to continue the pregnancy. She couldn’t explain it, but she knew Adam would be fine.

Beck writes well, and she is very honest about what she went through. She has a wonderful way of expressing herself. Her self-deprecating humor is refreshing, and a few scenes had me laughing out loud. Many of the experiences she relates are simply “unbelievable” and yet I fully believe in the sincerity of her memoir. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 30, 2017 |
I thought I would like this book at first. It seemed like it was going to be a good autobiographical account of one women's journey of having a Down's syndrome son. It was nothing more than a combination of self congratulatory declarations, melodramatic whinings and rantings on Mormonism, grandiose pronouncements of how educated/smart she was, psychobabble mumbo jumbo and cutesy little jokes. Ugh. This book got rave reviews on Amazon, in particular about Beck's style of writing. I think she's a terrible writer! Another reviewer somewhere wrote that there is something false about her. I agree. This book is a waste, pass on this one. ( )
  homeschoolmimzi | Nov 28, 2016 |
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For my boy
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This happened when Adam was about three years old.
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John and I disagree about the precise moment we lost control of our lives. He thinks it was the car accident in New Hampshire. I say it was two weeks before that, when Adam was conceived. Either way, it was sometime in September of 1987, which ever since has been known in our family history as the month It All Went to Hell.
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"He says you'll never be hurt as much by being open as you have been by remaining closed." The messenger is a school janitor with a master's in art history who claims to be channeling "from both sides of the veil." "He" is Adam, a three-year-old who has never spoken an intelligible word. And the message is intended for Martha Beck, Adam's mother, who doesn't know whether to make a mad dash for the door to escape a raving lunatic (after all, how many conversations like this one can you have before you stop getting dinner party invitations and start pushing a mop yourself?) or accept another in a series of life lessons from an impeccable but mysterious source. From the moment Martha and her husband, John, accidentally conceived their second child, all hell broke loose. They were a couple obsessed with success. After years of matching IQs and test scores with less driven peers, they had two Harvard degrees apiece and were gunning for more. They'd plotted out a future in the most vaunted ivory tower of academe. But the dream had begun to disintegrate. Then, when their unborn son, Adam, was diagnosed with Down syndrome, doctors, advisers, and friends in the Harvard community warned them that if they decided to keep the baby, they would lose all hope of achieving their carefully crafted goals. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened. Expecting Adam is a poignant, challenging, and achingly funny chronicle of the extraordinary nine months of Martha's pregnancy. By the time Adam was born, Martha and John were propelled into a world in which they were forced to redefine everything of value to them, put all their faith in miracles, and trust that they could fly without a net. And it worked. Martha's riveting, beautifully written memoir captures the abject terror and exhilarating freedom of facing impending parentdom, being forced to question one's deepest beliefs, and rewriting life's rules. It is an unforgettable celebration of the everyday magic that connects human souls to each other.

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