• 9 Months by Courtney Adamo and Esther van de Paal helps families prepare for the arrival of a new baby. (9 Months)
"We didn't set out to write a controversial book, but it turns out it is controversial."
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

9 May 2017 - 10:37 AM  UPDATED 9 May 2017 - 10:51 AM

When Byron Bay mother-of-five Courtney Adamo set out to write a book for children about the arrival of a new baby brother or sister, she hoped it would be fun and informative.

She didn't expect it to be controversial.

Adamo wrote the book with her long-time friend, Amsterdam-based fellow mum Esther van de Paal, after they both became fed up with books that used "abstract language and euphemisms and treated children in a patronising way" when explaining pregnancy and childbirth.  

"Babies aren't delivered by storks or popped out of bellybuttons - that just seems so silly and confusing for the child," Adamo tells SBS.

"I think the truth is way more interesting and fascinating for children. And they absorb what they are comfortable with."

Together the friends, who co-founded mums lifestyle website Babyccino together, wrote 9 Months, a book aimed at toddlers to kids aged 12.

It starts at the beginning of the nine-month journey.

"When that minuscule egg in Mummy's belly meets an even tinier seed - called a sperm - from Daddy, they join together and a new life is made: the beginning of a new person!" Adamo and van de Paal write on the book's first page.

However, the level of information and choice of language used in the book was not welcomed by the publisher or prospective booksellers. 

"The publisher asked booksellers whether it looked like a book they would sell, and the feedback that came back was negative," Adamo says.

"They did not want the words 'sperm' or 'vagina' used, or the word 'placenta'."

The authors were told by a number of booksellers that if the book contained those words it would have to be sold in the parenting section, not the kids section of the bookshop.

"It really shocked me," says Adamo.

"They didn't want kids to read about vaginas and placentas. They thought it was too grown up information for a child. We fought hard to keep them. 

"We didn't set out to write a controversial book," says Adamo, "but it turns out it is controversial." 

That matter-of-fact approach is just the norm in the Adamo household in northern NSW.

When her fifth child, Wikie, was born earlier this year, Adamo gave birth at home with her husband and four older kids watching and learning.

"We were very honest and open so it was not weird or scary, it was just life," she says.

Adamo says there are no such things as awkward questions about the facts of life in their family.

"My husband and I always had the approach that talking about reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth is not something that should be awkward or weird for them or us," she says. 

"It's always been something we dealt with in a straightforward, honest way."

The closest they've come to difficult questions is when the kids hear songs with racy lyrics and ask what they mean.

"Then we have had to explain things we weren't really prepared for," she says with a laugh.

Endorsed by a medical professional, the book is a month-by-month guide for the family to share, accompanied by "realistic but non-scary" illustrations designed to appeal to children of all ages.

So far, it's already had one trial-run - on her own kids while awaiting the birth of their baby brother. Not surprisingly, they gave it the thumbs up.

 

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