On the face of it, it's remarkable how many women, in this day and age, are shocked and surprised by the experience of motherhood.
I say remarkable, because never has there been so much information out there for mothers-to-be. From manuals, Instagram accounts, blogs, personal essays and YouTube channels, to the swelling body of domestic memoirs, tell-all novels and academic studies, there's plenty with which to arm oneself for the great adventure of becoming a parent.
How, then, do so many new mothers find themselves wondering why on earth they weren't told? Why did no one tell us how hard it would be, how painful, tender, overwhelming, astonishing, exhausting, life-altering, guilt-inducing?
The thing is, many did tell us, and many continue to tell us. It's just that the experience is so fertile, so multi-faceted, that it can't ever be summed up in a single book, format or genre.
It's like a self-perpetuating cycle: woman has a baby, is outraged at all the things she didn't know, feels a primal urge to tell the sisterhood, writes a book about it. The book sets out everything there is to know, except that it doesn't quite capture the vast tapestry of human experience. Best write another, slightly different book, then.
And lo and behold, a trope is born - the "mumoir", an awful hybridisation of "motherhood" and "memoir", summing up all at once what type of book it's supposed to be, who it's aimed at, and what it's made up of. In the words of writer Maria Tumarkin, it's "a vomit-on-the-blouse candour, the smell-of-my-baby's-foot lyricism, an author's self transformed by a new life's arrival, obligatory self-deprecation. Part confession, part analysis. Plenty of smug-yet-astonished bubbling just under too".
The thing is, though, some of these books are really, really good, and lumping them together does them a disservice. They fulfil a role that would otherwise be left vacant, or filled with all the wrong things with all the wrong tones. Academic treatises. Official advice. Long lists of things you should buy. A long road ahead of decisions and sacrifices, sleepless nights and compromise.
There's a reason "mumoirs" are having a moment - they're making up for an awful lot of lost time. They run the gamut from intellectual and literary - Anne Enright and Rachel Cusk - to the kinds that get made into the type of movie that stars Sarah Jessica Parker - I Don't Know How She Does It and What To Expect When You're Expecting.
And many, many things in between, most of which are either looked down on, held up as exemplary, or decried as white, privileged middle-class whining.
And all of it is read, by a wide variety of women (and men, possibly) just searching for a voice of companionship, of camaraderie, in the void that often opens up once the reality of parenthood sets in.
Much of it is also criticised, for the above-mentioned whining element, but also for something more deep-seated and patriarchal. The fact remains that there's a substantial cohort out there that still maintains that women shouldn't complain about motherhood, much less write about it.
Remember Mark Latham accusing the journalist Lisa Pryor of disliking her children when she admitted, in a column, that she survived bringing up children while studying medicine full-time through a combination of caffeine and antidepressants? (Pryor sued for defamation - you better believe she did - and Latham settled with her out of court.)
Writer Ashe Davenport has joined the chorus, and she's not afraid to admit it. It helped that she wasn't quite tuned in to the chorus in the first place. She entered motherhood having not read much in the way of parenting literature at all. But the experience of having children was so raw, and so personally transforming, that she wrote a book about it. And, like childbirth, the process was nowhere near as straightforward as she had expected.
Sad Mum Lady began its life as an earlier blog, "Sad Pregnant Lady".
"I was feeling really scared and overwhelmed, and every time I googled 'sad pregnancy', it was post-natal depression," she says.
"I couldn't really find that balance."
When a friend in the publishing world suggested she write a book, she thought it might be a breeze.
"It was this person whose opinion I really valued. My response was, OK, great, I have all these blogs, I'll just print them out and then I'll staple them together, and then that will be my book," she says.
She quickly entered a whole new learning process. Her book - falling into the taboo, profane and funny realm of domestic memoir - is every bit the warts-and-all account of leaving one life behind and entering another. Her journey on the page draws in family members and medical professionals, anger management and long-term inner demons that can no longer be ignored.
"It was very cathartic, and it was a way that I could examine a lot of things," she says.
"I have thought of parenthood, or becoming a parent, as this process of slaying the dragons that have been plaguing you your entire life, that you used to cover up with, in my case, toxic relationships and partying and lots of fun stuff that was just a distraction from the things that had been plaguing me. And all of those distractions were suddenly gone from my life, so I was forced to deal with a lot of things."
Such as the brutal process of being forced from one world into another.
"I wasn't really prepared, because it felt very violent to me. I felt robbed, I felt like I'd been mugged in a laneway and left for dead, it was very extreme," she says.
"The things that were stolen were my identity, my baby - taken out of me in an induction that I didn't want, I hadn't really factored in the emotional ramifications for me of that. And then motherhood.
"Breastfeeding was so painful, all the usual stuff that every parent goes through - I wasn't sleeping, my body was so sore, I just felt like I was being beaten up, and expected to perform the role of person sipping cup of tea in living room, and taking photos for Instagram. That was the other horrific element for me, this pretence and expectation that you just be kind of thriving and glowing at the same time as sitting on a maternity pad full of blood."
"I am a millennial mum, I am very entitled, and that does not make my life easier!"
There were philosophical and historical questions that needed answering, too. She and her partner made the decision to combine their surnames into a new one for their daughters, leading to a rumination on familial legacies. In the process, Davenport took the time to sit down with her grandmother and talk about her experience of motherhood, and compare, in the cold light of day, the stark difference between contemporary parenting and the simpler, more straightforward conventions of her parents' day.
"Mum doesn't really remember much. In her mind, they had it so much better then because the hospital would let them stay for a week after they had the baby, and it's all just a fuzzy memory in her mind," she says.
"The tension for me comes from a lower tolerance for bullshit, which I think for my mother - it's not that she didn't value herself, her role was just very clearly defined. She was raising the kids and dad was off making the money, and that was it. There wasn't a job that was waiting for her, there was no maternity leave, it was a simpler time - a shittier time in a lot of ways, but definitely a simpler time."
And this is where she declares that for better or for worse, she's "joined the chorus of motherhood truthers".
"I am a millennial mum, I am very entitled, and that does not make my life easier!"
Davenport's publisher at Allen & Unwin, Kelly Fagan, says she didn't see the book as being of a genre when she commissioned it. It was, first and foremost, good writing. And its overriding theme was the glorious chaos of life, rather than straightforward motherhood.
"I do recognise that 'mumoir'- brutally honest books about the experience of motherhood and mothering - is having a moment, and that there have been some fabulous books that fit this category published of late," she says.
All the same, the book slotted neatly into the zeitgeist.
"I signed up Ashe's book at a time when almost every woman I knew, across multiple generations was evangelically celebrating Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag, and this followed on from the huge popularity of Catastrophe and Allison Bell's The Letdown.
"All of these TV shows have enjoyed phenomenal success and the thing I think they have in common is a somewhat exhilarating attitude to women getting things wrong, or not quite right ... and living through the experience. They're a kind of celebration of the messiness of life."
Amen to that.
Davenport is proud of her book. She hopes her daughters - Dee Dee, 4 and Franny, 2, both of whom the reader becomes well acquainted with in the course of the book - will read it one day, and feel loved.
"They'll probably get to know me a lot better, and I would love it if my mum wrote a book about her early years of raising us, I would find it fascinating," she says.
But ultimately, she says, she wrote the book as a lifeline to anyone going through what she is still, in many ways, experiencing. It's the opposite to the industry-generated manuals, shopping lists and official advice that can make new parents feel so helpless.
"This woman wrote to me saying she'd ordered the book and was waiting for it, and she'd been up all night the night before with her six-month-old baby that had gastro and had filled his sleep sack with undigested corn," she says.
"Honestly, she was not saying that like it was funny. That will be funny to her in a few years, but it's not funny now. What's the saying - tragedy plus time equals comedy? She is in the tragedy stage, and that book is for her."
- Sad Mum Lady, by Ashe Davenport, is published by Allen & Unwin.