Monday, October 22, 2012
A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy by Sarah Reinhard
I think the pregnancy genre of books has to be my least favourite in the entire world of terrible book genres. There's not a lot of fun in reading the endless list of maladies that can affect the woman in preggo. And don't even get me started on the childbirth books because they have given me a fear of birth akin to watching zombie flicks. If there is even a Catholic-esque element to the genre the only thing I've ever seen are the syrupy prayer book/devotionals that only the blissfully glowing pregnant woman can dream about praying with any sincerity. So I hereby declare myself a tough critic when it comes to this kind of thing.
Thankfully Sarah Reinhard's new book A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism completely departs from anything previously written in the woefully trying pregnancy genre. Sarah brings a simplicity and focus to the spiritual complexities of pregnancy, by writing about each week of pregnancy then comparing it to a mystery of the Rosary. She also brings in a short description of what's happening with you and your baby physically, as well as great specific tips to dealing with major issues that arise during pregnancy; even the topics of miscarriage, a child with severe disabilities, and the heart-wrenching possibility of giving birth to a child who may only live a few short hours outside the womb. These are all things that a pregnant mother contemplates during pregnancy and issues that need to be addressed so that we can approach our pregnancies with less fear and more trust in God's creating plan. Sarah also covers a myriad of spiritual tools that would help anyone, pregnant or not, through a challenging spiritual time in a simple and approachable way in each chapter.
For me, my pregnancies have been some of the most challenging times of my life spiritually. There is so much pressure in being what feels like the lone caretaker of an unborn soul. Anxiety, fear, depression, and other issues from our lives seem to be kicked up a notch during pregnancy, and the hormones don't help either! I appreciated so much that Sarah never sugar coats these difficulties. She acknowledges the reality of these feelings which we tend to gloss over, yet nevertheless exist. Even though we're Catholic women with faith who want to embrace life, there is so much hard sacrifice involved in motherhood and it begins with pregnancy!
The correlation Sarah draws between the weeks of pregnancy and the mysteries of the Rosary are simply beautiful. I've felt a greater closeness to the Rosary during pregnancy, there's just something very comforting in knowing that Mary's journey of carrying Christ is so important that we're supposed to pray over it during the Rosary! But Sarah's insight into the mysteries are profound, and I have to think that so many graces will come of these mediations she has written. It is really such a valuable gift for pregnant women to be exposed to.
The awesomeness (you know I jest) that is labor and birth aren't neglected either! Sarah describes so well how to focus our pain during labor and the unite it with Christ's. As typical with the whole book Sarah's approach is refreshingly real and unpretentious. Making these difficult spiritual practices approachable is much harder than it looks, and is so appreciated instead of a patronizing or general tone that does not relate to the reality childbirth at all! Life with a newborn is also addressed, and I loved her tips such as a Nine Hour Novena, when you're up all night. Baptism with its spiritual gifts and the responsibilities of parents is also written about with a great perspective that fits perfectly as the fitting ending to the pregnancy journey.
Obviously there has been a great need for a Catholic spiritual help specifically for pregnancy. There's just nothing out there that aims to help women in such an important time in their lives, but this book is the perfect handbook. At such an tumultuous time spiritually its so comforting to have a real Catholic woman write to these issues. Even if you've been pregnant a million times like me, you will get so much out of this book! Basically you should buy this book for yourself and any Catholic woman who has, is, or will be pregnant...that covers quite the demographic but think how easy your Christmas list just became!