Book Review: A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism
by Melanie Bettinelli on October 16, 2012
Next week I’ll be hosting a stop on Sarah’s blog tour for the book; but I have so much to say about this book and I couldn’t wait until next week to post my initial review of Sarah Reinhard’s A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism
Now in the sixth month of my sixth pregnancy, I’ve long since stopped looking at pregnancy books. I began leafing through my advance copy of my friend’s book as much from a sense of duty and less because I expected to find anything new and helpful. I should have known better. After a few dips here and there, I began to read the entire book cover to cover, not wanting to miss a thing.
Pregnancy is a uniquely challenging experience, not only physically, but also spiritually. Yet it is precisely this spiritual dimension that is so often neglected in books on the subject. Even the few Catholic books I’ve found, however, fail to fully address my spiritual hunger. Sarah Reinhard’s Catholic Companion to Pregnancy is the book I wanted and never found when I was throwing up daily with my first pregnancy, when I lost Francis, my second, to miscarriage, when my third pregnancy found me too tired to chase after my active toddler. It’s the book I kept hunting for with every positive test. The book I’d given up on ever finding.
The reflections on the mysteries of the rosary are themselves worth the cover price. Sarah, who I think of as Mary’s biggest fan girl, had the brilliant insight that if you pray two full rosaries (the traditional, joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries as well as the new luminous mysteries) the number of mysteries equals the 40 weeks of an average pregnancy. Beneath the “What to Expect” structure stands a second scaffolding of walking with Jesus through Mary. Additional treasures are the practical exhortations on living the Christian life, drawing on the vast wealth of traditional Catholic devotions. “Faith Focus” sections are sprinkled with quotes from the Catechism and Church documents, suggesting litanies, prayers, devotions to saints, and other pious customs. These are wonderful introductions to the depth and breadth of the Catholic tradition and help to guide the reader through the spiritual journey of pregnancy. They strike a nice balance: perfect for a convert or seeker who knows nothing about the Catholic Church, yet meaty enough for a woman deeply rooted in her faith. They extend an invitation to go deeper no matter where you are.
Also included are special focus sections on eating disorders, unexpected pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, and many more. The book concludes with sections on labor—with wonderful, concrete spiritual tips for that unique spiritual and physical challenge (Oh I wanted those as I was preparing for Bella’s birth!)—and on baptism, bringing the journey of pregnancy and childbirth to the fullest conclusion as the newborn child formally enters the Church community.
The short chapters could be read at a single sitting or you could also read a section a day and stretch a chapter over the course of the week. As I’ve found, even if you begin this book later in your pregnancy, there are not-to-be-missed gems in every chapter. If you’re like me, you won’t want to skip ahead to your current week but will happily linger on every page. This is now the book I will suggest for all expecting moms, whether on their first pregnancy or their tenth., whether deeply religious or tentatively searching.
Please check back next week for more, more, more about A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy, including excerpts from the book, exciting giveaways, and a special reflection by Sarah on the fifth glorious mystery, the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Also, be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour. The featured reflections are a perfect way to pray the rosary for the October, the Month of the Rosary and Respect Life Month.