Everyone needs a pregnancy buddy. Husbands are wonderful. After all, they are proud papas. But that’s not what I’m talking about. What sort of man would want to hear the day-to-day drama that goes with navigating the physical, mental and spiritual journey of mothering a new life within?
Men are not made that way and really, would you want them to be? “Tell me again, honey, what the baby is doing, how you feel about it and what your prayer life is like. And hey, lets’ buy fabric to make curtains and then get salads together.” Uh, no thanks. Closeness is great but husbands are not girlfriends. There’s nothing like being pregnant at the same time as a girlfriend, because we are women and we think and talk differently than the men whom we love.
A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy, Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism, is a pregnant Catholic girlfriend written by Sarah A. Rienhard. Her book is everything you wanted in a pregnancy guide and more. I say “more” because she offers women a complete guide that even includes walking through pregnancy with Our Blessed Mother.
I had nine pregnancies, although one ended in a miscarriage, so I read Sarah’s book not with a been-there-done-that attitude, but more of a “now that’s a good idea.” And that is what friendship is all about—support, love, and sharing new ideas.
Sarah shares her experiences and insights on a week-by-week progression. Chapters include scientific explanations, meditations on Mary, suggestions for growing in faith, and a prayer. Two of my favorite parts of her book are right in the beginning. Sarah tells her readers, “I am praying for you and your baby.” Bravo! Just like giving birth to a baby, writing a book is only the beginning. After the labor, comes the real work in which we do best relying on God. To pray for her readers is a gift beyond mere advice.
My other favorite part are her statements in the introduction, “Everything he needs to be a complete human being is in place and growing within you….This is a journey with an end in sight and the prize is another human being.” Those two statements are simple to the point of duh! Yet, complex to the point of divinely profound. Pregnancy is both basic to human life while at the same time miraculous.
Reality and joy combine as Sarah gives permission to her pregnant reader to rant but then she tells her to eat some chocolate and then pray to the Blessed Mother and brew some tea. “Picture Mary across from you, smiling gently and know you’ve been blessed even if the road to it feels like a pile of rocks to climb.”
In the course of this book, Sarah and Mary walk along every step. For instance, during the first trimester, Sarah helps us meditate on Mary during her first trimester when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. “In Mary’s embrace of Elizabeth, I find an example of serving when I least want to expend extra effort to others and of giving in the most generous way.”
When fear creeps into pregnancy with all the “what if’s”, Sarah shares that keeping busy and serving others is an effective antidote. Then, finding time to spend in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament offers peace. “I find that praying for others—there’s never a shortage of people who have bigger prayer request than I do—and giving some of my time to Jesus, to be the best balm.”
One of the biggest fears of pregnancy is labor. Sarah suggests going into labor with Mary. “Mary is with you through labor, feel your hand in hers.”
Again, she takes something basic, that women have been going through for thousands of years and puts it in divine perspective: “The world will never be the same after your labor is over. Whatever the outcome, however unexpected parts of it may be, you are making an eternal impact on humanity.” Where most pregnancy guides tell women to pack their hospital bags, Sarah includes going to confession and being open to the graces that will come with labor. Once the baby is born, the handholding does not stop. With a new baby and perhaps other little ones needing Mommy more than ever, Mommy needs support while adjusting to a new schedule usually with a sleep deficit.
Sarah encourages moms to sleep when they can and to prioritize by concentrating on the essentials.
In the end, life becomes routine again and the pregnancy guide tucked away perhaps to pull out again with the next pregnancy or to give to a friend. But through Sarah’s thoughts, prayers and meditations, I think women will find that as their baby was growing, so where they, in ways they never imagined. And so, life may be routine again, but it will never be the same.
Copyright 2012 Patti Maguire Armstrong
About the Author
Patti Maguire Armstrong is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.