Great with Child
“By turns lyrical, sassy, witty, and reverent, Debra Rienstra reclaims the spiritual power of a woman’s mind, body, and soul.”
— Bonni Goldberg,author of The Spirit of Pregnancy
*** Named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2002 ***
“Five years after Miriam was born, three after Jacob, I remember their babyhoods with a mute, heart-clutching nostalgia. This is a fresh longing now for an experience (or the preserved portion of it) I have lived before: first the deep attentiveness of pregnancy, then the harrowing intensity of birth, then that surrender of the self to demands that press the boundaries of endurance and to a small person who, once here, will make any previous life seem impossibly incomplete.”
— from Chapter 1
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Written during the months before and after the birth of the author’s third child, Great with Child is an honest, funny, and passionate portrait of the everyday developments and profound transformations of motherhood. Realizing that this third child would in all likelihood be her last, Debra Rienstra set out to chronicle her journey, both to savor it and to comprehend its reach.
Through recounting the details of her own story — ultrasounds, labor, nursing in the middle of the night Rienstra lays bare how motherhood can alter and deepen a woman’s views on just about everything else: womanhood, the body, work, culture, God, … everything. Allusions to a wide array of sources, including the biblical Psalms, the poetry of Lucille Clifton, Jewish feminist midrash, and a Better Homes and Gardens baby book from 1953, weave through the narrative, illuminating the way that this primal experience colors and informs women’s lives. Rienstra reveals how — so much more than just an odd assortment of physical changes and fetal developments — bringing a child into this world reshapes the soul.