cover image GREAT WITH CHILD: Reflections on Faith, Fullness, and Becoming a Mother

GREAT WITH CHILD: Reflections on Faith, Fullness, and Becoming a Mother

Debra Rienstra, . . Putnam/Tarcher, $23.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-58542-167-1

What happens between the moment a pregnancy is planned and the baby's first birthday? Rienstra, a poet who teaches at Calvin College, decided to write about these events in her own life, and, as she does so, her identities as a poet, scholar, Christian and white, middle-class millennial mom shape and inform her story. In the early chapters, for example, Rienstra writes beautifully about "womb hunger," incorporating images from the Bible and contemporary poetry into her reflections. And her membership in a brave new generation of mothers is evident in the way she takes for granted the store-bought pregnancy tests that work less than two weeks after conception. Rienstra admirably cites medical, sociological, historical, theological and literary texts, and in doing so provides valuable context for her experience. The book's greatest strength, however, is that she never strays far from her own narrative. Though she spent more than a year revising her manuscript, each chapter reflects her thoughts and feelings as the events she describes unfolded. As such, her memoir tells the truth in a way that few books about parenthood do. Rather than recounting her story long after it happened and/or interpreting it to support a particular parenting philosophy, she simply records how things felt as they occurred. A new or expectant mother is much more likely to find herself, and thereby solace, in these pages than in how-to books written by those for whom the sleeplessness and tumult of infant care is a distant memory. (Apr.)