Excited, Exhausted, Expecting, by Arlene Modica Matthews

Is it cheating to write a review of a book you haven’t read? It might be, but I’ve decided that being two days past my due date relieves me from following any unnecessary rules.

I must have seen Excited, Exhausted, Expecting on a list of baby books to read, and somehow I tracked it down, even though it is out of print. I found the subtitle appealing: “The Emotional Life of Mothers-To-Be.” I’m emotional! I’m a mother-to-be! This book is for me.

However, I’m not just any mother-to-be. After three miscarriages, the level of anxiety I carried with me throughout the first trimester (and some of the second) was more than anything this book could have addressed. (Matthews doesn’t actually even bring up the pain of miscarriage, which I think is really a mistake in a book about emotions during pregnancy.) So, after skimming it sometime in my obessessed first few weeks of this pregnancy, I put it down and didn’t look back.

Until last night. I thought Matthews might have something to say about the emotional life of a woman around the time of her due date, so I picked it up. I don’t particularly like everything she says — such as, “The truth is even if a woman was the most well-informed, self-confident, physically fit, pain-tolerant, relaxation-competent mother-to-be in the word, it is entirely possible she still might have a complicated birth.” It is true enough, but I don’t have to like it!

But Matthews did come out with one gem of a thought for women processing their labor experience: “…[the new mother] can ask herself what lessons her birth may possibly have been meant to teach her. Then, rather than rebuking herself, she can begin to incorporate those lessons into her daily life.” While I have not had a labor experience to process yet, I am definitely in the middle of some kind of labor of waiting, and this is just the question I need to be asking myself and God: how can I be open to learning from this experience, instead of just wishing it would end?

Skimming through the rest of the book, I think a lot of it falls in the “no-duh” category (like general encouragement to enjoy your pregnancy), but there are a few interesting things mixed in (like various experiences pregnant women have of others’ perception of them, both positive and negative). If you hadn’t read any other pregnancy books, you would probably learn some new things from this one. But if you hadn’t read any other pregnancy books, I wouldn’t say this is the one to read! It seems like an okay supplemental book to have on hand, especially if you want to read more about emotions in pregnancy.

But, then again, I haven’t read the whole thing!

Considered in this review: Excited, Exhausted, Expecting: The Emotional Life of Mothers-To-Be, by Arlene Modica Matthews.

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