Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Raising The Bar

In 19 days (or less) I'll enter into serious Spiritual Combat with my 4th c-section at a Catholic Hospital. This hospital has a gorgeous statue of our Blessed Mother in the front courtyard and 24 hour a day Adoration. The priests are wonderful. The Sisters are wonderful. Everyone who attends Daily Mass is wonderful.

Then there is the maternity ward staff, which somehow are not wonderful. Satan did a fantastic job of terrifying me after the birth of my third child at this same Catholic Hospital in 2007.

It's nuts how many crazy doctors, nurses and pediatricians we ran into during my hospital stay with Baby Maria. I'm talking seriously crazy. The Ped that was looking after my hefty 10 pound baby girl actually told me less than 24 hours after her birth "You will kill your baby if you insist on breastfeeding her exclusively! We've already had 2 deaths from breastfeeding at (insert the name of my HMO) this year!"

I sat in the hospital bed thinking "Are you serious?" Breastfeeding, that's like the gold standard. I've never run across any doctor before that moment who actively discouraged a mother from nursing her newborn.

Because I wasn't a well formed in the art of Spiritual Warfare back then, I did not fight back with prayer. Instead I crumpled up like a used Kleenex and cried my eyes out. I spent 3 days holding a precious newborn and crying after each and every negative encounter.

Needless to say, I haven't looked forward to a repeat experience in this same maternity ward with precious baby number 4.

In the past month, I've finally stopped dreading my hospital stay. Instead, I've started to arm myself for serious Spiritual Combat. I'm packing holy water and blessed salt in my hospital bag. I'm taking my rosary into my operating room. I'm scheduled to receive the Sacrament of the Sick soon. My Carmelite sisters have planned a beautiful prayer session in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the night before I enter the hospital.

Entering into Morning Prayer today, I felt pretty good about my progress. Then Jesus had his heart to heart with me. My Gospel passage for Lecto Divino said "Love Your Enemies, Bless those who persecute you." My whole thirty minute prayer session consisted of me saying to Jesus "Really? Those doctors who were so mean to me, I'm supposed to love them? That nurse who failed to administer any pain medication during her shift and then called me a drug addict because I requested "extra" OxyContin hours after my abdominal surgery--I'm supposed to bless her also?" Jesus kept telling me "Yes! Your job isn't solely to resist evil during your hospital stay, your job is also actively love and bless the very people who are being mean to you."

Jesus is all about --Raising The Bar.

I'm rapidly discovering that the spiritual life is an uphill climb. Just when I become content with my progress, Jesus, my personal trainer, kindly points out that I've got so much more mountain face to rock-climb before I can summit Mount Carmel.


  1. Wow? Breastfeeding will kill your baby? That's crazy. Did you ask if the mothers had other issues like drug use or malnutrition?

    Last time I had a nurse tell me my baby could breathe while he was nursing and that that I was going to smother him unless I put my finger next to his nose to create a path for the air. This despite the fact that I could tell he was breathing. Oh, and he was my third so I sort of knew what I was doing.

    My prayers will be with you and I'm sure many others will be praying too, so you won't be fighting alone.

    I definitely recommend receiving the sacrament of the sick; that brought me so much strength in my last c-section. Also, I found it very comforting to find out the patron saint (or in our case, saints, a whole slew of Chinese martyrs) and pray pray pray to them. I know you've already done that, too, and that St Rose will be with you in a special way.

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  3. I find the call to love SO much harder than any physical or material sacrifice our faith asks of us. I can tolerate people: I'm quite good at it. I just put myself in a place where they don't affect me, where they are outside my sphere of life, and voila, tolerance! Love means really seeing them, pulling them right into my sphere with all their negativity and challenges. Darn it. How am I supposed to do that? Oh, yeah. I'm not. God is, if I let Him.

    I'll be praying for your delivery and your hospital stay, hon! I have faith it'll be a wonderful opportunity for evangelization. :)

  4. Did they import that doctor from the 1970's? (It sounds a lot like what my mother was told when my sister and I were born.)

    Praying for you...

  5. I love your blog. It is beautiful and I gain so much from reading about your very serious walk with Christ. I hope all goes well with your new birth.

    I have found that just because someone has medical training it does not mean they are not idiots (pardon me for be uncharitable.) When my first was born the nurse went to great lengths to tell me to make sure we installed the car seat in the front seat, and another who actively promoted formula when I was very obviously serious about breastfeeding. I also had a gyn that insisted I should not try to make a birth plan because all his "girls" that do that wind up with c-sections. I was so grateful that he could not get to the hospital in time for the birth and a midwife had to deliver our son.

    Just keep praying and completely trust God and accept all the suffering and it will be ok. May you have a wonderful birth and God Bless!

  6. I'm an occasional lurker. I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for your past experience and I hope you don't mind if I pray for you.
    On a practical note, I wanted to mention maybe taking a plastic or knotted rosary with you for the delivery. Some anesthesiologists are fanatical about patients having any metal touching them.