My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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A Transformative Experience

The movie The Business of Being Born talks a lot about how natural childbirth is such an empowering, joyful, challenging and affirming experience. In many ways it is like doing something physically or athletically awesome like running a marathon, or making it all the way through a very tough spinning or aerobic class. It is exhilarating and exhausting, and the high from accomplishing this goal lasts for days. It can make a new mom feel like she can literally do just about anything because she gave birth! And that feeling can be drawn on so many times and so many years after the birth. I still look back on some of my natural birth experiences and know what I am capable of facing and doing on my own if I have to.

A long-time reader and former blogger Erin wrote in my comment section:

God forbid a woman should actually have a deep emotional and transformative experience when she is bringing new life into this world.

In our culture we certainly expect sex, especially first-time sex to be mind blowing, awesome, why would we not expect the same from the action that is a direct result of sexual intercourse?

Erin continues:

Of course it's all woven into our culture of death, a culture that doesn't let women experience or feel entitled to that which comes most naturally to their bodies and their souls. Many of the same doctors that are in charge of delivering our babies are the same doctors who may have performed an abortion the very same day. And yet we expect them to honor our bodies and the lives of our children. It's a testament to the insanity in our culture that so few see this disconnect.

Erin speaks the truth. It seems that to some of these physicians and institutions the woman ceases to be a person, but becomes merely an obstacle that has to be dealt with to obtain a product - the baby. The baby itself in someway isn't even a person, but a bassinet to fill, a body to count, an insurance card to bill.

Erin's comment reminded me of one of the most horrific moments that I experienced as a new mom. Mr. Pete and I were first time parents. I was laboring on a small bed in a very tiny cubicle with Mr. Pete at my side. My contractions hurt but I was handling them pretty well. After almost six hours or so of doing this, the chief of obstetrics came to see me. He was an older man and he was flanked by two med students.

He told me that he wanted to check my cervix, which I allowed because I thought I had to. Plus I was interested to know if I had made any progress. In what I took as almost a tone of disgust he said I was only 3 cm dilated. There was no encouragement, no suggestions about what I could do to progress (like maybe walking around instead of being confined to the bed for insurance reasons), in fact there was no discussion at all. He announced that he was going to break my bag of waters.

Now, at that time I had been working as a medical records transcriptionist and even as the supervisor of the department for some time. I was use to being able to talk about problems and come up with solutions. So I started to ask him some questions like, "will this hurt" or "what are my other options."

What happened next still shocks me. I started to ask him questions and tried to engage him in conversation (on my back, undressed from the waist down with his gloved hand still in the vicinity of my vagina) when he said, "NOW" and he thrust his hand with the hook inside of me. I instinctively tried to close my legs and move away from him, but then he said loudly, "God, she's breaking my wrist."

The two med students each grabbed a leg and pulled me apart like a wishbone. In a second I felt the warm water rush over my bottom and legs. He took off his gloves and left. The contractions got much stronger. In fact the next one was excruciating. (I found out later that my baby was posterior, and breaking the bag of waters was one of the worst things to do for a posterior position. This led me to other interventions and eventually to my C-section.)

Mr. Pete stood next to me stunned. He had just witnessed something akin to the digital rape of his wife. I was crying. Crying for being treated with such disrespect, crying for the sudden increase in pain, crying because I wanted to run away but couldn't.

This and the rest of my experience did transform me however. For weeks I resented my baby. It wasn't until I came to realize that he was a victim too that I bonded with him a little better. The experience also transformed me into a sexual cripple. There are almost three years between my first and second child. Part of that is because we did not have sex for almost a year after Calvin's birth. I found out later that that is a normal reaction for women who have been sexually assaulted. It took us a while after that to get back to any semblance of the sex life we had before. Mr. Pete was very patient about it.

Because I had been the supervisor of medical records, and because my HMO did contract with this doctor, I went out of my way to tell my supervisor how this man treated me. Although I had a very good relationship with my supervisor, she did not want to hear this. This doctor was respected and well known. I certainly must be exaggerating. As far as I know, nothing was ever said or done to him.

This week I have heard from other women who have had similar experiences and many of the Catholic women with great sadness, cite incidents like this as their grave reasons to postpone or avoid a future pregnancy.

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  1. That's awful, Elena. What's also awful is that it doesn't surprise me.
    One mistake I made when I had Sean last year was letting them induce my labor 2 weeks early. I tend to labor very (very!) quickly and my husband and I were afraid I wouldn't have time to get to the hospital. This was also a consideration because I tested positive for group-B strep and I was concerned that I wouldn't get to the hospital in time to get the antibiotics that would keep my baby from getting very ill.
    I was also exhausted from the constand pain of my pregnancy and the nausea of hyperemesis gravidarum--so I was relieved to know they would induce me.
    I went in at 6 AM, not really knowing what was going to happen. Before I knew it she was doing a VERY painful pelvic exam to check the condition of my cervix. She scoffed that it wasn't nearly as ripe as the NP at her office had said, and then proceeded to very violently (no one told me what to expect) break the baby's bag of water and strip the membranes. I used all my restraint to not punch her right in the face. VIOLENT is the only word I can use to describe it, and she was very cold, never really even looked at me or spoke to me.
    Thankfully labor only lasted several hours, but Sean was born with bruises all over his face and a large gash on the top of his head from the instrument she used to break the bag of waters. He still has the scar, a reminder of the mistake I made...
    Thanks for sharing your story, I still love reading your blog and always learn something from it!


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