No Stronger Love

When I think of mothers, I think of strength, love, compassion, sacrifice, and endurance.

There is no stronger love as a mother’s love for her child and I am fortunate that I get to witness this
daily. As a practicing OB/GYN, I have been taking care of women for 30 years. I have personally seen sacrifices made for the health and well-being of an unborn child as women endure strict bedrest in the hospital for weeks on end sometimes having to go on medications that have significant side effects. I have heard stories through the years from my patients as they raise their children – all the challenges, accomplishments, the experiences of joy as well as sorrows that we mothers share. It always amazes me the strength that I witness from women of all ages as they speak of their children and their life experiences. I am continuously inspired by my patients’ stories.

We here in the United States are very fortunate for the medical care that we have access to. If a baby wants to come early, we have the technology to take care of premature babies but that is not the case in third world countries. Those mothers are at the mercy many times of whatever care they can receive and only the luckiest babies will survive. It does not matter what country you live in, mothers often times will do anything to save their child as witnessed by them traveling long distances to receive care for their children.

I recently took care of a young couple who traveled across the country to be delivered where they thought they had the best chance for saving their unborn son’s life – the baby had significant cardiac abnormalities. They were told the prognosis was grim by the specialists but they did their research and were committed to do everything possible. Led by their faith, they went to a place where they did not know anybody. She delivered and unfortunately, the baby died after having multiple procedures. They are currently pregnant again with a healthy baby I am happy to report.

Dr. Raffo carrying for a new mother at St. Francis Hospital in rural Uganda

Mothers in other countries travel far distances, often by foot, to seek care for their children. Ask Lou Coda who is currently serving in Uganda as the mothers flock to his pediatric clinic. As I reflect on care for women in pregnancy in third world countries I think of our Blessed Mary, Mother of God and how she gave birth in the most primitive of conditions without any medical care. She endured pain and suffering as a mother for our benefit.

I want to share part of the Litany of Mary, Mother of Life:

Mary, Mother of all Life, help us to respect human life from the
moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

Mary, Mother of Compassion, You showed us how valuable a single
life can be; Help us to guard and protect the lives of all people
entrusted to our care.

Mary, Mother of the Child Jesus, with St. Joseph you formed the Holy
Family. Guard and protect all families in this earthly life.

Mary, Mother Most Holy, You sanctified the vocation of motherhood;
Pour out your heavenly aid on all mothers and help them to be holy.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, Simeon’s prophecy foretold that a sword of
suffering would pierce your heart; Bring comfort and hope to all
mothers who suffer over their children.

Mary, Full of Grace, You had a choice in responding to God’s call;
Help us always to say “Yes” to the will of God in our lives, And strive
always to do whatever He tells us.

Dr. Ann Marie Raffo

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