(Un)Healthy Suspicion of Health Care?

We’ve hit this topic a little in our email discussions about midwifery, but I wanted to revisit it more generally. What’s with the larger-than-average number of Catholic moms who harbor a suspicion against the medical status quo? I wouldn’t pin myself as a “granola” or “homeopathic” mom, but this weekend when I found myself formally declining Pedialyte solution during a late night visit to the emergency room with a 105-degree 18-month-old Bean, I had to stop and wonder. It’s just Pedialyte! But on the other hand, I had explained to Mr. Nurse that Bean drank 32 oz. of diluted juice and had several wet diapers over the course of the day, so why pump him full of dextrose and dyes at midnight just because Mr. Nurse says to? Besides, I was still dealing with the guilt of giving poor sick Bean only watery juice to drink when I saw that Elizabeth Foss was spoon-feeding her feverish 18-month-old ice cubes blended with whole oranges. While homeschooling 6 other children with her husband out of town. She rocks.

Quite a few of us tend toward midwifery and natural birth before obstetrics, natural remedies before medications, observe and wait before rushing to the doctor for sure treatment… and it seems to me that a disproportionately large number of Catholic moms are the same way. Bean had ibuprofen, acetaminophen and an antibiotic for the first time ever this weekend, and this is certainly not the first time he’s been sick. I’ll admit I can be an obnoxiously inquisitive patient or mom when I do find myself or my children under medical care. I’m not proud of being a thorn in the side of the noble doctors and nurses who help keep my family healthy.

So… why? Is it because of a leaning away from things artificial—such as artificial birth control and baby formula (not to compare them morally)—that we lean away from technological solutions and trust our bodies? Is it because we’re subtly influenced by some complicated mind-body unity philosophy that has Catholic origins? Is it because of a more recent cultural trend to get back to nature/back to the earth among religious parents, evidenced also by attachment parenting and the like? Is it because we’re micromanaging, hands-on, stay-home, potentially-homeschooling moms (versus moms who have help from day cares/nannies), so we expect to know exactly what treatments our kids are getting and why? Or is it not Catholic at all, just a swelling trend among a certain segment of moms?

May God bless all the doctors and nurses out there. Maybe our next batch of cookies will be for the emergency room personnel, Saturday pm shift.

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