Have I ever told you about how Carmen got her name?
When I learned I was pregnant with her, I just knew it was time to find some skilled, caring midwives for my care and delivery. I found them. These women are such a blessing. At the time, we did not have health insurance. They worked with us, settled on a set fee (incredibly fair!) and a realistic payment plan. They did everything they could to help us save money by reducing unneeded tests and calling labs ahead of my arrival to get us a discount. They cared for all of me in a way I had never experienced.
My due date came and went and we had settled on an induction date. It was to be Tuesday July 18 if she (or he, we didn't know) did not arrive sooner. Sunday afternoon, July 16, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, my midwife called me. She was preparing for the coming week and noticed I was scheduled for Tuesday, when none of the midwives were scheduled to be on duty (they worked with and O.B. at the time). She knew I had a very strong preference for a midwife so would I mind coming in today. A Sunday? This dear woman was willing to give her time on a weekend. She also knew I was absolutely terrified of pitocin and had some ideas for how we could make this a "natural" induction.
And so, we went to the hospital and indeed had a successful, beautiful all natural birth. It was amazing and I still get weepy when I remember Wendy asking me to reach down and help deliver my baby. We had picked the name Elena for a girl and even told Wendy that evening that it was our new baby girl's name. As I spent that first magic night in the hospital with her, Elena didn't seem the right name. I pondered how Our Lord had cared for us and provided. I pondered the marvelous and skilled hands of my midwife. I pondered the special blessing of being born on such a wonderful feast.
The next day I told Dave she needed a different name. Something to honor Our Lady and her care for us. He agreed. Elena became Carmen Elena. (In Spanish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is La Virgen del Carmen.) I should also mention, my mother had been harboring the same sentiments.
Her name is significant for me in so many ways. First of course, I can't imagine looking into her deep brown eyes and calling her by any other name. Second, my own deep attachment to Carmelite spirituality. And third, more recently, the connection with the Holy Prophet Elias and Eastern Catholic spirituality.
But even greater than all this is how much Carmen teaches me daily about devotion and trust in her heavenly Father. This girl prays. She prays with faith. For her First Communion she asked Jesus to send her a baby brother. John is the answer to that prayer. She longs to follow Jesus, do His will always. Her piety is simple, humble and deep.