This article was originally published in the May issue of Canticle magazine.
About 20 years ago Diane Tandy, a certified nurse midwife, witnessed firsthand the power of prayer in the trenches of labor and delivery. “It was a difficult, scary delivery. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get the baby out alive,” recalls Diane. “The mother of the patient asked, ‘Is there something I can do?’ I said, ‘I need you to pray.’ I’ll never forget this: She fell to her knees and started praying very loudly and very clearly for what we needed. Within literally seconds, the baby came out, almost too perfect. I couldn’t even cut the cord because I was crying so much and I thought, ‘God is really here.'”
Not surprisingly, Diane is more than a skilled and compassionate health professional to her diverse patient population, she is a woman of faith and a courageous defender of the inviolability of human life.
For the past six years, Diane has been reaching out to women in crisis pregnancies, providing free ultrasounds, reduced prenatal care and sometimes even a place to call home by opening her door to girls who have nowhere to turn. Above all, Diane gives hope to women who feel hopeless. In doing so, she saves countless lives.
In honor of Mother’s Day and our devotion to Mary during the month of May, we pay tribute to someone who has made it her life’s calling to help moms in all walks of life and to protect the unborn.
Here I Am, Lord
According to Diane, midwifery didn’t always top her career list. “I wanted to go into the medical field so I could look after elderly people, but every time I tried to go into geriatrics, I’d be pulled back into OB,” says Diane, who estimates she’s delivered more than 10,000 babies since she started practicing in 1982. “I didn’t choose midwifery. God chose for me.”
This wasn’t the only time Diane heard God calling and answered. Diane grew up in a strong Christian family in South Africa, (she’s lived in the States for 21 years now), but she always felt like something was missing. “Over the years I watched all these holy, peaceful women who had a whole family of saints and a string of beads they called a Rosary that helped them get through contractions labor after labor. I so desperately wanted to pray their prayers and pray on their beads, so I started asking questions. After years and years of asking, I finally had somebody say, ‘Why don’t you convert?’ I said, ‘I didn’t know I could.'”
That was five years ago. Diane enrolled in RCIA classes, converted and found a new home. “I can reach out to this family of saints, to this family of Catholic people, to this beautiful faith. I feel like I’m home now.”
Diane says our Holy Mother also played a pivotal role in her conversion. “I’d always been someone who prayed. I had that down, but so many of these women were praying to someone I didn’t know very well and that was Mary. I thought, ‘Well, that makes sense. She was a woman. She was a mom.’ They weren’t forgetting Jesus; they were remembering his mom.”
Joining the pro-life crusade
During her conversion, Diane was invited to a charity event that would forever change the course of her life. “I’m embarrassed to say that I went for a free meal, but then the director was saying they really needed someone in the medical field to give ultrasounds to help persuade women not to get an abortion. Before I knew it, my hand was up and I was saying, ‘I’ll do it.’ That’s how it all started.”
Today multiple organizations and churches refer patients to Diane and she routinely encounters two to three women a day who are considering abortion. And while it would be easy to get angry or to start spouting out facts about baby’s heartbeat, Diane takes another approach. She listens. “We all tend to want to walk in and flood these women with our knowledge and our enthusiasm, but the bottom line is, you have to wait and listen,” she says. “Each of these girls has unique problems and a unique trigger point that will make them go from thinking about abortion to ‘I can do this.’ I wait and listen and then put my arms around them and convince them that they’re going to be okay. Honestly, I never know what to say. It’s never me. It’s the Holy Spirit working through me.”
A Work of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, indeed. Diane once had a patient who only wanted the free ultrasound to confirm her pregnancy so she could get an abortion. When Diane attempted to reach out to her, she grew hostile and defensive. “She told me, ‘Abortion is nothing to me. I’ve had four already. This baby’s not going to happen. I’ve got a new modeling contract. It’s just a blob of blood anyway. Just get on with it.'”
“I started the ultrasound and she turned away. I told her she had to look at the ‘blob of blood’ if she wanted a picture to prove she was pregnant. She was very angry, but she finally whizzed around. She was mesmerized. She started asking, ‘What’s that? What’s that?’ ‘That’s your baby.’ Then she started crying and said, ‘Nobody told me.'”
This same woman kept her baby, gave up a successful modeling career and now is a pro-life activist. “That was one of those moments when I knew it wasn’t me. It was the most amazing ultrasound. The baby was waving and moving all around,” says Diane. “No one could have turned a heart like that except for the Holy Spirit working through that baby.”