Some Are Easier to Love Than Others

Posted by Deborah McBain on
© Neal Street Productions

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.

“It’s the others that need it the most.” replies the ever-enigmatic Sister Monica Joan at the conclusion of Episode 3. Let’s just say for the sake of this post that the “others” to which we refer is anybody different than us. That would include others with different sexual preferences like the confused new father in this episode and others of different ethnic origins like the homeless Irish family. The poor and homeless of any race or ethnicity are included in the not-so-easy-to-love category, for the purpose of this post.

In our urban hospital practice, we care for plenty of others. And while I freely confess that I do not live in the city of Detroit, by living on its border my entire life, its diversity has shaped me. After being raised in a white Christian suburb, my forays into the city left me in awe of the exotic look, feel and smells of its multiple cultures, races and cuisines. I was fascinated and exhilarated by this.

As a young nurse going into decayed neighborhoods and urban housing projects for home health care visits with new moms and newborns, I came face to face with unimaginable poverty. Most often a family member escorted me from my car to the home to assure my safety. This awakened me to my own fortunate circumstances and to the graceful gratitude of others.

During my 40+ years nursing career, I have cared for families in a multitude of configurations including 2 mommies or 2 daddies. Intriguing as differences are, it is the similarities in partnerships and families that strike me the most. I see my own hopes and dreams reflected in every one.

Just the other day a homeless woman, 36 weeks pregnant walked into our labor and delivery triage at 11 pm, shivering and looking for a warm bed, becoming yet another poignant reminder of my own privileged existence.

Many of our young mothers are newly immigrated from Latin America or Yemen and know hardly a word of English. As challenging as it is to communicate, I try to imagine what it must be like to be a young woman in a strange land, hearing a strange language and having a baby. I am inspired by the bravery.

So when some may consider others difficult to love or threatening, I consider this: It is a privilege to care for and yes, love those who need it the most because they are so often the most grateful and most gracious. This gracious gratefulness humbles me. Humbleness allows me to see that which is larger than me. Witnessing the infinite variations of human reality opens my mind. How can one know the possibilities without seeing all that there is? Far from being threatening, it is truly freeing and enriching. I want a big open life. I believe the residents of Nonnatus House want big open lives. The alternative would be small, closed and boring. No thanks.

But alas, there is a limit to love. I don’t think Nonnatus House or I am any less without rats. Sorry Sister Monica Joan, nix on the rats.


Deborah McBain (CNM, MS, BSN, RN)Deborah McBain (CNM, MS, BSN, RN)Deborah McBain (CNM, MS, BSN, RN) is a nurse-midwife who has practiced in Metro Detroit for nearly 20 years. McBain received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Science from Wayne State University-Detroit, Master’s Degree from the Case Western University-Cleveland and midwifery education through Frontier Nursing Service.
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