This morning, I was woken up by the cry of my nine-year-old daughter Sophia. She had a nightmare and was scared, and wanted to sleep with me. I brought her in my bed and covered her up, holding her hand tenderly in mine while she fell back asleep. Her warm body cuddled up next to mine and I watched her, enjoying this moment of great tenderness and love. She slept so peacefully yet I was so overwhelmed with love that I could not fall back asleep. Instead I just laid there, looking at her angelic face. I would do anything for my two children, my love is so incredibly deep. The greatest gift of my life is them.
I have written extensively about maternal health on my blog because as a mother I realize how fortunate I am to have received amazing pre and post-natal care and a safe birth of my two children. Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of mothers.
Every day, nearly 800 women die giving birth around the globe. The good news is most of these deaths are preventable.
A trip to Ethiopia in June 2014 as a reporting fellow on maternal and newborn health opened my eyes to the struggles that millions of mothers face. With little or no education, health care, vaccinations, electricity, running water or help, mothers morn the loss of their children in silence. Far too many of their children don’t even make it to their fifth birthday. Likewise, far too many children loose their mothers in childbirth. It is a tragedy.
That is why as a mother I cannot look the other way. I cannot give up on trying to do whatever I possibly can to promote change in the world and make it a safer place for mothers and their children. I will use my advocacy, volunteer work and voice as a writer to inspire change and educate others on the challenges that mothers and their children face around the world.
As a devoted contributor to World Moms Blog, I was thrilled to learn that one of America’s premier websites for mothers, Babycenter.com, has launched an initiative to help improve maternal health around the world with the creation of #MissionMotherhood. Babycenter has partnered with some of the leading organizations on maternal health to make motherhood safer for all women. They have also partnered with World Moms Blog to provide stories that will inspire and educate American mothers to learn about the struggles many mothers and how we can all help.
Fellow World Moms Blog writer To-wen Tseng writes passionately about her experiences meeting malnourished mothers and babies in the post “Haiti post earthquake: How motherhood changed my experience” while Cynthia Changyit Levin writes the excellent post “Raising my voice (for Moms), while raising my kids“. Elizabeth Ataley who was on the International Reporting Project trip with me in Ethiopia writes “Kangaroo Care to the rescue for babies in Ethiopia”.
My post “The Long Walk to Deliver: Why Ethiopia Wants Women to Lie and Wait” was just published on February 1. Here is a brief excerpt on the post.
The Project Mercy Lie and Wait House was about a three hour drive south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in the heart of rural Ethiopia. From the outside, the pink-colored concrete building was simple, except for a small sign stating the center’s name. Inside was one large room with two small beds, a white plastic chair and a dirt floor. On the chair, Menesch, aged 40, sat while nursing her three-month old daughter, her eighth child. The baby, like all of her children, had been delivered at home with no trained labor assistant.
Next, on one of the beds laid Menesch’s older daughter, Fasika, a 15-year old child bride with baby fat still surrounding her cheeks and a shy smile that often looked down at her largely pregnant belly. Meeting Fasika and her mother on the last day of my trip was the defining moment of my two weeks of reporting on maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia.
It is my sincere hope that the more people are aware of the acute challenges other mothers face, the more likely it is that things will change. We all have a say in how we envision our world to be. We can vote. We can donate. We can advocate. We can volunteer. Let us all be a voice for the voiceless and together make the world a better, safer, more just place.