Each year Save The Children produces a report on the State of the World’s Mothers. I am sharing my birthing story here in honor of Mother’s Day and the release of the 14th annual report in hopes of raising awareness on this important issue along with other members of the Global Team of 200 . In the report the best and worst countries in which to give birth are ranked , and I think readers will be shocked to learn where the USA stands in that regard. It is also shocking to learn that 1 Million babies die the very day they are born each year. The majority of which could be prevented. It is that first twenty-four hours of a baby’s life that are most critical, and although annual child mortality has declined 40% world-wide since 1990, the numbers are not so favorable for the newborn. The 2013 State of the World’s Mothers report focuses in on newborn health and the theme “Surviving the First Day.”
Here is my story about giving birth:
I have always loved babies, and growing up I dreamt of the time when I would become a mother myself someday. Although I also grew up believing that I could be anything I wanted to be career wise, and was lucky enough to find a career I loved, I always knew that Motherhood was personally the goal that I held most dear . I sometimes pinch myself that all these years later I have been blessed to have become the mother of four children from a wonderful husband. People often comment on the great planning of the two-year spacing of each of our kids, and I laugh, because when we were not trying I got pregnant, and when we were trying I did not. Prior to my first pregnancy I’d heard that when you were ready to get pregnant you should stop taking the birth control pill a few months ahead of time to let your body adjust to its natural cycle. When we began thinking about starting a family I took that advice to “give my body a chance to regulate”. Ha! We were surprised, and thrilled to find ourselves expecting that very next month!
A week past my first baby’s due date my obstetrician started to suggest induction. I knew then that the carefully crafted birthing plan, full of all those silly quick in and out practice breathing exercises, was out the window. It dawned on me that planning how my baby would be born was not quite as easy as I’d expected. Sometimes nature has a way of foiling carefully laid plans like that, doesn’t it? At the same time, I was concerned enough that I did not care; I just wanted a healthy baby, and would do whatever it took for that outcome. How the baby got here lost its importance over just getting the baby here safely.
Although I had also been determined to give birth without an epidural, the anesthesiologist seemed to be sure I would cave. He kept coming back into the room to see if I had changed my mind. He may have known a bit more about induction than I did because eventually I said, “If you tell me it will be one more hour I can do this, if you tell me five more hours, then give me the epidural!” Of course he said there was no way to be sure, so I received the epidural. I have to admit that things went pretty smoothly after that, and an hour later our beautiful, healthy baby girl was born.
I had lost my own mother just three months before I became a mother myself that day. The last words she spoke to me were “I will always hold your hand”. It was odd to me that I had not felt her presence as she’d promised since she passed away, but I was sure I would feel her there now. I’m not sure exactly what it was that I expected, some sort of magical sign from my own mother, or spark of recognition I suppose.
Right away my newborn was put on my chest skin to skin. I remember looking at her little face in awe, the tiny hands and feet, and thinking how miraculous that she had just been inside of me. And here she was, her own unique little person blinking up at me. Amazing how in that instant our world shifted to revolve around her. It sounds silly, and I’m not sure I can even articulate properly, how overjoyed as I was, I was also a bit amused and surprised that she did not look like me, or my husband, nor was she the image of my mother reborn. She was this beautiful tiny unique individual all her own. This was one of the happiest days of my life, and my wish is that it should be for all mothers.
“It’s hard to imagine the depth of one mother’s pain in losing her baby the very day she gives birth, let alone a million times over,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. “Yet, this report is full of hope. It shows there is a growing movement to save newborn lives and growing evidence that we can do it—saving up to 75 percent of them with no intensive care whatsoever.”
See the full rankings, learn more and take action at www.savethechildren.org/mothers
Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all-powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.