Child of Tanzania.

Child of Tanzania.

Where was your first great kiss?  Was it behind the bleachers during a high school football game with a guy you were crazy about from history class? Was it with your first boyfriend? Your first girlfriend?  Was it after your wedding night? Was it on the altar? Were you following cultural or religious protocol?

Regardless of where and how your first great kiss occurred, you will likely always remember it.  Perhaps, you’re glad you had it.  Perhaps today, you can imagine going through life without it, or you cringe when you think about the person it was with, but back then, whoa.  Back then it meant the W-O-R-L-D.

These important firsts: first steps, first smiles, first words, first friends, first days of school, first kisses — they were all so important to us as they occurred.  Every child in the world deserves a chance at them.

And, as a mother, I’d like to tell you about an even deeper kind of first kiss.  These kisses have happened twice in my life, and they’ve blown me away like no kisses have before.  They are the first times I kissed my baby girls, just seconds after they were born.

When my older daughter was born, the nurses handed her to me, and I had her on my chest, looked down and kissed her for the very first time. It was as if the heavens exploded with joy.  But, if they did, I couldn’t hear a sound because I was too busy exclaiming, “I love you, baby girl! I love you baby, girl!”, over and over, to the point of awkwardness without regret.

My daughter stared at me. She didn’t take her eyes off of mine. And I cried.  I cried my eyes out because it was one of the happiest days of my life.  I had met my child for the first time ever.  That first kiss that I shared as a first-time mother with my daughter was ineffable.

Fast forward nearly 4 years and many miscarriages later.  This time I was about to give birth again and had to deliver by c-section due to a partial placenta previa.  I worried about not being able to hold my baby right away.  My doctor immediately held my baby up to me over the curtain, and brought my new baby girl’s head to my lips.

I remember that she looked bigger than I expected, and every little bit of her was, again, just beautifully baby.  But, today, just 16 months later, I can still feel the warmth of my full lips pressed on the head of my second baby girl for the first time ever. And, I relive that kiss, knowingly, every time I kiss her forehead goodnight.

A mother and child’s first kiss.

I can’t imagine what it feels like to experience the power of that kiss, and not be able to see your child live out their full life. Unfortunately, in the developing world this is a tragic reality all too often. Did you know one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine?

Every time I advocate for life-saving vaccines for children, I am doing it as a mother. Take, for example, the picture up above of a little girl from Tanzania, where life-saving vaccines are needed to help save the lives of children from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea.  Yes, diarrhea. Without access to vaccines, a child is more likely to die from common diarrhea.  Vaccines combined with access to clean water can make a world of difference to a child.

When I look at the little girl’s picture I see my own child in her eyes.  I think she must be around the age of my youngest.  I see beyond her headdress unfamiliar to me and get lost in her smile, which is, oh, so familiar. The color of her skin is much darker than my daughter’s, but her innocence that seeps out of her eyes is exactly the same. When I look at this picture, I see my daughter.

I think of the mother in Tanzania that must love her and kiss those cheeks a million times daily.  I want to make the lives better for both of them, by increasing the chance of saving the daughter’s life because we have the know-how to and by saving the mother from the heartbreak of losing a daughter.  I dream about what their first kiss must have been like, and how they deserve more. More kisses and more life.

World Moms Blog has been helping to save the lives of children in the developing world through vaccination by advocating and fundraising for the UN Foundation’s  Shot@Life campaign and the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), which are partner organizations all working toward the same movement.

A team of our contributors and some of our friends have hosted parties in and outside of their homes for this movement to save the lives of children. We have also created the “GAVI Global Tea Party“, a grass-roots advocacy party that is being sent around the world. A documentary for this party is currently being filmed!

As a member of a group of global mothers, I feel, if we aren’t helping to make a difference in the lives of children and other mothers who are just like ourselves and who need our help, then who can we expect to? As parents, who can we expect to “know” what we “know” when it comes to raising children and loving them?  We’ve been there. We make great advocates for our peers and our children’s peers around the globe. Mothers and children deserve more shots at reliving their first kisses.

Today I ask you to join me in reliving the first time you ever kissed your child. Do you remember? Please share with us! 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, a mom of 2 young daughters whom she kisses often.  This post is part of the Shot@Life Champions’ Blog Carnival with Shot@Life media partner, Real Simple Magazine.

World Moms Blog writes from 20+ countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good.

Photo credit to Stuart Ramson, used with permission from the UN Foundation.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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