As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, Tes Silverman writes about the loss of a baby in the Philippines due to lack of access to medical care.
“Despite my difficult pregnancy, I consider my situation lucky because in many places around the world, heading to the hospital for life-saving remedies is not always the reality. I recently interviewed a woman in the Philippines, Pia Arguelles, and her experience of delivering a premature baby was, tragically, quite different.
Pia’s story began just like any mom who was excited to be giving birth to her fourth child. Since she never experienced any complications in childbirth before, she didn’t expect that this one would be any different. However, the baby was born prematurely after only six months with a weak heart, which led to a four-month hospital stay to try to prevent complications.”
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.
On the surface, you look like everyone else. You blend in. Your appearance and persona is nothing unusual. Not for you. No one would ever know your story because you keep it to yourself. It is none of their business, after all, and they wouldn’t understand anyway.
But there is pain underneath that appearance. Discomfort. Uncertainty. Just enough of the emotion seeps through that I can see it. I see it in your eyes. I see it in the way you hold your body. Something is not right.
I’ve been there.
I hear you.
You reach out privately because you know there will be an ear. You hope there will be understanding. A light in the sea of darkness. A glimmer of clarity where there seems to be a never-ending swirl of confusion.
Though it is hard, I listen. I listen because others did when I needed an ear. I recognize the pain, the denial, the uncertainty and fear.
I’ve been there.
I feel you.
Your words penetrate me. I feel them in every bone of my body. My chest hurts, and my eyes burn. I re-live my own past experiences. I feel angry and sad. I know. And I can’t do a thing about it but listen and absorb.
I share my experience and though our stories are different, we are the same at that very moment. We are one. I may be farther along, but don’t let that fool you. It is easy to fall back into that hole.
I’ve been there.
We’ve all been there. As mothers, as daughters, as wives, as women. The drive to make good and keep peace can be our downfall.
But keeping the peace isn’t always the answer. It can numb us when we really need to feel. If we wait too long our hurt hits us like a ton of bricks. We become angry. And that is when change needs to occur.
The problem is that change is hard and scary and there is no guarantee what the future will hold. So you must let go and trust that you are strong enough to make the change and heal the pain.
It’s a process. One that is unique to everyone who is brave enough to go through it. Like a roller coaster ride, it is fraught with emotion. There are dips and turns and periods of anxiety and fear of what is coming next. The exhilaration and satisfaction at the end, however, is worth the ride.
We owe it to ourselves, to our children, to make that change. Whatever it is.
I see you.
You are not alone.
Does this post resonate with you?
This is an original post written by Jennifer Iacovelli for World Moms Blog.
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
My name is Coretta Vermeulen. I am a 1970’s child, the daughter of my 81 year old mom and my dad who would have turned 88 today. I’m the mother of three kids by birth, bonus mom of two, and spare grandmom of one.
I was born and raised in the Netherlands. Now, this is not a big country, but I took a giant leap of faith moving from a small town in the North to the big city of Amsterdam. Oh, I can tell you stories about that!!! And I will, in time.
What language(s) do you speak?
My native tongue is Dutch, but I also read, write and speak English and German. In Dutch high schools, learning foreign languages is mandatory. Whoo, lucky me!
When did you first become a mother (year/age)?
I became a mom at age 27. I was drawn to the man who fathered my oldest son (oh, I can tell you stories about that!!!) because of his interaction with his then 4-year-old daughter. I actually never wanted kids before, not because I didn’t love kids (I did), but because of the whole lifetime relationship with someone who claimed to be the dad. I really hadn’t had the best example, daddy-wise. It freaked me out. But this man was so sweet with his daughter, giving her attention, revolving his whole life around her. So I thought: what the heck, let’s just go for it. As days became weeks (yeah, that fast!) I noticed the psychiatric imbalances in him: it ruined a perfectly good man with a good heart. But by then I was already pregnant, and I decided to just make the best out of everything. Who knows how far I could come with him? After all, my love for him would cure him, right? And then there was his daughter, who was depending on me too. So, we gave it a shot.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?
I’ve been working on and off since I became a mother. I had my teaching diploma, but there was little work in schools for young teachers. Fortunately, my then husband had been putting up a remedial program for dyslexic kids, and they could use me in it. So we worked both half a week, bringing our son to his grandparents once a week. It was the perfect balance. Until it all blew up in my face.
After my divorce and move to Amsterdam, I had a 40 hour work week at a school with lots of different ethnicities, young kids aged 4 to 6/7 years old. I took my son to school with me. After a while, I could ask some parents to babysit while I was having conferences, meetings, and the like. I remember this time as one of my strongest periods. I was so proud that I did this, all alone, recovering from an abusive marriage, recovering from very strong and powerful family ties, having a 40 hour job that I loved. I lived the insecure life of illegal sublet housing before I got my own place, redone and redecorated just by me, the handy-gal. I was a single mom in a strange city, and even considered having a second child by myself.
A series of incidents made me realize that although I AM a teacher, I cannot be bound by rules and regulations that I don’t support, and that do not support teachers or students. As my life took a turn to the worse, I gave up on teaching and haven’t been working since. I met my current husband, married and moved again. We had two children, and I stayed at home.
That’s going to end though, but I will tell that some other time, too.
Why do you blog/write?
I have always loved writing, but I am a little shy. At 46, I recognize that every artist is unsure about his or her own talent, even when someone performs daily over a period of years. So the writing thing (singing thing, creating thing, painting thing) never really left the building, except sometimes on Facebook or Google-Blogger. I do get nice responses, but I tend to think people are “just saying that to not make me feel too bad”. I recently auditioned to be a singer in a band nearby, but I’ve not heard from them. I guess the singing thing will stay at home with me, but I hope I will do a better job at the writing thing.
We have a very different family, which you all will definitely come to know. Writing about the things we experience daily helps me in a lot of ways, and I think maybe other people might benefit from it, if I can make someone smile or see things in another perspective, like it does to me.
What makes you unique as a mother?
I don’t consider myself special or unique. I am just a girl who gave birth to some live dolls. I act out like a little girl all the time. But that’s just a phase I’m in right now.
I think that my YOUNIQUENESS lies in being authentic. Although I try to hide my bad moods and not project my problems/emotions onto my family members, I really can’t. So yeah, sometimes I shout and yell and curse, but mostly that is pure and utter frustration from my side, after having said something for the @#$%&*! time, or tripping over shoes in front of the doorway, or picking up laundry from all over the house. I am consequently inconsequential, and that is a good thing, because I am flexible like that. I am NOT a hover-mom: my 9 year old daughter cycles to school on her own, facing traffic and traffic rules and teenagers blocking her way and what not. I haven’t seen the inside of her school for months now. I let her walk our big dog, because I trust them both. I let her go shopping for me and smile and praise her when she’s done her best finding the right groceries but ending up with completely different stuff than I asked for.
What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?
Although there is a lot going on in the world, and it seems like the worst time to grow up, I don’t consider that being a parent is very difficult at all. From the births of my children, I have watched them grow just on their own. I could look at them for hours! How they discovered their hands, their feet, getting a reaction from repeatedly taking off their socks, being completely startled when first rolling over or standing up, and then the smile of triumph. All you have to do is put some food, love and trust in them, and the rest comes naturally. I believe in raising our kids authentically, with common sense, trusting their innate qualities and abilities, following some simple guidelines, parenting out of love and not fear, nurturing body, mind and heart. We need to set our own boundaries in which children can grow and discover safely. Above all, I want my children to be genuine, true to themselves, believing in themselves, being able to trust themselves as much as others.
How did you find World Moms Blog?
I’ve been reading World Moms Blog for quite some time now, as I am Facebook friends with other bloggers. I love reading about the interaction with our sprouts, the dos and dont’s, the similarities and the differences across the world, in different cultures. As a child, I always thought that my mother knew exactly what she was doing and why. After being a mom for almost 19 years now, I still don’t have a clue, and sometimes I’m even scared of being caught at it, so people can see: See, she acted like she knows everything about it, but look at her! I recently learned there’s a term for that, the “imposter syndrome”
But I’ve come to terms with just doing what I do and hope for the best. Up to now, I think we have managed just fine.
I'm Coretta, a former teacher. I'm married, and the mother of an 18 year old son, a 9 year old daughter and a 10 year old son, and bonus mom and grandmomship. Our 10 year old son Fygo has brain damage due to near drowning and has no use over his body, except for his eyes and ears. He lives with us at home and visits a special school. We try to live "a normal live" as much as possible.
Part – 1 of Dr. Elizabeth Denley’s (Trainer, Heartfulness Institute) interview is published here. Part – 2 is below.
Our Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan in India recently interviewed Dr. Denley for World Moms Blog.
Purnima Ramakrishnan: Generally women are very emotional people, how to ignore that, when trying to become more spiritual, or tuned within into the heart?
Dr. Elizabeth Denley: You are right. I noticed a huge change in myself. I think the practice itself is the solution for this. It is in our nature to easily get hurt by what other people do. We easily feel the pains of our children; we worry about them, when they are struggling as teenagers, when they are facing peer pressure. If our husbands have problems at work, we carry them, just like we do for ours. We have hormonal cycles. Our monthly cycles affect our emotions. All these things are there.
In Heartfulness Meditation, we have this process called “cleaning”, I read this article written by one of your writers, Sophia from USA about the benefits of Heartfulness Guided Cleaning process. This cleaning process can be at the end of the day. I became an ace cleaner. And I am glad.
We also clean out emotional responses. If one hangs on to self pity, worry, hurt, it eats her up. What we do is, we recognise our emotional responses, and we let them pass. Worry, anxiety, hormonal changes you cannot switch it off. So, observe it. Clean it. Relax, breathe. Just take a pause.
A point comes in the spiritual journey of a human being, where work is done on the spiritual anatomy of the heart. At that time, these things do not have the same impact. One has more poise, and a more balanced way of responding to the world.
I do get angry, but the intensity is lesser these days. I am able to manage it better. All this has happened as a result of the practice of meditation and the cleaning process.
PR: How does spirituality empower women?
ED: I was part of the feminist movement in the 70s in Australia. When I came back to Australia, I was active in the government funded women’s health centres and extremely involved in women and their roles in modern western society. A similar wave is happening in India, right now, as I can see. Young women are getting educated; they are having careers, balancing family, and trying to live a fulfilled life.
What is feminism?
I think it is the ability to love, ability to create harmony, in the family, and country. Masculine roles are much more assertive. Getting ‘there’ and achieving in an ego driven way, whereas female role in any organization is a harmonizing role.
I don’t mean women can’t or should not do. I mean that they can do much more effectively. The feminine way of coordinating, harmonizing, unifying, of loving, that is one of the important roles of feminine, I think so. Women have a huge role to play in society.
Once we start valuing these important qualities in ourselves as women, the society starts valuing us. Mother is the glue in a family. Behind a man is a successful woman. A CEO in an organization, or a school, org, or an Institute – everywhere there are these Hidden roles! They may not necessarily be at the top or forefront. A woman has to value this unique quality in her. When she starts valuing herself, everyone around her starts valuing her too.
Society functions most effectively when man and woman harmonize and support each other, when they complement each other, rather than see each other as competitors, as more empowered or less empowered comparatively.
A work place has to have a nice balance between men and women. Men and women need to be there for each other. The education system has many teachers as women. They support each other. A school system is always a strong unit. The corporate sector is slowly catching up with this. So these are some examples of the importance of female role.
Now this word “empowering” is to allow a woman to feel good about the feminine, instead of making her feel bad about being born as a woman. But if it is sense of power, then we are barking up a wrong tree. This sense of “empowerment” is wrong for men too.
According to me, to have “power”, that is to control or influence others is not the way forward to humanity. To do that would be a destructive way forward. The masculine way forward was like that, and the feminist movement happened because of that.
So, I think empowering women is to bring back the balance, to value, to cherish, to support and complement the female roles in all cultures, society.
For example, somebody should not be embarrassed to say she is a housewife. That is a sad thing to happen. Women raising children and supporting her husband is as important a role, to being a CEO of an organization. Raising kids is the future of humanity.
Until we start to change our viewpoints, we are not empowering women.
PR: What is the role of women in spirituality with regards to her family, community and society? And how to fulfil that?
ED: Spirituality is nothing but giving. Creating unity, harmony and love are associated with spirituality. As a mother, we always give. It is our function. How can u have children and not give? Even to bear a child, you give up your individuality. You wake up in the middle of the night, EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT, to feed your baby. You don’t sacrifice. It is a natural part of giving. We do everything to support the child.
This is spirituality. We are in a better place than our brothers to embrace spirituality – to give unconditionally, and with love.
PR: How to strike a balance between being confident and feeling serene and content within?
ED: In spirituality we are interested in excelling. We do everything we would like to do. We don’t want overconfidence. We don’t want egotism. Humility is important for spiritual growth. Humility is not feeling bad about oneself. What I mean is, “I see my place in the world. There are other people who are greater. Everyone has their place.” A garden has many flowers, not just one.
Humility is that little plant or flower knowing that there are other beautiful things too, but nevertheless its presence also makes the garden beautiful. So humility brings its own confidence. With an attitude to wonder, a willingness to grow and change, one gets a joyous confidence that the universe will teach me what I have to learn.When I integrate confidence and humility, I can do the best I can, at all times.
PR: If there is one message you would like to share with women who have started practising Heartfulness Meditation, what would that be?
ED: Take interest! That is the most important thing. You can find solutions for anything when you are interested. Evolve to become a better mother, a wife, a human being. You, as a group of women are taking so much interest in maintaining this blog, and unifying women across the world, and you contribute with your interest and energy. It is so popular, and there are so many women looking up to it, learning through it, and it is changing lives of women across the world. So, interest is the most important thing.
Take interest in Heartfulness Meditation, and observe it changing your lives.
If you would like to meet Dr. Denley, you can connect with her through social media, email her or meet her in person at any of the US Heartfulness conferences coming up in June! She is chairing one of the breakout sessions in Detroit and will speak about “Heartfulness Education for Creating a Resilient, Well-Grounded Student.” She will interact with the audience and outline the educational initiatives of the Heartfulness Movement, such as the Conscious Living Program, U-Connect etc., and their impact so far.
Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here .
She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award .
She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page .
She also contributes to Huffington Post .
Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!
This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.
She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.
If you’re a parent, or a child, or anyone, you may have heard the phrase. “It takes a village” (to raise a child). After reading a post written by a fellow contributor, KC, I remained in thought about this village that’s needed to raise our children.
KC is currently a stay-home-mum to a precious toddler, so you know she has one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the universe; one weighted with a lot of responsibility, as well. Thankfully she takes the time to write about some of what’s going on in her world as a mum, a woman, and as a person, because out of her writing I found something I want to discuss, too. Check her out at http://www.mummyintransit.com. She is a really good writer, and she’s funny too.
In reading KC’s post I thought about my own experience as a child in Italy, a teenager in Tanzania, and an adult and parent in the United States. What was my village like? Who did my mum include in forming my personality and my worldview?
I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!