World Mom, @JenniferBurden, Writes About post-Ebola Sierra Leone @BabyCenter!

World Mom, @JenniferBurden, Writes About post-Ebola Sierra Leone @BabyCenter!

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, Jennifer Burden writes about

“A friend at the nonprofit, WaterAid, recently shared photographs with me from the photographer Monique Jacques, which were taken during a trip this year to Kenema, Sierra Leone. Kenema was among the hardest-hit areas during the Ebola crisis, and research conducted by WaterAid and the nonprofit VSO found an alarming rise in the rate of maternal and newborn death during the Ebola crisis.”

Read the full post, “A window into a maternity ward in post-Ebola Sierra-Leone”, over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™!

Photocredit to Monique Jacques/WaterAID

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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CANADA: Living Outside The Comfort Zone

CANADA: Living Outside The Comfort Zone

I wake up in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom. I tiptoe past my son’s bedroom, but in spite of it being about two in the morning, he is awake.

“Mommy!” I hear him whisper.

I go in, thankful that he finally understands the importance of not talking out loud while the family is sleeping. As I tuck him in, he reaches a hand up and touches my face.

“Lie down with Mommy on the bed,” he says, in his peculiar speech pattern and his even more peculiar voice that is teetering between boy and man registers.

Knowing that he will not get to sleep again without a cuddle, I promise to be back. I quickly use the bathroom, return to my son’s room and lie down beside him. We lie there for maybe a minute before he whispers again.

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too,” I reply.

“Good night. Have beautiful dreams,” he mumbles, giving me a gentle but unmistakable shove. By the time I’m walking out of his room, he is fast asleep.

As I make my way to my own bed, I think about my son, about how far he has come and how far he still needs to go. He is twelve years old now, sprinting down the home stretch toward his teenage years. Nine years ago, almost to the day, he was diagnosed with autism.

Back then, when he was almost four, the only functional words in his vocabulary were “juice” and “pee”. He needed assistance with every single aspect of his daily living – toileting, getting dressed, eating, brushing teeth. Grocery store meltdowns were common, and washing my son’s hair could reduce him to a state of terror. Haircuts were absolutely out of the question.

Today, my son talks. Not a lot – not enough to have more than the most rudimentary of conversations – but he talks. He makes requests using full sentences, complete with “please” and “thank you”. He expresses emotions and makes jokes. He can pick out his own clothes, take a shower more or less by himself and even washes his hair. He hates it, but he understands that it has to be done. He can have haircuts now, even though I am the only one who can administer them and he keeps bunching his shoulders up.

As I look at him now and try to see into the future, I have no way of knowing what he will be capable of nine years from now. On the one hand, I don’t see him being able to live independently. He still lacks many life skills and, like many people with autism, he does not have an innate sense of danger and he does not know how to keep himself safe.

On the other hand, nine years ago I would not have foreseen the progress that he has made up to this point. I would not have thought that a kid who once had two usable words would be saying things like, “Have beautiful dreams”. So who knows what another nine years will bring?

We will only find out by continuing to steer him out of his comfort zone and into unknown territory.

How do you deal with challenges faced by your child? Do you wonder what your kids’ futures look like?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter @running4autism. Be sure to check out her personal blog, Running for Autism!

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