When I was growing up, I had a mother who loved to cook and bake. It wasn’t unusual for me to wake up smelling homemade cinnamon bread just out of the oven, and come home from school smelling homemade rolls for dinner.
In my family, if you didn’t eat everything mom made on your plate, she worried there was something wrong with you.
One of the most exciting day in any parent’s life is the day we get to bring our baby home. I was ecstatic to bring our two twin babies home, and very scared too about being left on my own to care for them. But it was indeed one of the most exciting days of my life.
On a recent work trip down to Salavan Province in southern Laos, I got to see two beautiful healthy babies on their way home from a district hospital with their parents. I don’t know who was more excited, them or me! To witness that special moment really touched me because of the volunteer work that I’ve been doing with Cleanbirth.org to help expectant mothers and newborn babies get a safe start in life by providing “clean birth kits” to women in rural Laos who would otherwise give birth unattended at home or in the forest using often unsanitary tools that can cause infection leading to death of the mother or child.
For me to know the long and difficult road that these two mothers have taken to give birth safely made the miracle of birth all the more awesome to me. To know that unless they traveled all way to a provincial hospital, they most likely did not get any prenatal check ups, or vitamin supplements, or ultrasounds. Although the standard of care that we consider basic are indeed accessible and cost relatively little because they are subsidized by the government, they are only available in large urban centers. This means that the 70% of the Lao population who live in rural areas either require a lot of resources to receive this care, or get none at all. Many factors contribute to the inaccessibility of the care expectant mothers need including, geographic remoteness, lack of infrastructure and seasonal limitations for travel on rough roads, lack of transport or money to pay, little knowledge of the health requirements of prenatal care or services available, as well as family priorities of working for subsistence living and other household responsibilities, and many others. (more…)
I had my third baby when I was 41. Many people told me I was bonkers and a few refused to congratulate me, but those who knew how it felt to long for a baby, whether that baby was number one or number six, were as delighted as I was.
I was unfit, I knew that once the baby came I would feel tired, and I knew that I would have no time to myself. We already had one son who felt secure with strong boundaries and a gazillion hugs a day, and another who felt truly secure only while he was attached to my body. I knew that I would have to take each day, each hour, perhaps each minute as it came.
This was my self-imposed Everest: to give completely of myself until all the boys chose to pull away from me or manage my small nudges out of the nest, in order that they properly develop their wings. I figured things would begin to get somewhat easier at around the 18 month to two year mark. A friend, who had also had a third baby in her 40s, said it would take four years. I didn’t believe her.
I hadn’t counted on a 24 hour labour followed by a massive bleed on the operating table during an emergency C-Section. I hadn’t planned on premenopausal bodily hiccups. I never imagined I’d feel like I was churning through porridge day after day, after day, after day. But that’s what I got.
Just before Christmas last year I could stand it no longer. I was barely functioning, and I truly felt like this level of energy was my lot. I had three energetic and wonderful boys who needed a Mum with some oomph and pizzazz. I did a breathing rate test off the internet, and my results were worse than a heavy smoker and the same as someone in heart-failure. I went to the doctor.
It was then that I discovered that my iron and haemoglobin levels were extremely low – I joke that I was three quarters dead. Thankfully, my vitamin B levels were fine, my thyroid was doing its happy dance, and I passed the depression test. I got my iron levels sorted and began to feel a bit better.
Still, I wasn’t feeling great and I did wonder, again, if this amount of energy was my lot.
I tweaked my diet. I began rising earlier and going to bed at the same time as the boys. Our baby turned three and a half, and then three and three quarters.
And now, finally, after close to four years, I am almost back to myself. I cannot possibly regret having a gorgeous and much loved child in my 40s. I cannot possibly regret any of the time or energy I have put into any of my beautiful boys. But I can tell you this in complete confidence:
I am damned pleased to be on this side of the mountain!
How did life events affect how you coped with parenting your babies and toddlers?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our contributor in New Zealand, Karyn.
The image used in this post is credited to Lindsey Turner. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
“I think I am going to run a 10K” I told my husband over dinner one night. He looked at me like I had two heads. “If you told me that you were going to swim or cycle, I wouldn’t be surprised – but running is not your thing”.
It’s so true! It’s not my “thing”. In fact I hate running, but I received an email from Apple Seeds, an amazing indoor playground offering tons of classes for kids and moms in New York City, Mumbai and Dubai, telling me all about this Moms In Training group. A group of moms, who train together for 8 weeks leading up to the race day, a women’s run around Central Park on June 8th. So, I decided to look into it… and it sounded AMAZING!
One year ago a pair of moms, Helena and Kristen, started this program. It is part of the Team in Training program that helps teams train for races to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The weekly training sessions are led by certified trainers (the Madison Square Park group is led by Meri Treitler, founder of Mommy & Me Fitness). Here’s what you get: (more…)
Last week, a few breastfeeding advocate friends of mine alerted me and other moms to the fact that September 24th through the 30th of this year is World Milksharing Week. According to the official website, World Milksharing Week is held annually during the last week of September with this goal in mind: “to celebrate milksharing and to promote human milk as the biologically normal nourishment for babies and children.” You can read more about how the idea for this came about here. The theme for this year’s Milksharing Week is “Sharing Milk, Nurturing Community.”
Even though I consider myself pro-breastfeeding (I don’t think I can qualify as a true-blue advocate yet) and even have quite a number of blog posts about it, milksharing is something that I never really gave a serious thought about before. That was, until I read about breast milk donations, especially during times of emergencies. (You can read a bit about them here and here.) I realized that breastfeeding truly does save lives and formula milk donations could prove hazardous to the health of children affected by disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes.
Think about it: When people are stuck in evacuation centers or refugee camps, there is usually a shortage of food supplies and clean water. Diarrhea outbreaks are very common and spread easily due to the lack of proper health care and sanitation systems. According to this article on Protecting babies in emergencies: the role of the public, “babies who are not breastfed are very likely to contract diarrhea-causing illnesses from unclean water and, with a weakened immune system and limited treatment, many will die.” (more…)
Navyn in the Plumpy’nut training room where the moms are educated about how and why this product is used.
“As I stood in the malnutrition ward of a regional hospital, my chest tightened, and I had to work hard to keep my composure. There were no welcoming smiles, only blank, empty stares. My camera, normally always at the ready, dropped down to my side. I couldn’t bring myself to snap images of so many children and mothers in despair.
To my left, a little girl lay on a bed, emaciated, listless, and very alone. I didn’t know her story. “Where is her mother?” I asked myself. All I could do was watch her chest rise and fall – as I did with my own newborn girls – and I clung to the possibility that, in this place, because of the nutritional peanut-paste we make, her life would continue.” -Navyn Salem, Executive Director, Edesia Global Nutriton Solutions.
Navyn Salem was shocked when she first heard the drastic statistics on global child malnutrition, and she was amazed that she had not heard about it sooner. As a mother herself she could not imagine a parent having to lose a child to something as easy to resolve as malnutrition, so the former stay-at-home mother of four, took it upon herself to do something about it.
With over 23 million children suffering from malnutrition in some form, and the cause of about one third of all child deaths globally, she realized there was not enough attention on the issue, and yet it seemed the simplest to tackle. Her father was born in Tanzania, and as an area that she had a connection to, she knew that she wanted to give back to that part of the world.
Five years ago the seeds for Edesia were planted. She began by speaking with experts, with a goal to increase access to products already out there, by expanding research and studying best practices until she developed a plan. (more…)