Sunday, 11 March 2018

Super Lucky to be Here: Happy Mothering Sunday #isurvived

JJ, my boy who made me Mummy

Happy Mothering Sunday Friends. I wish every woman out there an amazing day, be she a mother herself or a mother figure. This day isn't only to be celebrated and enjoyed by those who have given birth it is also for those who selflessly offer their heart and soul loving others in the way a mother often does.

This is the 16th Mothering Sunday that I have celebrated. Of course JJ isn't actually that old yet but my hubby bought a card from the bump (AKA JJ) back in March 2003, seven months before he was even born. I remember being so thrilled to receive that first card and some flowers (if I remember rightly) as it was the start of my maternal journey, having thought previous to this that I might never have children.

I do remember feeling very special when I was pregnant but I had quite a lot of sickness for the first few months and I just looked extra fat rather than glowing with a perky bump. I did then get about four good months with JJ just before he was born but then stupidly I decided it would be great to have him in September rather than October, as was his due date. So I cleared and cleaned the house and then started to gut the garage. I remember I worked like a Trojan and it was very satisfying, well up to the point when I saw my midwife that afternoon and she started to worry about high blood pressure, excessive oedema in my ankles and belly, and protein in my urine.

Yes, it turns out I had pre-eclampsia. I've no idea if all my 'nesting' added to my getting this condition but it surely didn't help it and I was taken off to the hospital that evening for monitoring and a scan. It was decided that they wouldn't let me go too much over my due date and thus I was booked in for an induction on 3rd October 2003 when I would be 40+2 weeks.

Whilst my induction with JJ was a bit of a debacle and took me quite some time to emotionally recover from, I am still enormously grateful that we have the NHS in this country and that when JJ's heart rate kept decelerating, I could have the C-section without any delay. Then when the spinal blocks and epidural didn't work, there was an anaesthetist on hand who was able to give me a general straight away. Luckily JJ was fine and he hadn't swallowed any meconium as was feared and over the next few weeks I healed too.

Some wonderful young mothers I met when I was in Ethiopia

But can you imagine how different it might have been if I had been living in a country like Ethiopia or Haiti? I wrote about maternal health care when I visited Ethiopia in 2012 and whilst there has been massive leaps forward for their health care system, in comparison to what we are privileged to experience here it is still worlds apart. When I was pregnant with the twins in 2007 I got pre-eclampsia again and that time it was much more severe; I stayed in hospital for a couple of weeks before the twins were to be born. I had strong tablets to control my blood pressure, regular monitoring of all my vital stats and then a planned section so my two beautiful girls were born safely. None of that would have been possible in a country like Ethiopia. The reality was that I may have lost one or both of my twins or even my own life to eclampsia. It doesn't bear thinking about.

My beautiful twinnies
However pregnancy and birth without medical support is a reality for millions of women living in poverty around the world. But with the help of the charity Compassion UK, many of them are now being given access to medical care for the very first time, which I am just stoked to hear. I have to be honest I had no idea that Compassion had a Child Survival Programme and considering we have been supporters of their charity since 2005, that's not great.

Our sponsored child Carl-Henri is 18 years old and he lives in Haiti. Each month we make a payment to Compassion as part of their child sponsorship programme. This means that Carl-Henri gets to attend school, have after school clubs available to him, learn life skills to help him get a job, eat well, have medical checks and generally have a hope for his future.

The letters we receive from him are a highlight of my year, I love to know what he is doing and to hear how he is progressing at school. He was just 5 years old when we first started to write to him and now he is a man and will be 19 this year. We still have a few more years that we can sponsor Carl-Henri and then I pray that one day we will get to meet him and know that our prayers have been answered.

Let me introduce to you Murielle and her first born son Wood Kelly. As I read Murielle's story I instantly felt an affinity to her as her home is Haiti and then I discovered that she suffered with fibroids and of course I had surgery to remove these in January this year. What I hadn't thankfully experienced as Murielle did was the stigma that comes from repeated miscarriages due to the fibroids and malnutrition.

Murielle feared she may never be a mother and of course in a country like Hiati many people would view Murielle's infertility as a punishment from God. Murielle said she felt “ruined by that loss, ashamed and broken.” She was afraid to leave the house and the family didn't have the money for Murielle to seek help.

It just felt hopeless for Murielle, well that was until she found out about the local Compassion project. The project staff took Murielle to hospital and it was there that the fibroids were discovered and then after four months of treatment and plenty of healthy food Murielle was fibroid free and able tom conceive again. This time the child survived and it is Wood Kelly, seen above. he is now 3 years old and 20 months after giving birth to him Murielle also had another baby, Wood Kelly. Murielle now descries her children as her peace and abundant joy. How marvellous is that?

If anything I have written has stirred your heart and you want to make a donation to Compassion for the work they do with mothers-to-be and new-born babies or if you fancy sponsoring a child on an ongoing basis like we do then please do head over to the Compassion website and seek more information. As someone who has given to Compassion for around 13 years we've been very happy with the way the have stewarded our money and communicated with us.

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