Big J will be eight next month and I still remember the day he was born like it was yesterday.
I had gone in the day before for my regular OB appointment where they determined my blood pressure was higher than they would like. A phone call was made to the hospital to let them know we would e coming over for an induction. This was the day before he was due anyway, so we felt as prepared as first-time parents could be and gathered up our hospital bags to go meet our firstborn son.
I was placed on one form of drug to induce in the early evening and another later in the night while also being hooked up to monitoring devices. Other than feeling somewhat crampy and nauseous most of the night, no contractions ever really kicked in, and by the time the doctor came to check on us for the second time the next day, it was decided he would break my water to get things moving.
Now, we had planned on as natural a birth as possible, but I wasn’t prepared for going from no contractions to strong, piggy bank contractions and within in an hour I was begging for an epidural. Well, Big J wasn’t going to allow for that to happen because, as I shifted position in the hospital bed in an attempt to get more comfortable, his heart rate suddenly dropped. We tried to move me back to where I had been to help him out, but within a few minutes I was being raced down the hallway to the operating room for an emergency c-section. Big J was out of me and in the care of great doctors with his daddy’s watchful eye in no time at all. And, although he was a little blue when he first came out, he was otherwise perfectly healthy. We all sighed with relief and went about our lives as new parents.
I shudder to think of what could have been with Big J had we not been under the care of such skilled doctors and nurses. While any number of factors could have resulted in his low heart rate, had I not been hooked up to a monitor we may not have know he was in distress. Had we not been at a hospital with a doctor who could perform an emergency c-section at a moment’s notice…I don’t even want to think about it.
But I AM thinking about, this week in particular, as I’m learning the stories of mothers around the world losing babies or even their own lives during childbirth because they lack adequate obstetric care and the basic knowledge and needs that should accompany motherhood.
In Cambodia, 1.7 million people lost their lives at the hands of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. While this may seem like a long time ago, the effects of this genocide are still staggering. The closest to my heart are the mothers. They are women who grew up with no older women to teach them the ways of a healthy pregnancy. They are women who had no health professionals to monitor their bodies and babies because the Khmer Rouge killed all the doctors and educated people they could find. No role models existed to teach them about nutrition and personal hygiene.
The cycle has continued since then, and this cycle has resulted in a fear of childbirth and motherhood among the women of Cambodia, especially in the remote villages where no aid has been provided, no relief offered, no cycle broken. A pregnant woman in the Kratie province of Cambodia is 10 times more likely to die in childbirth than in the United States. Babies in their first month of life have the highest mortality rate in the country. One out of every 12 children doesn’t even make it to the fifth birthday.
The likelihood Big J would have survived birth in these conditions is very small. Like I said, I can’t even think about that.
But we need to think about it and we can think about this because there is hope, provided in the form of help from Samaritan’s Purse and 10 Days for M’Dai.
M’dai is mother is the Khmer language
Samaritan’s Purse started a Maternal and Child Health program in Cambodia’s remote Kratie province in 2013. The goal is to reduce the mortality of mothers and their young children by improving obstetric care, teaching essential nutrition practices, and increasing access to quality healthcare.
In the first year of the program, 5,745 people in 20 villages were reached, 255 health volunteers were trained, and 40 local pastors were equipped to reach out to their communities.
Women are being taught the importance of holding their babies. Nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations are training women to properly nourish themselves and their families. Churches are coming alongside these women to offer support and the hope of our Savior.
For these 10 Days for M’Dai – March 16-25 – you can be a part of restoring the joy of motherhood to the women of the Kratie province of Cambodia by praying and giving in the following ways:
- $12 provides a healthy cooking demonstration for a village.
- $64 equips a local church leader to reach out to a community with practical help and spiritual counseling.
- $76 trains and equips a volunteer to perform maternal and child health promotional activities.
Moms, we know the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, and raising children…and we do it all in safe, healthy conditions. Let’s take the fear out of motherhood for the women of Kratie and join hands to restore the joy.
He gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:11