THERE IS NO GREATER JOY IN LIFE THAN HAVING A BABY.
The union of two human beings that produces a third is the most important bond that can be formed by humanity, and the resulting birth is an exalted and beloved moment in every society around the world. There is something about the creation of new life that moves people in such a profound way that it is the single most important factor in most cultures. The joy that is experienced by new parents, grandparents, family and friends is pure and genuine. Every one of them desires an uneventful pregnancy, an easy delivery and a healthy baby. It is one of the life changing events that all human kind has in common.
For those who are fortunate enough to live in countries where the standard of living permits pre-natal care, proper nutrition and the latest medical advances, pregnancy and delivery are much safer and even routine. Both mother and infant have the odds on their side. In the Western world we experience a lifetime maternal mortality rate of 1 in 2,800. Should something begin to go wrong during the pregnancy immediate action can be taken to correct the situation and if the delivery becomes difficult there are all types of scenarios that can be employed to ensure the survival of both mother and child.
Because of the high success rate of giving birth in developed nations, when a couple announces to the world the wonderful news that they are starting a family it is greeted with excitement, anticipation and joy. The news spreads quickly and the bets begin to be made on whether it will be a boy or a girl. Grandmothers start making baby blankets and buying clothes that won’t be worn for a least a year but they can’t help themselves. Their elation at the prospect of their children producing another generation to love and to cherish compels them to do things that demonstrate the intense happiness that comes with a simple birth announcement.
Unfortunately, this wonderful, heartwarming experience is not shared by everyone. For those in extreme poverty pregnancy and delivery is a time of nerve racking fear and danger. Lack of proper food, clean water and medical attention combine to create life threatening situations for both mother and child. Because of the poor nutrition, unsanitary conditions, illness and disease that are experienced by the expectant mother, the baby can suffer irreparable harm before it is even born. But the actual delivery itself can be terrifying and deadly. In some areas of extreme poverty a woman has a 1 in 16 lifetime risk of dying during childbirth. To say that this is not acceptable in the modern world is the grossest of understatements. These are flesh and blood human beings who are fighting for their lives as well as the lives of their newborns, and all too often they are losing that struggle.
What should be the most beautiful moment of their lives is instead filled with heartbreak and agony. When a mother dies giving birth to her child it is the ultimate sacrifice a human being can make. There is no greater love. For a baby to die during delivery or shortly after birth is the greatest pain that can be experienced. But when you add in the fact that hundreds of thousands of these deaths do not have to occur these tragedies take on an extra dimension of frustration and pain. When a death can be prevented and it isn’t, it is an atrocity and a reflection on the entire world. It sharply points out our preoccupation with our own lives at the expense of everyone else.
The list of horrors that accompany childbirth in poverty is endless. Mothers can suffer miscarriages due to the lack of proper medical care. Babies can be born with physical and intellectual challenges because of poor of nutrition and complications during pregnancy. A mother can pass HIV/AIDS to her infant without even knowing she is infected. The actual delivery itself can be filled with danger which is compounded significantly if there is no midwife or medical staff present. Should there be a problem the lack of facilities to care for the newborn makes dangerous situations even worse. All these factors and more combine to make the successful birth of a baby infinitely more challenging when you are poor.
To be trapped in extreme poverty means that even the most wonderful of moments such as childbirth is denied to you. Even that blessed event is tarnished by terror, injury and death. It is a sad reflection on humanity that at the greatest moment of vulnerability in a human life we turn away and let infants and mothers die at a startling rate. How can we do this so easily when we place such importance on this experience in our own lives? It is impossible to understand why we think the life of a baby in the West is worth more than the life of baby in a developing country. Our behavior is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated any longer. We must protect all new life as well as the lives of the courageous women who risk their own health to deliver their babies.
Each infant that is born needs the entire world to care. Either we believe that every life is precious or we believe that not all lives are worth saving. It is an all or nothing proposition. We can’t pick and choose which babies get to live and which we are willing to let die. We don’t have the right to say that tens of thousands of dollars will be spent to save the life of an infant in America while we willingly let a newborn in Africa die without the most basic things needed for survival. Every infant’s life is of equal value. There should be no picking and choosing. Every mother and child deserves the same opportunity to safely survive the birthing process, and every newborn should be loved and nurtured. There can be no exceptions when it comes to respecting life.
If you are fortunate enough to love someone or know someone who is having a baby than you should share in their joy and excitement over the new addition to their family. But we should not forget that for millions of people the experience of pregnancy and birth is far different from ours. We must make every effort to ensure the safety of both mother and child no matter what part of the world they may live in. It is our duty to support and prepare women for childbirth, and it is crucial that we supply trained medical personnel so that these brave women do not have to face their delivery alone, without medication and without proper care.
Thankfully, I am one of those fortunate enough to love someone who has had a healthy baby!
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER KRISTY AND HER WONDERFUL HUSBAND CHRIS ON THE BIRTH OF THEIR SON NATHANIEL…MAY HE GROW UP TO KNOW A WORLD WITHOUT POVERTY.