Because no baby should have to grow up without knowing her mother

Cross-posted on BlogHer

While wondering today how I would segue into writing about model Christy Turlington and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell’s recent campaign for maternal health, I unexpectedly came across a blog post about that very subject that stopped me in my tracks and left me in tears. The post was on Single Mom Seeking by guest blogger Matt Logelin who lost his wife and mother of their child just hours after she gave birth. It’s called Forevers.

Matt’s wife Liz died of a pulmonary embolism before she even had the chance to hold her daughter Madeline. She was on her way to see her baby girl after spending 24 hours in bed following her c-section when she said she felt “light-headed” and passed out. The doctors and nurses were unable to revive her.

Although I’d never met any of them, I started crying for Liz, her husband Matt and their now 4-month-old daughter, as memories of my own daughter’s birth came flooding back. I had lost a fair amount of blood after Ava was born, and after holding her for a minute or so, I too uttered those words, “I feel light-headed.” My husband Jody took Ava and the nurses immediately sprang into action and reclined my bed as far back as it would go, putting my feet in the air. I remember feeling very strange and scared as Jody and my sister coo’d over my new baby girl, and I didn’t know what was going on with me. But ultimately I was OK. I am OK. I am alive.

I was so moved by Liz’s story that I shared it with my husband this evening. We talked about how sad it is and upon overhearing that part, Ava (4 years old) asked what was so sad. I’m generally all in favor of honesty with my children and considered for a second telling her the truth, but quickly decided against it. She’s not old enough to bear that kind of weight – that sometimes (actually much more often than should be the case) babies lose their mommies.

No baby should have to grow up without having ever known her mother. No partner should have to bury their loved one during what should be one of the happiest times in their lives. Which is why the work of mothers Christy Turlington and Geri Halliwell is so important. When we hear a statistic like “a woman dies every minute of complications from childbirth,” it might sound shocking, but ultimately it is hard to wrap our heads around. Unless we personally know someone who has died from giving birth, we assume it’s happening to women elsewhere, in other countries, across the world. And while that is more often the case than not, stories like Liz’s show that it’s happening here in North America as well and help put a face and a name with a statistic, making it a little more real.

According to ParentDish and EcoRazzi, Christy Turlington and Geri Halliwell are campaigning for maternal health and attempting to get the U.S. government to provide more resources to women around the world during childbirth. Christy, who is the mother of two with actor Ed Burns, says “I’m really involved in maternal health. I’ve been working in Washington to help raise awareness. I’m a mum, so maternal health is very important to me.” She is also an ambassador for CARE – a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty – and adds, “I’ve had safe deliveries for both my children because I have had access to skilled medical care. Yet for too many women in the developing world, pregnancy and childbirth is a serious life-and-death issue.”

Both Christy and Geri also campaigned earlier this year for legislation to help fistula survivors. Obstetric fistula is a devastating injury of childbirth in which the baby usually dies and the mother is left with a hole either between the woman’s vagina and bladder or vagina and rectum (or both), resulting in the leaking of urine, feces or both.

You can read more about Christy, including her quest for maternal health and myriad other topics, in an interview with Betsy Rothstein on The Hill.

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