giving back

Motherhood: How Supporting Other Moms Can Change the World

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When I think of motherhood, one of the first things that pops into my head was the awesome experience of childbirth. The birth of my oldest son (now 10) was amazing, but not without struggles.

Jyl kissing son

I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and sent to the hospital for tests. The doctor decided to induce me on the spot. Nine hours later, I was pushing, and a half an hour later, Chase arrived with a full head of red hair. I was crying and laughing all at once at the miracle in my arms, trying to take in that he was my son.

At that moment, my blood pressure rose to 200/150 and everyone started scrambling in a "this is serious," but "we have it under control" sort of a way. On top of everything, I had bronchitis and was having a difficult time breathing. I was trying to enjoy my new bundle of joy, catch a break, and stop shaking.

Within seconds, they whisked the baby a way, stabbed a needle of magnesium into my thigh, and kept me in the delivery room for 24 hours for observation while I watched as people's faces crinkled up in worry and they prodded and performed tests. "This must all be typical for childbirth," I thought.

The next day, I learned that I nearly stroked. News to me! My doctor said they almost lost me and how grateful he was for medical advances. Not realizing I was ever in any real danger (it was my first baby), I thanked him for saving my life.

Other than getting to stay in the hospital 2 days longer than normal, nothing was really different than the childbirth experiences I heard from my friends. I went home and went about life as normal for a new mother—in a completely sleep-deprived fog!

Once I got some distance from the situation and over the years, I have thought many times about how truly fortunate I was to have the medical attention I needed. I also started to wonder more about those who don't and what their situations must be like.

Whether the medical emergency is childbirth related or something altogether different, accessibility and information is powerful. That not everyone has it is a travesty.

Recently, I learned about what women in Africa are up against—from laboring on the dirt outside small medical clinics without beds to living with the knowledge that they are HIV positive. The stories of how some of these women are making a difference by helping each other to raise awareness and provide support is inspiring. I think how simple it is for me to tell my stories. I go to a webpage, type, and press publish and voila! a post appears for the world to read. I call a friend. I send an email. I hop on Facebook or Twitter. The ways and mediums for communicating my stories is vast.

But what about those that don't have the same options? What about their stories? Women in Africa, for example, face significant childbirth and healthcare challenges. They are also making a positive difference and their stories deserves the chance to be shared.

Take Susan Wanbura from Swaziland, who mentors other women in her village who have tested positive for HIV. She is the site coordinator for the Ruiru Clinic in Swaziland, helping women there increase their knowledge about the disease, get advice on the medical help they can receive, learn how to increase their life expectancy, and know to live within their limitations while not letting their limitations live with them. In essence, she provides hope to women who have found themselves sick and with a horrible stigma.

Thanks to videos from Mothers2Mothers, Susan is sharing part of her story with us. Click below to view how she is making a difference.

Mothers2mothers has created an entire organization around the philosophy that if you support a mother, you can change the world. Click here to share a dedication to a mentor mother in your life:  mothers2mothers Tree Of Hope dedication page.

What mom is a mentor mom for you? How will you support another mother this week?

To hear other stories, click over and read: Her Bad Mother, Dooce, Love That Max, Mommy Niri, AlphaMom, Latism, and Mama Pundit.

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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