Mother’s day: Tears and gratitude

Emilie's picture

Tonight I attended a screening of a documentary film called ‘Sister’, hosted by Shanti Uganda, and then moderated a panel on preventable maternal and infant mortality. The film ‘Sister’ tells the story of health workers from Ethiopia, Cambodia and Haiti, exploring how they find meaning while working under difficult circumstances and revealing maternal and newborn death as a human rights issue.

I will admit that the film was not easy to watch. As I held back tears I was reminded that no matter how long you work in the field, or how much you know about the politics, history or socio-cultural conditions around preventable maternal and infant mortality; when it looks you right in the face as it did tonight, the pure gut reaction is one of horror and an almost frantic desire to fix the situation. No woman or child should die from a preventable issue, plain and simple.


 I am now siting here in my dark, quiet home, both my husband and son fast asleep. And suddenly I am deeply humbled, saddened and filled with immense gratitude at the same time. I am grateful for my family, my home, and my job. I am grateful for my own mother, whom I adore and owe so much of my personality (quirks and all) and my almost dangerous love of good food to. But mostly, I am grateful for all those lucky enough to have access to good healthcare and perinatal care. We should not feel guilty about having access to good perinatal health care; we should feel outraged that so many women still don’t have access to it.(Developing countries account for 99% of 289,000 maternal deaths a year)

I won’t get into all of the social, economic and political details associated with preventable maternal mortality that were so eloquently articulated by Dr. Shroff, Dr. Shaw and Mrs. Bitek, mainly because I wouldn’t do it justice and because this blog would turn into a novel.

I will say this though. Tonight, on the eve of Mother’s day weekend (as I like to put it), I will be taking a moment to think about the mothers who died when they shouldn’t have. I will think of the babies who were lost too soon, whether from preventable issues or not. I will think of the women who suffer this weekend because they have lost a child, or those who suffer because they are reminded of their longing to have a child.

This weekend I will remember mothers with tears and gratitude, and a renewed motivation to do everything in my power to support the true foundation of human existence.