Last week while skimming the headlines online, I caught a BBC report on maternal deaths (women dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth) worldwide that included some staggering statistics on the number of women who still die regularly during childbirth. In Sierra Leone or Afghanistan, women have a one in eight chance of death as a result of bearing children.
Reading this gave me some perspective on my own recent experience bringing Elijah into this world. There was a lot about his delivery that was terrifying and certainly disappointing; disappointing in the way that it was not the easy, quick, complications-less birth we had all imagined it would be. There were mishaps and crises that we never could have anticipated, and as purely delighted as I was with my new baby, I carried a bit of sorrow about his delivery.
The BBC article reminded me how lucky I am to live where I live with immediate access to the kind of medical care I received on Elijah’s birthday. For as best as I can tell, if I lived in Sierra Leone or Afghanistan, I would have been that one woman in eight.
I don’t know anyone who has died in childbirth, or as a result of pregnancy. And while people like me sit in childbirth classes and hire Doulas to help us achieve the most natural, intervention-less births we can, there are women around the world dying because they lack even the most basic obstetric care. Women in the states have to do battle with medical professionals who are too quick to utilize medical interventions in childbirth (whether for liability reasons or convenience), while women in other parts of the world die with no access to those same interventions. It’s a bit like the millions Americans spend on weight-loss while millions die worldwide from not enough to eat.
I am reminded how quickly I can take things for granted. I am reminded how easily I live with inequality. I am reminded to give thanks for something that is truly a miracle every time.