What’s the best gift on Mother’s Day? Every mom may have a different answer to this, but here’s mine: healthy children. Not just my own, but as many healthy children all around the world that we, as a giving, loving, society can afford.
Six hours after my first child was born, one of the maternity ward nurses woke my husband and me in the middle of the night. My husband was asleep on a daybed under the window and I was resting fitfully. Our exhilaration at being new parents was tempered by bone-deep exhaustion from the afternoon’s events; my water had broken unexpectedly at home so we rushed to the hospital forty minutes away where I had an emergency C-section.
Hours later, the nurse was in our room. “We want to send your baby up to the NICU.”
“What’s wrong?” we asked, frozen with fear.
“Your daughter had an apnea episode. She didn’t breathe for about twenty seconds and her lips turned blue. We could take a chance and see if she improves, but we’d rather send her upstairs and ensure she is more closely monitored.”
We had to wait an hour before we could visit her in the NICU. We were buzzed in and passed babies inside incubators, babies with tubes inserted into their abdomens, babies who looked as if they weighed just two or three pounds. At the end of the hall, we found our daughter wrapped in a receiving blanket under heat lamps and sucking on a green pacifier, her nickel-sized palm wrapped in a heartbeat monitor strap while machines above her beeped and flashed with mechanical precision. I immediately burst into tears; the site of our tiny six-pound baby hooked up to medical equipment was jarring. As a parent, it is absolutely awful to feel so out of control. We spent the next three days in the NICU as doctors monitored her breathing to ensure her oxygen levels were normal. In the end she was cleared to leave the hospital on time; we considered ourselves extremely fortunate, particularly after passing the other babies who remained hooked to ventilators and feeding tubes. Our daughter is now a thriving three year old. What she experienced as a newborn was frightening beyond measure, but we were fortunate, extremely fortunate, to have health insurance and access to quality healthcare. As a mother, I do not for one second take my children’s health for granted.
It is because of this experience that I passionately support a new organization called Kangu. Kangu is meant to evoke the Kangaroo, an animal whose young are carried safely, protectively, in the mother’s pouch. Kangu uses “crowdfunding,” a type of giving that enables individuals to easily co-fund a cause they believe in. Kangu’s cause is healthcare for mothers who might otherwise not be able to afford it. Kangu mamas are currently living in places like Nepal, India, and Uganda. I recently helped fund healthcare services for a mom named Fathima in Hyderabad, India; it was the best investment I’ve made all year. Kangu’s mission is a beautiful, empowering concept; small contributions, when pooled together, can yield disproportionately huge benefits for moms in real need. A few dollars to you and me can be life-changing for a child gulping in his first breath of air.
So, what’s the best gift on Mother’s Day? Flowers are beautiful, but their colors eventually fade. Chocolates are delicious, but in the end you’re left with crinkled wrappers and a healthy dose of Monday morning guilt. But a donation to Kangu? That is a gift that will benefit a child in need for many, many years to come. And on Mother’s Day, that is the best gift any mom could ask for.
To learn more about Kangu, please visit www.kangu.org.