Something only a handful of people know about me: I hosted a cookout for ten friends while I was in labor with my son. At the dinner table, I'd occasionally trail off mid-sentence while waiting for a contraction to pass, or freeze for a moment while passing the ketchup. Because by the end of my pregnancy, I swore that I wasn't going back to the hospital until either my water had broken or I was in too much pain to talk.
I'd hit the all-important 37-week mark and my baby was full-term. I'd already done six intake visits in the Labor and Delivery ward at Lenox Hill Hospital (and one at Mt. Sinai in Miami when we were in South Beach for a wedding).
I'd started showing signs of pre-term labor at 21 weeks, and when I saw the perinatal specialist my OB/GYN referred me to, he told me that if I could get to 23 weeks, we'd be looking at a 10% survival rate.
We started a course of meds that I'd stay on throughout my pregnancy, and I went on bed rest, which I promise is not the bon-bons and soap operas experience it might sound like. I was supposed to get up for no more than 15 minutes at a time, four times a day, and I spent the rest of my days lying still on my couch, willing myself to stay pregnant. At night, I lay awake because I'd dozed so often during the day that I was unable to sleep, and my saving grace in that horrible lonely stretch of eight hours was the fact that I had two friends living abroad, where it was morning. They'd Gchat with me while they were getting ready for work.
I had a stint of hospital bed rest, which makes bed rest on my couch look like a Hawaiian vacation, and I wondered if I'd be stuck there until I delivered. The woman in the adjacent room had a potted plant and a shelf full of books; she'd been there for months.
Week after week, and eventually month after month, I stayed pregnant. And at 37 weeks and 6 days, my son was born.
All of that is to say: I was very, very lucky to get outstanding prenatal care. From the ultrasound technicians and the obstetrics residents to the L&D nurses and the receptionists at my doctor's office, I have dozens of people to thank for the happy, healthy toddler who dances and giggles and gives high-fives to anyone who offers.
So, when I learned about Kangu.org, a new non-profit that crowdfunds safe childbirth services for women in developing countries, I did two things. First, I pulled out my credit card and gave $25 to help Jennifer, a 24-year old Ugandan mother who is due with her third child on April 27. Then I sent an email to Casey Santiago, Kangu's founder and CEO, to find out how else I could help.
It turns out we're pretty like-minded entrepreneurs: both of our start-ups are focused on the power of collective actions (parents organizing, sharing, and joining together), and we're both mothers who saw a problem and wanted to fix it.
The weeSpring community is all about parents helping parents -- and supporting Kangu is an extraordinary way to help a mother in need, and possibly even save her life. I was fortunate in that my own life was never in danger, but my son's was, and that was terrifying even with all the support I had. Let's come together to ensure no woman has to face that fear alone.
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