LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Make moms priority on Mother’s Day

Every mother has a story to tell. Mine begins at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Memories of the pain and the 12 long hours of labor during the birth of my first child still linger 11 years later.

In an effort to hasten the birth of my son, the attending nurse climbed on the labor bed and stood over me. She lowered herself towards me and used her hands to push on my abdomen to aid my baby’s birth. I was ignorant of what she did then but now I know that this could have taken my life, his life or both our lives.

After long hours of labor my son came out with the umbilical cord around his neck. Every day I thank God we both survived with no lasting injury. The journey of motherhood can be exciting and otherwise. For many, the day they give birth is the most dangerous day of their life. Mothers like me all across the world will do anything to give their children a healthy chance in life.

Unfortunately for many of us, we can feel helpless as our communities lack lifesaving resources to give us a chance to do that.

Despite the efforts of mothers around the world, every year 5.9 million children die of preventable and treatable illnesses before their fifth birthday; it is heartbreaking that 11 children lose their lives every minute.

In addition, nearly 300,000 women will die this year from preventable pregnancy related causes, each of them never having the opportunity to meet and protect their child. As we celebrate mothers this week for their dedication and determination, let’s remember mothers whose dreams of motherhood have been cut short.

There may be a reason to celebrate soon though. Right now, our members of Congress have an opportunity in their hands to do something remarkable to end these preventable child and maternal deaths by passing The Reach Every Mother and Child Act.

Over 140 legislators, republican and democrat alike have signed on to the bill. If passed, the Reach Act will change the lives of millions of mothers and children around the world. I can’t think of a better way to honor mothers this year than by moving this historic opportunity forward.

I’m proud of our own Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) for being a leading co-sponsor on this bill with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

Introducing the bill, Sen. Coons said he was committed to “ensuring American ingenuity and leadership can continue to save lives and offer communities around our world a brighter future.”

We can also encourage other members of Congress, Sen. Carper and Rep. Carney, to help achieve this goal by calling on them to co-sponsor The Reach Act. There is no better way to celebrate mothers all over the world.

As my 11-year-old son will be celebrating me this Mother’s Day, I can only reminiscence on the episode of his birth and the daily suffering facing millions of lonely mothers living in poverty around the world.

So as you celebrate Mother’s Day today, remember that your member of Congress is just a call away. We can write, email, and track them down at town hall meetings and ultimately make this lifesaving legislation and the lives of mothers a priority for Mother’s Day.

Felicia Taiwo

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