This post is part of the Relay for Kids in partnership with SOS Children's Villages. Each time you share this post, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action) to support children worldwide affected by crisis. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.
Twenty-two years ago I was a young mother pregnant with my second child. I was almost as poor as you can be in America. Because of a difficult pregnancy, I'd been on bed rest for three months. That ended when we were evicted from our apartment. I separated from my then-husband and moved myself and my toddler son in with my mother. It was as fun as it sounds.
During the eighth month of that pregnancy, we were all snowed in. My mother's house is on a mountain in Tennessee. For two weeks in March, it was under three feet of snow during the "Blizzard of the Century." Still, we had firewood and canned goods enough to last for the 11 days we were completely isolated without electricity or running water.
My dad walked the half-mile up the driveway with a team of friends he'd assembled to cut away the dozens of trees that had blocked the road. Did he need to call the National Guard to airlift me to the hospital?
Between us, I was able to walk out, carrying my own bag, while someone else broke through the knee high snow ahead of me. While my toddler was carried out in strong, loving arms, I picked through the melting drifts, cautious of my pregnant belly.
One month later, my younger son was born after a blessedly easy labor. I felt like the ease of his birth was a reward for the difficulty of his second trimester -- the placenta previa, placental abruption, and some other still-painful private losses. It was difficult, but I knew how lucky I was. The support and care from people around me made all the difference, through medical emergency and a natural disaster.
Last fall, I went to New York City with Johnson and Johnson to learn about Millennial Development Goals 4, 5 and 6. Goals 4 and 5 pertain to improving prenatal, postnatal and maternal health around the world.
One of the speakers was Mrs. Toyin Saraki, the founder and president of Wellbeing Foundation Africa. As Mrs. Saraki told her personal story about why she became an activist for maternal health, I got goose bumps. She and I had similar pregnancy complications, practically at the same time, separated by thousands of miles.
I spoke to Mrs. Saraki later and told her of the similarities in our stories. She grasped my hands tightly and said it was no coincidence we were meeting. We were connected by our shared experience as mothers, desperate for our babies to live.
We shared something else in common. Though she was a well-off woman in Africa and I'd been a poor woman in rural Tennessee, we both were able to get adequate care sufficient to save our own lives and deliver healthy children.
Every woman and every child deserves this. Each year, 8 million children die of preventable causes, and more than 350,000 women die from preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to a study from the United Nations Inter-Agency Group on Child Mortality.
All four of my children received something 8 million children a year don't get -- a safe birth. So many children around the world have enormous needs due to poverty, political instability, natural disaster, or epidemic diseases like Ebola or measles. I encourage you to do more than worry. Find an organization or charity that you can support with your time, your money and the power of your advocacy.
Children around the world have a few simple needs, but what they need most is the chance to be born safely to a mother who also lives through the birth.
Please join me in supporting this Relay For Kids. It's the most simple advocacy you will ever do.
Thank you for helping children be born safely and grow up strong. My son is 21 now. I am grateful for every day of his life so far, and I look forward to many happy days to come.
By sharing, you make a difference for kids in crisis: From March 23 until April 24, each time you 'like' or share this post via the social media icons above or comment in the section below, Johnson & Johnson will trigger a $1 donation (per social action) to SOS Children's Villages, the world's largest organization dedicated to orphaned or abandoned children, up to $30,000*. $1 provides food, shelter and medical care to a child in crisis. In addition, you can also Donate A Photo** and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 when you upload a photo for SOS Children's Villages -- you can help raise up to $20,000 in seconds with the click of your mouse or snap of your smart phone.
Johnson & Johnson, SOS Children's Villages and The Huffington Post created the Relay for Kids to support children around the world who have been affected by poverty, conflict, disease and natural disasters. Visit www.sos-usa.org/relayforkids to learn more.
*Blogs must be shared between March 23 to April 24, via Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, reddit, Tumblr and Google+ from the Huffington Post. Each share will trigger a $1 donation up to $30,000. There are no limits on how many times you can share a post.
** via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn't reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.
Editor's Note: Johnson & Johnson is a sponsor of The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood section.