Today is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the accomplishments of women and to take action for equality.
At Mommies In Need, our work directly impacts the ability of women to have equal access to health care. This is a social determinant of health that has largely been overlooked and one that overwhelmingly affects women. While Mommies In Need is willing to help any parent or guardian facing a health crisis, the people who come to us for help are almost exclusively women. It is the mothers and grandmothers in our society that are consistently putting the needs of the children they love above their own.
Women Face Impossible Choices
I founded this organization with a simple offer of help to a friend in a hospital room. I knew first-hand what it felt like to be overwhelmed with a diagnosis and treatment plan but to have the only thing you can focus on be the giant question of who will take care of your kids.
When we started helping families by providing childcare assistance during a health crisis, I honestly had no idea the depth of need and the shocking lack of resources available for sick moms. We have grown quickly because there are so many women who are facing impossible choices daily.
And far too often, women are having to make the choice to delay or forgo necessary medical care because they don’t have access to safe and reliable childcare. And this can be a literal life and death situation especially for the most vulnerable women in our community.
Finding Solutions Through Difficult Times
My personal journey as a new mom navigating a series of life-threatening health problems began when my twin girls were just 6 weeks old. I had a rare post-partum complication, nearly hemorrhaged to death, and was in the hospital for more than a week. With six-week-old twins at home.
But I was profoundly lucky. I had access to great medical care, family close by to take care of my babies, and the resources to hire a nanny to help me get through my time in the hospital and recovery. But the truth is that if my doctor had been even an hour or two later in performing my emergency hysterectomy I would probably not be here.
Every day that I get to see the children at Annie’s Place and hear the stories and words of gratitude from the moms that we are able to help is a joy and a blessing to me, but there was one story that affected me more than any other so far.
One Story at a Time
The amazing team at Annie’s Place got a call from a woman on her way to the emergency room with a post-partum complication. Her doctor had told her that she needed to get to the ER as soon as possible so she put her children in the car with her and headed to the hospital. When she called the ER and said she was coming in with two small kids, they told her about Annie’s Place.
Mom showed up with her 7 week-old baby girl and 3-year-old son and was clearly in severe pain. While she was registering she told one of our staff that when she gave birth to her daughter her son had to go into CPS custody for a period of time because she did not have someone to watch him. She was very grateful because without Mommies In Need, her choices would have been to wait in agony potentially risking her life until the children’s Godmother could get off work, or to show up at the ER knowing it was possible that both children would have to go into CPS custody. We kept her beautiful children in a fun and loving environment for about 4 hours until the Godmother could come and get them.
As I got to read books to the little boy and then hold this mom’s newborn baby, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly grateful. I thought about being in the hospital when my babies were that little, of how I almost wasn’t there to see the amazing little people they are growing up to be. And then I got to marvel at the fact that this is just one story. We have provided childcare for more than 130 medical appointments in just our first few months, and each of the women who have trusted us with their children has their own story.
Thank You from Mommies In Need
So in the spirit of celebrating International Women’s Day, I want to thank you for the support you have given to the women of Mommies In Need. You are helping us get closer to our vision of a world in which there is no disparity in the access to health care for women. Please continue to join us in our journey to help ensure that no woman has to choose between her own health and safe and loving care for her children.