I’ve written the following post to support Compassion UK’s Different Path Appeal. They are raising money for pregnant mothers in Togo.
In the UK, 1 baby in every 250 born will sadly not live to see their 1st birthday.
In Togo, it’s 1 in every 20.
In the UK, the chances of a woman dying in childbirth is less than 1 in 12,000.
In Togo, it’s 1 in every 58.
Why is this so? It’s easy to assume that the reason my children and I are alive and well is that we haven’t had many complications or medical issues. But in my case, that’s just not true.
I always think of my children’s medical history as being very uneventful, but with four children there are always going to be stories to tell. Like the time when I was in A&E with two of my children at the same time, for completely separate reasons. That was a weird day.
But the truth is, it’s so easy to take for granted our good health which is only down to the medical treatment we’ve received in the UK. We thank God for the NHS, and for providing clean water and good food for us every day. Here are some examples of how we’ve been saved by modern (or you might say Western) medicine:
(This is not for the faint hearted. Please do not read if you’re squeamish. I’m writing this to help highlight how wealthy we are, but normally I wouldn’t overshare like this.)
The birth of my first child was pretty long and a little complicated. After labouring for about 23 hours, she was born by emergency C section – necessary due to the position of the baby. Had I been far away from a hospital and without assistance, I would probably have kept pushing for days until eventually the baby died. I’m not sure what would have happened to me. I’m no expert, but I assume the risk of prolapse and infection would have been high if not certain. This may have prevented me from having further children, even if I had survived. I find these facts overwhelming.
I stayed in hospital for five days with my eldest – we were finally discharged after her jaundice had cleared up with the help of a UV lamp.
In all subsequent pregnancies I was treated as high risk due to my previous C Section. This meant I received extra care and attention and the threshold for doing a C Section was much lower. This was all done to protect me and my babies.
I lost my second child in the first trimester. We are thankful for the gentleness and compassion of the Early Pregnancy Unit at our local hospital.
Then came my second full-term baby, who was born via normal delivery – hooray! After his birth, the midwife noticed that I had a partially retained placenta. I’m so thankful for her eagle eyes, because if I’d been sent home this could easily have led to an infection. The bit of placenta still in my womb was removed manually by an obstetrician. Sorry, I did tell you not to read this if you’re squeamish.
The next one was pretty straightforward. He needed a hip scan because he was a big boy, but that was just a precaution. In fact, in physical/medical terms he has been our straightforward child!
Then came the lovely Martha. Born via normal delivery. She developed mastitis at 3 weeks old and needed antibiotics.
All of my children were born in a hospital which is at the bottom of the street – it’s about a 10 minute walk. Call that 20 mins if you’re pregnant. The women in Togo often don’t go to their antenatal appointments, and less than half give birth with a skilled birth attendant present. This is often because access to a medical centre is so difficult. It’s too far away, it’s too hot and – of course – they’re heavily pregnant.
I’m not going to recount every medical treatment my children have received, but I will say something about antibiotics.
My elder son who’s now 7 has had a few trips to hospital. He broke his leg just in time for his 1st birthday, and he got impetigo the following Christmas. This meant he had a horrid-looking boil-blister thingie on his face, which looked like it would never go away. Enter antibiotics. Within days it had faded to a pink patch, which quickly went away completely. I asked my GP, “What if we didn’t have antibiotics?” He said that the bacterial infection would spread, and get into his bloodstream, and would present in different patches all over his body. He also said that this is why King Henry VIII ended up with a hole in his nose. So you could say, and I will, that my son is in some ways richer than King Henry VIII.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I expect you could tell similar stories of how the course of your life and your children’s lives have been affected for the better by medicine. I haven’t even mentioned the plastic surgery my daughter received, aged 2, so she wouldn’t be scarred for life. Nor the precautionary ECGs that two of my children have already received during their short, uneventful lives. I think it’s important that we remember to thank God for providing these people and these medications and treatments – what an amazing blessing!
And let’s remember those who don’t have access to care like this. It can be overwhelming to think about, but it doesn’t mean that we should turn a blind eye. The Lord cares about the poor and the forgotten. He hates injustice. It’s easy to feel helpless, but we can pray for those women and ask God if he wants us to do something for them. Maybe we could go without something this month and donate the money to the Different Path Appeal. Please click on the link and read about what Compassion UK are doing to help women and children in Togo. I don’t mean to be controversial, but I think we know that suffering children are more important than, say, scorched cathedrals.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5)