Monday, 30 January 2017

Gratitude


There are times right now when the world seems like a scary place. Terrorism, the refugee crisis, the rise in fascist sentiments, and of course the hate-driven dictates of a certain recently appointed world leader - sometimes I find it all so overwhelming. I wonder why I am living through these terrifying times.

But a few weeks ago, when I was trying to get my baby to sleep in his carrier before picking his sister up from school, I wandered around the local churchyard. I read the gravestones there. I saw so many like the one above. And my heart broke for the people who went before me.

"Three sons & one daughter, who died in their Infancy." There isn't even space to name them. Maybe they died before they could be named.

Yes, the world around me might be going mad right now, but at least I don't know the horrific pain of losing a child in infancy. Let alone four.

And I know that I am so very fortunate. I know people are still going through the horror of infant loss and I can't imagine that devastation. Walking around that graveyard, it was hard to find a family monument that didn't include at least one baby who had died. Several had three or four. How did they cope with that?

So I am grateful. I am grateful for clean homes and healthy diets. I am grateful for trained midwives who can monitor pregnancies. I am grateful for ultrasounds, and urine tests, and blood pressure monitors. I am grateful that most women can now give birth in a safe place with proper supervision, whether that place is at home or in a hospital. I am grateful for improved hygiene. For vaccinations. For infant screening. I am grateful for feeding support (no matter how patchy) and that, for those mother-infant dyads who are unable to breastfeed, there is a better alternative than bread and milk or other concoctions that babies were reared on in times gone by. I am grateful that so many diseases that took little lives in previous centuries are now rare or even non-existent.

Things are frightening right now. But that doesn't mean this is the worst time to be alive. I am healthy. My children are healthy. Many more people are healthy now than one or two hundred years ago. We did that - us, the human race, we made things better. And we can all strive for a world where everyone has access to a safe home, to healthcare, to good food. Where more and more babies survive into adulthood, not lost through disease, malnutrition or war.

We have come so far, and there is further to go, but I am grateful to be on this earth right now. Because really I'm incredibly lucky. And maybe I can make a difference, however small, while I'm here.

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