When a Child is Born Surrounded by Kindness
When a Child is Born Surrounded by Kindness
Dave is a passionate and skilled filmmaker for the purpose of inspiring people to make a difference. When he is not behind the camera, Dave is taking care of his plants, his saltwater aquarium and most of all, his beloved daughter, Olivia.
In 2019, my wife Darlyn gave birth to our first child, our daughter Olivia.
It was our first day of being parents and I was anxious like I’ve never been before. When we were still at the hospital, I had to do the first diaper change because Darlyn couldn’t stand up as she was still in pain and recovering. I remember that Olivia kept crying even after I changed her diaper, to the point that she was turning blue. We panicked and I called the nurse on the phone. She was rude to me, implying that I must have done something wrong while changing the diaper and she simply dismissed my concern.
Minutes later, Olivia’s colour wasn’t returning to normal so I called her again, and she replied with an exasperated tone that she will come up in a minute. An hour passed when she arrived and with an angry voice, said the baby was cold and that my wife should be putting Olivia beside her at all times to keep her warm. As first-time parents, we didn’t know any of this. It also wasn’t mentioned by the pediatrician who previously guided us and yet this nurse scolded us like we should have known it all along.
We were in a private hospital and paying a maternity package that wasn’t cheap, and yet we were being treated judgmentally and rudely. I could have reacted to the nurse then, but I just thought she might be tired and nearing the end of her shift. Maybe the hospital was understaffed, and she had to do all the work. (Or was I just so tired and lacked sleep and filled with anxiety that I didn’t have the strength to respond anymore? I don’t know!)
It dawned on me that day that other parents, more so those who aren’t able to afford proper hospitals, might have a similar or an even worse experience when they go to hospital to deliver their baby. I felt that it’s unfair for a pregnant woman or new parents to be treated without compassion. A pregnant woman already has too many questions in her head: “Can I trust the doctor/midwife to guide me throughout my delivery?” “Will I be able to handle the labour pains?” “Will I be able to take care of my baby even during recovery?” “Will I have breastmilk to feed her? What if I don’t?” “Will our baby like our home?” “What will happen to the shape of my body?” Add to this the post-partum depression that some mothers go through and the physically and mentally-taxing responsibilities of caring for a newborn.
For me, it was the anxiety of being a new father and the uncertainty of the future that was hanging over my head, and being scolded at was the last thing I needed that day, to be honest.
That’s why I felt strongly about telling the story of Mercy In Action (MIA).
What I like about Mercy In Action is its culture of kindness. You can see it in the way they hold the mother’s hand, you can hear it from the tone of voice the staff uses when talking to her. It’s evident in the way they caress the mother’s forehead after giving birth, and instruct the father to give the mother a drink. It was far from our experience at the hospital.
It is what is lacking in our healthcare services, where business is often the goal. The truth is, many of our best nurses and doctors are working overseas, where they get paid a lot more. And because life is tough in the Philippines, many of those who are still here are working in local hospitals so that they can get experience points for their applications abroad.
I found MIA through another friend who was researching motherhood challenges during the pandemic in rural communities. I knew that this story will be an eye-opener for Filipinos on issues related to pregnancy and childbirth. It depicts the plight of women in poor communities whose lives dangle by a thread simply because they don’t have the financial capability to afford proper care.
Another concern is the risk and illegality of home births in the Philippines. In the past, women in poor communities have opted to do home births because of its affordability and now they are at risk of getting fined or chastised by the local health units if they continue to do so.
Moreover, the pandemic makes it extremely difficult for pregnant mothers to visit clinics for prenatal check-ups, which is why MIA visits their clients when there is a strong need.
I hope that this story will inspire people to help fund a free birthing clinic in Olongapo, Zambales and Tanauan, Leyte so women there have the option to go to MIA when it’s time for them to give birth.
Lastly, this story will also prove that the word “healthcare” can be true to its meaning of providing service with compassion and kindness to anyone who needs it, regardless of their social background.
(Photo credit: Dave Sarabia)