World Mom, Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is on @BabyCenter!

World Mom, Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is on @BabyCenter!

Tina Rodriguez Head Shot 600As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, Tina Santiago-Rodriguez in the Philippines writes about milk sharing after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) to help moms in need.

“My heart cried out at their unbearable situation, and I told myself I had to do something about it. By nature, I like helping people, so I felt that donating my milk was the right thing to do. I sent all my milk reserves to Ms. Maricel and Ms. Beng’s MilkSharing Hub, and told Ms. Maricel to distribute them to the needy babies in Tacloban.”

Read the full post over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™!

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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GUEST POST: Caitlin Domanico of United We Feed #WorldMoms

GUEST POST: Caitlin Domanico of United We Feed #WorldMoms

Her feature on The Huffington Post is going viral, and her e-mail inbox is currently overflowing with media requests. Caitlin Domanico of “United We Feed” is a World Mom on a mission through photography to unite mothers in how we feed our babies. We look forward to following the journey she has launched as she continues to capture the diversity of mothers feeding their babies around the globe. We are excited to bring you her guest post on World Moms Blog today…  

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To the mom who is feeding her baby,

You decided how to feed your child long before they were ever born.

“I am going to breastfeed.”, you said. Or maybe you said, “Nursing is not for me, I will pump.”  Maybe neither of those were an option for you. Maybe formula was your milk of choice, or maybe, just maybe, your doctor informed you that it will be necessary to use a tube to help your child thrive.

I see you. I see you feeding your child every single day.

I see you feeding your child on very happy days, and on very sad days.

I see you feed while you sing and coo and gaze into your baby’s eyes.

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I see you feed while you are filled with pain and sorrow, as you try to find a smile through the tears.

You feed at first thing in the morning, you feed in the wee hours of the night while the rest of the world is sleeping.

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You feed while you are out to eat, and while you are on vacation.

When you are at work or at the store, you leave your baby with a loving caregiver and ensure they have enough to feed your little one.

One thing is very apparent while noticing you and your baby — the insurmountable amount of love that exists between you.

You smile and your baby smiles. You frown and your baby frowns.

Your baby holds your shirt, your hand, twirls your hair, and kicks her feet with joy and contentment.

Your baby loves you and you are smitten over him.

Maybe your bottle was filled with pumped milk, or maybe is filled with formula, but that doesn’t matter to me.

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Maybe your baby gets her milk from you while breastfeeding, or maybe she nuzzles in close and as her pump delivers milk directly into her stomach so that she can grow and develop, but either way, it doesn’t matter to me.

I know it matters to you, and it should.

Please don’t take that to mean I don’t care, and that I don’t respect your choices as a mother, because actually, it is quite the opposite.

I care.

I care about you as a mother.

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I care about your beautiful child.

I support and respect you, because you are a good mom. There are so many ways to be a good mom, and you are one of the best.

You see, I fed my first child with breast milk and formula, and now, six-years-later, she is a gem. We are close, so close that at times, I wonder how I ever lived without her.  She had both types of milk and she is absolutely lovely, just like your little one.  My second daughter only had breast milk, a decision she made when she refused a bottle. She is incredible, just like your little one. She loves her mama and takes every opportunity to snuggle in close, just like your little one. I know where you have been, because I had the cherished task of feeding my babies, too.

Motherhood is tough, and mommy guilt has worn-out it’s welcome here.

Tonight, when you hold your dear one close and feed them before bed, feel proud that you are apart of a community of women who love fiercely, protect feverishly, and support one another, no matter how they choose to feed their babies!

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xoxo,

United We Feed

About the Author: 

Caitlin Domanico grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on a small horse farm.  Now a mother of two, Ava (6) and Genevieve (nearly 2), Caitlin resides in Montgomery County with her daughters and her husband.  She operates a photography studio in the center of her town, where she focuses on capturing families and specifically, documenting motherhood.  During the week, Caitlin can be found having dance parties with her daughters, photographing families, or part-time teaching as a special education teacher in birth-3 services. Caitlin’s photo series “United We Feed” had gained international recognition for empowering and uniting women and the many ways they nourish their babies. For more photos head to her photography site

Photo credits to Caitlin Domanico. This has been an original guest post to World Moms Blog from Pennsylvania, USA. 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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KENYA: Exclusively Mom

KENYA: Exclusively Mom

Maryanne_Kenya with her two sonsExclusive breastfeeding. Before I became a mother, I had never heard of it.  I  knew about breastfeeding, obviously, but not until I was seven months pregnant with my first child, did I learn it was possible to feed a baby only breastmilk for six months.

Most mothers I knew began complementary feeding with porridge and fruits around three months–which often coincided with their return to work after their 90-day maternity leave. Many mothers in rural areas offered their babies cow’s milk or porridge by two months. Certainly, almost all babies I knew were, by four months, happily indulging in fruits and porridge — regardless of whether they were breastfeeding, taking cow’s milk, or for the privileged few, drinking formula.

Could a child survive without even a drop of water? Impossible, I thought. Insane, actually. And even if it were possible, I imagined that the child would suffer from a nutritional deficiency of some sort. But, there was a mother and child on a television news program who appeared to prove me wrong.

I was confused as I listened to that mother and scrutinized her baby. He seemed to be the epitome of good health. He did not look famished or ‘deficient’ in any way. He was healthy to a fault. According to his mother, he hardly fell ill, not even with a common cold.

This mother encouraged new moms to breastfeed exclusively for six months. She was a career mother and had managed to do so. Interesting, I thought, especially because I knew I would be a working mother myself.

Included in the news segment were a peditrician and a nutritionist, both of whom affirmed that breastmilk only was best for baby for the first six months. They said breastmilk contained all the nutritional components needed for a baby’s growth for the first six months.

These people had to be kidding. Even professionals were in agreement with this woman?

I decided that additional research was necessary.  I Googled and Googled and Googled some more. It was unanimous: breast milk is best. I began thinking that I would give it a try.

By the time my son arrived two months later in April 2011, I was sold. I exclusively breast fed him for six months, even after I returned to full-time work when he was three months old. I carried a breast pump to work, and expressed milk over my lunch hour. It was the first time my decade-old company had received a request for space to pump. The storeroom, filled with old newspapers, was the best they could offer me.

Suffice it to say that I also managed to exclusively breastfeed my second son, born in April, 2013.

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding have been well worth it. My sons don’t fall ill often. We saved a significant amount of money because we didn’t have to buy formula, which I would have done if I had not succeeded in exclusively breastfeeding them both. Today, I use all channels within my disposal to campaign for exlusive breastfeeding because I believe it is the best start a mother can give her child.

Just the other day, I was happy to learn that the exclusive breastfeeding rates in Kenya have gone up from 32% six years ago to 61%. Meaning that I and all the other mothers I have managed to inspire through my blog and other advocacy campaigns are among the counted! Yaaaay! That has been the greatest news I have heard in a long while.

Higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding mean that more children get to survive their infancy, fall ill less often, and get to celebrate their first birthdays.

I believe that giving a child a healthy start to life through a good nutritional foundation is one of the best gifts you can offer your child. My sons appear to agree!

Is exclusive breastfeeding common where you live?

This is a post original to World Moms Blog by Maryanne Waweru Wanyama of Mummy Tales in Kenya.  Photo credit to the author.

 

Maryanne Waweru Wanyama

Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.

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IN MEMORIAM: Neta of Israel

IN MEMORIAM: Neta of Israel

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of a fellow World Mom, Neta.  Neta, who was a good friend of our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel, lost her fight today with metatastic breast cancer.  Our thoughts and sincere condolences from around the world are with her family and friends today.

Neta volunteered an interview about her life of living with metatastic breast cancer on World Moms Blog with the hopes of encouraging more mothers to get tested.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

 

Goodbye, Neta.  Thank you so much for letting us get to know you and for sharing what you knew with all of us. For that, we are forever grateful.

Neta’s 4 part interview of what it was like to live with metatastic breast cancer: Part IPart IIPart III and Part IV.

— The World Moms Blog Community

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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IN MEMORIAM: Neta of Israel

ISRAEL: Part IV of IV: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

This is part two of our contributor and oncology nurse, Susie Newday’s, moving and in depth interview on breast cancer with her good  friend. Grab a cup of something warm, and come be a fly on the wall with us, as two friends discuss living with metastatic breast cancer. There is something for us all to learn.

(To catch up, click here to read Part I, click here to read Part II, click here to read Part III.)

 

Susie: What has changed now after your husband has also been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer?

 

Neta: When two parents are sick it’s something completely different. In the past when I used to feel unwell or weak, I could allow myself to go to bed because I knew he was around. In the evenings he would be with the kids and I didn’t have to be there. They saw me at lunchtime when I gave them lunch, they saw me in the afternoon and it was no big deal for my husband to make the kids dinner and be there with them. Now there isn’t that option. He goes to work. He’s also exhausted in the evenings and he climbs into bed. In the beginning he had more energy but for the past few months he’s been exhausted when he gets home from work. I don’t have back-up anymore. It’s very hard without backup because you can’t allow yourself to be tired for even one day. I have to function at a different level than what I had been functioning at before.

 

S: Did you tell your children when you were diagnosed?

 

N: Yes. All three times; when I was first diagnosed, when I had the recurrence and when my husband was diagnosed. We consulted with a psychologist about how to tell the kids. We told them the truth. We told the boys and girls separately because there is an age difference between them.  I don’t remember the first conversation being very traumatic. The kids were also younger. They didn’t really understand. They were surprised and it was the first time they had heard the word cancer. We told them that mommy has breast cancer and it’s not so bad, a lot of people get better. I told them that I’m going to get treatment and I have the best doctors who are going to help me recover. There is going to be a period of time that I am going to get strong treatment so the cancer will die. I don’t remember any tough reactions or trauma.

When the cancer came back it was a little tougher because the kids were already older. My two older children cried. I didn’t tell them it was terminal. I was told not to say that because no one knows how much time I have so not to limit it by time. I told them that the cancer was back and that this time it was in my bones as well and that the doctors had found the reason for my back pain. I told them I was going to go for treatments now so that I can cope with the cancer. Again I told them that I had good doctors and that I was in good hands.

When my husband got sick less than a year ago, telling the kids was traumatic. When we told our older daughters the younger one sat there and cried. My older daughter was angry and yelled What??? It’s not fair!! You’re sick already. Now daddy? She cried and yelled at the same time. It was a very tough conversation. She already understood as this was the third conversation she had gone through. I started to cry when she started screaming “it’s not fair”. My husband spoke, my younger daughter and I cried silently and my older daughter cried and screamed. The conversation with the younger boys was easier, they didn’t really understand as much. They know that daddy has cancer in his belly and mommy has cancer in her bones

I worry a lot about the kids because obviously it’s very hard on them. My oldest is very angry with God. She’s not willing to pray anymore. I understand her anger. I’m angry too. How can this happen to both parents? With my second daughter I see more sadness.

We haven’t really had any more outright conversations about our illnesses with our kids. There is the day to day coping like if I’m not feeling well then my husband will put the kids to sleep. Or visa versa. So the kids know when we’re not feeling okay. The other day my youngest who is 6 1/2 asked me how much longer are you guys going to be sick? When are you going to be healthy again? I explained to him that it is a very tough disease and it takes a very very very long time to get better. I can’t explain to him that you don’t get well.

 

S: Physically, how do you manage? With yourself, with the house, the kids.

 

N: It’s not easy. In areas that I feel are less meaningful and more technical,  we have help. We have someone who cooks and someone who cleans. We had someone to fold laundry and we will probably use her again. We used to have a babysitter in the afternoons. Now we have the kids in afternoon programs. In the areas I can release and get help, I have done so. There are certain things I’m trying to keep as is,  like having everyone sit down for dinner together. I try to make sure that there is always food in the house. It comforts me to know that there is food in the house and there is what to eat.

It’s a pity to waste energy on things that are not meaningful. I save the energy for things that make me feel good, like if the kids want to go shopping, even though it’s already tough for me to walk a lot.

 

S: What has been the one most difficult or scary thing that you have gone through since you were first diagnosed with cancer?

 

N: When I lost my eyesight. Not being able to see was really scary. You lose your connection to the world. I was also very confused. It was a real trauma. After my eyesight came back I was afraid to fall asleep at night because I was afraid that maybe when I woke up in the morning I wouldn’t be able to see again. In general, the scariest thing is losing your abilities. Suddenly, I won’t be able to see. Suddenly, I won’t be able to walk. Basically, it’s about losing your independence. It’s very important to me to be independent. I’m very afraid of becoming dependent. Losing my eyesight meant losing my independence. I needed people to be with me, to go everywhere with me. It was a complete lack of control. Seeing is such an important sense and suddenly you lose it. You only hear and you lose your ability to do things. For me the fear of losing my independence was the worst. If you ask my husband, for him the fear of me being confused was worse. He was able to imagine being with someone who couldn’t see. He didn’t know how he could manage with someone who was confused. I remember the blindness as traumatic, my husband remembers my confusion as the traumatic part.

 

S: A lot of people want to support friends or family who have cancer but we often say or do the wrong things. Do you have any advice about what we should or shouldn’t do?

 

N: There is a lot of good will and a lot of people want to help but you have to remember to respect the person and the household. Like in the beginning, friends wanted to come and fold laundry for me but I didn’t want anyone to. That was something I could handle on my own. Also when people were cooking for me in the beginning, there was a constant stream of people coming in and out of the house bringing food. You feel like you have no control over what is going on in your house.

It was very important for us to return the sense of control over our household to ourselves, to conserve the sense of independence of our family. Our good friends who were a constant presence in our house beforehand did stay a constant and that was fine. Those friends also knew to ask beforehand. I told friends and family when it was okay to visit.

 

S: Sometimes, we say no because we don’t want to trouble other people and when someone insists on doing something anyway, sometimes in the end it is a big help and appreciated.

 

N: It is possible. Like the few times we’ve had company over in the past year and they wanted to wash dishes and out of manners I told them no but they did it anyways, it was appreciated.

 

S: Is there anything someone said to you that really bothered you?

 

N: It really annoyed be when people told me “Be Strong”. What? Like I wasn’t working on that enough? Another sentence was ” I’m sure it will pass.” What exactly will pass? Where is it going to pass to?  I am sure there were other things but I don’t remember anymore.

 

S: Were there people who found it hard to talk to you afterwards?

 

N: I don’t think so. People tell me that because I’m so open and speak so freely that it wasn’t so hard to talk to me. There were some people who told me they were afraid to talk to me at first but when they did speak to me the conversation flowed. I talk to people about what is going on. I don’t hide it.

 

S: It must be quite a financial burden to have all the help with the cooking and cleaning and other things.

 

N: It is. I’m not working anymore and I get a small government stipend. My husband is still working which is lucky. If he has to stop working, the financial side would be very tough.

 

S: So what things would you suggest that people do if they want to help?

 

N: Always ask. What is right for me might not be right for someone else. First ask if they want the help. Like with food, say “I really want to make something for you guys, can I?” If you got a yes, then offer a choice of what to bring so the person can pick something that is right for their family. Make sure to ask first because maybe they really don’t want anything. To bring forcefully is also not good because it infringes on their domain. It also obviously depends on how close you are to the person. To bring without asking doesn’t seem to be respectful of the home.

 

S: Any tips about cancer in general?

 

N: Go get checked! Every woman needs to be checked even if there’s no family history that you know about. Just go get checked. I really don’t know why they don’t start the screening from a younger age. I was diagnosed at age 38. If they would have done routine scanning from an earlier age they would have caught my cancer sooner and I would be in a very different position right now. I found it on my own and I found it too late. The difference between early diagnosis and later diagnosis is huge. After I was diagnosed, all my friends went to get checked.

 

You have to gather strength. We don’t know what life holds for us. Who ever imagined that I would have breast cancer and bone metastases? If you would have asked me six years ago, that wasn’t even an option. I didn’t even think of it. When we get sick, it will always catch us by surprise. We’re never ready to be sick. Even if we know there is a possibility, we are never truly ready. When it happens you have to rally a lot of strength and understand that we can’t control our lives and we just have to do our best. That’s what I try to do. I’m fighting the best I can. I can’t do more than that. Ever new day I try to find the energy to fight and I say to myself I’m fighting this. When you succeed in having a good day, it gives you a lot of strength to continue on. If you don’t do that you can sink emotionally and that can’t possibly be healthy. I think that the reason I am not sinking into depression is because I’m invested in doing.

Sometimes it’s better not to think too much and to just be busy. When I had time to think it was really not good for me.

 

S: What is your wish for world moms?

N: I wish for either a way to catch cancer early or for better drugs to fight it and cure it or at the minimum turn it into a chronic disease that you don’t die from. Breast cancer rates are way too high.

 

I wish for mothers around the world to enjoy every minute of their parenting because we never know when it will end. I was sure that I would raise my children and live to see my grandkids grow as well. Today, I am not sure I will even see my kids grow up.

 

We never know when we will leave this world. Don’t push things off. Don’t say when I retire I will do this or that. Parenting is a very precious gift that has no replacement and we don’t know how long we will be parents or grandparents for. Take advantage of now and don’t push things off. We went on a family trip overseas a while back and I am so happy we did. It was a great experience. It was better than having a new kitchen done, buying a new car or having the garden done.

The experience of motherhood, parenthood, of family is the most precious experience in the world, so invest in that and less in material things.

 

It took a lot of openness and strength on Neta’s part to do this interview series. I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to share her story so that other people might benefit from it.

As far as helping people who are going through any difficult time, be it medical or emotional, I think this article about the “comfort in, dump out” theory is a must read.

 

Cancer can happen to everyone. Listen to your body, treat it well and educate yourself about cancer symptoms. Learn not just about breast cancer symptoms (which are varied) but also the symptoms of ovarian cancerGI cancerlung cancerpancreatic cancer and all the other cancers out there. Ask your parents about your family medical history. Do the recommended screening tests that are available to you because early detection of any cancer makes a hell of a difference.

 

Most of all enjoy every minute of your life because there are people out there who are dying for more time.

 

Who hasn’t yet gotten screened and is now going to get themselves checked?

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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