As your birth may be fast approaching, you might be getting palpitations (I’m not talking about contractions!) about whether the nursery will be done in time, if you’ve picked the bestname for your baby, what labor might be like, how you’ll manage money while on maternity leave, or even whether you’ll be passed up for a promotion while you’re at home taking care of your newborn. It can be super-stressful just thinking about it!
But now imagine living in a developing country where just being pregnant is risky. Globally, 800 women die each day during pregnancy and childbirth, and 99 percent of all maternal deaths are in developing countries. (Pause a minute to let that sink in.) Less than half of pregnant women in developing countries visit a doctor, midwife, or trained birth professional during their pregnancy or childbirth because it’s just too expensive. But for the amount you spend on your weekly coffee fix, you can change that.
Kangu—a non-profit organization that crowdfunds safe births for women in underserviced communities in India, Nepal and Uganda (and which will soon expand to parts of Latin America)—gives you an opportunity to donate as little as $10 towards a woman’s birth in a clean, safe facility as well as prenatal and postnatal care.
The idea for the organization came to founder Casey Santiago, a mom of two, when she was in labor with her first son. “I imagined all the women around the world laboring at the same time,” she says. “It was a very intense feeling—I really felt like we were all in it together, helping each other through the contractions and comforting each other in between them.”
After giving birth, savoring every minute with her son in her arms, she was also haunted by the knowledge that so many women—those mamas that she had imagined laboring with—didn’t have access to the services that she did, and might die as a result. “I knew that I had to find a way to connect with those women and direct resources their way,” she says. “And so, Kangu was born.”
Sadly, most of these deaths are completely preventable, she says. “Many women deliver without proper lighting in unclean environments, with an unprepared family member. The majority of maternal deaths come from excessive bleeding, infection, and high-blood pressure, all of which can be prevented with access to a clean birthing place and a skilled helper by your side.”
To me, though, one of the coolest parts of Kangu is that, instead of just giving to a faceless charity, Kangu allows you to virtually meet the pregnant women who are in need of your help, by giving you their country of origin, names, photos, and stories about their lives and hopes for their babies. While you can give year round, this Mother’s Day, when you give a donation to a mom in need, Kangu will also send an electronic Mother’s Day card to the mama you love, telling her you’ve given your present in her honor. And the gift keeps giving! After your sponsored mom gives birth, “you get updates on the mama and baby, often with a photo,” says Casey, so you can see “how you’ve made an impact on the woman’s life and her baby. You’ve become a part of someone else’s birth story—which is very moving.”
Some moms on the Today show got the surprise of their lives when they thought they were being treated to a special Broadway performance from Violet in Rockefeller Center as part of a lead up to Mother’s Day, and instead found out that they’re going to be grandmas—as one-by-one, their daughters walked up on stage and held up a card that read: “I’m pregnant!”
Simultaneously, seven grandmas-to-be—and the rest of the country watching the surprise birth announcement live on TV—were excited and in tears at the same time. The expressions on the grandmas’ faces as they heard the news was absolutely priceless. Plus there were gasps and screams, huge grins, hugs and kisses, and tears of joy.
“I’m so excited—I don’t know what to say, I’m flabbergasted,” one grandmother-to-be exclaimed.
“You had no idea?” Matt Lauer asked.
“Absolutely none!” she cried.
The daughters said they were about to burst because they couldn’t have kept such a big secret from their moms for much longer. It’s tough, because when you find out you’re pregnant, you might be so happy that you want the world to know—but at the same time you want to make sure all is going fine with the pregnancy before you tell too many people. Holding it in is the hardest thing ever! So to keep it to yourself when your surprise is even bigger than the baby news (which is already huge!) must have been nearly impossible.
In yet another twist, the mamas-to-be weren’t the only ones dolling out the surprises—they received one themselves, too: Each was gifted with a new baby stroller filled with baby products and a $500 gift card. In Oprah fashion, Savannah Guthrie yelled out, “Everybody gets a stroller, and a grandbaby! Congratulations!”
Needless to say, this Sunday will be a Mother’s Day these soon-to-be moms and grandmas will never forget! But you have to wonder, how are they going to top this Mother’s Day present next year? Oh, right, by actually having them spend it with their grandchildren. Nothing trumps one-on-one time with a new baby!
Who says you can’t celebrate Mother’s Day just because you haven’t given birth yet? In my opinion, you’ve already earned your mom membership card. Why? Well, the obvious answer is you have a baby inside of you! But you’ve also already put your little boy’s or girl’s needs in front of yours, developed your motherly instincts, and realized the power of unconditional love. So now it’s your turn to be pampered!
Enjoy your first Mother’s Day on Sunday by adding this recipe from Iron Chef Cat Cora to your partner’s Honey Do List. Cat, who has four sons and was recently named the Resident Mom of the Year by Residence Inn, shares her yummy Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho recipe—which she hopes her boys will be making for her this Mom’s Day. “My kids know I love watermelon and it’s in season, so this would make the perfect beginning to my Mother’s Day!” says Cat. ”I love this gazpacho with a grilled shrimp and a spoon of creamy Greek yogurt.” Something tells me you will too. Enjoy!
Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho
4 cups of watermelon, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup of cucumber, peeled, seeded and small diced
1 red bell pepper, small diced
1 yellow bell pepper, small diced
1 jalapeno, small diced
3 hearts of celery, small diced
½ small red onion, small diced
¼ cup of fresh mint, finely chopped
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 lime, halved and juiced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons Greek yogurt
4 medium grilled shrimp
Put the watermelon in a blender and puree until smooth. Add cucumber, bell peppers, jalapeno, celery, onions, lime juice, vinegar and herbs with melon liquid to a big bowl. Stir to combine, Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour. Adjust seasoning. Serve cold as is or with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a grilled shrimp, if desired.
Tell us: What do you hope your family will make for you this Mother’s Day?