Elena Sagmayao is from the Philippines. She shares her story and hopes for poor families like hers.
"The rooster crows and awakens me from a deep sleep where I am dreaming about holding my baby for the first time. I notice that my feet are still very swollen this morning, even more so than yesterday. Then the headache hits me again!
I work all day. My body seems to be so heavy that I can hardly move it. I think to myself I should go to the midwife for a check-up. I quickly dispel the thought, for I can't bear to walk half a day to the clinic. I feel out of breath when I walk from the house to the well.
One of the ladies comes to me to tell me that there is a midwife at the highway, passing by from the neighbouring village. She tells me I should go get a free check-up from her.
The midwife takes my blood pressure. And then looks at my face in shock. She takes it again. Then she asks me if I am having headaches and dizziness. I answer in the affirmative. She presses into my swollen legs and her fingers leave a big mark. She looks worried and then asks if I have difficulty breathing. I start to feel very nervous, as I again answer in the affirmative.
She tells me that my blood pressure is very high and that I might have something called pre-eclampsia. She also tells me to go to the hospital with her immediately, as any delay could kill both me and my baby.
I find my husband and tell him about my pre-eclampsia. He requests the midwife to wait and goes off to sell the last two bags of rice to our neighbour.
My husband and I are so worried the whole way to the hospital that we hardly speak to each other. We arrive at the hospital and they take my blood pressure once again. The nurse looks at me with the same worried face as the midwife.
The doctor tells me that I could go into convulsions and die at any moment, and that I needed a cesarean section right away. My husband tells the doctor that we must wait another day, because he has to go and borrow more money for the operation. The doctor reminds us that the longer we wait, the greater is the danger.
The following morning my husband returns with less than half of what we needed for the cesarean section. The doctor says that it will be enough for a down payment and that she can perform the operation.
When I regain consciousness after the surgery, I feel something move beside me, and I hear a little cry. My heart leaps. I open my eyes and look down to my right. There, snuggled beside me, is my baby. She looks just perfect, just like I had dreamed.
I survived. My baby survived. If that midwife had not come out to our remote village, my baby and I may not be here today.
My wish for all mothers is that they would have access to check-ups throughout their pregnancies even if they live in remote villages; that there would be funds available for even poor families like us to receive emergency medical care when they need it."
Click here for more information on the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood