"My daughter will be a citizen of the world," Alejandro said. "One day she will decide to go study abroad and maybe she will decide to live abroad. She could decide her calling in this life is to make ice cream but she doesn't have to stay in Mexico for that, she can go to Holland if she wants. That's the main difference I see with her upbringing. She will have so many more options, so much more information than what I had."
"What I fear the most is the insecurity she will grow up in. I had a really beautiful childhood. I had a lot of freedom. I could play on the street with my friends. I could ride my bike around the block....There weren't so many threats like now. ... In Mexico we have a lot of insecurity. There are drugs now. I was never offered drugs growing up. Maybe I was living a sheltered life but I was never in an environment where there were drugs. She surely will have the opportunity to try drugs and maybe she will try them. That's why we will flood her with love and with values at home."
Said Malu: "What worries me about the future is not being able to give her the tools and education opportunities I had growing up. ... For me going to university was a given. My mother was a teacher and growing up I saw her work outside the home and raise a family. Since I was in junior high school I wanted to work for a huger corporation, to have a family and I'm doing it now. I would like for Lucia to have the tools to be able to do whatever it is she wants to do."
—By Olga R. Rodriguez
LAGOS, Nigeria — Naimot Alabi could not stop grinning as she cradled her fourth child.
"I just pray to God that he will live," she said, rubbing a finger over the swaddled infant's chapped upper lip.
All three of Alabi's other children have died and even in a country where UNICEF reports one in seven perish before turning 5, the 36-year-old mother's case is out of the ordinary.
Alabi gave birth by cesarean section about 4 p.m. Monday at Lagos Island Maternity Hospital in the Nigerian capital of 20 million, with husband Abdul Rasheed Alabi by her side. In the 1990s, Island Maternity saw 100 births a day and many newborns were lost. But as the government has built more hospitals with maternity wards, the number of births here has declined to about 300 a month and for the past two years they have arrived to 24-hour electricity, provided by a private company using diesel generators.
"I want a better life for him," Alabi said of her son, who, by Yoruba tradition, will not be named until his eighth day. "But firstly he must have a good education, which is difficult in Nigeria if you do not have the means to pay a private school."
"At government schools, the teachers are so many times going on strike. ... And then there is the danger from the cults: When they clash, students sometimes get killed. The government should do away with this cultism because I fear for my child."
"I wish I had a better home to take him to," she says. "Where we live there are so many vendors and churches and they all make a noise, every day, whether it's morning or night. I worry he won't sleep. ... "The very first thing I bought him is a mosquito net because everyone gets malaria from the open canals (drains) which are very smelly (and where mosquitoes breed). I had malaria when I was three months' pregnant.
"I need a job so I can buy him toys. ... I was fired at the end of December when they cut back staff at the fast-food place where I worked — a cashier. But I preferred being my own boss. Maybe I'll go back to trading. I was buying cloth from Benin. But I hated the customs officials, always going through your things for contraband ... and then they demand sex or some small thing (money) to let you go through."
Her husband spoke, though, of more near-term concerns. "Let's pray for electricity when we take him home. I have already brought in lots of water, the water we have to get from a tap that is three blocks away from our house."
—By Michelle Faul
BEIJING — The daughter of Liang Chen and Fan Lina was born in sprawling Tiantan Hospital, where patients lay on cots or mats in the hallway while they wait for care. Public toilets — despite janitors' best efforts — still reek. The secluded maternal ward, however, is a rosy haven, its walls painted pink and young nurses dressed in the same color.
Qianqian will have a loving family, but not a large one. China's generation of only children — thanks to the country's family planning policy — has grown up and is having only children of their own who are born into unprecedented wealth. Liang and Fan were only children; their daughter almost certainly will not have a brother or sister.
And so her grandparents (retired factory workers) and parents (entrepreneurs who run an event-planning business) will lavish their single heir with attention and material goods.