Ely’s birth was very painful for me, both physically and emotionally. It was an unplanned C-section and I had a lot of issues surrounding that. A wiser person, in a country like Chile with a c-section rate of 40%, would have at least contemplated the possibility of a c-section and prepared for it. But, ever the optimist, I was sure that these “birthing hips” I’ve had since I was 13 were about to be put to good use. So, I didn’t do any reading on the process and when you like to be in control like I do, not knowing what they are doing, how they are doing it and what the risks are is pretty darn scary.
Not being able to stand up and attend to your baby's needs those first few days is confusing and heartbreaking. Also, while the medical care I was given was first-rate, it seemed that they weren’t prepared to deal with the emotional side of what had happened to me- And yes, I say “to me” because at the very core of my being, it still feels like a violent act was committed against us.
In retrospect, I’m just happy to have a happy, healthy little one. I finally started coming to terms with the whole thing when I read something another woman said to her child. She described her scar as "the door to where you used to live". I cried and emotional healing began. (For the record, if I had to choose between this less-than –lovely experience and not having Ely, I’d say, “bring on the pain!”)
On July 24th at 19:49, I gave birth to two beings: Ely and the mother bear to protect her. At our Mom's Thanksgiving, we touched on the mother bear topic, but this time she was a lion. So, for the rest of this post, we’ll go with lion. I remembered the less-than-lovely nurse who, about 12 hours after having Ely when I was trying to stand up and was doubled over in pain, told me“You have to be brave. You’re a mother now.” I was livid and I snarled at her, “Don’t tell me I have to brave. I would throw myself in front of a truck for that kid, but I physically can not do this." I didn't see that nurse again (thank goodness!) but that momma lion emerged for the first time right then and there. She is here to stay (and she is REALLY brave!)
One of the lioness' superhuman powers is mommy visions. These mommy visions are sometimes ridiculous and concrete like the recurring one that Ely’s taking a bath, the phone rings and I come back to find that she has drowned. To clarify, there’s nothing ridiculous about drowning in the bath, but it is ridiculous to think that I would leave her alone in the bath tub.
The more bothersome mommy visions are those that I can’t prevent by controlling my own actions. One that has been on my mind lately is sexual abuse. A while ago, Ely had a nasty bad bruise in the diaper area. I’d been with her constantly for two days before the bruise appeared. So, I knew that there was nothing to worry about and chalked it up to a weird fall, but that really brought the whole abuse thing at the forefront of my mind.
Sexual abuse has been in the news lately within the context of clerical, school abuses; and individual cases of step brothers and uncles preying on our little ones. On one hand, I’m glad to see these things in the news because it means that the victims aren't being silenced, but on the other I wish, with every bone in my body that there weren’t cases to report on, that this was simply not a problem.
But, alas, it is not so and the worries overwhelm me at times. I’ve made lists and talked to R about things we can do to prevent such situations, but the realization that we cannot totally protect her from people who prey on children is heart wrenching.
I wish that I could have a more circumspect outlook on this, but I will admit that when I hear about cases on the news, I always feel the most animalistic instincts of revenge emerge. I’m quite sure that, if the situation ever did arise and it were my baby on the news, I would be in jail shortly thereafter.
As I write this, I hear my heart crying its non-violent cry, "Vengance is mine saith the Lord.” But, I can not quiet the hatred my human heart feels. My stomach and heart literally ache every time there’s a tale of a child being mistreated or abused, sexually or otherwise. It's always been that way, but even more so now that I imagine Ely's sweet face on every one of those children.
I always long to “press rewind” and to hug the child, and love him/her as unconditionally as I love little Ely and provide the lioness protection that every child deserves. Every. Single.Kid deserves it, black white, purple or green, poor or rich, tall or short. Every.Single.One.
The fact that I can not physically and financially provide for all of those children, that I can not press rewind and take them away to be care-free kids drives a knife through my soul. So, maybe the lioness that was born on July 24th wasn’t just born to protect Ely. Maybe the lioness was born to open my eyes to the plight of other children, too.
But, where are those children’s lionesses’? This overwhelming desire to protect that I feel is not extraordinary. It's what nature intended to happen. So, what on earth is going on in our society that children are victimized and women's natural instincts are not protecting them? And how the heck do we stop it?
(To be clear, I'm NOT blaming the moms. Like I said, we can't protect our kids all the time. I'm refering to a specific case in which the mother knew what was happening and didn't stop it. Although, I will say that in the absence of a fully-functioning mother lioness to protect a child, I think society, as in me and you, have an obligation to step in when we suspect a child is being abused.)
I’ve focused on sexual abuse here because it's what's been haunting me most lately, but we all know that there are other types: physical, emotional. Maybe abuse is the symptom of an underlying problem with how our society views children.
Lately I read a pretty powerful piece about fathers and children. I realize that the vast majority of fathers are not sexual predators, but from what I hear there is plenty of physical and emotional abuse in some homes. I’d encourage you to read this and share it with others because maybe, just maybe we can reach one person who could be a potential predator and affect change in how they see the children with whom they are entrusted. I don't think the solution to the problem is that easy, but it might make a difference to someone and it's worth a shot. Anything is.
Here's a link about preventing sexual abuse.
Here's a link about how to recognize signs of sexual abuse.