I had a post all planned. It was full of information: statistics, thoughts, problems, solutions. It was based on the State of the World’s Mothers report that came out recently, the report by Save the Children released yearly since 2000 that looks at how mothers fare throughout the world on key indicators.
But something didn’t sit right. The figures – the statistics – the issues – they are all critically important but my heart told me there was something else to write. This is the something else – statistics can wait until tomorrow.
When you give birth you don’t expect to shield your child from gunfire, to tell her hungry stomach that there is no food. When you give birth you don’t expect to bathe your daughter’s feverish forehead, hoping and praying that the raging fevers of malaria will leave and not get worse.
When you give birth you don’t expect to sit beside your child, watching her thick, curly hair fall out – a result of the chemotherapy poison flowing through her body killing all the bad cells….and the good ones. You don’t expect to rush to the hospital to see their battered body, victim to a drunk driving accident.
You don’t know that you will have a crack in your strong armor – and that crack will have a name, or several names. Annie, Joel, Micah, Stefanie, Jonathan. That suddenly there will be a way for life to wound in a way you could never have known.
When you give birth you don’t know how many times you will pass by their room, hearing their muffled or sometimes clearly audible sobs, safe only to shed behind closed doors. You don’t know how much you’ll want to comfort, yet know it’s out of your control. You don’t know that you might wait daily for a phone call, any piece of news that tells you how your child who left in a rage is doing, where they are.
When you give birth you don’t expect your breasts to dry up from malnutrition and to fight for every piece of food that you get. You don’t expect to be in a refugee camp with no privacy, no running water.
You don’t know the rage you will feel at those who would hurt your child, that you will do anything, anything to protect them. You don’t expect that you will sign adoption papers with tears running down your cheeks, because you know that this is the best, possible choice for your baby.
When you give birth you don’t think that you’ll sit beside your daughter at divorce court, seeing her trembling hands and longing to take away the pain. You don’t anticipate you’ll go to a psych hospital with your son, so consumed by hurt he feels he cannot go on.
When you give birth you don’t expect to go to your 2 year old’s funeral, their body so tiny even in the smallest coffin they had. You don’t expect that you will gather your child to you, holding them tight and praying that the bombs don’t reach you.
When you give birth you don’t expect to look up at a cross, the worst sort of death, and see your beloved son, naked and beaten with nails pounded in to flesh, him hanging on what used to be a tree. You don’t know a sword will pierce your soul.
Lord God, Have mercy and be with those who give birth.