When I got home after finding out the sex of my last baby was a girl, the first thing I did was go to my computer, pull up google and type in “child sexual abuse statistics“. I’m sure that is not the response I should have had to the news.
I was deeply distraught. I had birthed all boys until now and while there are of course rape statistics for boys, I was not a boy so had not made a connection.
Over the next several weeks and months I proceeded to learn all I could to arm myself with ways to protect her from being sexually abused. I became so obsessed with this way of thinking that I needed to seek out counseling. I was completely aware that my thoughts were unreasonable, or, were they?
What are the statistical odds that I would be molested by three different men over a period of four years from the ages of six to ten? Statistically, this could be considered a cumulative deviation. Cumulatively these events did not fit into a standard statistical mean, median or mode.
My fear, not set in reality, was that I would pass down the anomalies. I decided I would control what I could, beginning with the environment of her birth.
I did not enjoy the births of my sons. Sure, I was grateful for epidurals, but, I did not like being connected to machines, being prodded, commanded to push, commanded to turn, twist, breathe. I did not like unknown people in the room or bright lights. I did not like that after I had them, the nurses would take them from me and put them in an incubator. When they walked out, I would get up, bring them back to bed with me and remove their swaddling so I could touch them. Invariably, when the nurses returned, they would take them for assessment, re-swaddle them and return them to the incubator. I wanted them on me, skin to skin and I did not understand why I should need to ask for this, or, be denied the request. I knew these experiences were very counter to nature.
After some research I decided a home birth might be the most kind and spiritual entry to the earth realm I could offer her. My hope was that she might receive extra protection through entering the world in the most natural, peaceful and loving way possible.
On a hot July morning at 1am I sat in my recliner alone in my living room, burning moss garden joss-sticks, listening to R. Carlos Nakai (Earth Spirit) playing in the background and talking to my grandmother, whose body was being buried that day, 200 miles away. She was not there so I asked her to stay with me and keep me strong. I was having contractions and knew my girl would arrive soon.
My midwives arrived an hour later and after a few more hours of me pacing, taking showers, dancing and moaning, I birthed her in a warm pool while my sons stood nearby in witness. I named her after my grandmother whose spirit cradled me that morning.
When she arrived there were lines between death and life that merged, both physically and metaphorically, for every birth is a death to the womb, and for every death to the womb, there is a birth.
All of the fears I had about her being abused disappeared as soon as she began to suckle my breast. I knew in my heart that no matter what the statistics said, she would live, she would love and she would be loved.
What am I grateful for?
- The blessing of a daughter triggering me to revisit the little girl in me in order to sit with her, embrace her, allow her to grieve and in doing so, heal and save her.
- Being blessed with the opportunity to love my girl in the way I would have wanted to be loved, completing the circle and breaking yet another chain.
- The psychologist that tasked me with researching rape statistics in my area, including sex offender maps. While I will never settle on statistics as a generality, the task was empowering and helped me better see ‘reality‘ (a high percentage of sexual abuse goes unreported) and choose.
- The midwives who checked on us sixteen hours after the birth to find me fully dressed and working at my desk while breastfeeding. In loving reprimand they had me get undressed and lie in bed with her to rest. I am convinced the act saved me from a spiral to postpartum depression.
- Being highly empathic. In many realms, being empathic is ascribed as a metaphysical trait and I believe it’s possible there may be truth in the association. Although there are varying definitions of what an empath is, it is generally agreed that there is a high degree of sensory processing going on. On a less mystical level, I was just often exposed to dangerous situations wherein out of a need for self-protection, deeply learned and imprinted traits of scanning (hypervigilance), reading micro-expressions and hearing what is not said (clairaudience) became ingrained. Exposed often enough, these traits alter the brain and the default manner in which one receives people (energy). It can be a blessing or a curse. I am grateful to have learned how to use it to love others more deeply.
- Letting go of silence. I will spend this lifetime speaking for or serving those without voices.
My wish for my sons and daughter is that they always stay humble and kind.