Opinion: 'I couldn't bear the thought of being without my children'
- Credit: Ruth Davies
I can't imagine making the decision to pass my child to a stranger, over a wired wall, knowing I may never see them again. I just can't put into words how that would feel.
My youngest was born in February and though she's been in our family just six months it's as though she has always been a part of it. Our children are etched into our hearts and souls from the minute they are born and so we none of us can even remember what life was like before Posie arrived.
Her brothers, sister, daddy and I were one minute a family of five and then as if it was as easy as picking up supper in the supermarket, the family dynamic changed for the better, and in a way we instantly fell into without thought or decision, we became a six. That’s just how it is, Posie is the very beating heart of our family and to consider deciding to go back to five, to give her to someone else? Preposterous! We couldn’t live without our heart beating, no mother could…
Having grown these babies into people, after pushing them into the world, I feel like they actually are a part of me. I couldn’t be without them, to be honest I struggle for an overnight at the grandparents so intrinsically linked to them I feel. There's a saying about that, something along the lines of a child, for a mother, is like having a piece of your heart walk around the world independently of you.
I love that, it rings so true but It's not just fanciful poetry would you believe? Foetal cells, which are unique to every individual, remain inside the mother up to decades after a child is born. Individual cells unique to the person they belong to, the child and not the mother, remain inside her. Not only that but these cells which don't belong to the mother but to her children have been found to actively travel to the site of an injury to help heal.
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I find that incredible but then at the same time I have to think, well, of course. Biologically, not just emotionally, our babies are a part of us with a two-way flow of cells and DNA as early as the second week in pregnancy. And that's just where it begins.
I believe then, for any mother to simply give her baby away, under whatever circumstances, must be the most painful and difficult decision in the world. It must be one born from love, a biological and fundamental part of being a human surely dictates that.
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We are wired to protect our young so to hand over the baby who has grown inside us, left its unique DNA within us to be linked to for forever more... Well, I can't even begin to think about it. And yet this week that picture… A baby about the same age as mine being handed up to soldiers over a wire protected wall. Given, lifted, sent over to a life of not being in its own family, away from its mummy. A chubby arm clutched onto and lifted up, over and passed on to goodness only knows where but please, whoever you pray to, something good. Something better than where it was.
That baby’s mummy loves it no less than I love my baby. Yet she was able to hand him or her to a stranger in a uniform, over a terrifying wall and off into the unknown. Because the unknown was better than where they were.
And yet things I have read about people fleeing to this country. Things like: 'my son has been on a waiting list for a council house for three years and now some refugee will bump him even further back'. Why can’t they see? Her son could, I think, get a job, privately rent, stay at home as an adult with his parents. Compare this with people fleeing their own country to the point of consciously parting with their children, just to ensure their safety. My goodness me it makes me feel ashamed of us all.
My fortune in the world was to be born here, the same fortune my children have as a birth right. And we can actively make the choice to not watch the news because it's too distressing. We can say "I don't feel strong enough to know these things, please don't tell me" and we can moan that “our country” has to look after others when perhaps things haven’t gone quite perfectly for ourselves.
It’s called closing our eyes. Well we need to open them, now more than ever, because we will never be making those choices we can’t imagine. We will never have to do what no mother could and hand our baby over a wall. That will never be the better choice for us.
I heard that the baby has been reunited with its mother. Thank goodness, thank all the Gods. But there are others, always others. There but for the grace of a God go we and we now need to do something to ensure all mothers have enough luck that the better option is always keeping their beating hearts right beside them just as we have ours.