What if, a week after you give birth, there is a thunderous storm and the power is knocked out and won’t be on for days and the air in the house is a 95 stifling degrees Fahrenheit? What will you do? You’ll find somewhere else to stay because you can’t imagine tending your baby in that heat especially in the dark, dark night.
And then after, when you come home and the fridge is stinking, you put your new baby in the bassinet just past the threshold to the kitchen so there’s room for the bucket of soapy water and the trash can.
And suppose you have another child, about 3 1/2 or so, who is eager to show his infant brother a chunk-sized toy and pushes it in his face. You think you hear a small squeal but everything seem O.K.
Then later, you notice that your baby has a black eye and another bruise by his ear and immediately you think he’s got a horrible blood disease so you call the nurse line at the hospital and they tell you to bring him in to the ER. So you do.
What if you’re so fraught with worry, not to mention your hormones haven’t even begun to level out, that all you can do is cry? When they ask you what happened to your baby, you say, “I don’t know.”
And then, what if the doctor says, “Are you sure you didn’t drop him down the stairs?” and he orders a CAT scan and then he tells you you’re lucky he’s letting you take the baby home. He orders you to see the social worker in the morning.
The social worker wants to know if you’re married and for how long and if it’s to the baby’s father. She’s profiling you and you don’t fit any of the criteria of an abuser except that you happen to live in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city.
Suppose she says, “I’m really afraid this baby will end up in the morgue.” and you become aware that this woman hates you and she knows nothing about you. She doesn’t ask what you think about violence or guns or God. She has no idea what happened to you when you had children, how, suddenly, your heart split open wide and you understood EVERYTHING about love.
What if when they are trying to take pictures of his eye he gets restless so you pull up your shirt, your bra, and you nurse him? And the social worker says to you, “Are you sure you want your breast in the picture?”
What if they order a full body x-ray and you hear your newborn cry for the first time in his life and then they leave you in the darkened x-ray room on a metal chair for a long, long time?
What if they order a second set of x-rays in two weeks and the social worker says she’s sending this case to the county because your baby has another bruise on him, where he sucks on his arm, where she has seen him sucking on his arm?
Tell me, how long will you be afraid that they’ll come to take your baby away? They’re not calling you and they’re not going to call you. How many years will it take before you can go a day without thinking about this? Four? And why, after almost eight years, when you do remember it, do you feel sick to your stomach?
Maybe now you’re thinking that you should’ve said, “Are you fucking crazy? I would never ever, ever hurt my child!” or “No! You’re not giving him any more fucking x-rays!” But you realize that wouldn’t have done any good because you were rendered powerless.
Now suppose there is someone else who isn’t as fortunate as you, one who has had injustices heaped upon them, cunningly or openly, and are in the midst of that injustice, what are you going to do?