Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how raw life is for some people. I believe that is just human nature, to not think about the rawness of life all the time. How would one overcome or cope with trauma if the thought about it 247.
I am going to give you a little taste of that rawness. I need you to not just read the words I am about to deliver. I need you to place yourself in the moment. I want you to imagine this is you or someone you care for. I am asking you to read this and not judge the girl…but you may well do…because we are only human after all….
There once was a girl and 23 years ago, that girl was rushed into hospital with suspected appendicitis. It had all happed it a but of a hurry, but here she was, laying on a hospital bed with a machine buzzing next to her. She is 14 and she is in a lot of pain. She is scared. Scared of being in the hospital, scared of what they will do, scared her mum wont cope. Her mum is sort of hovering to the left of her and the girl can feel her mother’s anxiety building by the second. Then the pain again. A nurse comes in and smiles. There had been a bit of a commotion before the girl had been laying on this bed, so let’s rewind an hour or two.
2 hours earlier
She is standing in her flat and her belly is hurting. Hurting very bad. She had been “Away” for 6 weeks and had not had much takeaway food during that time. She had been back home about 4 days and had every kind of fast food she could think of…and now her belly hurt. She finished packing her bag with the “Food” she was going to sell but suddenly she felt hot and sick. She must have passed out because when she opens her eyes, she is hospital and her mum is talking fast and a doctor is over her. The girl feels confused about what is going on and tries to sit up, which does not go well and she kind of flops onto the floor with a bang. Everyone in the room gasps and she feels arms picking her up. She tries to push them away. She needs air..now. She opens the door to the room and comes out into a busy A&E. She wasn’t expecting that and feels even more confused. Her mum calls her nickname and she turns around and passes out again. She come around and is back on the bed again. She feels weak. She can hear someone saying she will “Need to stay in tonight”. She feels someone pulling at her trainers, her mum is brushing her hair away from her head. It feels soaking wet. Mum says that they need to get her changed into a hospital gown as she might need to have an operation. The girl suddenly remembers something and tries to shake the person off who is touching her trainers. She kicks out and she hits someone who says say ouch loudly. Her mum bends down and says stop, that the nurse is trying to help. The girl shakes her head as hard as she can and tries to say, “You do it mum”. Suddenly there is a loud “clang” and a male foreign voice starts shouting. It’s the doctor in the room and the girl knows what has happed. “A knife, a fucking knife” her mother is shouting. The nurse who has pulled off the girl’s trainer and socks, to undress her, also pulled off the makeshift holder that is strapped around the girl’s leg. And in that holder is a large, sharp knife.
So, when the girl comes around again and she can here the buzzing on the machine, mum pacing and then a nurse smiles at her…she has no clue what is going on. But she just lays there.
The nurse has a kind face, the girl decides, she looks Spanish maybe. The nurse says that this machine is an ultrasound machine and they will be putting something cold on the girl’s belly. The girl asks what an ultrasound machine is, and the nurse says to look in her belly, like an x-ray. “will it hurt” she asks. The nurse says not at all.. Her mum had said the day before that the pain she was getting sounded like her appendix, so this made sense in the girl’s head that they would look in her belly. She said that it didn’t hurt anymore. The nurse said that she had been given pain killers but not to try and sit up yet, as she had given everyone a bit of a scare. The girl knew they meant the knife, or at least she thought it was that. She looked over at her mum. Mum looked not good. Her eyes were red, and she was tearful. The girl said, “Sorry mum”. And then she felt tears in her eyes. Her mum came next to her and held her hand and squeezed it.
The lights go low, “what’s happening” the girl asks. The girl said a bit scared. The nurse said the low lights help them to see better on the screen. The girl felt her heart start to race. The nurse pulled up her clothes and squirted something on her belly. It was not cold but made her jump a bit. The nurse starts moving something hard over her belly. The girl does not really like it. The nurse pushes it near the girl’s groin and that hurts a little and she says so. The nurse is no longer smiling and looks serious. The girl stops looking at the nurse and looks at the celling.
“I can see two heart beats” the nurse says suddenly. The girls mum starts sobbing and says “She has two hearts” the nurse smiles and says no and pushes the TV thing around. Mum says “No…no” and then starts sobbing. The girl does not move. She must be well ill if her mum is crying like that. “I am going to die” she thinks. She feels very sick. A nurse comes and takes her mum away. The nurse says to her mum that she needs to calm down. The Spanish kind nurse pushes a button and the bed rises up a bit. The nurse says the girls name and wipes her hand across the girl’s chubby cheeks as the tears are running freely. The nurse says, “You look much younger than 14, you look about 12” and she puts her fingers under the girl’s chin and pushes it gently, so her face is tilted up and she says, “I need you to look at me”. The girl does. The nurse starts speaking but she can’t understand what she is saying, I mean she can understand the words, but they don’t make sense. Not to her. . She feels like she is watching this happen from somewhere else. “Do you understand” the nurse says at the end. “No” says the girl. The nurse sighs and pushes the little TV thing round so the girl can see. She looks at the screen. It’s all black and white and like all moving and wobbling. The nurse says points at the screen and says “Heartbeat”. The girl looks at the small bean shaped thing that is beating so fast. Its so fast. The nurse does something, and the room is filled with “Swish, swish, swish” the noise is in time with the beats. The girl looks at the whole image. And of course, she can see it. She just doesn’t want to. It’s a baby. A baby in her belly. She feels her bottom lip wobble because she now understands what the nurse was saying. And then the nurse shows her the other beating light. 2 hearts beats on the screen now. One beating away like the day is long. The other one is beating very slowly. That one is also a baby. But it is dying. The nurse said so. Its heart is not strong. The nurse explains that the girl will need to stay in hospital for a while. That even though she has two babies in her belly now she may only have one at the end. Or maybe none. They would have to give her some injections to make the babies stronger. The girl shakes her head and says that she is scared of needles. The nurse pulls a half serious face and says, “Life isn’t about you anymore honey” and she smiles.
They bring her mum back in. She is not crying and looks ok. She hugs her daughter and kisses her head. She says she is sorry, and the girl knows that he sorry is not for what has happed today but for a lot of things.
That night the girl cries and sobs as various needs and tubes are placed over her body. She keeps saying she don’t like it, but they don’t listen. Some of the doctors are kind and talk her through it. Others just shake their head and one say “If your big enough to lay down and make a baby your big enough to have all this “. She says she didn’t lay down and make a baby. No one listens. Her mum has gone and will be back in the morning.
A few days later the police arrive. They want to talk about the knife. They interview her at her bedside and she feel so exposed and embarrassed sitting in the bed in her nighty whilst they question her. She just says she was forced to hold it. Usual story she bleats out. Nothing will happen, never does.
Mum spends the next few days fussing over the girl. She likes it. One morning mum sits and brushes her hair for ages, making it straight. Its been years since she done that, and the girl feels…happy.
Mum says that some people are coming, and they want to talk to the girl. Mum looks worried again. Two ladies come to the bed and a nurse pulls the curtain around them, so they are alone. The 2 ladies, mum, and the girl. They say that they are from social services. The girl says she knows as one of them has been her social worker before. That lady nods without a smile on her face. They start talking and the girl can’t really understand what they are saying or the words they use. “CP plan” is said a lot. The girl decides not to take part (When she does that they usually go away) and picks up a magazine and starts pretending to read it. They try to engage her, but she just swears a lot (that usually gets rid of them as well). And it does. They leave.
The girl turns to her mum and ask for some chocolate. Mum asks if she understands what they were saying. She shrugs. Mum says that the are very worried about the girl but also about the babies. Mum says that the girl needs to understand that when the babies are born, she might not be able to keep them. Girl asks why. Mum says because social services don’t think the girl will be a good mum. The girl laughs and says that she aint gonna be a mum. She tells her mum to shut up talking madness about her being someone’s mum. The girls mum just looks at her and waits. She knows her daughter well in some ways.
The girl has a smile on her face. The way she does when she is being rude, a cocky smile. Mum just carries on looking in her eyes.
You see the girl, she has this thing that she does. Has done it from a child and she still does it to this very day. When something traumatic happens, she pretends that she does not care. She pretends that nothing bothers her. Or hurts her. Like the time when mum found her rocking on the floor in the hallway when she was 9. Mum just cuddled her until she stopped rocking and asked her what was wrong. Girl said “Nothing” and the next day went about her life.
Mum has been watching the girl the past few days. When the nurse told her about the babies growing inside her, the girl cried once and has not spoken about it since. And mum saw that the girl was doing exactly what she always did, she was ignoring it.
“Kendra” mum said. This made the girl take a mental step back for a second. Her mum had not said her real name in a very long time. “Kendra” she said again “You have two babies growing inside you. One is very poorly, and one is fighting away for its life”. Kendra just looked at mum. She opened her moth to speak but a sort of squeak came out. She swallowed and tried again “And I am going to be mum” she said, her eyes filled to the brim with tears, like you see in cartoons. Her mums’ eyes were now the same. Mum nodded. “But you have to be brave…because social services don’t think you can be a good mum. They might have to take them away when they are born for a bit”. Kendra held the tears in and asked “Why?”. Mum gulped now and said, “To keep them safe”. Kendra turned her head slightly to the side and said, “Safe from what?” and mum said “You”.
When my mum said that to me, I can still remember feeling my heart beat in my ears. Everything went very bright and it was like I was suddenly alive. I would never hurt a child, especially my own. But I was a gang member. I was violent. I was “One of Those girls”. Everything I had done up to that point in my life was about to be held against me because I was pregnant. I cried a lot that day and the days that followed. So, did my mum.
One of the baby’s hearts stopped beating a few days later. I was taken for a scan and told in a very raw manner that one of the babies had died. I cried myself to sleep almost every night after that. There was a nurse who used to come and sit with me when mum went home for a rest. She told me one night that I had to stop crying because the baby that was in my belly would think I was sad all the time and that would make the baby sad. I said that I was sad because they were going to take my baby. She said, in her deep Jamaican accent “You are but a baby yourself, how these people can talk to you like a big woman when you’re just a kid is beyond me… but baby girl…you’re a mum now…and mums fight for their babies”
Now…that you don’t get much more raw than the words I have just shred with you.
Unless you want to talk about the birth…. now that is a story….
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