Motherhood can be a lonely job.
That thought has crossed my mind semi-regularly over the past 18 months. It generally hits me in the wee hours of the morning, when my (feverish/teething/lonely) daughter is crying out for me for the umpteenth time and I’m reaching for the scraps of energy that will allow me to propel myself out of my warm bed once again. It’s been ringing in my head much more frequently since I heard the story of Crystal Dennis, who gave birth to her daughter at Curepe Junction at around 4am on June 2nd. Turns out it can get much lonelier.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the geography of Trinidad, I’m just going to pause here to explain that — although (as noted by a particularly astute friend of mine) Curepe Junction now has a flawless maternity record — it may just be the worst place to give birth ever, what with the vermin, refuse and, you know, traffic.
Dennis wasn’t alone when she collapsed on that pavement, unable to make it to the hospital. There were other travelers there, most of whom just watched as she screamed and writhed in pain. Luckily, a few good samaritans did eventually arrive to help her deliver the healthy baby girl (since named Cecilia) and they’ve vowed to help her. Good thing, too, because since the news first broke (in the form of a viral video) it has been revealed that she and her partner, Anthony Abraham, live in poverty. They also reportedly have three other children who live with Abraham’s mother, as they’re unable to care for them. The big question now is whether Cecilia will be able to go home with her parents or end up in the care of Social Services.
As is the nature of the internet, there are lots of opinions on this story. I usually try to stay away from the comment section for the sake of my own sanity, but in this case I did a little skimming. What I saw ran the gamut from offers of baby items and calls for psychological help to allegations of drug addition and demands that she be sterilized. I’m loathe to offer up an opinion of my own, mainly because none of us know the whole story and Social Services is already investigating in the child’s interest.
What I will say is how frustrating it is to watch stories like this unfold. Judging from the online comments, Dennis is fairly well-known in her area for being unstable. She’s in her thirties and already has three kids who live with someone who is ostensibly able to care for them. And yet. She had to give birth to her fourth child in the street before anyone really thought to get involved in a meaningful way.
The truth is, we failed her. Worse, we’re failing untold women and children just like her every day because most of us are content to pretend that, if it isn’t happening in our line of sight, it isn’t happening at all. In cases like this where we’re unable to ignore it, we pass judgment, post a comment or two and move on. Meanwhile, more children are born into poverty every day under less dramatic circumstances and their mothers have to figure out how to meet their needs with next to nothing.
That is loneliness.
What did you make of the story? Tell us in the comments!
Calisa is the exhausted mother of an energetic, (generally) good-natured and ridiculously sharp toddler whose sole mission in life is obviously to keep mommy on her toes. She spends much of her time reading board books, changing diapers and saying “Ah-ah-ah! Mommy said ‘NO’!” while counting down the hours to bedtime.