Charleston, Amazing Grace and C-Sections


It’s really hard to feel safe and secure this week. It is a time filled with angst and sorrow following the murder of nine fine human beings studying God’s word in an historical church in Charleston, SC. The 21 year old who shot them so violently, did so with hatred and malice because of their skin color and in honor of a flag that represents an ugly time in America. But in photos his eyes and demeanor are completely blank so it is even hard to imagine the magnitude of evil emotion residing in his soulless heart. He appears to have no life force at all and yet, he did something so forceful.

It is June in North Carolina and the 100 degree days have gone on for weeks now, relentless and heavy with huge violent thunderstorms almost nightly that do nothing to change the trend. I am not complaining in light of what really matters, but I am stating that this just adds to the mood of oppression and the feeling of life moving in heavy, slow motion.

When horrific tragedies like this occur whether in little schools, tall New York buildings or local movie theaters, one’s vulnerability quotient escalates. There’s a nervousness and an invasive sadness that has me continuously on the verge of tears while “Amazing Grace” plays over and over in my head.

I work with new moms and babies every day. I am a lactation consultant. Cesarean sections are rampant still, despite all we know about how much less often they should be employed. The doctor who performs them instantly gains “savior status” when the new parents quote what was told to them as in “baby’s heart rate was dropping so we saved the baby,” or “your pelvis was waaaay too small to be able to get a big baby like that through” or “you just weren’t progressing” etc. There is an endless array of “I-rescued-you” scenarios. I am not denying that C-sections (as they are more commonly and cutely called) are never needed, indeed they are and can be life saving for sure. I am only saying they are far, far over used. So, the pat phrase handed to the mother to embrace as her mantra (so that she does not grieve over the loss of her dream birth) is always, “All that matters is that we are both healthy.” This is true, yet so odd. Of course, that matters most of all, but it is not ALL that matters. But I digress. Here is the reason I bring up this method of birth. I had a cesarean section myself when delivering my last of six babies who happened to be twins. No reason to go into why this happened or how resentful I felt about it. What I want to share is this. There is forever a sense of vulnerability on the very bottom of your gut, right above your pubic bone. It has been severed, cut into, and sewn or stapled back together. It is no longer the one piece it was. And it feels weaker and more vulnerable forever more. The queasiness and fear wanes as time passes, but I never did feel the same about my lower abdomen again.

By now, you have likely stopped reading thinking, “What in tarnation does her C-section have to do with nine lives lost in a random act of cruelty. So here it is. Following Charleston, I feel a sickening vulnerability again or still, only it feels worse and collective. It feels vaguely familiar to me and is a combination of nausea and fear combined with revulsion.

My bipolar mother referred to me often as “evil.” Years later, my only sister has referred to me as “a harsh person.” I know in my heart I am neither but the hurt those words served remains with me. And at times like these when I walk around feeling so much sadness and compassion, I wonder why they hurled these words at my heart. I am neither evil or harsh, but seek to stay to close to those I love and to God, following a path of kindness and compassion. I reel from this violence and stealing of lives. I know and feel goodness.

I could easily have been one of those moms saying to my kids, “Going to bible study. See you later.” I am white and I am privileged so it is likely they would have indeed seen me later. I would not have been killed for my color, though in our crazy and violent world, there might be another reason for someone to take my life. But, for the sons and daughters of those black moms and dads, they won’t see them again. And that hits me right in that belly part that remains forever vulnerable.