I’ve read this story several times, come back to it, gone to run errands, and come back to it again. I was asked to write about it, and yet, I can’t quite form the words.
But I suppose I should start at the beginning. Back in the day, when I was pregnant, and shortly after Tiny Hiney was born and I was spending many nights up waiting for the midnight feeding, I became a hard core baby board reader and contributor. And really, my arena of choice – BabyCenter – made it ridiculously easy to find moms that were due when I was, and later, moms of babies born in March. And it was nice to be able to talk to moms who were going through the same things I was going through.
But there are upwards of 12,000 people on the March baby board alone. Many are lurkers, but a few are regular posters and commenters. Today, news spread quickly that a member of our board (who had since become pregnant again and had begun frequenting the birth board of her next baby) had been arrested for allegedly being complicit in her boyfriends reported abuse of her daughter, who was born in March, just like Tiny.
Moms were indignant, and disgusted. If the reports are true, this mother waited almost an entire 24 hour day to take her injured child to the hospital, and then covered for the boyfriend. The child was bruised and had suffered a brain bleed, police said, adding she had also been vomiting. One mom put up a post with a link to the story. That post was deleted, and then she was informed by BabyCenter that her account had been locked for 30 days.
Other mothers heard that news, and only got more indignant. “I would want to know if I was talking to a child abuser,” one insisted. Others felt it was odd that BabyCenter would be more concerned about an alleged abuser’s privacy than the rights of the people she might be conversing with on the board.
And I still don’t know what I think of that. I know also from personal experience that BabyCenter is quick to delete and lock down and slow to ask questions. I myself have been at the receiving end of some BabyCenter warnings for fairly innocuous stuff. But I’m not sure if I’m ready go to to public lynchings, either. Yes, I think I’d want to know if an alleged abuser was chitchatting amongst us. But I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with that information once it’s out. Public shunning? Digital stone-throwing?
And after links to other posts she’s made and her various social media abodes, another thought occurred as a picture of a the woman we’d been scorning all day began to emerge. Three babies, at least two fathers. Discussion of the March baby’s father being scary. If the boyfriend did indeed harm this child, that makes him scary, too. She’s a woman of few resources, and even less support. I can’t imagine the pressure you have to be under when you get a text at work from your boyfriend showing your baby injured, realizing he probably did it on purpose, and realizing that several of the directions you could turn in this horribly lurid choose-your-own-adventure story will result in confrontation with men who cannot control their tempers. Her story is not that unusual, sadly, and is all to common among women with few sources of support.
Is what she allegedly did right? No. Did BabyCenter overreact? Probably – it is their modus operandi. Are several people going to disagree with me about this and say I’m far too sympathetic? Most likely.
If someone dared hurt my child the police would be a welcome respite from the hell I would visit upon them. I can’t fathom a scenario where I would not call the police, run my child to the hospital immediately, and dump an asshole who beat my baby.
But the fact that I can’t fathom that scenario is what makes me so reticent to completely vilify. For there had to be something very, very wrong in Jennifer Saunders life to make her follow the course of events that has led her to a mugshot and an indictment. And until that is disproven, I lean toward the side of the angels, and will instead pray for her, her children, and whatever will provide them peace and stability. It sounds as if they’ve had very little of either commodity.
It’s easy to say what I would do now, sitting on my couch with my loving husband, baby tucked safely in bed for the night after a fun day of playing outside and errands. I don’t have to decide split second who to displease, who to be scared of first, or figure out on my limited legal knowledge what will happen to my family.
So I guess this long rambling post is, ultimately, me ceding that I don’t know the answer. And I doubt many more know, either, otherwise the supply of stories like this would be much more meager.