As this article goes to press, another toddler has passed away, a tragic victim of domestic violence.
Here in New Zealand, an average of 10 children a year are killed as a result of domestic violence. So many babies and young children are the victims of brutal physical abuse, paedophilia and neglect, inflicted upon them by the very people they love, trust and depend on most – their own family.
These innocent and defenceless children are being injured – and killed – at the hands of those who care for them. They are being severely shaken, struck with blunt objects and repeatedly beaten.
Instead of celebrating their milestones, these children lay dying. Instead of organising birthday parties, the families are arranging funerals.
Before my own daughter was born, I never truly believed how strong the bond was between a parent and their child.
For as long as I can remember I never had maternal instincts. I was too selfish and thought the world revolved around me and I liked it that way. I didn’t have the time or patience for children, nor did I ever talk about having my own. My weekends were often filled with babysitting duties but that was purely for the money – not to spend my time hanging out with the kids!! One thing I did know is that the misbehaving children that I would see on a daily basis only made me realise how I did not want my own children to be!
So when I fell pregnant last year I was shocked. Just six weeks before, I had been in hospital having surgery to remove a blockage in one of my fallopian tubes.
To be honest, my pregnancy was not a joyful event. For the first six months, the sickness was uncontrollable (and despite its ‘morning sickness’ term, it came at all times of the day) and I don’t recall having that pregnancy glow that so many women talk about – I felt sick, tired and restless.
When my partner and I started to buy all the necessities that our new baby would need, I still had no maternal feelings, nor did I feel motherly.
But the very first time I felt our baby kick (we decided to keep the sex a surprise, so we always referred to her as Baby Ongley) something changed. It was as though I needed proof to feel that I was carrying a little human being who was going to depend on us for many years to come.
When our daughter Mickie-James (MJ for short) was born, I loved her instantly but my emotions were mixed. How was I going to cope being a mummy? What if my baby didn’t like me? How will I know if she is hungry/tired/wet/sick?
Fast forward eight months, and I had nothing to worry about. The bond I share with MJ is unbreakable. She is full of life and has plenty of energy to burn. She has discovered how to roll over and every time she says ‘mama’ my heart skips a beat. She has the most infectious laugh and she loves to show people her teeth. MJ is my world and I could not imagine life now without her in it. Her personality and character are starting to show and with every milestone that she hits, I burst with pride and I feel so lucky and proud that I am her mummy.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, so many people told me that once the baby came along, everything you do in life will revolve around them and that could not be more true.
Becoming a mummy or daddy is an absolute privilege. It is not a right.
I will never understand how people can watch their baby get bigger every day, listen to its fluttering heartbeat and eventually, bring it into this world yet be so deliberately cruel as to torture them – often resulting in their premature death.
It has never been a secret that babies are hard work, tiring and expensive but they are also the most amazing thing that can happen to anyone.
The moment Mickie-James was born, my maternal instincts kicked in despite my non-maternal start. I would do everything and anything necessary to protect her from danger – but why are these adults inflicting the very danger that I am trying to protect my daughter from?