It is strange when asked “did you write about the actual escape?” I haven’t, not in one chunk. It is scattered throughout posts like a jigsaw puzzle, with pieces missing. This is by design, because, quite simply, talking about escaping makes me feel unsafe. I didn’t run once. I kept getting bounced back by the Hague over decades. The final act of running and hiding, helped by Billy, was the time that I actually accepted the danger of falling foul of the law and just hid.
Not only am I threatened by the Hague Convention concerning parental child abduction, which makes the act of an abused woman fleeing violence, into an act which makes her (and YES, it is always HERS….(the only person ever got off a Hague charge that I know of was a fucking man fleeing his oh so dangerous female wife) act of self preservation, and protection of her children from a violent husband and father, into a stone cold criminal staring down the barrel of multiple years, potentially decades in jail.
Let that sink in. If you flee a marriage with your children with you, across international borders, domestic violence perpetrated on you is not a defense. You may not leave without the permission of your abusive husband, and going through courts that never rule in favor of the foreigner. I was never going to receive permission to go.
I tried to flee many times. When I was pregnant with my daughter he beat me so badly that I went into premature labor. Crawling on hands and knees down stairs, too scared to use the elevator in case he found me, in the throes of heavy labor, collapsing in the Tokyo gutter at nighttime, yelling out to a passing old man on a bicycle “OSAN DESU! I’M IN LABOR!” The man stopped. Beaten and bloodied, concussed, nose bleeding, in the most outrageous pain I had ever been in (at that point), I thought I was going to die. I won’t pretend I formed a plan to get out right then and there. I was refused an ambulance, and instead dragged into a taxicab. The driver looked back at me nervously, and asked the very elderly man if he was the father. I was a young woman. I was in too much pain to be offended.
We both almost died. The baby was born blue, starved of oxygen, ripped out of my belly, as I felt the scalpel go in, arms and legs strapped to the operating table. She went into intensive care. I hemorrhaged then my blood pressure skyrocketed due to pre eclampsia, or so they told me. All I knew was my legs swelled up horrendously, and I was not doing well. I asked when I would be allowed to see the baby. They told me after they had ripped me open, torn her free of my failing body, and failed to give me pain medication, they told me I could see her when I could walk.
I called out to her. I yelled I was coming to get her, to hold on, to not die. I tried to sit up when I realized I had been strapped into a corset, designed to push my belly back in faster, ‘for my husband.’ I tried to move and pain shot through my system like a bolt of lightning. It took me half an hour to get my feet onto the floor unaided. First one foot, then the other. I tried to put weight on my legs, and failed. No one would help me, no one would put me in a wheelchair. I asked them how she was doing and was told she was suffering. My baby. My poor baby. Steadying myself on the edge of the bed, I forced myself to my feet. My legs wouldn’t work, I was not on pain relief, and I had been beaten, gone through a very long labor, then an emergency c section with a spinal that didn’t take. My friends, I was tortured.
You can see her when you can walk. I hadn’t seen my baby, except for a blue speck in my vision as I passed out. I had never heard her cry. I didn’t know what she looked like. I took one step, then a second. The pain was monumental, immense, vast. I was a speck existing in a world that consisted of nerve endings and screaming agony. I realized I was only wearing a gown, I was half naked to the world. I crawled on hands and knees in the end. Japanese people watching this half naked gaijin haul herself towards her child in tears and bloodied uncaring what they thought. I was getting to my baby if it killed me. No one stopped and put me in a wheelchair. No one stopped and helped me. I wanted my dignity, I hauled myself up against a wall, and forced myself onto two feet like a human being. I held my head up. Daughter of Eve. It seemed like an eternity. I looked out the window. How could the world continue on and let me be tortured? My husband was thankfully no where to be seen. I was alone in my pain.
I made it to the ICU. They put another gown over my bare self, and a cap on my head, and slippers on my feet. I asked the nurse if I could see my baby. She directed me to a room of babies. A room of defective babies. Mine was there. They were changing her diaper. I screamed. They grabbed hold of me and would not let me get to her. My baby. I was told to wait. I hit a nurse. I was fighting, wheeling, screaming, my baby, my baby, my baby. Watashi no akachan. They finally let me past to see her. I couldn’t hold her. I couldn’t touch her. I couldn’t comfort her. She couldn’t breathe unaided. He had almost beaten the life out of both of us. She was ventilated, premature, tiny and desperately unwell. I asked if she would survive. They shrugged. I was allowed to put a hand onto her, and told that was no good, too exciting. I couldn’t touch her. I put my hand gently on hers, and I swear she sighed. I told her. I told her things. I sang to her. I sang her words that belonged to her. I told her love. I begged the G_d I hated not to take her from me. I offered him anything, everything, myself, my soul, my life. Just not her. Someone had stuck a Mary mother sticker onto her incubator. I tore it off. This was my baby. Mine. It was not theirs. They tortured me. They could stick their fake kindness and leave me alone. I was distraught.
Six weeks later, after watching other babies die around her, we were allowed home. I got bold, I demanded to pick her up, to breast feed her, she grew stronger and home we went.
When we got home I was standing shusshing her, but couldn’t shussh her in time, my husband punched me in the stomach with my fragile baby in my arms. We flew backwards. And I knew I had run out of time to leave.
He split my c section scar partially open. She landed on top of me. He stormed out, and I left.
The next day I bundled her up into a carrier and I made my way to my embassy. I did it in terrible physical condition. I got out, helped by people who warned me that it would make a criminal out of me. I got out, and was forced back by the Hague – I was looking at a court case, possible prison time, and my baby being repatriated without me, as I had removed us from her habitual residence.
And so it began.