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When I was in middle school my teacher sent me home with a gerbil and a warning: When the mom gives birth don’t touch the babies. She will smell your scent on them and eat them to protect them. Weird, wild and scary, but true.
It is with that basic understanding of animal behavior that I am probably the only person on earth that is going to side with the Arizona mom, Norma, who took her child, identified as Emily, from a cancer ward without the doctor’s okay. No, she isn’t an animal and we have higher functioning brains. I get that. But I also understand some things are just basic instinct. You think any thinking, rational being is going to run into a burning building to get their kid or, whilst they ponder, have enough adrenaline to lift a car? So there are times we make snap judgments based on our instinct and I think this is one of those cases.
As of the time I wrote this post, the only facts we had was that the little girl has cancer, she had an amputation of a limb due to infection, her mom took her from the hospital, and there is a catheter in her chest that could also get infected and eventually, tragically, the infection will kill the little girl. Without knowing more I can’t judge or condemn this mother to the bad parenting annals. I just can’t. I don’t know how the little girl got her first infection resulting in losing her limb, what kind of care she was receiving at the hospital that the mother might not have felt would help her child, or if there was some other factor that made the mom abruptly remover her kid from the hospital. I do know there are religious groups who never would have taken their child to the hospital, but we don’t condemn them, and children die in their community based on decisions dictated by their faith. We don’t understand them, but we respect their right to parent their way. What about those mothers who give birth at home without a surgical unit right there to assist if things go wrong? I could (and do) pass judgement on them. Emergencies happen and seconds count. Where’s the uproar for their first parenting decision putting their baby in jeopardy? Is Norma not allowed to make decisions we don’t understand, but are ultimately hers, with her daughter, Emily?
I’m not saying the mother was completely right because I HATE to think that her child is going to suffer based on her mom’s (alleged) fight or flight response to whatever it may be, but I don’t have a dying child. I’d never want to be in this mom’s shoes and, therefore feel a little sympathy for her.
Now if you happen to be wondering what became of the baby gerbils…did they or didn’t they meet a horrible fate? Well, let’s just say my science teacher had some learning to do. She gave me the boy and someone else had the girl. The momma gerbil fled, had the babies in the wall, and was never seen again!
So what do you think about this mother? Did she flee to safety? Do you have any stories where basic instincts kicked in?
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