Saturday, July 25, 2009

Baby Dies From Rat Bites

I read about this in our local paper yesterday, and have since hounded out a few online articles and read a couple of forums.

Most are quick to condemn the parents, like this:

Not checking on a three month old for " Several hours" is neglect. I wish they could sterilze people like these "parents" so they could never again expose a baby to harm.

Actually, it's pretty typical not to check on an infant for several hours while it's sleeping. They tell you when you come home from the hospital that when the baby sleeps you should rest and try to get some sleep yourself.

But really, how many young parents have been taught they should 'teach' their baby to sleep by letting them 'cry it out' in their crib? Loads--by their own parents, by their doctors, by wise friends. Is this the wisest course? Depends on who you talk to. You can find arguments for everything from the strict 'cry it out' method to never separating baby from mother for the first six months of life. I tended toward the latter with my three children. All seem to be turning out just fine.

But the fact of the matter is, babies scream. They scream bloody murder over every little thing. Some babies--especially babies in the 2 to 15 week range--just scream because that's what they do. We call it a 'colicky baby.'

Sometimes parents just need to put the baby down and let it scream to preserve their own sanity.

A little screaming never hurt a baby. A frustrated and exhausted parent certainly can.

I had read in one report that the father was planning to buy a video monitor. Could it be that this baby was just a screamer and he was going to buy that monitor so the mother would be able to ease her own anxieties by keeping a visual watch over the baby while she cried herself to sleep? Hmm.

Could it be that little Natalie screamed for 20 or 30 minutes--a perfectly reasonable amount of time for a colicky baby in the evening--while her mother stood outside the door listening and wanting to go in, but heeding the advice of some 'wiser' authority, or giving herself a much needed break from her own struggle with exhaustion? Could it be that the rats hit a major artery in the baby's leg and she bled out quickly? Could it be that Natalie's mother breathed a sigh of relief from the other side of the doorway when the child finally fell silent, believing with all her heart that the baby was safe and sleeping in her crib?

I don't know. I don't have all the answers. But I, having been there, having struggled with crying babies and the draining exhaustion of new motherhood, can't condemn these parents as quickly as others might.

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