In the past few days, we have seen stories about two warring families played out in the press. A story about two ex-lovers from different milieux in Nigeria, with a seven months old baby at the centre of it. Snippets from social media forums filter in anecdotal accounts of what “actually” happened. Whilst I’m entranced in all the gossip, I can’t help but hypothetically review this young mum informally, albeit with a tinge of professionalism. My questions-riddled assessment will be based on media reports on her, whilst adorned in my public health nursing cap.
“The young mum is a money-grabbing, cannabis addicted young woman. Her dad is late, and she has a famous uncle. She dropped out of university and is allegedly promiscuous.”
How did this girl grow up? What were her early years like? How did her father’s death affect her? What support network did her mum have after her father died? Why didn’t she pursue a university education? Were they too poor? Was she dyslexic? Why is she promiscuous? Is she self-harming? Was she abused at some point? Was she a victim of child sexual exploitation? Does she have underlying mental health issues? If yes, was there an assessment done at some point in her life? Did she go through therapy? Does she sleep around to survive financially? Is her lifestyle as a result of what she had been through? Most importantly, what systems were in place to ensure she had a better output in life? Was there anything in place to empower her pursue other skills? Would her outcome have been different if her dad was alive?
She is irresponsible and evil! She smoked cannabis through pregnancy and birth. She doesn’t deserve to be a mother. Now her baby is poorly because of her wickedness”
Who were the midwives and doctors in charge of her antenatal care? Did she disclose to them that she smoked during pregnancy? Did they smell cannabis on her? If yes, did they question her about it? Was there any education given to her about the horrible effects of cannabis/smoking on a foetus and baby? Who did they refer her to? Was she advised not to breastfeed? Did they inform social services about an unborn child who was clearly at risk of harm and neglect? What mental health/drug treatment program did they refer her to? Why didn’t post-birth assessments of the baby in hospital indicate foetal withdrawal symptoms? If the baby’s dad knew the young mum is on drugs, why didn’t he report that to the medical personnel during the antenatal period? Importantly, who discharged a baby to a mother who had questionable abilities to safeguard her child? What pre-discharge meeting was held to make informed decisions about who to discharge this baby to? What postnatal care did she get from the health system?
“She was paid by the ex-partner’s family to give up her child after blood tests indicated traces of alcohol and cannabis in her baby. She’s not fit to be a mother because she ‘sold’ her own daughter. She keeps demanding money from her ex”
Against all primal instincts of a mother, she easily gave up her child; could she have postnatal depression? Does she have attachment issues? How is her relationship with her own mother? Could her presumed detachment from her child, stem from her early years relationship with her own mother? Importantly, is offering her money for her child, not an indirect exploitation of a clearly disturbed and vulnerable young woman? If she’s known for sleeping around for money and has a drug habit, is money not an inviting bait for her? Could her addictions be the reason for her reported incessant demand for money? Is her uncle accepting money in place of his grandniece, not an indication of his attitude towards his niece, following the demise of her dad?
“Her ex-partner published a copy of her drugs tests to prove she smokes cannabis”
What system is in place to prevent a lab from providing a patient’s results to a third party? Where is the law on Confidentiality? Apart from an uncle who chose to publish her story, who is advocating for this woman?
I’m literally breathless reviewing all these questions. I have read on social media sites, tons of abusive views about this young mother. I can’t state this enough, it is very disappointing to see a society literally condemn a person who may have serious personal problems. She is hated for smoking cannabis during pregnancy and after birth. I HATE drug use as well. At the same time, I try to look at the bigger picture in such cases. Behind every adverse act, is a reason. Most people have not bothered to question why this mother is the way she is. Firstly, her lifestyle (if media accounts are to believed) indicate a very troubled and vulnerable adult. Secondly, ADDICTION IS DISEASE THAT IS HARD TO BEAT!!!! Beating an addiction is a process!!! Addiction is an illness! Let her face her demons! We must remember that depression always lurks around in adversity. If people continue hounding this woman, it may have dire consequences on her, and inadvertently harm her baby in future. Irrespective of the present circumstances, that baby still needs her mummy to be healthy, physically and mentally. If the focus is on the seven months old child, surely cursing her mother is not in her best interest.
I think the focus should be on a governmental system which lacks a child-centred structure to safeguard children. I heard that the baby’s dad smokes cannabis as well. Who assessed his cognitive ability to safely look after his child? Why did the social care system award him and his family custody of the child without an independent thorough assessment of the family? Why is the maternal grandmother ignored? If the young mum’s uncle is to be believed, why is that child still under the care of a family that didn’t have any qualms allowing armed policemen around her? Why hasn’t anyone directly involved gone to a law court? Is it due to lack of trust? IMPORTANTLY, what about other vulnerable Nigerian babies who are under the radar? Who will safeguard them?