Today a mother was cleared for the death of her baby who was left in a car on a hot day. As a result a lot of people have made comments on this. Many of my friends have made comments on social media that have perplexed me. Claiming there is no such thing or even that it should be called F***ing Bullshit Syndrome. I am actually shocked by these comments because I could have been that woman.
My son is now five years old but when he was born he wasn’t a good sleeper. In fact he would only sleep on average 20 minutes at a time. This really took its toll on me. When people said sleep deprivation is the worse type of torture I never could understand. I used to be able to function on three hours of sleep a night and was fine. But that was before having kids. The broken sleep coupled with the stresses associated with new borns can make you do things you never thought you would do. And one day it could have been me.
It was a hot December afternoon and I decided to have an afternoon to myself. I had placed my son in Childcare and thought instead of going back home I would go to the shopping centre. So I went and thought I wanted to see a movie. Well don’t ask me what movie I saw as I fell asleep probably 10 minutes into the movie.
I don’t know how long I slept but upon waking I forgot where I was. And then the unthinkable thought passed my mind. Where was my little boy. I freaked and panicked. And then thought I had left him in the car. It would have been a good 10 minute walk to the car. I didn’t walk I ran as fast as any mother could. I often wonder what security cameras would have shown as I am convinced I looked like a mad woman possessed. As I reached the car panic struck. I was petrified to think what I would find. I wasn’t fit at all so I was out of breath. As I approached the car I went straight to the back seat. We had tinted windows so I couldn’t see until I actually opened the car. I couldn’t find my key in the bag. These few seconds were hard.
I fumbled and finally found my key. I had the key but couldn’t press it for fear. Then I did. And opened the door.
There was no baby. I then panicked again and started wailing. I didn’t know where my baby was. I tried to retrace my steps but my mind was too clouded. I felt alone until a lady asked if she could help. I said no and went into the car like a complete mess. I didn’t know who to call so just pressed the last number on the phone.
It was Childcare. I called and Denise, my sons carer answered. She must have sensed something. She knew I suffered depression and I felt stupid. I asked her how my son was going. She said he was sleeping, for nearly an hour. She knew how hard he was and experienced his lack of sleep first hand. I was relieved. My son was safe and had been all afternoon. I turned off the phone and just bawled my eyes out. Even writing this brings back that fear and sadness. I could have lost my son because I forgot. It was a hot day and I didn’t know where he was. I forgot that I put him in Childcare. I forgot that he was there. I forgot.
I called a friend because I was too panicked stricken to even drive. This friend I had never met. We met online in a page where mums were able to talk about anything. I posted that it was scared and she said to call her. She I found out on the call lived about 20 minutes from the shopping centre and was all to willing to come and sit with me. I just chatted with her and after what seemed like forever calmed down. I drove straight to the Childcare centre. Denise knew something was up and as I came in my boy was sleeping. She huddled me into a small room and asked me if I was ok. I broke down and told her what happened. I told her the fear I had about the thought that I left him in the car. I told her the fear I had about what I would see when I opened the door. She just hugged me. She knew the struggles I had and didn’t judge. She didn’t say anything except “he is safe. You are a great mum and will always protect him”. We then laughed about what the security vision was like. A fat woman running down the escalators out of breath. Now that’s a sight.
When my little man woke up and I saw his big smile. I hugged him so so right and didn’t want to let him go. The drive home I would always look back to see him. Just to make sure he was there.
When I went home. I was too scared to tell my husband. But decided he needed to know. He said nothing except that he knew I would never leave my son.
Weeks passed and every time I left my car I would always make sure I opened the back door to check I wasn’t leaving him in the car. Even if he wasn’t in the car, I would open the back door and put my hand in his car seat. I would then leave. But for many times after that event I would return to my car about a few minutes just to make sure he wasn’t still in the car.
Forgotten baby syndrome can happen. And to those people that think it can’t. It nearly happened to me. Please don’t judge mums. We have it tough already and things like this can happen. It just takes a moment and a break from the routine for something horrible to happen. And it can happen to anyone. So next time you leave the car please always double take and check the back seat. Make that a habit you never break. I can’t imagine what that mum is feeling. She may have not been found guilty but I am sure she is living a life sentence. Forgotten baby syndrome does exist.
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Posted anonymously, 8th August 2014