This could have ended so differently: I forgot my baby was in the car

This could have ended so differently: I forgot my baby was in the car

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It was my first day dropping my daughter off at school since having a new baby. Once he went back to work, the job fell back to me.

Thanks to a couple of weeks of envisioning what my mornings would look like with a newborn in the mix and planning for efficiency, I was feeling good about my ability to get everything I needed to get done completed and my daughter to school on time.

I strapped the baby in his car seat, double-checked that my daughter had her things, and grabbed my big cup of water. We headed to the car, I loaded everybody in, and we were off.

After months of being tardy because of my never-ending morning sickness, my daughter was dropped off with enough time to hang out with her friends for a little bit in the schoolyard. I was so proud of myself that I decided to treat myself to breakfast. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I heard a weird humming sound coming from my car.

The sound was familiar but I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it from. Was it my fan belt? Could one of my tires be leaking air? I was just about to pull over when I glanced in the rearview mirror and caught a glimpse of the car seat in the back.

It was my baby boy.

I forgot my newborn was in the backseat.

I hadn’t made any stops between our house and the school. We had been in the car a total of maybe eight minutes. That’s all it took for me to forget that I had a baby with me.

Instead of chalking it up to a case of mommy brain, or postpartum fog, I was reminded of my humanity. While I had never judged parents who had heartbreakingly left their children in the car by accident, I did think that it would never happen to me.

"I'm too tuned in," I thought.

"My car is small, so logistically it wouldn’t even be feasible for me to leave a child in the car," I reasoned.

Clearly I was wrong.

Even though I had been a mom for a long time, having a baby again uses a completely different set of muscles. I must be diligent in everything I do because he can’t do anything for himself. I was grateful for this gut check and reminder that I was human and thus capable of making mistakes. Operating on no sleep and ego ("I've been down this road before. I've got this") who knows what kind of situation I could have put my poor baby in?

Now, every day I remind myself to slow down and be present so I don’t get so caught up in doing what I’m doing that I forget the most important thing.

I ask for help when I need it, and I check and double-check because I know that super mom doesn’t exist. At least, if she does, I’m not her.

This post was originally published on September 21, 2017

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

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