I Forgot My Baby in the Car

You never think you’d be the one to do it, but when it happens it’s a brutal wake up call.

So there I was, on the way to work, counting down the minutes till 8am and hoping I wouldn’t get caught coming in late to work this time. I might have even been looking forward to the burny tasting Keurig coffee we keep in the break room. I stop at one of the dozen red lights I was probably going to catch that day and suddenly I realize…

My kid was still in the car with me.

My husband usually takes her to daycare after I rush off to work. It’s been weeks since the last time I took her in the mornings. Today he left just after our daughter M and I woke up to go out of town for work. I got M and I ready for the day, packed her up in my car, then I started autopiloting myself to work and I plain forgot she was in the car with me. I didn’t think about it until I was stopped at a red light and I realized I had missed the turn to head towards her daycare.

It happens more often than you’d think.

Can you blame me for it? I’d like to see you try.

In 2009 this article in the Washington Post by Gene Weingarten tells the heartbreaking story of parents who had forgotten their babies in the back seat which led to the baby’s death. It can happen to anyone, it can happen to you. It almost happened to me.

As I redirected my car back towards daycare, I thought about the failsafes I had put in place and how even they might have failed. Our daycare provider knows I was supposed to drop M off this morning at 7:30. When we first started there we had discussed this exact scenario and she agreed to call if we’re ever late to drop off time. But she could’ve been busy with her other charges and she might’ve forgotten too. I also had M’s pink Hello Kitty daycare bag in the front seat with me, next to my work purse. But what if I had thrown it in the back with her and I never have a reason to look back there? M had a musical toy in the car seat with her, I would’ve heard the buttons go off. But she had been calm and quiet this morning and not really playing with it.

Other ways people have come up with include keeping your wallet or phone in the back seat whenever the baby is in the car, keeping a shoe in the back seat, getting in the habit of walking around the back of the car every time, and keeping a large stuffed animal in the front seat whenever the baby’s in the back.

These are good tips. You should think about doing them. If you think you don’t need to do anything because your love will keep your brain from performing a routine glitch, if you think you’ll never be one of Those Parents because you’ve never forgotten your dog/lunch/phone in the car, you need a wake up call like I had.