I left The Tall Blonde in a hot car when she was a baby.
She wasn’t a sleeper. Wouldn’t nap. Fought to stay awake and only slept if she was laying directly on me. Being a young mom, I barely knew what I was doing at the best of times let alone when faced with lack of sleep and a great amount of frustration.
Often, I would bundle her up and get in the car to drive her around so she’d drift off to sleep. Sometimes…I’d even manage to get her back into the house without waking her…but that was rare.
I remember this one day when she was about six months old, it was deep into summer and she just wouldn’t settle. I was right along with her…hot and bothered with every bit of crankiness that went along with it not to mention a sticky baby that insisted on being on top of me making me, while I felt bad for her, feel even hotter and crankier than I probably should have.
So…we headed to Point Pleasant Park with a friend to try to catch a bit of a breeze off the water. On the way home, we stopped at the Mall. The change of atmosphere, time out with a friend, the air conditioning in the shopping center…it did us both a lot of good and settled us down in no time.
On the way home, my baby girl fell asleep and who was I to awake my sleeping angel as we pulled into the driveway at home? We’d had such a great adventure and she was simply exhausted.
Besides…selfishly, and not thinking, I needed a few moments to myself.
And this is where you can begin to judge me.
Knowing how extremely warm it was outside, I loosened her outfit making sure to keep her seat belt secure. I undid her diaper shirt to expose her wee belly so she wouldn’t get too hot. I was extremely careful not to wake her and closed all of the windows but for a crack…then locked up the car to keep her safe from anyone who might consider taking her.
I unpacked my purchases…turned on the television…delighted in a few moments alone while checking on her a number of times back and forth while I cleared away the kitchen from our picnic and caught up on a few chores…maybe I folded some laundry, maybe I made a few beds…I don’t remember what I did but I did it without thinking…while she slept quite soundly.
Eventually, my “mommy guilt” got the best of me and I went outside to wake my napping girl where surprisingly…she was still quite sleepy. In fact, a bit hard to wake.
I brought her inside and realizing how warm she was, I cooled her off in the kitchen sink. She threw up…like babies do I thought…with milk in her belly that surely didn’t sit well in the heat.
I felt bad for leaving her and began to think that maybe I shouldn’t have left her in the stuffy car as long as I did…but I didn’t fully grasp the depth of what I’d done.
As one report after the next is in the news…of children dying in the heat of a car.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes with my children…some I’m fully aware of and others I’ll find out in time but this one coud have turned out far worse than I ever would have imagined. For a moment of leaving a napping baby in a car…for a moment of peace and quiet…for not wanting to drag the baby gear into the store for just a moment to purchase a single loaf of bread or a quick moment into the bank where you run into a friend and next thing you’ve left the baby a lot longer than you intended.
For all of these times where “it only takes a moment”… when life can change in an instant and your entire world is torn apart.
Where it has changed the lives for so many parents…while for others we were simply, very, very lucky.
According to this YMC article, 21 children in Canada and the US have died this year from being left in the car. There seems to be so much education and so many warnings that you hear in the news…and maybe they were there all those years ago as well…but for me, I just didn’t think.