Forgotten Baby Syndrome

by Hannah

I woke up this morning and read this article about Forgotten Baby Syndrome discussing parents who have forgotten about their children and left them unattended. In particular a couple of cases in America where the children have been left in hot cars for hours and had tragically died. Whenever I read anything like this it sends shivers down my spine, not because I have done it but because it always remains a fear of mine. That one day it may happen to me too.

There aren’t many days that go by that I am out and about without Beastie but for the days that I am, I feel like something is missing. Those tend to be the days that I might suddenly glimpse in the rear view mirror in the car only to think to myself ‘of course he’s not with me today, he’s at nursery’. It sounds like it happens a lot, which it doesn’t but when it does it ever so slightly frightens me. I find myself imagining horrific scenario’s where I have left my son standing by the car as I drive off, only to realise part way into my journey that I have forgotten him. I imagine the pure terror you must feel as you frantically rush back to the scene of abandonment, imagining all sorts along the way but above all praying that they are unharmed and in the same place.

With a new baby on the way I suppose I am thinking of all the new challenges to come and the sleep deprivation that is in store. Along with that is the new territory which is motherhood to two children, a whole different ball game than to one I played before. Now I know I have done it all before and I know what is in store for me but you still never really know how you are going to cope each time. Take this picture of a sleeping Beastie. Sometimes he is so quiet I can forget he is there, particularly when he was a little baby, after all that’s mostly what they do, sleep. Nowadays it’s more tricky to not notice his presence with the running commentary coming from the back seat. Add a new baby to the equation and it’s very different. I will have lots more to do and my days will be much busier than the early days with Beastie where we had all day to do pretty much what we liked. This time round the baby and I won’t be able to lounge about the same as we will have Beastie to ferry about to pre-school, my days will be much busier and I will be much more pre-occupied. This spells more fear but I like to hold on to the fact that I know my own mind and limitations and more importantly I have my instinct. There are families with far more on their plate than I do and I know that they cope and that their children remain safe and sound.

The article mentions the well known phrase between Mum’s which is ‘baby brain’ and there is research to suggest that pregnancy does not in fact affect the brain, it remains unaltered. I think for most of us who are perhaps *ahem* a little more scatty than we were before, this is interesting to read and of course leaves us nothing to fall back on. What campaigners are saying is these incidences are on the rise due to our busy lifestyles which increase our forgetfulness, somewhat worrying with our hectic lifestyles we lead now and the need to juggle several tasks at once.

Unrelated to leaving your child, I saw a classic case of absent mindedness the other day. A lady walked past me in the supermarket car park with her trolley and suddenly raised her hand to her mouth, stopped in her tracks and turned on her heels back the way she had already come. Her trolley was left careering across the car park, where luckily a passer by managed to grab it in time before it crashed into the side of a parked car. Where had the lady gone to? she had forgotten to pay at the ticket machine. As I passed her, I told her what had happened and she ran off frantically back to her trolley. It was as if something had switched off in her brain momentarily and sent her off course. Imagine if a child had also been sat in that trolley?

My heart goes out to any parent that has unwittingly forgotten their child. The guilt they must feel must be terrible and not something that you would forget in a hurry. A momentary lapse of concentration on the task in hand could be devastating. I think this only goes to show that sometimes we need to slow down a little and not take on too much in our lives. Easier said than done in some cases.

8 comments

Jennifer 12th March 2012 - 10:33 am

There are some devastating stories in that article. I know that many times I’ve been out and can’t remember for example locking the front door, you just do things on autopilot, and of course you have done it, you just can’t remember. I’m always driving away from somewhere and thinking that I’ve left the pushchair or the change bag by the side of the road (I never have!). I can see how people could think they’ve dropped their child off at nursery, and then of course they don’t worry about it for the rest of the day because in their mind they have done it.

You will probably find that you are will be ‘over aware’ and constantly checking that they are both in the car! My toddler chatters away so he’s hard to miss, and I think that he would tell me if I’d left the baby behind!

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Mummybeastie 12th March 2012 - 11:44 am

I think you are right, sometimes having the fear there makes you aware of what you could do and that makes us ‘over aware’ for sure. I hadn’t thought of the fact Beastie should hopefully remind me should I forget something! x

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TheBoyandMe 12th March 2012 - 2:10 pm

The new season of ‘Private Practise’ (not being shown in thia country) features this storyline, but it was a dad. They had had a bad night, and he was asked to take the toddler to nursery. He put the baby in the car and drove off, ending up eventually in work. It was only halfway through the day when he glanced at the picture of his wife and child on his desk that he realised he’d driven on autopilot, forgetting nursery, forgetting the sleeping baby in the car. By the time he got down to him, it was too late.

Devastating episode which I thought was based on extreme circumstances. The fact it happens is worrying.

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Mummybeastie 12th March 2012 - 2:21 pm

Just the thought of being responsible for a death in such a way is just awful and you would never forgive yourself. I read some of the comments to the article and lots of people point out that it is not a new phenomenon to happen, people have been doing it throughout the ages. I suppose not everything reaches the news like it does now but it does make you think.

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HELEN 12th March 2012 - 2:21 pm

oh I have done the same as you too…have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you look in the rearview mirror & realise that you just dropped them off at pre-school anyway! I’m sure if I can keep tabs on my 3 you can manage it….I did however manage to leave my cardigan in the doctors this morning and Jack had to tell me where it was! doh….
I quite often don’t finish conversations with people as I get distracted & then forget what I was doing….I feel like a goldfish some days!
x

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Mummybeastie 12th March 2012 - 2:30 pm

It’s just a split second that I think ‘oh my god!’ and then it passes but my brain is programmed to do everything with Beastie in tow now. I feel like I have lost a limb when I go shopping alone – luxury aside!

I get the conversation thing as well, it’s so frustrating when your mind goes blank and the other person sits there patiently waiting for the crucial point of the conversation to come flooding back. That’s just age though isn’t it!! x

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Katie @mummydaddyme 12th March 2012 - 8:44 pm

I hadn’t heard of this, how scary, but I must say that occasionally I do the same as you and suddenly look in the back of the car thinking about Mads before I realise she isn’t with me that day. I think its only natural, well it is natural for me anyway as I am a worrier! x

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would like to be a yummy mummy 20th March 2012 - 9:03 pm

I have serious baby brain at the moment but never forget I have the girls with me. I guess like Beastie the girls talk so much or don’t let goof me so it would be hard to leave them anywhere. I will probably be worrying more after reading this x

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