Friday, April 10, 2015

Child Death and the Horrible Mother

Confession: I lay my babies on their bellies to sleep. I have never posted about this publicly because I've always been afraid of being shamed by other people for it. I have two super healthy kids who loved tummy time and didn't have flat heads. They always slept better on their tummies, so I put them like that with their heads to the side and a paci in their mouths to ensure that their noses were exposed to air. I also kept them in my room in a bassinet until they could roll on their own. 

When my oldest was four months old or so, she started sucking her thumb, which was another safety net in my mind, since she would always make room for her thumb. One day I was walking by her room during her nap, and she was fussing because she had a stuffed animal blocking her thumb from her mouth. I rushed in and grabbed it. 

Yes, I feared that she would have suffocated herself. But you know what I feared more? Being a terrible mother. Being verbally stoned by the populace as an idiot for laying her baby on her tummy, for putting a toy in the crib. Is she just stupid? She should never have been allowed to have kids. 

Look. When a child [or anyone] dies, there are always places to point fingers and lay blame, but the mother is suffering enough without the WORLD discussing how brainless she is. 

I constantly see posts online of kids who almost died or did die written as a caution to us moms, but they're rarely just cautionary. Most of these posts include extremely condescending things about these kids' poor moms, usually in the comments, but sometimes in the text too. 

Example stories include: Bookshelf fell on a toddler when he was climbing it during nap time - anchor your furniture, dummy!! Child twisted her arm in an amber necklace during nap - take off the necklace, you moron! Good Samaritan saves kid from drowning at public pool - MOMS, for God's sake, watch your kids while swimming, you negligent good-for-nothing ninnies!!! 

None of these are stories of negligent or "bad" moms. They're stories of accidents, and accidents happen. No one ever wants it to happen to their kids, so please, let's collectively STOP blaming moms. It's a prideful, heartless, holier-than-thou attitude.

Sometimes we can take precautions, but we can't foresee every danger our kids could possibly encounter. 

Last summer at a pool party I turned around to see my two year-old face down swimming out into the deep end of the pool. My aunt screamed for my brother in law to grab her, and he turned around and did just that. My daughter was just fine. She probably had only been swimming for a few seconds, but I didn't know how long her face had been under. That night as I lay in bed, every time I closed my eyes I saw her body face down in the water. I scared myself to tears. I felt like a bad mom. Nothing happened, and I still felt like a terrible mom. If something had happened, I would have fallen apart.  

The horror of losing a child is just that: a horror. Let us mourn with those who mourn and comfort those in distress, instead of ridiculing and slandering, even if it's a stranger. 

**I'm writing about targeting moms, but this obviously applies to dads or the caregiver present too. 

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