File phto: At that very moment, Wetzel realised what she had just done. Picture: Pexels
File phto: At that very moment, Wetzel realised what she had just done. Picture: Pexels

Mom shares terrifying experience of forgetting her newborn on car boot

By Marchelle Abrahams Time of article published Jul 6, 2021

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It’s a story most parents can relate to. For some of us, it’s forgetting to pick up our kid at soccer practice or school. For others, locking the car and walking away only to realise that you forgot the most precious commodity inside.

But for writer and blogger Jacalyn Wetzel, the horror of forgetting her newborn baby on the boot of her car was more tangible – it happened at a time when she was emotionally vulnerable, trying to adjust to life as a single mom with three children to take care of.

Taking to her Facebook page, the clinical social worker from North Carolina, revealed the event with a guilt-laden heart.

“Once upon a time, I was a struggling single mom with a newborn baby and two small children, one of which was only 2 years old. I busted my butt to make sure my kids still got to do things they loved, like dance and soccer, and I made sure that I was the one to drop them off and pick them up from school,” she wrote.

Fresh from a C-section and without any help, she bundled her three kids in the car.

“The morning was normal chaos. A forgotten shoe. A whiney toddler. Engorged boobs. Short attention. I counted my children as we exited the apartment like a good mother duck, strapped them in their seats and started the car.

“’Mommy!’ I hear from the back seat.

“My daughter’s voice sounded urgent, but oddly calm. Almost like her tiny 7-year-old self was trying to not induce panic.

“’What, baby?’ I replied as I looked at her through the rear view mirror.

“She looks up to meet my eyes in the mirror and says: ’Where’s the baby’?”

“My heart raced. I know I had the baby when I was leaving the house. I counted all the kids three times. Once as we left the house. Again after I locked the door, and again when we got to the car.

At that very moment, Wetzel realised what she had just done.

“In this case I knew I had them all, but upon her tiny prompting of ’where’s the baby,’ I quickly turned to see just the base of the carseat. I sprang out of the car with my heart in my throat beating a mile a minute and there he was.

“On the trunk.

“I left my baby on the trunk of the car.”

She said she had placed her newborn on the boot while she buckled her two-year-old in his car seat and instinctively shut the door and climbed inside like she had done a million times before he was born.

For Wetzel, it was a turning point.

“Year after year, I see comments filled with hate, vitriol and judgement when a parent loses a child because they had a change of routine and forgot their quiet child was in the back seat.

“Every year I am gutted by these stories because I know, as parents, we are one accident away from our worst ’what-if’ scenario and the loss of life that can occur.

“Every year I hold on to my own personal embarrassing dangerous parenting moment as my reminder to not judge others and plan for the what if.”

Her story encouraged other parents to share their stories, with most saying they could relate.

“I love your honesty and I love that you have forgiven yourself – and you have a plan that works!!”, read one of the comments.

Another said: “One day I went to take my son out of the infant car seat and found he was not buckled at all. Thank god we were not in a car accident that day! We all make mistakes. Some are lucky enough to have a second chance.”

Read her full post below:

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