Where parenting is concerned, exhaustion typically comes along for the ride. First off, new parents experience sleep disruption throughout the night in order to tend to their infant’s needs. Secondly, they are now expected to add caring for a newborn to all their other daily responsibilities.
Whatever the reason behind it, parenting exhaustion exists and is no laughing matter. In fact, it can result in parents taking dangerous risks - risks that can end up costing them everything important in their lives. Consider these frightening statistics: new dads are 36% more likely to have an accident at work and 26% more likely to be involved in an on-road accident.
It makes sense - the more tired a person is, the more their attitudes toward safety are affected. They may not be making the most sound decisions and may actually be predisposed toward taking dangerous shortcuts and potentially harmful risks.
What it comes down to is this: sleep is a biological necessity. When new moms and dads end up accruing a large amount of sleep debt, the price can be steep. This lack of quality rest impacts a person’s mood, memory function, cognitive abilities as well as increases a new mother’s risk of postpartum depression. Operating on little or no sleep can actually be compared to driving while under the influence.
So for all expectant or new parents reading this article - we hope you take this opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes. Continue reading about 15 exhausted parents who paid the ultimate price.
15 Mom Loses Grip
In September 2015, a family boarded a bus in India not knowing that tragedy would strike less than an hour later. Husband and wife boarded the bus together with their 14-month-old son Smeet Jat. Smeet’s mother took a window seat and placed her son on her lap. Investigators later pieced together that as the bus headed down a busy highway, the toddler was leaning out the open window. As his mother nodded off, her grip on him loosened and her son plunged fatally to the roadway below.
A biker riding behind the bus noticed an object (later to be identified as Smeet) fall out the window and immediately sounded an alarm. Paramedics were summoned to the scene and the child was rushed to the nearest hospital with devastating injuries to his head and spinal cord. He later died. No charges were laid as investigators summed up the situation as a tragic accident.
14 Dryer Catastrophe
New babies generally equate to mountains of dirty laundry. This less than glamorous task can start to become rote after a while - but for Michigan area mom Serena*, it was a tragic wake up call that reminded her how truly exhausted she was.
In 2012, Serena gave birth to triplets. “After the babies arrived, I felt like doing laundry was my sole purpose in life. I was dealing with three times the spit up and pee and poop. It got to the point where I felt like a walking, talking zombie who didn’t do anything but feed, burp and change crying infants while stuffing laundry in and out of machines.”
When the babies were just eight weeks old, Serena was yanking newly dried sheets and towels out of her dryer when she discovered Bailey, the family’s five-year-old Siamese cat, barely clinging to life. He had either been sitting in the dryer when Serena had loaded it up or else somehow gotten caught up in the pile of damp sheets. Whatever the case, Bailey’s injuries proved so severe he had to be euthanized.
13 Silent And Deadly
Everyone is entitled to a moment of forgetfulness now and again - but unfortunately for this New Zealand mother of three, hers ended up proving fatal. House sitting for friends in July 2015, Cindy George was not only looking after their home but their car as well. And as part of her responsibility she would run the car from time to time. Why she chose to do so in a sealed garage, no one will ever know.
For whatever reason, the fact that the car was still running slipped Cindy’s mind. Like any busy mom can attest to, it’s easy to become distracted when dealing with children and day-to-day life. As a result, the build-up of lethal carbon monoxide eventually made its silent but deadly way into the house. Not only did Cindy die because of her stupid error in judgment, but so did her three children aged five, three and two.
12 Forgotten Baby Syndrome
It seems impossible to happen: a loving parent forgetting their child in the car while going about their day. But it can . . . and sadly does happen.
In September 2016, a Dayton mother accidentally skipped a crucial daycare drop off and proceeded to go to work. It wasn’t until her work day ended and she showed up at her son’s daycare that she made the devastating realization that she had never dropped him off. The one-year-old boy was found dead, still secured in his rear-facing car seat in the back seat of his mother’s car.
It’s imperative that parents take the steps needed to ensure this doesn’t happen. Consider these potential life-saving options:
- Place something of importance like a purse or phone in the back seat next to the baby.
- Set up a safety check with the caregiver who is expecting to watch the baby.
- Place a reminder in the passenger seat - such as a note or toy.
- Move baby's car seat to the center of the back seat so it is more easily viewed in the rearview mirror.
11 Forgotten Baby Syndrome Part 2
August 2015 marked yet another time a good mother made a horrible mistake. Cherish Peterson, an Arizona mother of four, was rushing in and out of a local grocery store with three of her four children. On the way out, her mind clearly not where it should be, Cherish forgot her two-month-old son in the shopping cart and drove away.
Luckily, the baby was spotted almost immediately by an off-duty Phoenix police officer who brought him into a nearby salon before alerting the authorities. Meanwhile, Cherish was back on the road continuing to tick off her to-do list before she happened to glance in the car’s backseat, noting her son’s absence. She quickly returned to the store, but by this time 40 minutes had already passed.
Upon her arrival, she was charged with child endangerment. But that’s nothing compared to the torrent of criticism and vilification unleashed on her by the general public.
10 Car Seat Tragedy
An integral note to tired and rushed parents: simply snapping the chest plate on an infant’s car seat is not enough protection for a baby in a moving vehicle. Take it from a mother who knows . . . and wishes she could go back in time.
Louisiana mom Holly Wagner now dedicates her life to her two children as well as to car seat safety. Her 11-month-old son Cameron died after being involved in a car accident in May of 2013. His three-year-old brother Connor suffered a broken arm - but poor Cameron was ejected from the car. He remained on life support for 16 days before succumbing to his extensive injuries.
After the fact, Holly received further devastating news - Cameron had not been properly secured in his car seat. Had he been, he most likely would have survived. For starters, he was forward-facing when he should have been rear-facing. Plus his car seat straps were twisted which meant they were unable to provide the level of support they were supposed to. And what’s worse, only the chest plate on his car seat had been secured - the crotch buckle had been left undone.
9 Safe Sleeping
A word of warning to parents desperate to get their infant to sleep: a crib or bassinet are the only two places any baby should be encouraged to sleep. In June of 2014, U.K. mother Danielle Jones gave her 12-week-old daughter Leia-Mae her last bottle of the night, placed her in her bouncer and proceeded to collapse exhausted on the living room couch. She awoke at four a.m. to find Leia-Mae still in the bouncer, unresponsive. She called paramedics and attempted CPR herself but it was too late.
It’s true - fussy babies may easily fall asleep when placed in their bouncer, jumper, exersaucer or motorized swing. It’s important to note that while these items may all be dreams come true for the busy parent, they are not designed for sleep and can contribute to a higher risk of SIDS. This is because babies who are unable to hold their heads up on their own can sometimes slump and then suffocate to death.
Experts suggest limiting the amount of time a baby uses any of these devices. As well, they should never be left unattended or even out of sight.
8 Kitchen Crisis
It was October 2012 when this Modesto mother almost unknowingly killed her family. Yesenia Zambrano was doing typical mom stuff - hurriedly cleaning up the kitchen, when she accidentally knocked a knob on her stove turning on the natural gas.
Acting on her maternal instinct likely saved the lives of her three children as well as herself. She was confused as to why the kids (aged three, two and one) were so quiet in the middle of the day. When she checked on them, she found them sleeping and was unable to rouse them. That was when she noticed how groggy she herself was feeling. Then she made the frightening discovery that the gas was on.
Quickly, Yesenia called 911 and got the children out of the house. It goes to show - that especially in a kitchen where potential dangers lurk in the form of gas, heat and toxic chemicals, parents need to take special care to make sure all is as it should be.
7 Baby Unbuckled
Here’s an unsettling statistic: one third of all children who die in car crashes are not buckled up. A Des Moines father learned this lesson the hard way when he uncovered the shocking reason his infant daughter died in a relatively minor car accident.
Father, mother and baby had spent a couple of hours at a local shopping center, with baby being pushed around in her bucket car seat which was snapped into the stroller. At some point, dad removed the baby to feed her before placing her back into the bucket but neglected to buckle her back in.
Upon returning to the car for the ride home, the baby’s seat was simply transferred from stroller to car - the fact that she was completely unbuckled never registered. On the way home, another car sped through a stop sign - the impact between vehicles was enough to eject the infant from her car seat, killing her instantly. No one else involved was injured.
6 Bed-Sharing Peril
Many parents will do whatever it takes to get a sound sleep including bringing their baby into bed with them. And while the majority of time this can be done without incident, experts continue to warn of the possible risks of doing so.
A British couple paid a steep price after bringing their six-week-old son Noah Pearson into bed with them. It was December 2014 and Noah’s parents were out as a couple for the first time since his birth. Noah’s grandmother was over to babysit him while they headed out with friends for a few drinks. The couple arrived home at 3:30 a.m., relieved the sitter and went straight to bed. Noah was sound asleep in his bassinet next to the master bed.
Less than two hours later, Noah was awake crying to be fed. His father fed and cuddled him before placing him in bed next to him. He figured Noah would settle quicker this way than if placed into his bassinet.
Just before nine a.m., the father awoke to discover Noah unresponsive with blood coming from his nose. Paramedics arrived and transported Noah to hospital where he was pronounced dead due to oxygen deprivation.
5 Bed-Sharing Peril Part 2
Oxygen deprivation isn’t the only concern when it comes to bed-sharing between parent and infant. On March 11, 2017 a New York mother accidentally killed her daughter - two-month-old Kortny Williams - when she rolled over in bed and crushed her while she slept. Her mother frantically called for paramedics just before 10 a.m. and Kortny was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
While her death was ruled accidental with no charges being laid, this poor mother will have to live with this accident for the rest of her life.
Even if a parent is not an especially deep sleeper, bed-sharing with an infant is best avoided at all costs. The possible reward (a baby falling asleep quickly) is just not worth the risk associated such as: suffocation, strangulation, a baby being crushed, becoming trapped or wedged between the mattress, headboard and wall or falling to the floor.
4 Curiosity Kills
This next heartbreaking tale proves that sometimes all the precaution in the world isn’t enough to protect a couple of curious toddlers. It was the morning of Thanksgiving 2015 when Jarred Canavan returned to his Palm Beach home after a breakfast meeting to discover his 16-month-old twin sons, Leyton and Jaxon, floating face down in the family pool. Their mother was sound asleep inside the house.
After the fact, authorities and the grieving parents pieced together what had happened. Both Leyton and Jaxon had managed to climb out of their respective cribs (something they had never done before), head into the kitchen where they caused some minor disarray before opening the home’s back door as well as slider. From there, they made their way over to the secured pool gate which they figured out how to open.
As a result, Leyton died and Jaxon was revived and deemed in critical condition. Presently, he has appeared to have made some strides toward improvement though his health has seriously been compromised by this near-drowning.
3 Out The Window
After the following incident unfolded in September 2016, a local pediatrician was prompted to call children “accidents waiting to happen”. According to Winnipeg doctor Stan Lipnowski, even being one step ahead of a child isn’t good enough - parents need to be three to five steps ahead at all times. He even recommends parents lay down on the floor of their homes in order to inspect the area from their children’s point of view.
Here’s what happened: 15-month-old Emma Genaille was sitting with her dozing mother in their apartment, watching tv. The toddler somehow managed to make her way to a sofa underneath the window and push on the screen. As a result, both screen and baby fell one-and-a-half storeys below to a parking lot.
Emma’s mother immediately rushed to the window fearing the worst. She saw her daughter lying face down on the ground below. Fortunately, despite sustaining skull fractures, Emma was anticipated to make a full recovery. Winnipeg police didn’t press charges - citing the incident an unfortunate accident.
2 Car Seat Or Crib?
Another two no-nos when it comes to sleeping babies are car seats and infant carriers. In April of 2015, 11-week-old Shepard Dodd died when his caregiver put him down for a nap in an unbuckled car seat. He was then left alone behind closed doors for two hours. When the caregiver went to check on him, he was dead.
A post-mortem review showed that Shepard had slipped downward in the seat with his head falling into an awkward position that compromised his airways. He had essentially smothered to death.
While it’s not uncommon for multi-tasking and tired parents to leave their sleeping babies no matter where they are, it can easily turn into a risky situation. As any parent knows, it’s not difficult to become distracted and end up leaving baby unattended for longer than planned.
Experts urge parents to use car seats only for their intended purpose. However, if a baby is left in one while asleep, ensure they remain buckled and do not leave them unsupervised.
1 Behind The Wheel
Being a parent is typically synonymous with being exhausted - but in the literal blink of an eye, a moment of fatigue can have disastrous repercussions. In June 2016, Buffalo-area mother Amanda Kamae fell asleep at the wheel of her car while driving with her two children. It was nine a.m. when she accidentally veered off the road - her vehicle struck a culvert pipe and overturned an undetermined number of times before finally coming to rest in a residential front yard.
Amanda as well as her six-year-old son and one-year-old daughter were injured and transported to the hospital. Thankfully everyone has since fully recovered.
Sometimes a rough night’s sleep is just part and parcel to being a parent. This is why it’s important for a parent to recognize whether or not they are too exhausted to get behind the wheel and if yes then come up with Plan B. Exhaustion can seriously impact a person’s cognitive function, vision as well as reflexes and according to experts is comparable to driving drunk!
Sources: PBS.org, KidSpot.com.au, ABC.net.au, Parents.com, ABC7NY.com, LiveScience.com, FreeRangeKids.com, MamaMia.com.au, RedBookMag.com, Fox40.com, PalmBeachPost.com, BuffaloNews.com, Telegraph.co.uk, NDTV.com, Winnipeg.CTVNews.ca