the tragedy of forgetting

Motherhood has a lot of magic, but it can also be an ailment that is not always revealed

The pain of losing a dear child must be unparalleled suffering. If this loss is indirectly caused by the parents, I believe the torment is even greater. In either case, it's a lifelong hurt.

Last Thursday, May 6th, a two-year-old girl died after having been forgotten by her mother for approximately seven hours in the car, on Avenida Miguel Bombarda, in Lisbon. Parents only realized what had happened after a nursery worker called to ask why the child had not been dropped off at school.

The parents even took their daughter to the hospital, the doctors tried to revive her for thirty minutes, but to no avail. Dehydration and multiorgan failure, the result of the autopsy.

As I don't see news, I learned about this tragedy through a friend's Facebook.

I am a mother of two girls and for six years I survived in sleep deprivation and then, when I could sleep, the body forgot how to go about it. Quetiapine has long become my best friend at bedtime and the white pill still keeps me company at breakfast.

The oldest, almost eight years old, was born with low birth weight. It was necessary to wake her up every two hours to nurse. When it was no longer needed, my daughter decided to continue waking up alone. Even without sleeping properly, I decided to get pregnant again. Three more years in which the pillow only received my head intermittently. Do I regret it? Of course not.

During those six years, I forgot a lot of things. I opened the fridge and couldn't remember why; I went down the stairs without realizing the reason, I lost keys, the melody of the birds irritated me, the laughter of others bothered me. The purchases, lost in the trunk of the car, were spoiled too often — in fact, even today, that happens to me. I believe I lost some faculties as much as I lost nights of sleep.

Motherhood has a lot of magic, but it can also be an ailment that is not always revealed. Babies don't sleep as their parents would like; as moms and dads need. But it's your nature.

I recently read an article in Público about the tendency of parents to use melatonin in children and I was not surprised. I did not use melatonin, but took my daughters to sleep counseling appointments. The oldest even had acupuncture.

Sleep deprivation could be part of motherhood. Nothing to do about it (fortunately, not all babies are the same and you can't even imagine how I squirmed inside, when someone shared their happiness, for me, pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: my daughter sleeps at night all since three months!).

If we add to this fact, the absence of a possible support network (my case - I felt most of the time, a foreigner in my own country, with no one to ask for help), the current reality since the beginning of the pandemic, with the accumulated professional fatigue of telecommuting and the family dynamics, which only those within the same walls know, the elements for a tragedy like this to occur are brought together. It wasn't me, but it could have been. It was not the first time that the pain of forgetting has been in the news, nor, unfortunately, will it be the last.

I don't want to imagine the feeling of guilt, the anguish, the "why?"

I regret the death of that girl abysmally. I wish that mother and father the strength to raise their two children. I can't even imagine where they'll get it.