Last night the mother of the less than one week old abandoned baby dropped into a storm water drain at Quakers Hill was charged with attempted murder.
Being a resident of Quakers Hill and active in many local parenting groups on Facebook, I shared the story pretty much as soon as it broke in the hope that someone knew of a woman who may have recently given birth. Why did I do this? To get this woman brought to justice? No. To get this woman some help. My first thought was “this mother needs help.”
All day this story was discussed on radio. I spoke on the breakfast show and and afternoon show about this. In the morning before the mother attended court we were talking about this as though she had committed the crime as per her charges but later when I spoke in the afternoon we had to change it to alleged.
The radio announcer on the afternoon show kept reminding callers that the crime is only alleged now and that we really shouldn’t speculate. Even before she was charged, and even before the mother was found yesterday afternoon my thoughts were that we should not speculate because anything we might suggest might be far from the truth. But now that we are talking about this being careful not to jeopardise the case before it goes to court, and before the mother returns to court on Friday I think that we need to direct this in a wider speculative manner. That is, let’s not talk about THIS case, but let’s start asking the questions that this case brings up; and this case brings up lots of questions.
- Where is the father?
- Does he know he’s a father?
- Did he know he got someone pregnant?
- If so, is he still with the mum?
- If he is, did he have a hand in this crime?
- If he is, did he want the baby?
- If he didn’t want the baby, was his negativity towards the child the catalyst for the crime?
- If he’s not with the mother, if he left sometime during the pregnancy not wanting to take on the role of dad, was his negativity towards the child the catalyst for the crime?
- If he didn’t know about the pregnancy, why was he kept in the dark?
- If the father didn’t know he got someone pregnant and the mother decided to go ahead and have the baby thinking it was what she wanted, did she have a support system in place?
- Was she kept in the hospital long enough?
- Did she discharge herself too early?
- Did the hospital “kick them out” too soon?
- Did she have someone to help her during the labour?
- Did she have someone there to help her take the baby home?
- Did she have someone to watch over the baby while she caught up with sleep?
There has been much talk today about “drop off” points that could be set up for a mother to drop off an unwanted baby anonymously. These raise further problems with it being an easy way out.
- Will they cause more women to go full term just to off load the baby?
- Will these become a place where new mothers (and fathers) drop off the baby until it’s more convenient a time for them to take on the role of being parents wanting the baby to be returned?
The speculation of many discussing this case suggest that she might be a single mother. But then again that might not be the case. I spoke about this on the radio today with Angela Catterns. I mentioned to her that I met my wife on an Internet dating website. I put in my search results that I was happy to date a women who already had one child as long as they were happy to have more (I really wanted to be a dad myself). During the time that I was on the dating site I found that there were plenty of women with one child and it was a baby under one year old. I thought that it was odd. Some of these had the status of “separated” or “divorced” so these baby weren’t being born out of wedlock. These children were not the result of a one night stand or fly-by-night relationship. I thought this was strange.
After having our first child I could see why this would be the case. Our first born slept for the first month or so and then caused us sleepless nights for the next 40 months or so. That’s three-and-a-half years. It only took about a month or so for the sleep deprivation to take it’s toll. Add in the relentless crying, the demands of a new born that you hear about but never really appreciate until you have one of your own, and the other strains on your relationship, and you will be at each other like you are sworn enemies, not loving a loving couple, nor adoring parents.
I could have walked away. There were many times it seemed like the easy way out. My wife threatened to kick me out many times. She threatened to call the police just because she felt that me reaching out to support her was me being abusive. She knows that I wasn’t being abusive now, and in between bouts of going mental with a lack of sleep, she realised it back then. She was very apologetic for going all crazy on me. I kept suggesting it was post natal depression (PND) but she didn’t buy into that.
But babies make people crazy. They make mothers who are stuck with them 24/7 go crazy. Mothers need an out. Not a permanent one, but they need and out. That’s why I “let” her go away for the weekend on a hen’s weekend. I stepped up to the plate because, well, why wouldn’t I as this kid’s other parent. And after having the second baby I gave her time to get away with some friends over in Singapore. It’s important that a women escapes from being a mother now and then. I get to do it when I go away for work. I love my kids like nothing else, but I treasure those nights when I’m in my hotel room alone knowing that I won’t be woken by a crying child.
One of the reasons I started this blog is to promote being an involved dad. Walking away from the nightmare of our relationship when the shit hits the fans with the kids is not an option. I hold it together more than my wife does. It’s not that I don’t give a shit, it’s the fact that I know that billions of people have come before us having nightmare kids and they made it to the other side, and so will we.
But mothers who abandon their babies don’t think that. They look and think that those 6,574 days that you have to look after these kids before they turn 18 are going to be long and hard and relentless.
Are we doing enough to help out new mothers? Are we doing enough to help out new fathers? Are we doing enough to look out for new babies?
I have probably made this post more about the questions than giving answers of my own, but I am but one man who is still trying to work this stuff out for myself. But we can do this as a community. We need to. It DOES take a village.
Now please excuse me. I have two young boys to take out of the bath.