Michael Kai Warschauer
October 2, 2002 – August 8, 2003
Mikey’s Story – A Father’s View
Mikey was the most loved and adored baby on earth. He was our miracle baby, the last survivor of 14 embryos conceived through in-vitro fertilization. We loved Mikey like the air we breathed. I took the greatest joy imaginable in loving him, playing with him, and taking care of him day by day. Our many photos on Mikey’s website give just a glimpse of how much we adored him and how proud we are of him, not to mention how beautiful, happy, and loving he became in his short life.
On August 8, 2003, when Mikey was 10 months old, he died tragically. The responsibility was mine. I left him in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of a locked car without realizing he was there.
I torture myself again and again as to how I could do such a thing. For the last 2 1/2 years, I had been driving the same way to work. In the last few months, I had been sometimes taking Mikey to daycare in the morning, but on the average only a couple of days a week. The route to both work and daycare is basically the same from my house, but at the last intersection I must turn one way instead of the other. On that day, after a change of my usual morning routine, I lost my concentration and by force of habit drove to work instead of daycare. Mikey, meanwhile, had fallen asleep in the back. I got out of the car without remembering he was there, walked up to my office, and shattered all our dreams.
I accept 100% of the blame for this tragic accident, but I also know there are simple techniques that might help other families avoid such tragedy. Please, please develop in your family a basic safety technique to remind yourselves that a baby is in the car seat. Put a diaper bag in the front seat every time your baby is in the car. Or put your purse, briefcase, wallet, or cell phone in the back seat where you will have to retrieve it before leaving the car. Or call your spouse every morning the minute you arrive at the day care center (with follow up from your spouse if you haven’t called by a certain time.) Discuss the issue right now with your spouse, and come up with a basic safety plan that you will use every time.
I also hope that legislation will be passed mandating safety devices in cars that will warn or prevent people from accidentally leaving a child in a car. We have safety devices that automatically turn off the car’s lights so as to save the battery. Our children deserve at least the same.
And finally, especially to fathers, please slow down. I tried so hard to be a dedicated father, but at a crucial moment I failed my son due to a lapse of attention. When your children are born, slow down your lives so that you can give them the care and attention they need and deserve.
I cannot bring Mikey back (though I would gladly give my own life to be able to do so), but at least I pray that the story of his death may help prevent other similar tragedies.
Mikey’s Story – A Mother’s View
Mikey was everything to us. He brought us the greatest happiness imaginable. He was beautiful, handsome, playful, creative, sociable and loving. Please take another look at Mikey’s website to see how happy we were together.
My husband Mark was the most adoring, doting, and devoted father in the world. He spent hundreds of hours in parenting class, reading books, and getting information online so that we could raise Mikey in the safest and best way. He did all the things that many fathers won’t take time to do, feeding Mikey, changing him, giving him a daily massage, bathing with him, and cuddling him back to sleep at all hours of the night. He would rush home from work early every day so that he could play with Mikey in the yard, sandbox, or pool in the afternoon. He walked around the neighborhood with him, helping Mikey meet people and see and touch new things. He danced and sang with Mikey every day. He was the perfect father, and everybody who witnessed our lives knew it.
The last few weeks of Mikey’s life, we had begun to wean him. For that reason, my husband was taking sole responsibility for checking on him at night and helping him back to sleep when he woke up. I know this left him very tired in the daytime and may have contributed to his lack of attention. (When he got that tired, he also stopped bringing his briefcase back and forth from work, thus eliminating another safety check, since when taking the briefcase out of the trunk he could see Mikey in the carseat.) Finally that particular day, Mark had been up late the night before helping me on a project and was especially tired in the morning, so we rearranged several things about our normal morning routine that we would have ordinarily done on mornings that Mark was driving to the daycare center.
If this terrible accident could happen to us, it could happen to anybody. Please discuss all aspects of car safety in your family right now. Develop an automatic reminder plan (using an item that you place in the front or back seat) so that your child is never accidentally left in the car. Support legislation to make child-car-seat safety devices mandatory. And review all the other information on this site to learn how to protect your child from other kinds of preventable car-related tragedies. The time you spend in doing so will be the most valuable investment you can make in your family and future.
And don’t stop with your car. Children die in all sorts of preventable deaths around the house. Be sure to childproof your house, with special attention to stairs, poisons and chemicals, firearms, and swimming pools. Nobody should go through the pain that we have of losing a baby.
And finally, I agree that both mothers and fathers should please slow down. The pressures of having a two-career family were very challenging to us. We could have met them, but we also should have scaled back our expectations of what we could accomplish in our careers during our child’s first years. Babies are only young once, and by slowing down other aspects of your life you can devote more concentrated attention to your families.
My husband and I are 100% committed to working together to struggle through this tragedy in our lives. Our love is deeper than ever. We know it will be a lifetime struggle and journey, and that we will never completely get over our pain and suffering. But we hope that we can contribute in some way to helping prevent these types of accidents from happening in the future.