“What this article is about is that my infant died in the care of a stranger, when he should have been with me. Our culture demanded it.”
Amber Scorah’s son, Karl, died less than three hours after she dropped him at a crèche in New York City, on her first day back at work after maternity leave. She has written a heart wrenching post on “The Motherlode“, questioning why she had to be separated from her newborn when he was still so young.
Amber says she “felt lucky” to have three months’ paid maternity leave after Karl was born.
“Most of the parents in my community had only weeks before they had to leave their babies to go back to work,” she says. She says Karl was old enough to hold his own head up, but “I was uncomfortable with the idea of leaving him.”
“I returned to the day care at 12:15 to nurse Karl. I was so excited to see him, I ran the two blocks there from the office. As I took the stairs by twos to the second floor, I noticed that the door to the day care was propped open. It seemed odd to me — that they would leave the door open, with so many toddlers inside. I walked around the corner, expecting to pick up my son, feel his chubby rolls, see his face light up at the sight of his mummy.”
“Instead, I saw my son unconscious, splayed out on a soft changing table. His lips and the area around his mouth were blue, and the day-care owner was performing CPR on him, incorrectly.
Our sweet son died two and a half hours after the first time I had left him.
Would Karl have died if he had been with me that morning? The medical examiner finished her report last week and the conclusion is: undetermined.”
“What is determined is that at 11:50 a.m. the day-care assistant saw my baby kicking his legs and brought it to the attention of the day-care owner. The day-care owner dismissed the assistant, telling her not to go over to check him. “Babies kick their legs in their sleep all the time,” she said. Twenty minutes later, my baby was dead. If the day-care assistant had gone over and picked him up, checked on him, would Karl be alive? I don’t know. The day-care owner had also put Karl down to sleep on his side, which is a known unsafe sleep position. Had he been put down on his back to sleep, would he be alive? I don’t know.
I will have to live with questioning this for the rest of my life.”
“Regardless of the answers I will never have, the question I now ask is: Should parents have to play this roulette with their weeks-old infant? To do all they can possibly do to ensure that their baby is safe, only to be relying on a child-care worker’s competence or attentiveness or mood that day?”
This article isn’t about day-care safety. This isn’t an indictment of the company I work for; I had one of the better parental leave policies of anyone I know. What this article is about is that my infant died in the care of a stranger, when he should have been with me. Our culture demanded it.
A mother should never have no choice but to leave her infant with a stranger at 3 months old if that decision doesn’t feel right to her. Or at 6 weeks old. Or 3 weeks old. I would have stayed home with Karl longer, but there just didn’t seem to be a way. And I knew well enough that a million other mothers in America before me had faced the same choice and had done the same, even earlier than I had, though it tortured them emotionally, or physically, to do so.
” I am now asking: Why, why does a parent in this country have to sacrifice her job, her ability to provide her child with proper health care —- or for many worse off than me, enough food to eat — to buy just a few more months to nurture a child past the point of vulnerability?”
“Yes, it’s possible that even in a different system, Karl still might not have lived a day longer, but had he had been with me, where I wanted him, I wouldn’t be sitting here, living with the nearly incapacitating anguish of a question that has no answer.
There are plenty of good examples of how to create a national parental leave system that works. Our children can’t afford lobbyists. It’s up to us parents to demand more.”
It really does make you think twice about how precious our children are, and how unimportant everything else is in comparison. My heart aches for this mum.
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