“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.”

Read the full letter here.

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.

Share your thoughts below.

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  • I was very lucky that my husband and I decided that he would work and I would be a stay at home parent for our children. I didnt have sreams of some amazing job. But from the time I was 12years old if people asked me what I wanted to be when i grew up my response was “A Mum” … I had many females judge me because I was a stay at home Mum. I had some ask me if I got board. Nope…never. I delighted in being a stay at home Mum and I felt so very thankful for a supportive husband. We didnt have the income that some others had but we were still happy and I was comfortable that my kids were well cared for….by me.


  • This is just so terribly sad.


  • Such a sad story thanks for sharing this article


  • So many unanswered questions. Nothing will ever change what happened…..3 months is not long enough. Tears just reading this heartbreaking story


  • My heart aches for this poor women, One can only begin to imagine her pain, I hate to point the finger and realise my opinion may be offensive, but was the full duty of care given by the centre, incorrect cpr no follow up into a staff members concern. I dont know necessarily think blame for this incident can be placed on the parental leave system, although my understanding of Americas systems work is limited. Such a sad story.


  • I have tears reading this article. Her pain and anguish is really felt and her story is so relatable. The pressures that new parents, particularly mothers and juggling returning to work or staying with their newborn needs to more attention and action.


  • Terrible tragedy to read about. I was fortunate enough to stay home with my kids all the time and did never have to go to work. It was different way back then. It was a bit hard going at times on one wage but we were very happy and did not want or have to have this and that.


  • A definite tragedy that no parent should have to go through. My heart goes out to the family.


  • I know things are different these days, but when I started to have children 38 years ago. I had children because I wanted to stay home and look after them. Sure things were tough on one wage but we managed. I have always believed if you want a child then you want to look after them. I do not believe in paid parental leave.

    • Totally agree with this comment

      • So if people want to work or have to work they shouldnt have children? Wow.


  • Such a sad and heartbreaking story !! I feel the pain, God bless this family ! Reading this story I don’t think the system is to blame. In the end of the day the decision is ours if we want to work or stay at home with the kids. Sometimes I think we lost the ability to live simple and be happy with little.


  • I have no words, only tears at this point. My thoughts go out to these parents.


  • I read this earlier today and I feel so heartbroken for them. The worst thing was reading the comments on the article. The health system of the US needs a massive overhaul.


  • Such an incredibly tragic and heart wrenching story that shouldn’t have to be written or ever experienced, ever!
    It has always saddened me that our current economic situation requires both partners in most families to be working full time in order to just cover the basics, therefore forcing women to return to work and in most cases, unwillingly, and at the very least, way too soon. Long gone are the days where a family could sufficiently survive on one wage sadly and we in Australia (for the most part) are the lucky ones! Lucky enough to have Government benefits such as Medicare, Childcare rebates and paid parental leave programs!! Well in comparison to the United States at least! But that certainly doesn’t change the heartbreak us Mums are forced to feel on a daily basis as we leave our beloved babies in the care of strangers in order to pay the bills because it has literally been impossible for a long time now, for most families to survive on one reasonable wage, and that is where this entire problem begins and no amount of childcare rebates or family benefits are ever going to change that or make up for that.
    My sincerest and deepest condolences to all family and friends of beautiful baby Karl who was taken way too soon and in such tragic circumstances. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.


  • My heart goes out to that dear lady and the sadness of her loss. But, that’s right, they are the most important thing in the world. I was grateful that I could stay home with my children and raise them, and was originally told by doctors that I would never have children. Meanwhile 4 children later. I waited too long to have them and I wasn’t going to leave them in the hands of a stranger. I don’t condemn anyone who feels that they need or have to go back to work, but I strongly advocate that if you want more than anything in the world to be a mother then you have to make a choice, your job, or your child. I chose my children and I would do it again if I had to over again. I would willingly go without and make the greater sacrifice than have the burden of having to go to work to and miss out on the nurturing of my own children. The Government is to blame, because they separate families. I advocate that mothers should be paid to stay at home with their children and I’m not just talking about child allowance, I’m saying a wage in addition to that. They pay people to have babies, then why don’t they pay the mother to stay home and care for their own children instead of putting them in day care. I hate day care and I believe that day care centres were the worst thing created. Raising children is the hardest job in the world and contrary to what some people think, it is rewarding. Rewarding in the fact that yours is the face that they see when they wake up. You get to see them take their first step, their first tooth, their first word, going from liquids to solids. Just to have that precious time with that little person that you brought into this world. Because, the moments pass so quickly and soon enough they are grown and making their own decisions. I will never lose those special times I had with my children, as long as I live because they are etched firmly in my memory. Yes, there were the trying times, feeding and sleeping problems, but I was the one who walked the floor with them, not some stranger. You only get one chance at it, make sure you do it right. Remember, the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.


  • What a heart wrenching story. Paid parental leave is well overdue. I was lucky enough to be able to stay out of the workforce – now paying the price and can’t get back in again. Really really want paid parental leave for all as its vital for children and parents alike.


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