The mother of a 15-week old baby who died on his first day in day care has written a moving account of her grief, questioning why she had to be separated from her newborn when he was still so young.
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 to work after maternity leave.
In an essay on The Motherlode, 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."
Amber says she considered other options, but her wage alone was not enough to support the family, and her husband, Lee, is a freelancer, which means he has no health insurance (in the US, health insurance is routinely provided by your employer; those who freelance, or don’t work, have to front the costs themselves, which can be up to $1000 a month for a family of three.)
"So we did the best, most responsible-seeming thing we could think of. After a long search, many waiting lists, interviews and a great deal of angst, we settled on a day care near my workplace," she writes.
"I justified it a million ways, as one justifies when one has run out of alternatives. He is an only child and maybe he would like to play with these other children. There are other babies who have been there since they were six weeks old, and Karl is fifteen weeks."
She dropped her baby intending to return at lunchtime to breastfeed.
"I was so excited to see him, I ran the two blocks there from the office," she says, but as soon as she arrived, she realized something was wrong.
"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," she says. The inquest in Karl’s death was recently completed. The Coroner apportioned no blame, and could not say whether Karl would have lived had he been home with Amber.
"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?" she says.
"This article isn’t about day-care safety. This isn’t an indictment of the company I work for. 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."
You can read the whole piece here.
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