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"My infant died in the care of a stranger, when he should have been with me."

“My infant died in the care of a stranger, when he should have been with me.”

When Amber Scorah dropped her baby son off at daycare for the very first time on 13 July this year, she was nervous about leaving her first child alone.

But when the daycare owner joked that the worst thing that could happen would be for the little one to be “run over” by a toy car, Ms Scorah felt reassured that all new mums returning to work had the same fears.

“This was what everyone did, how everyone felt,” she thought.

The New York mum returned to the daycare centre later that day to breastfeed little Karl – and that’s when she saw the door to the centre flung open.

She knew immediately that something was wrong, and when she entered the room that nightmarish suspicion was confirmed.

“I saw my son unconscious, splayed out on a soft changing table,” she wrote in a piece for the New York Times. “His lips and the area around his mouth were blue, and the day-care owner was performing CPR on him, incorrectly.”

Amber Scorah baby
Image via ForKarl.com

Little Karl had mysteriously passed away just 25 minutes earlier, after the daycare assistant saw the little boy kicking his legs in his sleep.

“Our sweet son died two and a half hours after the first time I had left him,” Ms Scorah wrote for the New York Times on Sunday.

While the medical examiner’s report could not determine exactly how Karl died or whether the death was preventable, Ms Scorah says she will never shake the lingering sense that she should have been with her son that day.

“If the daycare assistant had gone over and picked him up, checked on him, would Karl be alive? I don’t know,” she wrote. “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.”

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Ms Scorah is now channeling her grief into a powerful campaign for better parental leave. On a website she set up called ForKarl.com, the young professional woman argues that the current system in the US effectively forces women back to work before they’re ready.

Amber Scorah baby
Scorah posted the article on Facebook, calling for readers to lobby for parental leave at ForKarl.com.

Ms Scorah emphasises that her complaint is not with the publishing house that employs her, the daycare centre, or any individual. Instead, she argues “the entire culture” surrounding her made her leave her son in a stranger’s care before she felt comfortable.

“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,” she wrote in the New York Times piece.

“A mother should never have no choice but to leave her infant with a stranger at three months old if that decision doesn’t feel right to her. Or at six weeks old. Or three weeks old,” she continued.

“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.”

Our thoughts are with Amber Scorah and her partner.

Ms Scorah and her partner are calling for readers to share Karl’s story, and to ask their representatives to lobby for parental leave. You can visit their website ForKarl.com here; it calls for US parents to contact their government representatives and presidential candidates to voice their opinion on family leave.

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