About a year ago New York mum, Amber Scorah, returned to work after nearly four months of maternity leave. She dropped her three month old son Karl in daycare for the first time and when she returned to breastfeed him a few hours later he was unconscious and a childcare worker was attempting CPR on him.
Karl was pronounced dead that day at the hospital. The medical examiner could not determine the cause of death. The story of the baby who died on his first day at childcare went around the world. It was so utterly tragic. It also tapped into the fears every mother has who leaves her child in care when she returns to work. What is the real cost of me to my family returning to my job? What am I doing to my child by putting them into care? Is this the right age to leave them? Am I doing the right thing?
Amber Scorah and her husband, Lee Towndrow, have become vocal advocates of maternity leave rights for parents in the US. Scorah says she wasn’t ready to return to work but if she didn’t she would have lost her job and the family’s health insurance.
Amber with her baby Karl.
Scorah and Towndrow had a baby girl last month. A little girl called Sevi. This week Amber Scorah spoke on the podcast Death, Sex and Money about the day she dropped Karl off for his first day at daycare.
She says she geared herself up on the morning thinking, “Everyone does this. This is just sort of one of those first rites of passage of parenthood that you have go through”.
And of course it felt really surreal and strange to leave him, but once I took him out of the baby carrier, one of the day care assistants—one of the Spanish-speaking ladies—came over and went up to his face and smiled and said, “Hola!” And Karl just gave this big radiant smile, so I thought – I felt really reassured. I thought, “Oh, he’s gonna have a little adventure here and I’ll be back before he knows it.”