It's every parent's worst nightmare, but for Amber Scorah, losing her baby on the first day of daycare was not a bad dream. Her 15-week-old son, Karl, died at Soho Child Care in 2015, on the very first day she was apart from him since his birth.
According to Us Weekly, Scorah didn't feel ready to leave her baby yet, but she tried comforting herself with the thought that the daycare was just two blocks from where she worked. "I planned to go back and breast-feed Karl at lunch," she recounted. "I could hardly wait. I ran the two blocks there. I expected to feel the joy of our reunion — it was the first time we had been apart. I imagined his face lighting up, him being so happy to see me."
But instead of the loving reunion Scorah envisioned, she found Karl unconscious on a changing table. "His lips and the area around his mouth were blue, and the daycare owner was frantic, trying to revive him," she painfully recalls. The heartbroken mom would come to find out Karl had died two hours after she dropped him off.
According to Us, the next day Soho Child Care was shut down for not being licensed and, unimaginably, because its employees weren't CPR-certified. How Karl, who his mom describes as "so positive and magical," actually died is still not known.
Through their grief, the parents decided to take action. They longed to have another child, because as Scorah explains, "We loved and enjoyed Karl so much, it was impossible to imagine living our lives and not being parents." She adds, "We couldn't have Karl back, but we could have a little brother or sister for Karl, and another life to nurture that would be just as precious to us as Karl was." They welcomed a daughter, Sevi, 11 months after losing their son.
Scorah also joined forces with another mom, Ali Dodd, who lost her son the first day of daycare, to raise awareness about the urgent need for improved parental leave policies in this country. "Neither of us had wanted to leave our babies yet, but we had no choice as our families needed income, and we both feel that if we had longer with our babies, things might have turned out differently," she says.
Now, Scorah hopes her son's life can have a lasting impact on other parents, so they won't have to endure the unimaginable pain of losing a child like she did. You can support the cause by visiting ForKarl.com and Change.org, where Scorah and Dodd have started a petition to award all parents 100 days of paid leave after a child is born.
"1 in 4 American moms have no choice but to return to work just two weeks after the birth of a child," the petition reads. "87 percent of parents have no access to paid leave through their employers. No parent should have to choose between leaving their baby too soon and making ends meet."
"America has the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized nation in the world," the petition goes on to say. "Paid leave, in countries that have implemented it, has dramatically lowered infant death rates."
"Parental leave is a necessity, not a perk," the petition implores.
Here's hoping change is on the way.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.