A Baby Dies at Day Care, and a Mother Asks Why She Had to Leave Him So Soon

A mom in New York City was headed back to work after a three month paid maternity leave.

She felt extremely lucky to have been able to spend time with her newborn during these important first months of life. Many women she realized, only had a few weeks to be with their newborns before having to return to work. Still, the thought of going back was extremely tough. Having to leave him weighed heavily on her. She even asked her PR department for more time, but they refused, stating there simply was no system in place for extending maternity leave time. She realized the only other option would be to quit. She was so attached to being with her child, that indeed she considered quitting her job.
Unfortunately, that would mean losing their health insurance, which the family relied on. The math just didn’t seem to work out. And if she took the chance and the money from her partners income wasn’t cutting it, then she would need to return to work. That meant trying to secure a new job without a degree, which could mean several months of searching and starting from the bottom as she had done before. It didn’t seem to make sense to quit a job where she was already established.
Day care seemed the sensible option. It’s what everyone does, right? So they researched the best and closest facility and found a good fit. It was so close to her work, that she would be able to visit little Karl during lunch breaks, and even breastfeed him.
It all seemed to make sense, yet it still didn’t feel right for the mom.
They made their way through the hustle and bustle of New York City, and arrived that morning at the day care facility. It was Karl’s first day. She dropped little Karl off. The attendant joked with the mom, trying to put her at ease, knowing it was her first day of dropping her baby off. The mom felt reassured, as she realized this is what many mom’s do every single day. She shouldn’t worry.
Nevertheless, when it came time for lunch, she raced from her work, straight to the day care. She could not wait to see her little baby and was very excited to be with him, hold him and breastfeed him.
The doors to the facility were propped open when she arrived. Odd, she thought. When she got to her little Karl, she froze. Karl was laying on a changing table. His lips were blue. He was unconscious. Karl was being given CPR by the owner. Incorrectly.
She had dropped her son off two and a half hours ago, and now he was dead.
It turned out at 11:50 a.m., Karl was seen kicking his legs and one of the assistants went and got the owner. The day care owner wrote it off, telling the assistant that, “babies kick their legs in their sleep all the time.”
Twenty minutes later Karl died.
It turned out the owner also put Karl to sleep on his side which is a dangerous position. It’s unclear if he would have been put to sleep on his back, whether he would be alive today.
What the mother was clear about, was that had she been with him, this would not have happened.
She will never have all the answers, and she isn’t concerned with condemning day care centers, but is more concerned about a larger issue. The issue that had forced her into a corner, with seemingly no options.
The question she wishes to pose to all is whether or not parents should be pushed so heavily into having others care for their infant, because of a culture that seems to demand this to be the norm. Get back to your job, check your infant child into a facility and pay others to take care of him as you don’t have the time.
This, she realizes, is the norm in our society. And many moms are forced to turn their babies into facilities much earlier than she, because they had to get back to work and did not have the “lengthy” maternity leave time as this mom had.
It is a torture-filled experience that so many mothers are forced into. Giving up care of their baby to return to the workplace so they can pay the rent.
Naturally, knowing what she knows now, she would have canned her job right away and collected cans and bottles on the street with her child strapped on her back if it meant that she could be with him, rather than losing him.
Having a better system which focuses more on the strong importance of parental leave can have huge benefits. Parental leave reduces infant death, creates healthier and better adjusted adults, while still keeping women in the workplace, of which 47% exist in the workplace today. A longer time should be allowed for mothers to properly recover and adjust, while using health care to create a better transition for returning to work and ensuring a young infant’s proper well being.
This baby likely would be alive today if such a better system existed and our culture wasn’t so focused on the rush to get back on the hamster wheel and put an infant’s care in the hands of strangers. Certainly something to think about, as well as a consideration for parents to give voice to their infants and lobby for legislature which would have stronger focus on family and proper infant upbringing. Mothers should not have to feel cornered into handing their infants over to strangers and experiencing a horrific tragedy as this mom did.
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