Amber Scorah wanted a longer maternity leave. She didn't yet feel comfortable leaving her 3-month-old son, but her company had no mechanism in place to allow her to take more time off, even if it was unpaid. She and her partner discussed the possibility of her quitting her job—but, even though she didn't make that much more than the high cost of New York City childcare, they couldn't afford to lose the health care their family had through her company. With no other option, they settled on a daycare that came highly recommended, and that was close enough to Scorah's job that she could visit at lunch and nurse Karl. On her very first day back at work, she walked into the daycare at lunch to see "my son unconscious, splayed out on a soft changing table. His lips and the area around his mouth were blue," she writes in the New York Times. "Our sweet son died two and a half hours after the first time I had left him."
Karl's cause of death was ultimately listed as "undetermined," and Scorah acknowledges it's possible he may have died even if he'd been with her. But, she writes, she does know she would have put Karl to sleep safely on his back (he was put down for a nap on his side at the daycare) and would have checked on him if she noticed him kicking his legs in his sleep (an assistant was told not to worry about it when she informed the owner). "The question I now ask is: Should parents have to play this roulette with their weeks-old infant?" Scorah writes. "Why, why does a parent in this country have to sacrifice her job, her ability to provide her child with proper health care—or for many worse off than me, enough food to eat—to buy just a few more months to nurture a child past the point of vulnerability?" She's set up a website where people can easily call for paid parental leave in the US. Her full, heart-wrenching column is worth a read. (Read more child care stories.)