Almost exactly a year ago, Amber Scorah brought her 3-month-old son Karl to a New York City daycare, despite feeling not ready to part with him and go back to work. When she visited Karl on a lunch break because she was too excited to wait to see him that night, she found the daycare owner giving her blue-lipped baby CPR. He was pronounced dead just hours later and to this day, it’s not truly understood how Karl died. Scorah and her husband Lee Towndrow spoke with the host of the Death, Sex & Money podcast about life after Karl and what it was like to get pregnant with a second child.
“I remember, when we were pregnant with Karl, we had a total sense of innocence about everything. And then I remember when Karl was born, I, um, I was taking a whole bunch of pictures at that time. Because I thought, ‘How is it that everything looks so beautiful?’ [Laughs.] I was totally high! ” Towndrow began. “And it’s been really hard to get as excited this time.”
“I think we feel a little bit like, um, I don’t want to say cynical, but um…” he continues. Scorah jumps in: “I feel like there’s a loss of meaning.” The pair explains in the hours after finding Karl at daycare (which was shut down the day after Karl’s death for not being licensed and for its providers not being certified in CPR though they’d claimed to be), they sat at the hospital for “eight or nine” hours just holding the dead baby.
“Even though they were trying to revive him, they let me hold onto his foot. Like … um, but they tried for so long and, like, I just knew that there’s — they’re just doing it for us basically at this point, so that we knew that they tried,” Scorah said.
She and Towndrow stayed at a friend’s apartment for weeks and thought only of Karl. “I find myself continuing to think, like, ‘Oh, OK, we’ll just get through this period, and then we’ll have Karl again.’ And then I realize, like, no, no. We’re not going to have Karl again. And my mind keeps processing that information over and over again,” Scorah said.
“Days after Karl died,” the couple decided another baby was the only thing they had control over while they were grieving. “Of course I know logically … when the baby comes out and you meet them, it’s not gonna — you’re going to love them just as much,” Scorah told DS&M when she was six months pregnant. “Everyone knows that. But, um. I don’t know how you describe the emotions of grief. I mean, they’re just like this blanket that just smothers you.”
Scorah and Towndrow explain they plan to tell their baby, a healthy girl named Sevi who was born in June and “has a full head of dark hair, just like Karl,” according to the podcast host Anna Sale, all about her big brother. Their circumstances have changed and Towndrow is now the spouse with insurance. He explained this time around, Scorah will stay home with the baby for at least a year. Still, both of them are actively campaigning for parental leave in the United States.