Today I got an ultrasound (anatomy scan) of Baby Cousin II. Henry was a little confused by the image, asking “where is he?” and “where did that come from?” It is probably confusing to see a picture of the little brother we keep telling him is in my belly. Either way, he is pretty excited about “Belt” (Henry’s name for brother) and said he will teach him a lot.
Henry and I took a day trip to Connecticut to see my friend Sara. We had not visited her since January of 2014. It was nice to get out on the beach with her and her three boys. Henry was a little timid about going in the water at first. Once he saw Sara’s youngest son, Sebastien (just turned 2) fearlessly swimming in, he decided he would like to take a chance too. Thanks to Sara for hosting us and taking Henry all the way out to the dock. It was wonderful to see Henry laughing in the water. He loved hanging out with all three boys and was very sad to leave saying, “I really miss them,” with tears before we even got on the train to head home.
Jacqui and I have talked about how this blog has a tendency to focus so exclusively on the joys of parenthood that the aggravations and general stress of life are edited out, leaving a more idealized version of our lives than is totally accurate. This is probably true of social media in general. However, we were recently on the periphery of a tragic event that would seem disingenuous to brush under the rug.
Last Monday we were shocked and saddened to learn that a three-month-old baby boy named Karl died on his first day at the daycare Henry also attends.
The death of a child, especially one so young, is a nightmare scenario that every parent fears but avoids allowing themselves to fully contemplate. We can’t fathom the grief his parents are experiencing and can only offer our deepest sympathies to them.
Immediate news reports focused on the fact that the daycare was never licensed. This lack of certification gave the press something to latch onto and in the simplistic way that headlines and media narratives are created, “Infant dies at unlicensed daycare” was strongly implied to mean, “Infant dies because daycare was unlicensed”. In these facile reports, correlation became causation.
The local tabloid press further lived up (or down) to its reputation of pandering to the lowest common denominator by dredging up unrelated past legal and financial troubles and subjecting Maryellen to the vilification of the perp-walk ritual though she was never accused or in custody.
In response I temporarily took down content on this blog showing Henry’s experience at daycare in the hopes of depriving such negative press of candid photos. Aside from expressing condolences to Karl’s family, we didn’t respond to press inquiries or allow ourselves to be drawn into a crass debate in the aftermath.
Subsequent investigation has revealed no culpability by Maryellen or her staff and as of now points to sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. It’s becoming apparent that this tragedy would not have been prevented by regulatory measures. Nevertheless the daycare has been shut down.
We were aware beforehand that the daycare was unlicensed. It didn’t concern us because the nanny candidates we considered also weren’t licensed nor for that matter are the friends and family who regularly babysit for us. Maryellen came recommended to us via word of mouth and had over a decade of childcare experience in addition to raising six children of her own.
We chose Soho Childcare over other more traditional daycares we toured because walking into Maryellen’s, there was an immediate, natural sense of community. It was like a second home to Henry for almost three years and it’s where he took his first steps. Much of Henry’s social confidence and independence is attributable to his experience there. We’re grateful and consider Maryellen and her staff an extension of our family. We still trust her and don’t think that trust was ever misplaced.
Below are links to donate to Karl’s parents and to Maryellen’s family respectively:
Today, we took a ferry ride to Governor’s Island with Colm and Eamonn. We had not been there since before Henry was born and it was nice to see the landscaping changes as well as some really interesting art installations. We also explored the Vintage Bus Bash that was taking place there over the weekend. This was a chance to see vintage New York City buses from the New York Transit Museum. Although I had a great time, it was a really hot day and my mind was on finding shade and liquid much of the time. Luckily there were free fans at the transit exhibition and Henry tried to help cool me off on the way home.