Parents of Baby Who Died on Her First Day of Daycare Have a Message for All of Us

mckenna rose felmly

It's every mother's worst nightmare: A 16-week-old baby girl in Pennsylvania died during her first day at daycare on April 1 -- which also happened to be her mother's very first day back at work. McKenna Rose Felmly was found not breathing in her crib at Sharon's Day Care just hours after being dropped off by her mom, Adrienne Kromer -- and the worst part is, Kromer was reluctant to go back to work precisely because she was afraid something like this might happen.


Like any nervous new mom might do, Kromer says she called the daycare three times that day to check up on McKenna. In the morning, she was told she was fine; at lunchtime, she was told her daughter wouldn't take a bottle. The baby finally drank some milk around 2:30 p.m., after which Kromer was told McKenna went right to sleep.

This was atypical behavior for the little girl, according to dad Bryan Felmly. 

"She always takes a while to fall asleep. Lots of rocking, swaying, cuddling, etc.," Felmly wrote on a GoFundMe page set up in McKenna's memory. 

More from The Stir: Mom Whose Baby Died in Daycare Writes Heartbreaking Essay Questioning Lack of Paid Family Leave

This worried Kromer, so she left work an hour early, at 3:30 p.m. On her way to the daycare, however, she got the worst phone call any parent could ever receive from a worker at the facility, telling her that McKenna wasn't breathing and to get there as fast as she could. 

The worker said that she went to check on McKenna at 3 p.m. and discovered that she wasn't breathing; later on, the family found out that 911 dispatched an ambulance at 3:33 p.m. The baby was already at the hospital when her mom arrived at the daycare, and by the time Kromer and Felmly made it to the hospital, they were told it wasn't "looking good" -- about 10 minutes later, McKenna was gone.

It's an unbearable tragedy -- as a mom, I can barely think about it without starting to hyperventilate -- and I just can't even begin to imagine the horror these poor parents are living with right now. What's even more heartbreaking is that even in the midst of their grief, they're sending a message to parents everywhere in the hopes that McKenna's loss won't be in vain. On the GoFundMe page, Felmly wrote the following words:

Parents, please hold your babies a little longer today and hold them close. Life is too precious. Cherish every moment of every day. Be patient with your babies. Enjoy those sleepless nights because it's additional time spent with your baby. We would take a million sleepless nights for the rest of our lives just to have her back with us.

We would like each and every child to receive McKenna kisses. Our sweet little princess never learned to walk, but she now has wings.

Just so devastating. And it's especially tragic that, according to Felmly, Kromer feels like her daughter's death is her fault:

"She feels like she's failed as a mom and I can't make that go away for her," he wrote.

"Adrienne didn't want to go back to work for this very reason. And now we have to pay the ultimate price."

More from The Stir: Tragic Death of 4-Month-Old Doesn't Mean Daycare Is Bad for Babies

Of course it's not Kromer's fault! And while it may very well be that the daycare is not to blame for McKenna's death, either, Kromer will no doubt spend the rest of her life wondering. Like so many moms, Kromer shouldn't have been forced to feel like she had no other choice but to go back to work -- a dilemma that would be solved for so many families if only we had better paid parental leave policies in this country. Mothers need and deserve the freedom to be with their babies for as long as their instincts tell them they should be, as well as all the support they require to nurture their children in whatever way feels right to them. Sadly, we're not there yet as a society.

Our deepest condolences go out to this family. We're certainly taking their message to heart!


Image via GoFundMe

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