October 5th, 2016 is a day I will replay in my head every day for the rest of my life. Was there something that could have been done to change things. To avoid this tragedy…. the answers is Yes. And I am dedicated to helping other parents understand what that “yes” is. My story is layered.
In 2015 I gave birth to my sweet son Deacon. I instantly was a natural at motherhood. I was a single mom by situation so it was just me and my baby Deacon. I moved home to get help from family and life was the best it had been. Motherhood was what I was put on this earth to do it is my purpose and I truly believe that. I was an encyclopedia for all things baby (so I thought) I researched car seats and carseat safety, I researched parenting styles, how to pure my own food, how to have a long breastfeeding journey, you name it I researched it. But let’s be real, in 2015 by “research” I googled articles that supported the answer I wanted to hear, I followed influencers, and I joined the Facebook groups. That was my research. No AAP no Healthy Children’s, no reputable sources. Believe it or not I think for many new moms this still stands true today.
So I cloth diapered because it was “better for the environment” and “better for baby’s skin”, at one point I co-slept because “it would increase my breastmilk supply” (insert Dr Free Hess eye roll haha) and I asked for a baltic amber teething necklace for my baby shower because it was a natural alternative to Tylenol or other teething remedies. It would HELP my baby be less fussy. By getting one of these and putting it on my baby clearly everyone at the moms group would know I was one of those “all natural Mama’s” and this was also important right? These are the things I researched and these were the things I was convinced of.
Life was beautiful with Deacon, lots of adventures. One thing I can say is that he did more traveling, beach trips, and trips to the mountains then many people do in a lifetime. He was such an easy going kid.
He was a big kid also size 3T at 18 months old just tall and dense. He had the most beautiful curls ever and his eyes would stop some strangers in their tracks. He would hug that complete stranger if I let him he just had one of those sweet souls. He loved playing soccer and throwing balls. He loved running around the yard or the beach just giggling at nothing with the most beautiful smile you would ever know. I miss it all so much.
In late august we got our own home and moved out of my moms house it was nice because it was closer to his daycare which was only a few offramp away. We had moved daycares a few months prior after his old provider decided not to take in infants any longer to expand her licensing to more older kids. I was kind of in a bind and went with a childcare that was recommended to me by a many people (Red flag number one) there were so many good reviews and the owner and workers seemed great the one that managed the home that my son was at was also a mom just like me and that comforted me knowing she had those instincts as a mom (so I thought). It took some adjustments at first sending him to the home daycare in the morning but over time he seemed to like it.
On Wednesday October 5th 2016 I woke up got my son ready for daycare and fed him eggs, toast, and cut up cherry tomatoes. His go-to. I dropped him off at daycare and that was the last I would ever see my son whole and healthy again. I remember getting done with customers near LA and and rushing to beat traffic so I could take a Conference call closer to home that way I could pick up Deacon earlier. At 3:30 I pulled into a Starbucks parking lot right near his daycare and got on my call. I remember having this weird feeling like I was in a rush like I wanted the call to end. I couldn’t figure out why I was so anxious perhaps it was the sirens driving by but I had the urge to leave. I left the call early I don’t remember my excuse but I packed up my bag and drove around the corner to find firetrucks and ambulances at the daycare and I just new it was Deacon no one needed to tell me I just new.
They wouldn’t allow me in the home which I would find out later was because they didn’t want me seeing that they were 16 children over the limit. The fire chief grabbed his own heart and said some medical terms I did not understand regarding my son. My first thought was “I did not know my son had a heart problem” my second thought was “get me to hospital” my third thought was “where were the police officers”.
I ran to my car and got in it. The daycare owner got in my car with me and she drove me to the hospital. Where with in minutes I knew there was neglect that happened that day. She couldn’t answer my question’s as to where my son was when this situation happened she couldn’t answer if he was sleeping, she said “there were a lot of kids”, “I wasn’t there”, and she said the fire department had to “cut his necklace loose”. My thought was “what necklace”? As his teething necklace she was referring to was NOT DANGEROUS and had become a part of him I never thought of it as just some necklace. I was confused when she said that. I ended up kicking her out of my car. I quickly realized no one was watching my child that day.
Running into the hospital I remember thinking there is no way the baltic amber baby necklace was involved it was supposed to break. ETSY said it was safe for my baby I still had the receipt and the packaging from my baby shower. But there I was watching my son code and doctors working on him and right there on his neck a strangulation mark. This was not a heart issue he was strangled and his heart had stopped.
I would spend the next 5 days praying for a miracle but that miracle never came. My son was brain dead many many test showed no signs of brain activity and on the 10th of October at 3:30 pm they called time of death. I donated his organs and stayed with him while they medically kept his organs working to find donors. 3 days later I left that hospital as someone I did not recognize. My passion, my life purpose, my reason for being was ripped from me.
We had a funeral I had to pick out a casket, I had to write a eulogy. How does a mother just put how she feels and describe her sons life on a piece a paper. It was all so weird to me. I Did not like it. It is nothing I would wish on even my worst of enemies. I held hope though that the children that received my sons heart and other organs would survive. I was so worried that their parents would have to pick out caskets. I did not know these people but I didn’t want them to have to pick out caskets. I received good news that these transplants were successful. I was proud of my son that he was so strong he was able to save so many. But I was heartbroken.
My sons autopsy took almost a year to be completed.I kept thinking of the amber teething necklace. It was supposed to break and it was safe for my baby ETSY said so. I read that packaging and ETSY receipt 500 Times. Words like Safe for your baby, natural and healing. These baltic amber teething necklaces were supposed to be helping my baby not hurting him.
Meanwhile thanks to some ABC news investigation it sparked the Police to investigate the childcare and the daycare workers were arrested a few months later. They found evidence and text conversations that showed they did not call 911 or do CPR. They were trying to cover up the amount of children there. They neglected Deacon that day.
The day came that we received the autopsy and I had to have a professional translate it to me and all I heard was that the amber teething necklace was consistent with the injury. That the necklace WAS DEFECTIVE. To this day however, I do not know the logistics of how he was strangled I am assuming it got caught on something. The daycare workers say he was napping, the children say he was playing, however no children were called up as witnesses do to their ages. What we do know is that necklace was deadly.
So that’s why I say my story is layered. Take the childcare out of it, the necklace was deadly strangulation device, take the necklace out of it, the childcare was negligent and was incapable of doing the human thing in calling 911 or doing CPR not to mention watching 4 times the amount of kids they were licensed for.
For a year I looked for stories on other teething necklace injuries. It was’t blatantly out there I had to do some digging. I found I believe a Canadian article that compiled some stories of mothers who had some photos of the baltic amber necklaces cutting off circulation because the little ones were twisting their fingers around them and some doctors suggested that maybe these pose more risk than healing. But this article was short and not easy to be found and not a ton of traffic. This was a photo from that article.
I started approaching moms on the street and telling them my story asking them to please remove the necklaces off of their baby. In Starbucks lines or at birthday parties. I was not shy about this. I almost couldn’t go to baby showers anymore because those necklaces were everywhere.
I tried to get on the news to warn parents, I sent my story to every parenting magazine I could think of and I was just ignored. I contacted Kids in danger it was ignored I sent in detailed reports to the CPSC it was ignored to this day they refuse to address it after sending in many requests. They just keep responding “this is not a product issue”. Which is funny because the medical claims the necklace was claiming have been debunked making this nothing more than a BABY PRODUCT but I guess we are dealing with idiots over there. If I wasn’t already in pain they were kicking me when I was down and they still are.
This CPSC response to me Still Stands.
Dear Danielle Morin:
Thank you for using SaferProducts.gov to submit your Report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. We received your Report No. X20A0445A concerning a Medical Product (teething device).
Your Report will not be posted on SaferProducts.gov because it does not meet the minimum requirements for publication. The product or particular concern that you describe does not fall within CPSC’s jurisdiction. You may wish to contact the below agency, which we believe can best handle your concern.
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
If you have any questions, please visit www.SaferProducts.gov or call (800) 638-2772.
Thank you again for using SaferProducts.gov. (GAG ME)
Finally the Texas children’s hospital started doing some digging. I actually never spoke to them so perhaps this study READ STUDY had nothing to do with my child. But they found that the Baltic in the necklaces actually serves no purpose that the Necklace would’ve to be 392 degrees F for the healing Proporties “the sucinic acid” to even be released. This got the attention of the FDA and the AAP Thank God! Who within days put out statements warning parents of the dangers of baltic amber necklaces all major retailers ripped them off the shelves. I remember this day like it was yesterday winter of 2018. Finally a win. FDA WARNING
That warning was a big step but It didn’t really do the warning I thought it would. In fact it appeared the baltic amber popularity increased in the online marketplaces especially ETSY since the brick and mortars removed them off the shelf. I felt defeated I did not do much advocacy that next year as I was trying to survive my grief and was failing at my advocacy. But along came Tiktok and everything changed.
I started sharing my raw and vulnerable story on this app where I knew no one almost as if it was my own personal journal no one would see. Who would have known sharing how your son died would really ruffle some feathers. For the most part though, parents saw this as a warning and removed their Childs necklaces. Other Moms did not want to hear that a baby product they love so much is dangerous and they became defensive and that was hard for me to read. But what I had was my story and the facts. That is that Baltic amber necklaces can be deadly and that we have proof they do not work.
I have to constantly remind myself I am here to warn parents and I am here to get the word out. I can’t save every parens child on tiktok. Sometimes that’s hard to grasp and I will admit I have allowed it to get the best of me from time to time. TikTok has done for the children what the CPSC, the news, the articles, and the non profits that warn parents of dangers of baby products could not do. TikTok brought forward other parents!!
Together we have built a community of parents advocates, pediatricians, and others who just want to spread the word and have made such an impact. Whether it be Tiktok, instagram, facebook or blog comments I know that in those comments sections someone will warn others of the dangers. I can almost count on it 100%. I think we are getting to a point where it will be hard for a mom to go to a moms group or the store with a teething necklace on her baby without being approached of the dangers.
@danimorin13 #duet with @kasieschoch thanks for sharing your story💔. #teethingnecklaces #parentingadvice #amberteethingnecklace #grievingmom ♬ original sound – Lubalin
So where do we go from here. Well I cannot stop now. My goal is to submit yet another report to the CPSC in hopes that maybe this will be the year they look at me more than a poor grieving mom and post the warning. My goal is to broaden my advocacy well past tiktok. There needs to be regulation in these online marketplaces that do not have to abide by any baby safety standards, tests, or regulations as the Targets and the Buy Buy Baby’s have to. Something needs to change. I want to continue to help parents better research their childcare facilities and hold our licensing departments accountable when it comes to shutting down dangerous centers. I have free resources at www.DeaconsAmry.com
If you are reading this and this is the first time you have heard of the dangers of teething necklaces IT IS OK. You are not a bad mother. We do not know what we do not know. It is how you respond to this news that is telling. If you would like to warn other parents please be graceful. No mom want’s to hear “those necklaces will kill your baby” “Take that necklace off now” “Your a bad mom if you put your kid in a teething necklace”. Let’s approach these moms with grace. “Hey I would hate myself if I didn’t stop scrolling and tell you a story about Baby Deacon who was one of many who were strangled by those necklaces. I would love to share with you an article from the FDA if you are open to it- signed a concerned Mama”.
I would love to have you apart of this advocacy and want to thank you in advance for reading this and participating along side me as I try to heal in my grief and and get these Necklaces off the market.