We’ve started something important. And through it all we’ve met some amazing families who have offered to share their experiences. These experiences are heartbreaking, yet, somehow, together we are finding ways to lift each other back up. We thank each contributor and family for believing that we can make positive changes in the lives of families affected by child abuse.
What happens when you can’t turn the channel?
It’s only been just over a year since our lives have been forever changed. Child abuse is something that happens on the news, not to anyone we know. Not to us. We see it on the news, feel bad, maybe say a quick prayer for that child, and turn the channel.
What happens when you can’t turn the channel?
How did it happen to us? How did it happen to our sweet baby with the big brown eyes and curly hair, who had only been one for two weeks? You would like to think you find only the best people to bring into your children’s lives – the protectors, people who care for your children like they are their own. The reality is, that doesn’t always happen.
While our doctor said that our son would make a complete recovery, I often wonder: will our hearts? My son will never remember his abuse, but I will never forget dashing from work, speeding toward the hospital, knowing my son was in an ambulance, without me.
My son was gray and lifeless. He had had two seizures. He didn’t even recognize me, or my husband. No one was sure what was going on. After further testing they would tell us our son had a fractured skull. He had blood on his brain and it was also pooling behind his eyes. The pressure caused the seizures.
This was scary enough. We didn’t know at first if he would need brain surgery to relieve the pressure. It absolutely broke our hearts when the doctor confirmed that this was not an injury that a one year old could sustain himself. Who would do this to my son? My husband and I were at work, having left our vibrant and healthy baby in an in-home daycare.
Our only concern was our baby. We thought the police could deal with the babysitter. We wanted to know how he would recover. The first night in ICU was hell, watching him vomit, and cry and cry, as he was in pain.
The police and CPS were involved. We would learn that we were under investigation. Our already broken hearts were further obliterated. How could anyone think we could hurt our miracle baby? (I am an older mother, and he was conceived after two miscarriages – a true rainbow baby). How did this happen? The days were blurry. I was so overwhelmed I could only cry and pray.
My one year old was like a newborn again. He could only sleep due to the head injury and seizure medication. He needed a bottle again. He threw up, over and over. He lost weight. If only I could trade places with him and take away all of this pain.
I had remembered seeing an article in the Press Gazette about Seeds from Seeds. It was physically relieving to talk with Sarah, the creator of Seeds from Seeds. To talk to someone who had been through exactly what I was going through. I was in tears from the moment the phone rang. This was the worst event to go through as a parent. My child was in physical pain, I was an emotional wreck, and I felt as if my love for my child was being doubted. Surreal is an understatement.
My son’s seizures stopped. He slowly became more alert and did not sleep as much. He tried eating more solid foods. He relearned to crawl and walk around perimeters. Physically he was getting stronger, but emotionally… we were still broken.
In this time, my husband and I were cleared. This hardly felt like a victory as we only touch our children with love, and our son was still in recovery. We made the decision that my husband would quit working so that our children would never go to daycare again. We still have not been able to trust anyone to care for our children. We don’t get babysitters.
The hardest part is to say it out loud. My son is a victim of child abuse. I feel like I lower my voice, as if I need to protect others – because people don’t know what to say and they can’t turn the channel.
My babysitter was not charged. Our CPS worker told us they went out on a limb for us. There was even a child abuse expert that looked at the medical records and agreed that this happened during the babysitter’s care. The neurologist told us our baby had been shaken repeatedly and slammed down. There was an older brain bleed that the babysitter had “admitted” to. She said our son “bumped his head on the wall”.
We are still devastated about this. How could our child be intentionally hurt and no one was held responsible?
We are so thankful our son will someday make a complete recovery. We know for some families, it doesn’t always end up this way.
In a year, we have learned what is most important to us. Family and friends who have stood by us, who have supported us. But, a social contact was broken. It was hard to send my son to kindergarten this year. I know not everyone is bad, but how do I know I am making the right choice for my kids? I failed my younger son. I made the wrong decision when I sent my children to her house. My instincts were wrong and my child was harmed. There aren’t new people in our life that I will trust with our children. There will not be babysitters. There will not be a day that I wonder, does she think about my child? Does she know what she did? I can only hope and pray that my babysitter never hurts another child. I hope she gets the helps that she needs.
We are survivors. It doesn’t always feel that way. We changed as parents, as a family.
I hope no one ever goes through this pain. Watching my child suffer is far worse than anything I have experienced, either physically or emotionally. I don’t know how I will feel next year, or in ten years, but healing takes time. Healing takes many forms. The best thing I learned from meeting other parents in this situation is that we are not alone. Our children will not be defined by their abusers. Our children are our heroes and they are survivors.