Shaken Baby Syndrome and Lives Upended
My daughter ended up coming off of the ventilator after two weeks. Doctors would tell me devastating news daily about how she would never recover. I would go days without eating because my heart hurt so badly. I would sob, and then feel better having hope that she would be okay, and then begin sobbing again. I felt every emotion possible. I remember sleeping on a chair every night and wondering if we would ever get to leave that hospital because everything was so unknown. Once she began to wake up after being taken off of life support, she began to cry and move her arms and legs a little. That gave me hope, but at the same time, she couldn’t even open her own eyes. She was nothing like she had been two weeks prior. Doctors would come in and tell me that she would probably never open her eyes, and if she did, she would be blind because the part of her brain that enabled her to see was dead. They would tell me what they believed happened to her. Her doctor told me that her injury was so bad, that it was as if she had fallen from a two-story building. I remember thinking, “No; you’re wrong. There is no way.” I could not accept what she was telling because I couldn’t handle the images that would pop into my mind when she’d say things like that, like that my daughter’s head had flopped back and forth so hard it caused her brain to bleed.
Her neurologist viewed a video her father had taken of her the evening she was injured. In the video, her eyes were closed, and her arm was stiff, pointing upward, and she was making a noise that was very concerning to him. The video was over five minutes long and her father stated that he thought she was having a nightmare and recorded it because he thought it was funny. Her neurologist and other doctors agreed she was having seizures in the video and the video had been taken after she was injured. They believe that she laid like that all through the night having seizures, and eventually had a stroke. One of her doctors told me that they couldn’t believe that she made it as long as she did after all she went through.
After three weeks in the hospital, investigators brought a court order that said they fully believe her father injured her and he would only be allowed supervised visitation with both children and no overnight visitation. This conclusion was made after we had both taken polygraph tests and been interrogated several times. After he had taken a polygraph test, he came to me and said, “I need to tell you what happened. I was bouncing her on my knee and she fell onto the hardwood floor.” I was furious. I felt some relief though, finally getting an answer. I asked her doctors if that could’ve caused her injury and they replied, “That may have happened as well, but that alone could not have caused her injury. She suffered a subdural hematoma and it was from being violently shaken.”