After four weeks in the hospital, my daughter was finally discharged. I was terrified. I had to leave that hospital with a child I had no idea how to care for. She was discharged with the diagnosis of global cortical ischemia, severe encephalopathy, subdural hematoma, seizures, bilateral retinal and vitreous hemorrhages, g-tube dependence, and irritability. No one had informed me that my daughter could’ve been approved for private duty nursing care and go home with a nurse’s help. Throughout her hospital stay, I was not treated like a mother who almost lost her child; I was treated as someone who allowed her child to be injured by someone. I had to go home with a child that could not go a few minutes without having reflux and choking. I had to quit my job to stay at my grandmother’s home to care for her. She required around-the-clock care. I had so many questions. I wondered if her g-tube site could be submerged in water. I wondered if she would aspirate and die in the middle of the night when I fell asleep for a few minutes. I wondered if I was giving all of her medications correctly. I was constantly questioning myself and my ability to care for her.
One week after she was discharged, I took her to her primary care physician begging for some answers. I knew my child could not live her entire life choking over and over. I knew something had to be done, I just didn’t have the medical knowledge to know what. Her doctor sent us to the hospital where they admitted her to watch her. I was feeling even more hopeless being right back where I never wanted to be again, but I also felt comfort because at least I could sleep more than an hour at a time. During that stay, the doctors came to the conclusion that my daughter had gastroparesis and couldn’t handle anything going into her stomach. One doctor told me she had been suffering that entire week and could’ve easily aspirated. They placed a G/J-tube which bypasses the stomach allowing everything to flow directly into her intestines.
The Reality: How Shaken Baby Syndrome Changes Lives
During that time, I had to go to court and testify against my husband. No one was allowed inside the courtroom except for me, him, and the attorneys. My daughter had a state attorney appointed for her. The session lasted for hours. As he was on the stand, he was asked why he didn’t contact me after admitting he knew something was wrong with his daughter, and his reply was, “I didn’t want to hear her gripe.” He admitted to being on drugs on and off for the past seven years. He said a lot of things that made me honestly want to smack him then and there. He showed no remorse for what he did, nor would he admit to it. He plead the fifth several times, and his attorney would not allow the polygraph testing to be used to question him, since he had failed it. At the conclusion of the session, the judge said that he saw reason for trial, but we would have to have proof since there was no confession and it was such a broad time frame. [Afterward], my daughter’s caseworker contacted me and informed me of a deal they were going to make with my husband. She said, “We are going to offer to drop the criminal charges if he will continue supervised visits only.” At first, I was furious. I argued and said, “So he destroys my daughter’s life and mine, and gets to walk away with no punishment?!” Her reply was, “Unfortunately, we see this a lot. Parents who sexually abuse their children can go to therapy and get their children back.” I remember thinking, How can I possibly argue with that? At least that didn’t happen to my daughters. I spent so much time trying to figure out how to get him criminally charged. One day I woke up and decided I was done. I decided I couldn’t live that way any longer. I decided to forgive. I made that decision so that I could move on with my life and care for my daughter without the extra weight of holding a grudge. We went to court a second time where he pled guilty to neglect, and signed on to continue supervised visits only.