What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Each year in the United States alone, medical treatment is sought for an estimated 1,400-1,600 babies who have been shaken. Don’t let your child become just another statistic! Tell everyone who cares for your child “Never shake a baby!”

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to take a moment and wish you all a very Happy and Safe New Year! From all of us here at the Shaken Baby Syndrome Support Network! <3


Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Christmas Miracle~Bryan's Story

During this time of year there is a flurry activity out there. If everyone could take a moment and sit down to reflect the many blessings we recieve each and everyday. Certainly someone is struggling today, but to hear such an amazing story, the story of Bryan and his near death, how he fought and won against all odds, is certainly worth celebrating, and in my book, is considered a beautiful Christmas Miracle.

Thank you Randee for sharing your child's story with us, what an amazing little boy you have!
~Angela
On December 14, 2008 I got a call from my ex-husband saying that our son had fallen off the bunk bed while with a sitter and was being rushed to the hospital, unconscious. Once I got there the staff informed us that he was suffering from Shaken Baby Syndrome. He had a subdural hematoma and severe Retinal hemorrhages. He was taken into emergency surgery where they drained the hematoma and removed a 7x7 piece of his skull to allow his brain room to swell. He was on a ventilator and was fighting for his life. The doctors told us he would more than likely die before the next day.
Many prayers went up that night, and we were given our Christmas Miracle.

Bryan made it through this horrible tragedy, caused by another human being and was walking(with help)around the PICU on Christmas Day 2008! This year as I watch everyone rushing around for whatever Christmas Shopping they have left to do, it seems as if they have forgotten the meaning of this celebration. God is Great! We should be so very thankful for the family and friends we all have and thank the good Lord for all the miracles he gives us every day. As I type this Bryan is counting snowflake ornaments on the Christmas tree with his brothers and smiling, laughing and loving, things that medically he should not be doing. After sustaining a brain injury as severe as he did, he medically should be dead, God truly gave me a Christmas miracle and continues to give as everyday passes and Bryan does more and more.
Merry Christmas,
Randee (Bryans Mommy)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Miracles


Last night our family attended a Christmas gathering at a friend’s home. It was a small party for dinner, and we brought our children along. Leaving our home to go anywhere with the kids is no small task- we have a 17-month-old son and our daughter, almost 5, has many special needs due to Shaken Baby Syndrome. Any outing takes careful planning and packing- plenty of toys, food, and Riley’s special seating and equipment. As we were preparing to leave, Riley had one of her little “meltdowns”…we have no idea why, but when she does this it is always stressful for us all, as she cannot communicate at this time what is bothering her, or why she is so upset. But, we plugged away, put the children in the car and left. As we drove to the Sypniewski’s home, we hoped for the best, Riley calmed herself and we all went on to have a great evening…

I encountered inspiration for my blog last night. As I sat among friends and enjoyed the evening, I watched Riley and remembered how far she has come in such a short time. I remember trying to coax her to open her mouth to take food, and last night she enjoyed plenty of dinner and dessert. I remember car rides to therapy when she would scream from start to finish…now the car rides seem to calm her. I remember her need to be held at all times, and only by mommy, but now she comfortably sits in her seat and “socializes” with everyone, full of smiles. Two-years ago we could have never dreamed of a night like this, but here we were…

In this, the Christmas season, I think that it is appropriate to write about miracles and hope. I believe that miracles exist, and I fully believe that my own daughter is living proof. She was not expected to pull through her attack, but she did just that. Riley has gone on to defy the odds, and through perseverance is still working toward recovery 2-1/2 years later. We have never given up hope that she will continue to progress. She makes strides, slowly, and even though she encounters some setbacks along the way, we embrace each day we have with her, both the good and bad, and continue to move forward…

Being the parent of an SBS survivor can be very hectic. Days are filled with highs and lows, and life is always unpredictable. Aside from dealing with your effected child, and the other “normalcies” of life, there are numerous appointments, therapies, paperwork, and professionals to manage. But, at the end of the day, all the craziness is worth it because you are the parent of a miracle. You have not only been given this gift once, but again when your child became a SBS survivor…a true miracle!!!

Lots of Love and Merry Christmas,

Lisa

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to take a moment to reflect and give thanks to all of you for your support of all of the families affected by Shaken Baby Syndrome. Though many of us feel very alone at times, it is all of you that keep us going, and help us to find families that need our support and comfort in their time of need.

Our mission is to provide undivided support for the families, by the families, and such a network is being built to ensure when tragedy strikes no one must walk alone, and for that we are so thankful for all of you.

Wishing you all a very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Rachel

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Thankful


When you are the parent of an SBS Survivor, it is easy to get caught up in the “what could have been’s” and “what if’s”. What if you had just sent your child to a different day care? What if you stayed home with her that day? What if you had noticed the signs that something wasn’t right? Riley should be running around and playing with all the other kids her age, enjoying her youth, without a care in the world…but instead her days are filled with school and therapy to help her get better. If you let it, your mind can take over and take you to a place of deep despair and depression…

During this time of year, I try to reflect and be thankful for all of the blessings I have. Of course I am grateful for my husband, daughter and son, family, and friends who have all been so wonderful throughout this journey. But, in a weird way, I am also thankful to have gone through the horrible experience of almost losing my daughter. I know that it may be shocking to hear, and it may sound harsh, but being at rock bottom really makes you evaluate your life, and find out what is truly important. It was the worst experience of my life, hands-down. Believe me, if I could go back and change things for my daughter and make all of this go away, I would do whatever I had to- no exception. I would give up my life for her...

In our busy lives, we tend to take things for granted. We get swept up in all of the daily drama, all of those trivial things that it the grand scheme, really do not matter. We stress about work, or worry that someone may have said something negative about us or don’t like us. We take it personally if we haven’t spoken to someone in a while, or get angry at them because they haven’t found the time for us. We feel guilty if we can’t make it to every event, or make everyone else happy. We worry that our houses aren’t clean or organized enough, or that we can’t find time to make dinner every night, or get to the gym. We are concerned about our finances and gaining all of the material things we desire…

I, too, get swept up in all of this nonsense. But, I am blessed with experiences that allow me to take a step back, and remember what is important. I no longer allow it to interfere with my life. I live each day knowing what is important, and how quickly things can change. I have become selfish, in a way, because I now do things with my family at the forefront. I value my time with the kids, so if that means not being able to attend every party or outing, so be it- no regrets. If I need to leave work or take time off to be with my sick child, I do it. I no longer let my schedule run my life, or feel guilty about not being able to “do it all”…

Each day is a gift. God has given my daughter, and our family, a second- chance. As difficult as it may be at times, I embrace the opportunity to accompany Riley on her journey toward recovery. I am very thankful for this life, and live each day to the fullest. I hope that others reading this blog will do the same. This Thursday, I will be celebrating another Thanksgiving with my daughter and my family- and realizing what a blessing that truly is. Happy Thanksgiving to all…

Lots of Love,
Lisa

Friday, November 20, 2009

Déjà vu…by Lisa


It’s funny how you can think you’ve moved on…moved past all that has happened and start focusing on the future. Your life starts to become “normal,” at least as normal as it can be when you have a SBS child. But, in a split second the littlest thing can bring you right back to where you started and remind you of the past- someone can say or do something, or you find yourself somewhere that brings back all of the memories. You force yourself to move forward, but you cannot stop it- without warning, the hurt, anger, betrayal, mistrust, and fear return…

I was called to jury duty last week. It was not a big deal, until I arrived the first day. As I walked up the stairs and into the building, I began to remember. All of the potential jurors were placed in the same courtroom where the criminal trial for Riley’s assault took place. As I sat down, I immediately felt nauseous. I started to recognize faces of people who worked for the court from our trial. I noticed the “In God We Trust” banner on the wall. I found myself staring at the stand where I was forced to testify about the horrific experience of almost losing my daughter. Where I cried endlessly as I described all Riley had to endure while her attacker, and my former friend, looked on, coldly. Seven months pregnant with my second child at the time, I spent a grueling two hours on that stand, relieving every gut wrenching moment and answering every question. I spent many more hours in the courtroom listening to testimony and waiting for a verdict a year- and- a- half ago. The courtroom hosted many difficult memories. I was very relieved to be dismissed from the case as a possible juror, and thankful to be out of the courtroom…

Unexpectedly, my experiences last week really affected me, so much so that I couldn’t even bring myself to blog. I went about my daily business, but I needed time to regroup, spend time with my children and refocus. I needed time to work through my emotions, and let the anger subside. I found myself picking up the pieces and trying to move forward once again. It is a never-ending cycle…

Many people have told me how they admire the way my husband and I handled ourselves during the trial. If it was their child, they would have handled it differently. That they don’t know how we did it. That we were stronger then they would have been, and that they could not have contained themselves the way we did. The truth is, you do not know how you would handle a situation like this until you are thrust into it- something I would never wish on anyone.

We are only human. We are Riley’s parents, and we always put her needs before our own, even before her injury. That is what parents should do- take a step back and look at the big picture. We were not going to do Riley any good from a jail cell. We needed to be there for her, no discussion. But, I am filled with anger, disgust and hatred for the “monster” that harmed my daughter. My trust in others is completely shattered- this woman was my friend, I entrusted her with my little girl, and she hurt her. These raw emotions are there, will always be, and will emerge when I least expect it. I am not a saint, just a mom who loves her daughter so much that I make her my priority, and put my own feelings aside. We instead watched as the “monster’s” lawyer and family attempted to turn the trial into a “Jerry Springer” episode- something that obviously did not help her. As difficult as it was, we contained ourselves at the trial because we felt it was best for her case. We hoped that justice would prevail, and lucky for us, it did…

~Lisa

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lightening strikes twice. Blog by Angela


After Michael had left this world to live in a better place, I never thought I'd have to see another one of my family members go through the horror of knowing your innocent child, a child you placed in a setting you thought you trusted, to be harmed. To feel this kind of violation is beyond imaginable, the torture my Aunt put herself through, for something that was completely out of her control is not a fun thing to witness, for anyone. To know that justice was never served for Michael, a person would think that lightening could not strike twice in the same family.

This past April, I was informed that my cousin, this time on the maternal side of the family (Michael is on the paternal side). My cousin, my little cousin, my perfect angel cousin, was assalted in the care facility he risides in. Aaron is not a typical child, he has Angelman Syndrome, a syndrome that has left this 15 year old boy with a mentality of a 2 year old, and nonverbal. In so many ways Aaron is an infant in a grown boys body. Aaron was beaten by a man at the facility, this facility is a place where I was employed nearly 10 years ago, this place I even thought to trust, I knew so many of the people and I knew the hearts these people had for the children of the home.

I was fooled, as was everyone else in my family. On my Aunt Julie's weekend to get Aaron, she was pulled aside by an employee to hear the most gut wrenching news ever, Aaron had bruises from an incident, and they assured her the proper measures were taken and the male caregiver was fired. This man, a man with complete knowledge of his own strength and power over any child, non the less a child with special needs. He used his own physical strength to leave Aaron's face black and blue, and even his feet.

This man fled and later "turned himself in" he voluntarily came to the Police Station and openly admitted to striking Aaron several times. In October of this year, this man was not charged, why you may ask. His Miranda Rights were never read to him. He was let off due to some stupid technicality. This man will not have it on his record that he harmed a child, so he could go to another state, free to harm another innocent, powerless child again.

The lightening struck twice, the lightening bolt of failure in the justice system. Surely something must be able to be done to protect the youth of our country...

www.voicesforbubba.webs.com

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tough Times can lead to triumph..


Though it has only been 4 years, it seems like an eternity when it comes to grieving and allowing the forces of life to take hold of what I once called life. Many paths come into focus in my life, and if I haven't learned anything, life is trial and error. You have to be willing to make choices with all your heart whether those that surround you know what is best for you, and you have to know the boundaries as to what is healthy for your heart.

I know I have stumbled down many paths, and know this is only the beginning and only the surface to the grief that will over take the rest of my life. The only difference for me I feel is that I can allow myself to plummet, allow myself to fall down, and still know how to pick myself up, and stand with my chin up knowing that no matter what happened I can move through it..


Often times I hear of others whom seem to think you move "past" grief, when truly you learn to live through the pain, and the moments of joy that bless your life are moments you cherish no matter what the end is.

I think one of the most difficult and blessed thing for me is that so many look to me for strength, for answers, and for direction in their own lives. I struggle very hard with that knowing that I am human and there will be moments where I will seem less human. Dark moments when I am grabbing on to the one thing that makes me the happiest to get through to the next. But it makes sharing this and knowing I am strength for some, and knowing that sharing my experience has helped them to pull through whatever it is that is darkening their soul at this time that makes my heart fill with love. I suffered deep scars, and sometimes less "likable" moments, but by sharing I have helped someone else.

This all is something that I have learned to live through, and share when my heart is ready. It is not always when everyone else wants to know, but when I go through a moment of distance from others, or a moment when I need time to just dwell that those around me and those who truly care about me and my dreams and aspirations are so understanding of me and situation. Throughout this I have had to make selfish choices at points that put a wrench in my heart, but in the end of the situation, the answer prevailed to where everyone could see the light I saw the entire time.

When tragedy struck in my life I was handed a grieving pamphlet and basically told "Nothing will ever help this...". I begged to differ. I have God in my heart. I have a family of solid gold, and a friendship circle that not many have. I am bound and determined to let others know that because society believes your life is over when tragedy strikes, and that you will only spend the rest of your life grieving, they are wrong. I am only 27 years old, and if you think I am going to spend 3/4 of my life dwelling, being hateful, and not enjoying my life your wrong. My daughter is well taken care of, in a place where hurt does not exist now, and the last thing I want her to see is her mother wasting away her life, spiraling into constant depression, anger, and hatred. I want her to look down and see triumph through tragedy, and that she will NEVER be forgotten by anyone.

Acceptance, of not ever being who you once were, and understanding you do not know who you are becoming is the first step to survival. Often times people assume you should never change and be who you have always been. With the death of a child that is humanly impossible. You have to stand up, put that chin up, grasp those things that mean the most, and walk forward through the unknown, through the fire, and start living life so you too can get the most out of it. Attacks will come. People will simply not like you for random reasons. Move past it. You have a mission in your life to LIVE not just dwell. Living life is not running yourself ragged, but smiling every chance you get. Telling those you love you love them every time you get the chance, and ensuring that not one beat is missed in your life because one life is already lost, but not yours.

So please, if you are in the midst of heartache, grief, depression and sadness, look who is standing next to you, open up to them, seek comfort, and know the sunshine will come, but you have to make the first step to healing. You are the only one who can create happyness.

<3
Rachel

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Grandmother's Heartbreak... Mourning from a different perspective.




Tuesday, April 12th started out just like every other day. Little did I know that it would change my life forever. I got up and went to work at our restaurant. I had just purchased a car and was going to get the tags for it that afternoon. I went to the courthouse a little after 4pm and it was closed. When I pulled into the circle drive my husband was running across the drive towards our motel and said that something had happened to our granddaughter, Madilyne. I quickly parked the car and called my daughter, Rachel’s, phone.

Upon talking with her co-worker, he told me that Madilyne wasn’t breathing and she was in the ambulance being worked on by the EMT’s.

My heart stopped….literally. My first question was to Rachel… “do you want me to come?” She couldn’t answer me and I knew I had to run and get there. I asked questions regarding what had happened and how did Rachel find out. However, I also asked if she had any bruising. The Dr. said he didn’t see any. Later we would know she had many.

So, we headed out on the highway, not knowing where we were going. On to I-44 and into Oklahoma. But where??? I kept praying for Madi. I kept praying for her to be ok. The babysitter’s husband called me while we were en-route. My first question to him was “what happened”. He gave me an answer which sounded ok, but I would find out later that he had given out many different answers to as many different people.

It was finally decided that Madi would be taken to a hospital in Tulsa. We were the first to arrive of the family. I sat in the waiting room waiting for some word about Madi. She finally arrived at the hospital about 9:30pm. They wouldn’t let me see her. That I would understand because they had to get her settled. Finally a nurse came into the waiting room to let me know she was settled and they were going to take her for a CAT scan. I asked the nurse why the CAT scan because she just choked on her milk…
I was told by the babysitter’s husband… What could they be scanning??? The nurse said I could see her on the way to the scan.

Madi came down the hall on a HUGE white gurney…she looked pale and tiny and beautiful. They were giving her oxygen. I put my hands on either side of her head and kissed her forehead and told her that Granny loved her and she needed to get better. I was crying and so was everyone else around. They took her into the elevator and I started to sob….I got to a wall and slid down it and kept on sobbing. Something wasn’t right! I couldn’t comprehend what was going on….That’s when I knew my life as I had known it would be changed forever.

I felt that I had to put my feelings on the shelf and concentrate on Rachel. I had to help her get through this. Desperation set in. Little did I know how bad it was going to get and our lives would be changed forever in the next 48 hours. I felt if I could just hold her up and get her through this I wouldn’t lose her, too. Fear is as cold as steel. When it grabs your heart I believe you lose yourself. Standing beside Madilyne’s bed, watching the FBI and OSBI take pictures and roll her from side to side hurt me to my core. WHO could have hurt her so badly to take her away forever???

During the funeral I kept close watch on Rachel. I couldn’t lose my child and I couldn’t blame her for the way she felt or acted….Madi was HER child and she was my grandchild. Madi was my heart….

I spent a year watching Rachel, making sure I saw her everyday.

The trial was horrific. I sat in the library behind the courtroom and listened to Rachel cry, sob and scream with the testimony. But my thought was keeping her alive. After the judicial system betrayed Madi and our family, it was time to go home and try to put the pieces together…but the pieces didn’t fit anymore.

I gave up my love….my restaurant and my home. I watched, with dread, my daughter move to Florida and away from where I could SEE her everyday and know that she was alive….I knew she wasn’t “well”, but at least she was breathing. Sometimes you live second by second….waiting for the next breath to come.

It has been 4 years now and it still seems like yesterday. Rachel started to come alive in her spirit about a year ago. By last spring I knew she was going to be “ok” and my worry of “losing” her to the tragedy was over and God told me she was his and I must learn to go on with my life, too.

I didn’t realize that when I put my life “on that shelf” when Madi was hurt, I would forget how to live MY life. I lost almost everything I had…my home, my marriage, my businesses, cars, and almost my sanity, but I kept the most important things with me…my family….my kids…

Life is precious and delicate. Everyday, every moment is a gift from God and needs to be lived accordingly. My life will never be the same…but it will go on and be blessed because I know God will never leave me. Without the very STRONG FAITH I have in Him, I could not have made it through the furnace of flames, to come out victorious on the other side…

With Love and Blessings,
Sue
"Granny" to Madilyne

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Picking up the peices


As the cousin of SBS survivor/victim, I have seen the struggles that go along with the life and death of a child. A child that was given to his mother as a gift from above, had a life that was not meant to be. Leaving your child with someone you trust, handing them your very life and for that trust to be destroyed breaks a person in a million peices. Not just the mother, but each person around her, her husband, her other children, her neices and nephews, her own parents, not one has been left untouched by the horrific act of abuse to a beautiful child.

In the years since the loss of Michael, there is not a day that goes by in those lives that do not wonder the what might have beens. Would Michael be a father today, would he be in college, become the next brilliant surgeon, or even finding the cure to cancer? We as a family can not live with the might have beens, we all have to find the peices that have fallen from our hearts, and try to repair a broken heart. We know that the repair may only be temporary as some of the peices still threaten to fall apart. We must relinquish our thoughts of the might have beens and find some peace in the fact that Michael sits in the hands of the Lord, a place where we all must try to find in the hopes of being with Michael once again, and when we do find him again, we will become whole again and for the first time since this incident, be with him for eternity.

~Angela

Monday, November 2, 2009

Through Mommy's Eye's


You see a disabled little girl…I see a survivor.

You may not understand her…but I do.

You may not be able to talk with her…but she and I can carry on entire conversations.

You see a girl who must be fed…I see the girl who overcame her feeding tube.

You see her leg splints…I see the fancy new shoes she can finally wear over them!

You see the girl in the special seat in the grocery cart…I see my shopping companion.

You see her glasses…I see her eye contact.

You see her propped in her adapted car seat…I see a girl enjoying her car rides.

You see a 4- year- old wearing diapers…I see my big girl who is potty training.

You see a special bathing chair…I see some smiles during bath time.

You see her kicking her legs…I see her trying to figure out her movements.

You see a girl who can’t hold a crayon…I see a girl who can finally reach and touch.

You see a girl with limited mobility…I see her increased strength.

You see a girl with crazy sleep patterns…I see a girl who will go to sleep when she is ready.

You see her busy with therapy and doctors…I see a rehabilitation support team.

You see a little girl not able to play on her own…I see a girl who interacts with help.

You see a girl who can’t walk…I see a girl who can take steps.

You see the toys she cannot play with…I search for ones she can use.

You see a girl struggling to keep her head up…I see her reluctance to let it fall.

You hear her laugh…I never take it for granted.

You see her smile…I see an accomplishment.

You see her limitations…I see her potential.

You see Riley…I see my miracle

~Lisa

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blog from Trevors mom

Hey guys I just wanted to let ya'll know that I went and saw Trevor this weekend (no news on the big C scare yet) and he was sooo funny. Taylor and I went tio the nusing home to visit and she lookeds at his finger and toe nails and thought that he needed some grooming. I had her go and get some nail clippers from the nurses station. Well I woke him up. Don't you know ... he rolled his eyes at me. Hump the nerve of me I woke him up. Well sorry Trev, Mommy is here to visit let me see the eyes. Well I went and started to cut the finger nails and got to the last finger where he had the pulsox tape on and ok I needed his nail so I untaped it, don't you know bells and whistles ... 2/3 nurses come running in. I told them just cutting his nails so they leftme alone and let it go. Don't you know that it took me 45 minutes to get the darn little thing to start reading right again since his fingers are so darn cold and skinny. CRAZY. I couldn't even tell you how many times I had Taylor hit the mute button. Well it was feet time. I went and pushed his pillow shoes back and his little legs just went flailing, (must have been ticklish), I joking told Taylor to sit on Trev so that I could get his toes done and she said "no mom, his brains is already scrambled up." I didn't want to get mad at her or cry so I let it go and told her no and said "No, on his legs" she said "I will break his legs", "but hsi one leg is all metal he will be all good." we both had a chuckle and she went and brushed his crazy hair while I continued to work. She looked at his nails adn said, "they're alive run for your life befiore they eat us." It was a laugh riot. His toesnails were really yucky and he does need to see a podiatrist but anyway. he just kept back moving his foot. I showed Taylor that he had tickley feet. .... So to the end of the visit. (The really funny part) We went to leave and I went to tell him bye and give him a kiss and he gave me a grone like a growl, then Taylor kissed him and nothing, she kissed him again, and nothing again, then she gave him a big time kissey face barrage a kisses and still nothing. that does it. My son growls at me and does nothing to his sister. Well I giess no matter how handicapped kids may be. They still give their parents an attitude when they become a teenager. AAAAAHHHH! thought you would like to hear an uplifting story. It was a laugh riot to my therapist this morning. But I thought mom's of survivors would really get a kick out of it.

Lots of love.
Trevor's mom
Abigail Cameron

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fear...

On Friday, my daughter underwent a procedure of Botox injections to help with the rigidness she has in some of her muscles as a result of her brain injury. The hope is that the Botox will help to numb some of the muscles causing the tightness, which will give Riley more use of her limbs. Long- term thought is that the brain will create new “pathways” relating to the muscles in a comfortable state, so she can be weaned off the Botox- retraining the brain to send messages to tell the muscles to stay relaxed …

I always have so many ideas about what to write for this blog- looking back, we’ve been through so much these past few years, I could write about every feeling and experience to exhaustion. I chose to share this information about Riley because this seemingly simple appointment brought me through so many emotions. This was the first procedure Riley has endured since she left the hospital two- years ago. It was very difficult for me to bring her back into a hospital, to put that gown on her, and to watch them wheel her away from me and into the operating room. I knew that this procedure wasn’t invasive at all, that they were only using the anesthesia to make Riley comfortable since she was receiving so many injections. There was no IV, no breathing tube. All logic aside, as much as I told myself it would be OK, it was still hard. I found the time moved extremely slowly during her only ½ hour procedure, and I kept watching the clock…



Riley’s procedure went well, and she recovered better then expected. She has been a trooper through this entire ordeal, and this time was no different. I tell myself that at her next appointment 4 months down the road that I will feel differently- it won’t be a big deal, that she will be fine. However, realistically I know that the moment we arrive at the hospital, I will feel the same way I did on Friday. And I think that’s OK. It’s the result of my experiences, and those cannot be changed. I love my daughter and will continue to be strong for her despite my own emotions. I must learn to embrace the fear because it is now a part of me…

~Lisa

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Turning negative into positive

So as many of you know it has been 10 years since my son was assaulted. I have been thru many many different stages. And I go back and forth between the good stages and the bad stages.

It is very challenging to try and stay positive and not let the negative affect our lives.

Sometimes I get down in a slump, but eventually I do climb out of the slump and try to do what I can to be positive and to try and make an impact for the cause, and for our children.

What is it that keeps you positive, and looking forward to the days ahead?

Love to all

~Tara

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Lonely Road



About a year ago, my good friend Kate was visiting from Chicago, and we were talking about Facebook. She had just started using it, but I wasn't sold, I had mixed feelings about it. While Riley was in the hospital, some friends had put together a website for us to use for the purpose of updating her progress and keeping everyone informed. The site started encountering problems, and eventually we stopped using it. People were still interested in Riley's recovery, so I decided to try Facebook, which would hopefully do the same thing. Coincidentally, it was at that time that one of Riley's former Early Intervention Teachers sent me an article about the Sarah Jane Brain Project. I was intrigued, and researched it on-line. I also searched and found information about the Foundation on Facebook, but I also gained so much more...

Two years into Riley's recovery, we were very alone. Don't get me wrong, we have a wonderful support system of family and friends, therapists, doctors, teachers, etc...but not one of them truly understood what we were going through. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging, but this was not happening to their child- it was our child. There was not one other child in the hospital suffering from SBS (thankfully) while Riley was there, and there were certainly no SBS support groups for parents available to us. It was a very lonely road...

I am so grateful to have found such a wonderful group of SBS parents through Facebook, and through the SBS Support Network. I have now connected with others who truly understand what we are going through. We share stories of our miracles and angels, cry for our losses, and rejoice over every triumph. Brad and I are no longer alone. We are understood. I hope that other SBS familes are lucky enough to stumble upon this blog. I share my daughter's story and write with the hope of helping someone else to avoid the loneliness...someone just like me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Being thankful

Some days its hard to see the sunshine thru the clouds

Some days its hard to get out of bed

Some days are good, happy and bright

How do you handle the stresses, the hardship, the happiness?

What gets you through the hard times, and what makes the happy times even better?

Sometimes its hard to be thankful for everyone, for a family that has been thru such a traumatic time....how do you stay positive?

For me when I have my hardest moments, all I have to do to keep going, keep looking up, is to think of my special boy that beat the odds. And that I have to be strong for him.

No matter what happens in your life, I hope that you will continue to look for the silver lining, and be thankful for this day, the sun, the air.

Love to all

Tara

Meet Lisa and her little miracle, Riley

We would like to welcome Lisa, mother to Riley, whom suffered Traumatic Brain Injury at the age of 2. Lisa thank you for becoming a part of this blog team. :)
~Angela



My daughter was a healthy, happy, energetic, beautiful, social, and bright child. She was just over 2- years- old, and was hitting all of her milestones early. There were so many things Riley enjoyed doing- dancing, swimming, coloring, playing with her stickers and play doh (i.e. her “colors”) with daddy. Riley loved her “guys” (little figurines she carried everywhere with her) and her Disney shows and movies. Riley loved to look at books, and could tell me what every picture was. She loved playing with other kids. She had even learned counting in Spanish and some sign language. She loved being outdoors, going for walks, and going to the park to play on the swings and slides. Riley was honestly the model child, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect little girl.

On March 27, 2007 our lives were changed forever at the hands of our day care provider, and family friend. The day started out as any other- we awoke in the morning, got ourselves ready, said our goodbyes, exchanged our kisses and “I love you’s” with Riley’s dad, and left on our way to the babysitter’s home. Before I left that day, I said goodbye and I love you to my little angel and gave her a kiss, as I always did. She was all smiles, in her new purple Gap velour sweatsuit holding on to her yellow sippee cup filled with milk, playing with one of her friends- I’ll never forget that vision, because I will never see my little girl in the same way again.

At about 12:20 PM, I received a phone call from our babysitter stating that something was wrong with my daughter, that she had been put down for a nap, and she wouldn’t wake up. My stomach dropped. I asked if she had called 9-1-1- she had not. I instructed her to do so and I immediately gathered my things and ran out of the building.

Riley was air lifted to Albany Medical Center that afternoon. It was in the ER that we learned Riley had suffered a traumatic brain injury- we were in shock. She was fine when we dropped her off. They informed us that she needed to be rushed into surgery to save her life, and we immediately gave permission to do so without another thought, anything to save our little girl.



The first of many miracles to come over the next year, Riley had made it through surgery- but she was not expected to survive much longer- her chances were slim. If she did survive, there was no way of knowing how she would be, but most likely, she would never be the same child again. The neurosurgeon explained the severity of her head injury and prepared us for the worst- we hoped for the best. We just wanted her to survive. Riley would be fighting for her life over the next few days.

We were living every parent’s worst nightmare. Riley was hooked up to a respirator, her little chest jerking up and down in an unnatural way. She had tubes coming out of her nose, mouth, chest and arms. She had bandages around her head where there were endless staples from her surgery- they had removed her left bone plate to allow her brain to swell, and they had shaved half of her hair off. There were monitors next to her bed that showed her heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rates, and the amount of pressure in her head- the numbers appeared to be constantly changing. There were two poles behind her bed filled with medication delivery devices, at least 5 on each. She had two nurses assigned just to her, sitting right outside her door at all times, monitoring her care. Her little face was so swollen, her eyes were bruised and swelled shut and there was dried blood on her face. I couldn’t do anything other than stand there helplessly, hold her hand, pray and cry. We didn’t speak because the doctors said that she would try to hear us and it would strain her too much to try and focus on anything- they wanted her to rest. The room was dark and quiet except for the beeping of all those machines and the noise of the respirator.

During the next 3 months in the PICU, Riley defied the odds and was so strong, she endured more then any child should have to. Her heart stopped beating and she coded twice while I stood by and watched helplessly as doctors worked to revive my daughter- pumping her chest, injecting her with drugs, shocking her little heart. The second time in May of 2007, they had to put her back on the ventilator to help her breathe – at that time they also found a blood clot and spent over a week trying different drugs to regulate her heart rate and blood pressure. She faced surgeries to clean an infection from her brain, to replace her skull plate, to clean up her incision from the initial operation, to have a ventricle drain put in, to have a permanent shunt placed, to insert a feeding tube in her stomach (she had this surgery twice and went to the ER three times to have it corrected), she faced multiple infections in her blood and in her cranial fluid and spent over a month on antibiotics, she spiked high fevers, suffered morphine withdrawal (twice), had tremors so severe they prevented her from sleeping, she was also placed on methadone to help with drug withdrawal. I’ve lost count of the number of CT Scans, EEG’s, MRI’s and other medical procedures and tests Riley has had to suffer through. I stayed at the hospital with Riley the entire time, I couldn’t bring myself to leave her side, I was terrified that I was going to lose my daughter.

After leaving the PICU in June of 2007, Riley was finally transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. The first two weeks Riley didn’t do much other than cry both in and out of therapy. There was nothing we could do to soothe her. She was able to get some physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapy but it was very stressful and exhausting for everyone. She couldn’t eat any solid foods, and wouldn’t open her mouth for months. Riley was unable to hold her head up after so many months lying in bed and had no control of her neck or torso. She would drool all the time because she couldn’t swallow properly. She had a condition known as “drop foot” from lying down. Her hands also needed braces and were often stuck in a fist-like position. She would often “tone” which is when she would hold her whole body rigid and then cry. It was difficult to break her of this, and she still does it occasionally, even on medication to control it.

On top of all of Riley’s medical issues, my husband and I were considered suspects of this brutal crime, and were pulled from Riley’s bedside on countless occasions to be questioned and to make statements to police officers, social workers, attorneys, and Child Protective Service workers. We were forced to leave our daughter and endure reliving the most horrible experience of our lives over and over again, even on the stand at Grand Jury, Family Court, and finally, over a year later, at the Criminal Trial. Everything in our lives was put under a microscope- our parenting skills and style, our decisions, our family and friends, our pets, our love and care for our daughter. My husband and I eventually had to come to terms with the realization that our friend had in fact hurt our daughter. We’ve had to live with the guilt of leaving our daughter with someone we thought we trusted unconditionally, someone we loved, and someone we considered a friend. We went to trial in April 2008. Riley’s attacker was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in state prison for the assault.

In over two years Riley hasn’t walked, fed herself, or sat up without assistance. She is finally able to say “hi” and “on”. She is legally blind and will face that challenge for the rest of her life. She must take seizure medication and muscle relaxers on a daily basis. She still cannot fully hold her head up for long periods of time, and she still needs to be held or be in a special chair or standing frame that holds her up. Riley is steadily making progress with her eating, and luckily the feeding tube is gone. We have purchased countless sets of braces for Riley’s legs, two special chairs for her to sit in, a special car seat, hand splints, endless medications, glasses and vision therapy. Riley has recently started potty training. She attends an integrated preschool program where she gets physical, occupational, speech, assistive technology and vision therapy. She has a one-on-one aide to assist her in every activity at pre-school. She still attends therapy at the hospital once per week to work on her walking, and is also enrolled in hippotherapy (horseback riding) and swim class. She has faced numerous dental appointments to correct oral issues sustained from months of breathing tubes and her tonic bite, by not allowing us to properly care for her teeth. Riley will have Botox treatments next month to help loosen some of her muscles.

Riley’s future is so uncertain, as is the nature of a traumatic brain injury. Every case is different. The brain controls everything, and the healing process is very slow. She faces years and years of continued therapy. My husband and I remain optimistic, because we love our daughter and refuse to believe that this is the way she will be forever. We want our daughter back. We will continue to provide Riley with everything she needs to work toward recovery, no matter what that entails. Every small accomplishment is huge for us. Her smile and laugh gets closer to the one we remember, a simple function that took Riley almost 8 months to gain back. We continue to hope. Riley has proven to be stronger then any other person I know, even at the age of 4. She is my inspiration. The doctors have prepared us for the worst case scenario- that Riley will stop improving, and that she will require assistance with everything for the remainder of her life. My husband and I realize that this may be Riley’s reality, but we choose to take each day as it comes, to be grateful that our daughter is still alive and with us, and to provide her with all of the love and support she deserves on this journey. We will deal with each issue as it comes and are still trying to pick up the pieces, focus on the future, and move on.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

We are family….. We are SBS family!

So I was sitting here thinking what should my blog today be about.

The last few days my thoughts have been with some of our SBS family. We all face challenging times, hard times, good times. All of us continue to fight against SBS and spread the word about the dangers of shaking a baby. We all go thru periods of more challenging and trying times.

We continue to speak out, to fight hard, and sometimes to pull back and take time to step back and take care our ourselves and our families. Then when we can, we step back out again and continue the fight that never comes to an end.

I guess I just wanted to say in my blog, that WE ARE FAMILY! We are here for each other, we are here for support, for crying, for anger, for understanding.

No matter what you may be facing on your own personal journey with shaken baby syndrome, whether it is an “up” time or a “down” time, we all go thru different phases, we all go thru a wide range of feelings and emotions.

A word of encouragement to all of you. Hang in there, be strong, lean on each other when you need, speak out when you can, be silent when you need to. And TAKE CARE OF YOU!

We are all passionate about Shaken Baby Syndrome, and want to see an end to this horrible crime! But take time to take care of you, so that you can do what you want to do in your journey. And most importantly, reach out if you need one of the SBS family, we are here.

All my love

~ Tara

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hello! From Mandy ~

Hey there everyone! I know it has been a little while since I last blogged. I apologize for my absence. This time of year is always a tough one as the anniversary of the day my little girl became an angel is right around the corner. As every Fall approaches we all see the beautiful leaves changing colors and falling off the trees. The summer heat slowly starts to fade away and we find ourselves wrapped up in blankets and coats. Each year we get our pumpkins together and we get busy baking in the kitchen. I live each day of my life with deep pain inside my heart that no matter what I do will never go away. I have this pain all the time, but everything about fall reminds me of all the horrible things that happened to my little girl. Each year I have taken this challenge just as I have with every other one. It’s never easy, but I manage to get through it.

OF course this year is the same thing with the exception that I have been faced with a new challenge. I now have a baby boy that l must continue to put a smile on my face and no matter how bad I am hurting stay positive and happy for him. I want to keep my blogging as positive as possible as this is a place for ALL of us to come for support. With the circumstances arising in my life I feel that is best for me to just take a step back right now. I will be back once I get through this and I will share with you my experiences through this part of the journey.

All my Love

Mandy

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nightmares

I know some of you probably have these moments too. The come and go, and I havent really had them for years. I dont know if they are coming out now because there is other drama going on in my life, but the last few nights I have had nightmares of Kyle's assault. They are very detailed and I can see the faces so clearly. Which at least for me is not very normal. The are very upsetting, I hate having them. It has been 10 years since Kyle was assaulted. Why am I having these nightmares now. The child abuser could get out on parole next year... perhaps that is on the forfront of my mind, maybe its the challenges with stresses in life that is bringing them on. I dont know.... I just wish they would go away. I have woke up screaming the last few nights. It is a horrible feeling.

Does anyone else experience these nightmares of bad dreams?

~ Tara

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

SBS In the News - Oklahoma

KOKH FOX 25 :: Top Stories

Shared via AddThis

Hope for the future

I have many hopes for the future. For one day my son to be able to live a life where he is happy, and successful, however he determines that will be. The doctors have told me, that he will never be " a rocket scientist" but that we will teach him life skills so he can live on his own and have a productive life.

We will never know what Kyle could have or would have been, but he will be the best he can be, and we will be very happy that he is just even with us.

I hope he makes some friends, and we hope that he will find good people for his life as he grows, people that love him for who he is and are true friends.

I also have very high hopes for the future regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome. I hope that thru the work of many many dedicated people and organizations, that we see a decline in the number of babies that are killed or injured.

I hope to someday not hear a heart wretching story about another family that has to be on this journey. I know SBS will always exist, I only hope that we hear more about education and prevention and less about it happening to our babies.

~ Tara

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Poem to Share...

Shared by Lyndsay Goodwin - mommy to Zach, SBS survivor

Remember that he is,first of all,my child.

Let me see him smiling in his sleep and let me think about how handsome he is and not about how delayed that smile was in coming.

Help me not lose sight of my son in the shadow of his limitations
I know that you care for my child and that you work hard with him.

I need your expertise to help him become all that he is capable of being.

You need my help in understanding who he really is and in following though at home with things that are important.

Remember,though that you send him home at night and have weekends off and paid vacations.

Let me have the luxury of having a vacation,sometimes physically, sometimes just emotionally,for a day,a week,a month,without your judging me.

I will be there for him when you are long gone.

I love my child with intensity that you can only imagine.

If on a given day I am tired or cross with him,listen to me,lighten my burden,but do not judge me.

Celebrate with me,rejoice in who he is and who he will become but forgive me if from time to time I shed a tear for who he might have been.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bringing us all together... with hope

The Shaken Baby Syndrome Support Network is formed for the families, by the families. We are here to share our stories, with the hope of helping someone else in comparable situations as ours which in some cases, go silently..

Last week, a blog entry was posted in regards to a news story about Justice for a family after 27 long years of hoping and praying. Many knew the reasoning behind the posting, and others had questions. So I am here to elaborate on the situation sharing my own personal journey, which is my personal journey, and could be deemed "opinion" in legal standings.

When I first was gathering my thoughts and feelings regarding what I felt and what so many others felt was needed for Shaken Baby Syndrome, I had one consistent thought in my mind.. "I just want a place where families can go and read. Read about coping, read other stories, and share at their own will and desire when they felt "ready" to do so in a non-opinionated environment." With that being said, knowing this is our inspirational blog, our blog of hope for those with little to none in their lives at certain points, I want to bring one thought to the forefront. If the resource can not help me.. It CAN help someone else.

Let's take a look for instance at the numerous support groups around the nation geared toward helping those with substance addictions. They are the life saving tool for so many in our world today, but in my personal case, I am blessed as I have not had to use those resources. But, they are there to help those seeking help with the problem at hand for them.

In my personal journey, the hardest subject and detour to deal with is the anger and rage instilled in my heart with no warning, and no answer as to how to deal with it "properly". I have had moments where I did not know if I would see the second because of the thoughts steering through my mind. The ones closest to me were the one subject to the most intense anger anyone should ever have to deal with. I am the girl who stood in front of the mirror in my bathroom, taking my acrylic nails to my face because I could not stand the anger and rage inside of me. I am the girl who has taken a knife to the counter top and carved "hate" into the counter top because there was no where to "point" my anger. I am the girl who refused to go to counseling for my anger and rage issues, simply because I thought I could get through this all on my own. I am the girl who wore the vulgar t-shirts and kept everyone at arms length, because I was the girl who was suffering alone, in the darkness, in my room, crying myself to sleep because I did not want to talk about it, in fear of someone else in my family hurting even a figment of the hurt I was coping with on a second to second basis.

All I wanted was to have this big answer book, this pamphlet that explained to me how to make all of this life shattering pain in my heart go away. Living through it and dealing with it, I wanted a place I could read, and sought for quite sometime other families and their stories, just to know I wasn't alone, and that when the time came and I was ready I could reach out and start this process called "healing".

I hope that everyone, and I mean all of you, whom are checking in on our blog, and following all of our postings, know that just because something may seem a bit "off" or a bit "awkward" that this is our lives, and our lives from every walk, from every perspective. It may not bring hope to you, but it just might for the next person that reads our site. In the coming weeks and days you will hear recollections from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and many other friends and relatives of the children of SBS to see things from all views of the tragedy, and the hope that the surviving children of SBS brings to all of us.

Unfortunately for my daughter, Justice did not prevail. I think there is a completely separate grieving process when such a system as that fails.. There is a person, a person whom stated what they had done, and talked about it openly.. and attempted to "do the right thing" by stating the truth.. and the system failed my family. Do I think the outcome would be any different grieving wise? Yes, I do. There isn't "that" kind of closure for my family, because just as I sit here and type this, this woman is sitting at home, with her children...

When Ricky's mother contacted me with his story I knew in my heart I had to post the story. Not only for the family's sake, and the triumph after 27 years of longing for justice that they must feel, but for all those families, as myself, that hold hope that maybe, just maybe something will come out, something might be said, or done that could just make the failing of the justice system justified, with the perpetrator in jail. I would be lying if I told you it is not something that I think about everyday.. because I do. Too many people know the truth, and I want everyone whom has been in my shoes, and who did not receive justice, to come forth, and feel they are not silenced just because of a justification.

Yes, this is America, and you are innocent until proven guilty. When you break down the lines of those whom have been failed by the system, you start to see the haze, and understand, sadly, you are not alone. I have seen too many families silenced because they have been told that they can not speak of this, because of the verdict in the court room.

This blog is a blog of hope and a blog of inspiration. I invite all of you to come forth when you feel you are ready, to share your stories, and to know that maybe those things left in your heart that you feel uncomfortable speaking of, can be easily typed and posted anonymous. The only way to move through the act of violence is to speak of the unconditional terms of the justice system. We don't just welcome parents of survivors, or parents of victims, or parents children whom have been shaken and have or haven't received justice. We welcome you ALL to take part. In order to be the support group we aspire to be, we have our mat at the door and a pot of coffee on.. Come on in.

The process we must live through is not always inspirational, but know our goal is to help you, the ones suffering in silence, and work together with the ones seeking to do good in their lives to help others know they do not have to suffer alone. We stand together, and make a declaration of hope to the families of Shaken Baby Syndrome. We are here, when your foundation is crumbling before your feet, read silently or speak loudly, because we are, the Shaken Baby Syndrome Support Network.

All my best, and warm thoughts;
Rachel

Accomplishment

Ok so I know this is such a little thing. As you all know, my son is a survivor of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

I know you all appreciate all the little accomplishments. Today was another one of those days. We have been working so hard. He was finally able to tie his shoes all my himself today.

Its even these little milestones that our kidos meet that are big for any child, but for a survivor of SBS, every milestone is a celebration.

I would be interested in knowing some of your childs successes. Please email me at tyandtaramitchell@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Justice, Forgiveness, Acceptance

Lately the topic of acceptance, justice, forgiveness have been on my mind.

Everyone is different, everyone has different beliefs, everyone has different thoughts.

Its not so clean cut for me I guess. I have come to “accept” what happen to my son, and to “accept” what we have in our lives and that we may have challenges and issues ahead because of his assault.

I can forgive most things people can say, or do. I might be a little bitter for a little bit, or angry of whatever, but I have forgiven everyone everything I think in my life. But I will NEVER forgive him for what he did to my son.

Some people may judge me for this. Some people may say I can never move on until I forgive. I cannot forgive. This is something I simply can not do. I will “accept” what happen for what it was, however forgiveness is something he will never have from me.

Justice…..again everyone I’m sure have a different view of what justice is and maybe to what extent. I can only speak from my heart. Although I am pleased that he was found guilty and was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and we were lucky with such an exceptional sentence, as many of you know, some people get off “scott free” and some serve little time, some serve more time.

In my opinion there is no “justice” for a person that abuses a child. Whether the child is a survivor or an angel. There is no amount of time that a person could serve that could bring the child back, or bring the child back to the child they could have been.

There is no sentence that a court of law could give that would be justice for me. I know that some how some way he will pay for what he did. I guess my version of “justice” is that he will never be near this boy. He will never get to see him grow, he will never get anywhere close to him, and he misses out on the best thing in this world. Watching and loving a child as they grow.

So whatever your version of acceptance, forgiveness and justice, I hope you find that special place within yourself so that you can have some amount of healing and peace.

Love and hugs families <3 Tara

Friday, September 25, 2009

True Justice

According to Dictionary.com the definition of justice is: to cause to come before a court for trial or to receive punishment for one's misdeeds

July 9, 2007 …

I couldn’t wait for this day to get here. It was the day he was to be sentenced for my daughter’s death. The day I would finally be able to close this chapter of the book. I looked forward to this day, I planned for this day. I naively believed I would feel some sort of relief knowing he was paying for his crimes.

He had pled guilty in a plea agreement and we knew he was facing 30 to 64 years in prison. I was determined for him to get 64 years. Even though I personally felt the maximum of 64 years was not going to be enough to punish him for what he did.

When the judge delivered the sentencing of 40 years, I didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel relief. Much to my dismay, I didn’t feel any different. The pain in my heart was still there. It didn’t bring my little girl back to me. I still didn’t get to hold her or kiss her or watch her grow up.

I am not saying I was not grateful for the punishment he did receive. I know many families who do not have the satisfaction of knowing the person who brought harm to their precious child has been punished. But in the end this monster has “3 hots and a cot” provided by us, the taxpayers, for at least the next 18 years when he will become eligible for parole.

Ultimately, I believe true justice will served on Judgment Day. Because on that day all the people who have hurt our children, whether they were convicted or not, will have to answer to their Creator. In my opinion, THIS is when true justice will be served… Until that day they will all have to live with the haunting horror of knowing what they have done and the fear of what is to come.

-Mandy

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Progress...

Today we received a letter from the State of Washington Governor and the Superintendent of Schools. Every student in Washington from 3rd grade probably received a similar letter in the mail within the last few days. 3rd graders had to take the WASL test (Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).

Although so many student I’m sure received the same form letter from the Governor congratulating them on passing the WASL, this has such extraordinary meaning to us.

Even though he scored just barely in the average range, he IS in the average range. When we first started this journey, he was way below his age range and way below other kids his age. He has tried very hard, worked very hard and had so many challenges to be doing so well.

So I am very proud of him, and I wanted to share this accomplishment with you.

No matter what mountains we may have to climb on this journey with a survivor, we can get there, we will get there, and together we will help our kids have happy lives.

I have made friends that have survivors and who lost their babies and they are angels looking down on us now. Although I truly do not know what you have gone thru, I just want you all to know, that I am here for you if I can be of support in anyway. I may not understand completely, but I do care, my heart is with you and I will lend an ear if I can.

I hope I was able to help today with our talk today my friend!

Love and hugs to all the families. <3 Tara

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

27 Years and Justice is finally Served!

Defendant Called "A Monster"
WTAP News
More than 27 years after he allegedly shook his infant son to death, the case of a North Carolina man finally goes to trial.
Posted: 7:34 PM Jun 16, 2008
Reporter: Todd Baucher
Email Address: todd.baucher@wtap.com


Story 10 Comments Font Size: One of the stepchildren of 48-year-old Richard Poore called him "a monster" on the first day of his trial Monday, one who often committed acts of abuse against him and his relatives.

"He'd just pick who he wanted to hit," said stepson Charles Hinton. "He'd want my brother to say curse words and my brother wouldn't say them, and he'd just punch him. I remember him doing things to my little sister."

And Hinton, who was five and a half years old in 1981, says he saw Poore violently shake his own son, Richard, Junior: violently enough to cause the four-month old infant's death.

"I just saw him pick him up and...run him against the wall," Hinton recalled, fighting back tears, "and just shook him and shook him and shook him."

Stepdaughter Heather Dunn says she was at school when the incident happened. she was notified by young Ricky's mother.

"I remember her saying he was gone," Dunn said. "And my (birth) dad came over and picked me and my brother up...and I remember we stayed with him."

Poore's attorney, Ira Haught, did not cross-examine witnesses, and declined to give opening statements until the defense begins presenting its case. That's something Pleasants County Prosecutor Tim Sweeney told us could happen as soon as Tuesday.

W.T.A.P News reported when Poore was arrested in 2006 that the case took more than two decades to prosecute because the completed autopsy report was never filed
_____________________________________________________________________________________

This news story was submitted by the mother of Ricky. They have been going through the process for justice for 27 years! Little Ricky will never be forgotten, and though it took so long to get him justice, justice has prevailed.

Coping with Other Babies..

When I lost my little girl there was nothing I wanted more than to just hold her and love her and just have one more minute with her. Every time I would see another mother with their new baby I couldn’t help but be sad. I knew that this was an emotion that I would need to overcome because if I continued to be like this it would turn me into a bitter person and I refused. I tried just pretending like everything was okay when I was around babies and that didn’t work.. At the end of the day I would go home and just cry. I tried avoiding babies at all costs. Not fair to me or them. Then one day I decided that I was going to visit another family whose child was born that morning. I traveled to the hospital with all the fear in the world that seeing the baby in a hospital would just break my heart. I turned on the song “Jesus Take the Wheel” and drove to the hospital. I walked up there went to the room walked in the door. Then boom.. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that baby. It felt like God was leading to that moment in that room to heal me and comfort me. I held that little boy for a really long time. I am sure I wore out my visit and that they wanted their baby back, but they understood. I was perfectly comfortable being around that little guy from that moment on.

To this day the only way I am able to really feel comfortable around a baby the same age and younger than my daughter was is if I go to the hospital and hold the baby when they first arrive into the world. I think that this my way of coping with the emotions that I feel when I see a mother holding her new baby.

-Mandy

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Special Mother-

Happy Tuesday Everyone

Mandy shared a poem that someone had shared with her, so I wanted to share one that someone had given to me after Kyle's assault.

This is for all of you that are parents of a survivor, or special child :) Love and hugs to you all untill Thursday!

The Special Mother

by Erma Bombeck



Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice,
a few by social pressure and a couple by habit.


This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children.


Did you ever wonder how these mothers are chosen?


Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth
Selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation.


As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.


"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew."


"Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia."


"Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."


Finally he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a handicapped child."


The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."


"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child a mother who knows no laughter?


That would be cruel."


"But does she have the patience?" asks the angel.


"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair.


Once the shock and resentment wear off she'll handle it."
"I watched her today.


She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother.


You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of it's own.
She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."


"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."


God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."


The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"


God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive.


Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect.


She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied.


She will never take for granted a spoken word.


She will never consider a step ordinary.


When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it.

I will permit her to see clearly the things I see--ignorance, cruelty, prejudice--and allow her to rise above them.

She will never be alone.

I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life
Because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."

"And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air.

God smiles.

"A mirror will suffice."

-Tara

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mommy

This poem was given to me moments after Nicolette’s funeral and since that day I have read it at least once a day. It gives me strength, hope, and encouragement and I would like to share it with you. I hope everyone had a great weekend. Be back Wednesday. Hugs

To My Mommy From Heaven

Mommy, don't cry,'cause God is holding my hand and telling me everything is okay

Mommy, God said that I will never want for anything and I will still feel your love all the way up here

Mommy, guess who helps watch over us while we play? They are God's helping Angels

Mommy, I am not afraid, my family is all here, They came to me when it was dark and held my hands

Mommy, God said, if you feel sad, remember this: I'll be the gentle breeze that brushes your face, the sun is my smile and the rain is washing away your pain

Mommy, I have to go now. I send you all my love on the wings of an angel..

-Mandy

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Life Today...


It has been 10 years since my sons assault. We have been thru many ups and downs. The first couple of years were very hard, but we took it a day at a time. He had intense therapy for the first year, and we spent a lot of time at Mary Bridge Childrens’ Hospital.

I meet my husband about 7 years ago. We now have a family of 5 with my stepdaughter and stepson. My husband adopted Kyle and we live like a “normal” family.

He is a good father and husband. Although we go thru normal trials and tribulations, we are a family and we work together to improve and grow our strength and family.

We will continue to face Kyle’s challenges head on and do everything we can to help him succeed.

We deal with a lot of social and acceptance issues. He was bullied the other day at school for being different. He is very sensitive and it is so hard as a mom to sit by and watch. We talk about things when they come up and I try to show him the bright side of things.

He will need to begin therapy probably this year. He knows he was shaken and almost died and was shaken by a man that lost his temper, but he doesn’t know who he was shaken by and that is his biological father. We are not really ready for this step, but I dont know how and when to do it. My husband has been the other father he has ever known. So we will need some counseling as well to figure out how we handle this situation, as well as how we help him thru his social issues.

We are very lucky to be in a good place in our life, and as a family, we will get thru anything life throws our way.

-Tara

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shining Some Light




Once I was able to accomplish everyday common activities it was time to take bigger steps toward healing and growing as a person. I did not want to allow what happened to my daughter define who I was. I refused to hear “there is that lady whose husband murdered their baby.” I wanted to hear something more on the lines. “Look what she has been through and look what she has turned it into.”

One of the things that I wanted to do was shine a light on a subject that many just rather ignore rather than face it. That following April I wanted to use Child Abuse Awareness Month as a way to open peoples’ eyes to what was taking place all around them. We were still in the beginning stages with the legal system and preparing for the murder trial so I needed to be extremely careful what I did. I was told that Shaken Baby Syndrome was an extremely touchy subject, and I knew that I could not do anything that got to into detail on that subject. The last thing I wanted to do was jeopardize anything with the trial. Once I was given the okay from the District Attorney’s Office I decided to do go ahead and do a Pinwheels for Prevention Project.

With the help of my family and a group of family friends we placed one Pinwheel for each of the 333 cases of child abuse reported in Las Animas County, Colorado in 2006. Each Pin Wheel had a story behind it. Some worse than others, but all of them represented Children that were subjected to Abuse in one form or another. They were placed on a busy bridge in town where many people could see. I grew up in this small town and I NEVER could have imagined that there were this many cases of abuse there. I wasn’t alone either. Many people didn’t realize how badly child abuse was affecting their community. It was a really big eye opener. The pin wheels remained up the entire month of April and were seen by many. IT was a success!

After doing that project I knew that it opened the eyes of many and touched people’s hearts as well. I knew that people would be much more willing to not look the other way and pretend like child abuse wasn’t happening around them. I walked away from the project with a band aid over my pain. Some where deep down it seemed to make things a little bit easier knowing that I was helping another child from ever feeling the pain, another family from going through this, or another potential situation from being ignored.

Shining a light put my emotions, my feelings, and a piece of my heart all out on the line… I shared my story and in doing so I helped others. It felt so awesome in the end to able to help others, but at the same time help myself. The best thing I ever did was take the chance at helping and making a difference.

-Mandy

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Coping Mechanisms

-Coping mechanisms (Did you ever deal with alcoholism or drug abuse, or another form of harm you put yourself through shortly after?)

After my sons assault, I didn’t deal with any sort of substance abuses like drugs or alcohol. But boy do I love food. Im not sure how much weight I gained, Im know it was a lot during that time frame.

I had the support of my family and friends, and that got me thru. I am a very emotional and sensitive person, I get upset easily and am more of a “the glass is half empty” person. I wallowed in self pity and depression for some time. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to eat… then I wanted to eat everything. I didn’t want to leave the house, I just wanted to pull inward.

I had my son who had survived to take care of, so my focus was on him and being there for him, I guess that was a coping mechanism… I have to cope and function thru this, I have to. I am all he has.

I guess no matter what happens in our lives, we having some form of coping mechanism to get us thru.

-Tara

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baby Steps to Healing..

After the loss of my daughter there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to live in the same house that she was hurt in. I made one visit back to that place to grab a few things and that was the last time I was ever there. Fortunately, I was able to get on post housing almost immediately after deciding that I was not going to be able to live there anymore. I had an extremely supportive group of people that I worked with. They did everything they could to make sure I was alright. I was given a lot of time to get my mind together and well enough to go back to work. Once I did return to work it was for only a few hours a day and some days as little as an hour just to get me back into the swing of it.

When I did return back to duty my family could not fathom me living 2 hours away from them and having no one there with me. My brother, who at the time was a senior in high school, decided that it only made sense for him to move away and be with me. (Josh ,I will forever be grateful for what you did for me… I know it wasn’t easy)

As I mentioned in a previous blog it took all the energy I had to get to work each day and when I did return home I didn’t want to leave my couch, not even to eat. I did go to the restroom though… My brother swears that if I had a bedside commode I would have NEVER left. I was awful. I was slipping into such a deep depression and it felt as though I was never going to get out of it…Here I was living in this hell hole with cinder block walls that the Army says is adequate housing, trying to just make it through each day. I had NO reason to keep moving on. Other than making sure that my ex husband never got to see another day of his life as a free man. The grief was over taking me in every aspect of my life.

My brother, who was and still is a social butterfly, begged me to just get up and get out of the house at least long enough to go to dinner. I finally decided that I would go. We went to dinner with a few of my friends from work. We knew it would be best if there were others there with us. It was actually nice to get out of there and just live a little bit. It wasn’t easy seeing all the happy little families, but I survived. As time went on, a couple of people I worked with would come over every day to either watch a movie with me or wash my clothes or just sit and cry with me. Going out to dinner started to become a regular event. Even during horrible snow storms… At that point there was a routine of people I could count on being there. They encouraged me and sometimes forced me to breathe in order to take little steps forward just in getting off the couch and out the door. I began to trust these few people. Trust… to this day isn’t something that comes easy for me, but that’s a blog for another day.

I gradually, with the support of these people and my brother, started to venture out a little bit more. Each new activity became a milestone. Going to the grocery store... going to the mall... going to get a pedicure… Every aspect of everything I did turned into a monumental occasion, bringing me hope and comfort that I would be able to survive this. I began looking forward to tackling each new adventure. This became my outlet from the grief. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it in the end.



When this horrible tragedy takes place our entire lives are turned upside down. Even little things that we sometimes take for granted, like going out to dinner, become such overwhelming things to do. We just assume not do them sometimes, but if we don’t face these challenges head on, we have allowed the pain and the hurt to become who we are. My little steps were facing all of these challenges with all the faith that God would get me through it... Pretty sure that none of them were easy. Then again, no one ever said they would be. They just said that it would be worth it~

-Mandy

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Regrets? Normal?....Yes

So one of the topics we planned on doing was - Do you have regrets or is that a term that should be used for people with “normal” lives?

Shortly after my sons assault I did have a lot of regrets… I guess more guilt. Although I was not home when the assault(s) happen, my son was assaulted on at least two different occasions. He had an older hemorrhage in addition to the acute hemorrhage that almost ended his life. I was at work, there is nothing I could have done. I had no idea the horror he must have went thru. I never saw anything. I never had a clue. I was even impressed that he went to an optional parenting class just for fathers before Kyle was born.

Looking back, I see things now that I “should have” picked up on something as “not normal” Kyle cried a lot when he would hold him. He had never been around babies, and seemed to hold him awkward, and you know babies can sense feelings, like animals, the sense when you are feeling a certain way. I would reassure him and encourage him and then he would feel more comfortable. He would talk to him, play with him everything normal, just like everyone.

Another “should have” …there was one day I had come home and Kyle had been sick, he had been throwing up and not eating (drinking) that day. I came home from work and he projectile vomited. I immediately took him to the doctor, and the doctor told me that he had the flu. He’s the doctor, I figured he had the flu like the doctor said. Looking back now, it makes me wonder. Was he assaulted that day???? Why did I not see it???? And most horribly the regret that tugs at me, even 10 years later… Why wasn’t I there to protect him???? I would lay my life on the line for this little boy. Why????

I was in therapy for months dealing with all the feelings and challenges. It took me a long time to finally convince myself. It was not my fault. If I would have known, I would have taken care of him like he deserved.

I can write that even now, but in my heart I still don’t truly believe it. I will always regret and blame myself.

And days like today, the regret creeps back in. Kyle is a highly functioning survivor. Most people would see him and except for the huge scars on his head, would not know anything was different.

Every school year I have the challenge of a new teacher. I constantly fight with the school, I had lots of fights when we first got to this school. The “special education” teacher actually told our day care provider that there was nothing wrong with Kyle. I was just an overprotective mother and exaggerated things. And that Kyle was just spoiled. I was needless to say PISSED. Excuse me??? Let me tell you what we have been thru. Better yet… I organized a conference call with all of his teachers at the time and the principal ( who missed the call ) with the Neuro-Development Center Doctor from Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. She has had to deal with schools a lot. She was blunt, honest and informed them that this boy sustained a severe head injury and that he almost died from these injuries. He has issues, challenges and he does have brain damage.

So frustrating! So now its another school year. And although I'm sure there is a file with information at school, like last year, I bet the teacher doesn’t know much about Shaken Baby Syndrome (Abusive Head Trauma). So I will do like I do every year. Provide the new teacher with all the information about SBS and the particular challenges. He has been at school for 3 days. I usually give the teacher a few days and then WHAM here you go.
The doctors say that every year we will see more challenges as the gap between Kyle’s age and his neuro developmental age.

It is frustrating the challenges he has, the struggles he has, the social exile he faces from people. Kids can be very cruel, and he is so sensitive, his feelings get hurt so easy, and we talk about it and I reassure him.

“ Mom, I am so stupid, mom the kids make fun of me, mom I cant do it, mom I’m not like the other kids, mom I have no friends.”

“Mom, sometimes I just want to die”

“No honey you are not stupid, you are a very smart boy, we just has to try harder sometimes, everyone is different in their own way honey, and that is what makes us all special. Not everyone is alike, but we always treat people with respect and love. If someone is being mean to us, or says something mean to us, we move away from them and find someone nice to play with. Friends are like treasures, and its not about the number of friends you have, its having real friends that are nice that count honey and most important is that mommy would be lost without you, your family and true friends love you and need you. Life is very precious and we should always hold on to that”

Am I doing it right??? I don’t know. We do the best we can, and we work towards another day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My "Normal" Life...

MY NORMAL LIFE …

It is amazing what has become "normal" to me. ...

Normal for me is trying to decide what to take to the cemetary for Christmas,Valentine's day, and Easter.


Normal is seeing that choclate Easter bunny sitting on the shelf in Wal-Mart trying not to cry when I realize that my baby girl will never get to experience that delightful taste of chocolate.

Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how I feel with people who have also lost a child.

Normal is feeling like I know how to act and am more comfortable with a funeral and being at the cemetery. Yet, feeling a stab of pain in my heart when I smell the flowers, see the casket, and all the crying people.

Normal is feeling like I can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming cause I just don't like to sit through church anymore. And yet feeling like I have more faith and belief in God than I ever have had before.

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when I realize my little girl is missing from all the important events in my families' life.

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand 'what if's' and 'why didn't I's' go through my head constantly.

Normal is having the TV on the minute I wake up and the last thing on before I go to sleep at night, because I have the need for noise because the silence is deafening.

Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind because of the hole in my heart.

Normal is telling the story of my babies death as if it were an everyday common place activity and then gasping in horror at how awful it sounds.

And yet realizing it has become part of my normal.
Normal is trying to go out to the movies to get my mind off of what is now my normal and having to turn right back around and go home, because I realize that every movie has some sort of violence in it and I just don’t have the strength to deal with it.

Normal is being impatient with everybody, but someone who has be stricken with grief over the loss of their child.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother.
Normal is being too tired to care if I paid the bills, cleaned my house or did my laundry or if there is any food in my house.


And last of all normal is hiding all the things that have become normal for me to feel, so that everyone around me will think that I am "normal".

When I first read this, I felt as though I had written it about my life. It was a turning point for me. I realized I didn’t want the grief to become who I was. If any of you have ever felt this way, and I am certain many of you have experienced some of these feelings (if not all of them), I want you to know that it is “Normal”.



In my next blog, I will tell of the baby steps I had to take which were monumental in my healing process to not allow the grief to become who I am.

-Mandy