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!”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

~Survivor Tyler Wade Gruhler~

The date was March 15th, 2008. The place, a small apartment in Orlando, FL. A young couple and their 2 children were finally achieving one of their dreams, and had just moved out on their own. Things were looking up for them, and never had the couple been more in love. Waking up in the mornings to an innocent 3 month old boy, Tyler, and his older brother, William, and to the strength of each other's love was an amazing experience. Tristin, the mother, had found a decent paying job working overnights at a local gas station. Robert, the Father, wasn't having much luck in the job department, having left his last job within days of Tyler being born. It was decided that Daddy would watch the boys at night while Mommy worked, then he would go job hunting after Mommy had made breakfast everyday. Things worked out well that way for about 5 weeks.
One night while Tristin was at work, Robert called, clearly frustrated by the baby crying. Tristin offered to come home early, with permission from her manager. Robert refused her, saying they needed her paycheck, and he was fine. Tristin advised him to leave Tyler in the crib and to go outside to smoke a cigarette. William was already asleep, undisturbed by his brother's tears. Robert hung up, seemingly more relaxed. Then he called back, to say goodnight, the baby was asleep. Tristin went about her shift, answering the phone when it rang again at about 5:15 AM. It was Robert again, but Tristin knew the moment she picked up that phone that something was wrong
"Its Tyler, its the baby!" sobbed Robert
"What's wrong?" asked Tristin, thinking maybe he had woken again and that Robert was exhausted.
"He isn't breathing, and he is shaking, twitching. I don't know what's wrong!"
"call 911, now! I'll be right there!"
Tristin's and her co worker jumped on his motorcycle and made it to the apartment in about 3 minutes, where they found Robert holding a very still Tyler in the doorway. Tristin ran and reached for the baby, taking him into her arms and calling his name over and over.
"where is the ambulance?" she cried, panic stricken and horrified at her child unmoving in her arms
"I'll call them now" Robert replied, turning away. Tristin began moving Tyler's arms, calling to him as she did so. Finally, he issued a thin cry, and began twitching in her arms. Tristin sobbed as the ambulance's red lights washed over her. The paramedics rushed in and took charge. "what happened?" one asked her. Tristin looked to Robert. "He fell off of the changing table and hit his head on the tile floor"
Tristin and Tyler were hustled into the ambulance, leaving Robert with William until their friend could arrive.
Once at the hospital, everything was in slow motion, Tristin watching her child struggle to breathe, to cry. She kept thinking "how does a fall do THIS? how did it cause so much damage?"
The answer came a few days later. Tristin went to the hospital to visit her son, who was in an induced coma, and was intercepted by a detective and a protective services agent. They questioned her about her activities on the day of the accident. When they seemed satisfied by her responses, they finally broke the news to her that Tyler was showing all of the symptoms of SBS. Tristin's whole world shattered at that moment. She hadn't hurt Tyler. There was only one other person who could have.
The detective offered her a ride home, and she walked, zombie-like into the apartment, staring at Robert as though seeing him for the first time. "what happened?" he asked, startled at her appearance. Tristin stared at him "They found something, didn't they?" asked Robert, suddenly pale. Tristin stood aside and allowed the detective to enter the room. Robert submitted to questioning, Tristin held his hand, praying it wasn't true, praying it was all a misunderstanding.
It wasn't. Robert confessed to shaking Tyler "rather aggressively" twice and to dropping him onto their bed from about 6 inches high.
Since the detective and protective services couldn't prove that Tristin hadn't known about this, and since her alibi wasn't proven, they removed both children from her custody, as well as Roberts, placing Tyler in medical foster care, and William with his biological Dad, someone William had never even met in his life.
It took 2 weeks for them to arrest Robert, and another week after that Tristin finally got to see her son's again. Since Tyler was in such poor shape, the medical family kept him until Tristin could complete a case plan and comply with DCF's wishes that she take parenting, anger management and counseling. 6 months all together passed before the children were returned to Tristin.
Within the 6 months, Tyler showed significant steps towards recovery, crawling and babbling. He took his first steps weeks before his 1st birthday.
Now, Tyler is 2 and a half. He is a completely normal child, walking, talking, and going through the classic "terrible twos" He is a hero in his family's eyes, proving that nothing is impossible, and to never give up hope, not even for a second. William and Tyler are incredibly close, even thought William is still too young at 5 to understand what happened that night.
As for Robert, he was sentenced to 9 years for his crime, based on the fact that he did take full blame and was sincerely sorry for what he had done. Tristin struggles to this day with her emotions over him, preferring to stay far away from all men in general. The only important males in her life are her heart and soul, William and Tyler Wade.
This family was blessed by coming out the other side still standing, stronger than ever. But Tristin doesn't take any of this for granted, knowing full well the outcome of similar stories, the unbearable heartache and suffering of families everywhere. She is grateful everyday for her miracle baby, her little warrior, her amazing SBS survivor, Tyler Wade Gruhler


Anonymous said...

Amazing story!

Captain Cleavage said...

She is a friend of mine and I remember all of this so vividly!

Anonymous said...

Tyler is an amazing child to have gone through so much in his life, we are thankful to still be able to have him in our lives.