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!”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gavin's Story

Gavin was born on October 14th, 2009 at 6:14 pm. He weighed 6 lbs 10 oz and was 19 inches long. He was perfect. He was a healthy beautiful baby boy. Gavin was a happy baby. He always ate well, sometimes more than you would think an infant that small could eat. He took naps throughout the day like any other baby and only woke up at night to eat and then fell back asleep fairly quickly afterwards. He hardly ever cried and when he did he sounded more like the Aflac duck, than a baby crying. He was almost always quickly comforted with a new bottle or his favorite orange binkie he had had from the day he was born. He was what most people would consider an easy baby. His smile could easily light up the entire room and having him fall asleep on your chest was the best part of any day.
On December 21, nine and a half weeks after Gavin was born, we all got a phone call that you never want to get. Gavin was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance because he wasn’t breathing. Members of the Appomattox Rescue Squad responded to the 911 call and we were later told it was one of their quickest response times ever. They performed CPR at the scene and kept Gavin stable in their transport to Lynchburg General. After arriving at the hospital, we all sat in a small waiting room where seconds felt like hours. We were then told Gavin would need to be transferred to Roanoke Memorial. I never knew Roanoke was so far away. That drive took several days at least. After arriving at the hospital, we were taken into another waiting room and sat down with a leading doctor in the NICU. There are many events from this story that will forever be etched in my memory but those few moments listening to that doctor tell us what had happened to Gavin that day will always be in the forefront of my mind. She told us Gavin had bleeding on his brain that was caused by a traumatic brain injury. She also told us the retinas of his eyes were detached and there was blood pooled behind them as well. She went on to tell us that this brain injury had in no way been caused by any type of accident. It was only later that the term “Shaken Baby Syndrome” was used to describe what had been done to Gavin.
The next six weeks that Gavin spent in the NICU at Roanoke Memorial are somewhat of a blur.
The first several days were the most critical. Gavin had several bouts of seizures and for the most part, was completely unresponsive. He was on a ventilator that was doing most of his breathing for him and he was being fed through a tube in his nose. Walking into his room for the first time was extremely difficult; seeing him lying in that big bed, so tiny, hooked up to several different machines with tubes and wires coming from all parts of his body. It’s an image that I will never forget. However, with each passing day, we were given more and more hope. On the 23rd, Gavin opened his eyes and moved his arms and legs a little bit. By Christmas Eve, he was breathing more on his own. Gavin spent his very first Christmas where no child should, lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life.
On December 26th, another tragedy struck the family hard. Gavin’s uncle Cody was killed in a car accident. While it all seemed practically unbearable, I believe God needed an angel to watch over Gavin and he chose Cody to do just that. Just a couple days later when Gavin was being talked to about Cody, he smiled for the very first time since being in the hospital. I truly believe Cody talks to Gavin and will always watch over him. By the first of January, Gavin was moving his arms and legs a lot. We were told it was the nerve damage causing his movements but we were just so happy to see him active. However, it was around this time that the leading neurological doctor in the NICU told us what she believed the outcome for Gavin would be. She said it was very likely that because of his brain damage, Gavin would never be a normal child. He would not meet developmental milestones. He would probably never walk or talk. It was very possible he would be blind and deaf forever. And there was a chance he could be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. This was the most devastating news you could ever be told about someone you love. What else could we really do but put our faith in God and pray that this would not become a reality.
On January 6th, Gavin had surgery to have a trache put in for him to be able to breathe on his own and a feeding tube put in his stomach for him to able to eat. At this point, Gavin had no gag reflex nor could he swallow properly so the trach was necessary so we could suction his airway for him to breathe. After this surgery, Gavin’s face was tube free and it was a beautiful sight to see. On January 14th, Gavin was moved out of the NICU and to Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville. This was very exciting as it showed Gavin had improved enough to begin therapy. Within the month he spent at Kluge, Gavin showed improvements working with his speech, physical, and occupational therapists every day and we learned to celebrate the small successes. Around this time, the doctors at UVA re-examined Gavin’s MRI scans which showed that he had older brain injuries that occurred before December 21st. They told us that Gavin had been shaken on a total of three to five different occasions. Because of this information, the investigation of Gavin’s injuries is still on-going. On February 12th, Gavin was released from Kluge and came home to his foster parents, his great-aunt and uncle. Patricia and Floyd Wood are who I consider to be two of Gavin’s angels as they are now his adoptive parents and quite possibly the best thing to ever happen to Gavin.
As of today, Gavin is a lively and extremely happy 16 month old. He can see perfectly fine. He hears everything that goes on around him. He smiles constantly. He even laughs when something is funny and I mean belly laughs to the point where he can hardly catch his breath. Gavin still has his trach and feeding tube; however, there is talk of possibly removing his trach sometime this year. He also has a button to place over his trach so he is now able to make noises, which are pretty much some of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard. Gavin is able to roll over and has enough head control to be able to sit in a specialized chair by himself. He is being fitted for leg braces and a chair for him to be able to stand up and hopefully walk one day. He is doing everything in his power to prove that doctor in Roanoke completely wrong. Gavin is nothing short of a miracle. He is one of God’s miracles.
Gavin has been a blessing in my life. I know he was placed in my life for many different reasons but I strongly believe that the main reason was to show me how amazing and powerful God truly is. Gavin, a nine week old baby, brought me closer to God. He made me believe. He showed me the true meaning of faith. Even in the worst of situations, especially in the worst of situations, God is always there with you. He has a plan for your life. And He will never leave you. Throughout all of this, I have come to rely on the Bible verse of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Because of this verse, I know God has a beautiful future planned for Gavin and for each one of us.
While I came here today to give this testimony to God, I also wanted to use this opportunity to educate you about Shaken Baby Syndrome. In America every year an estimated 1,200 - 1,400 children are shaken for whom treatment is sought. Of these tiny victims, 25 -30% die as a result of their injuries. The rest will have lifelong complications. Long-term consequences can include learning disabilities, physical disabilities, visual disabilities or blindness, hearing impairment, speech disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, seizures, behavior disorders, cognitive impairment, and even death. Often, perpetrators shake an infant or child out of frustration or anger. This most often occurs when the baby won't stop crying. I ask you today, please, if you ever get frustrated while holding a child, place them in a safe place and walk away. Take a few moments. Take some deep breaths. Do whatever you need to do to calm down before picking the child back up. It only takes a few seconds to permanently injure a child and change their life forever. It also only takes a few seconds to share this information with someone you know. Thank you for listening.



Dena said...

Thanks for sharing that hun . That sounds alot like what our family went through . God Bless you and Gavin

Emily said...

Funny, my sons name is Gavin also, and he is an sbs survior as well he is five now and was shaken at two weeks old. Our stories are similar. God bless your family and lil Gavin.