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Shaken Baby Syndrome Hits Close to Home

Shaken Baby Syndrome Hits Close to Home

by Steely Dad on October 5, 2009

I have a favor to ask of you.  Yes, I’m aware that it’s rather presumptuous of me to make any requests in light of my prolonged absence, but a favor I ask of you nonetheless.

You might be saying to yourself, “You schmuck! You abandon us, your faithful and loyal readers, for weeks on end and now you want to ask a favor? You’re a stay-at-home dad for cying out loud! You should have time to write a stupid blog at least once a week!” and you’re right. All I can say is mea culpa. For whatever reason, the inspiration hasn’t been there as of late and I don’t want to offend your fertile minds by simply writing drivel that’s worse than the usual drivel you’ve come to expect from Steely Dad. Yea, doing so might help with SEO and page ranks but I think it’s safe to say those elements hardly provide me motivation.

The favor I’d like to ask of you is to stop reading this post right now. WAIT! Before you do, because I know just how happy you are to oblige, please follow these very important instructions: GO HUG YOUR KID(S). I mean REALLY hug them.  Tell them how much you love them, how special they are to you. No, don’t lie. I want you to hug them and kiss them and hold them tight and let all that love in your heart spill forth. Don’t be afraid; you can’t spoil a kid with love. For those of us parents with younger kids, we don’t appreciate the brevity of these early years. Parents with older children are often cursed with the wisdom that kids just grow up way too quickly. Never again squander another opportunity to let your kids know how much you love and adore them.

I know this would be the message of Sophie and Tyler Crew, dear friends of the Steely Family, if they could speak to you right now.  I know they would love nothing more than to be able to hug their beautiful baby girl, 13-month old Emma, right this very moment. I know they would do anything to be able to hold her, to touch her, to smell her sweet and familiar scent that only they recognize. I know they would do anything to be able to hear Emma’s silly giggle and to tickle her to hear it over and over again. Even big sister Ava would love to share her toys with Emma. But they cannot, at least not right now, for their precious little Emma is in a crucial fight for her fragile life after being victimized in what doctors have described as a Shaken Baby Syndrome incident.

Sophie and Tyler are living a parent’s worst nightmare.  Sometime after dropping off Emma at daycare, they received a call from the facility that something happened to Emma. At that seminal moment, at that singular second in time, their comfortable world was eternally shattered. And even if all prayers are answered, even if the miracle of all miracles happens, nothing for the Crew Family will ever be the same again, not EVER.

After hearing this tragic story, I wondered how anyone could do something like this to a little baby, an innocent child who is not able to defend itself . How could someone turn into such a monster? It seems unfathomable, unimaginable and demonic. And you know what, it is all of these things but apparently it doesn’t take much to turn into such a monster. A brief yet uncontrollable fit of anger coupled with several violent shakes in a few seconds is all it takes to steal the life of a child. According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 children in the United States are injured or killed by being shaken each year.

No gun, no blunt instrument, no poison was used. In fact, the person probably started off with good intentions of trying to comfort a crying child. But when nothing they tried worked, the person transformed from caregiver to monster. Hands, an inability to control impulses and the law of physics that would leave adults unscathed but literally shakes the breath out of those much smaller than us were the only weapons used in this case. We’ve all been frustrated with our kids, when they don’t listen, when they cry incessantly and inconsolably for unending hours, and we’ve wished it to go away, quickly, so we can get back to sleep, get back to work or get back to whatever it was we were doing. The only thing the Crew Family wants to get back to is a normal life.

Sophie and Tyler sit vigil by Emma’s side, where they have remained since this nightmare took on a momentum that far exceeds their tolerance.  Three hundred and sixty hours have passed since the last time they saw their happy, healthy Emma. Think of all the hugs they would’ve shared had it not been for a person’s, a stranger’s, rage.

Mom and Dad, sitting on either side of Emma, read her favorite books, sing her favorite songs, looking, waiting, wishing, hoping for anything that resembles life. A sign, a twitch, a movement, a response, a sound, anything. How do you hold on to hope when doctors say to let go of it? How do you manage expectations when doctors tell you not to have any? I don’t know how but I do know that Sophie and Tyler and Ava have not given up on Emma, have not lost hope and have not abandoned expectations. Emma knows this too, and she can feel the love and support and she hears our prayers and she has responded by moving one of her arms and one of her legs. She has opened her eyes. These are small but meaningful signs that nuture the seed of hope. Remember, all mighty oaks start out as tiny acorns. Let me tell you, this little girl has more fight in her than any, save her family, knew she had in her heart. She’s not giving up and she wants to let us know not to give up on her, that she’s going to keep on fighting.

Emma doesn’t understand what losing this fight would mean to her parents, to her sister, to her grandparents. She doesn’t know the grief that would descend upon an entire community of people who love and adore her. Yet out of nothing more than sheer life instinct, the genetic code that resolves us to take another breath when doing so presents greater challenge than not taking one, this little girl fights on.

It’s easy to think something like this will never happen to us and when we don’t personally know the people struggling with a tragedy such as this, it’s even easier to take comfort in the emotional distance that frees us from any reminder of the grief  being experienced by those hit hardest. But don’t forget; instead, think of little Emma struggling for the very existence we take for granted.

I’d like to make one last request. I am asking for everyone reading this story to pray for little Emma Crew. Organize prayer services at your church, synagogue or other place of worship. If you’re not comfortable with prayer, then please send your positive thoughts Emma’s way. If praying is fine and dandy but you feel moved to do something more “tangible” the family would be most grateful for any financial contributions. Obviously, both Sophie and Tyler have taken an indefinite leave of absence from their respective jobs (Sophie is a school teacher and Tyler works in construction) since Emma’s hospitalization. I know we’d all like to lessen the burden that was thrust upon this family by minimizing financial stresses in order that they may focus their energies on little baby Emma. Donations, in any amount, can be made at the Crew Family blog by clicking on the “Donate” button. I hope you will contribute out of a desire, rather than an obligation, to help.

If you’re a blogger, have a Facebook, Twitter or any other social media account, please feel free to post this wherever compassionate eyes may read it.

Thanking you in advance,
Todd (AKA Steely Dad)

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