Sunday, February 2, 2014

#7 - Journal Entry from December 23, 2010

Bryer has been weaning off the sedation meds today, but we haven't seen a response yet.  The neurosurgeon came in - the first doctor to be positive about her status.  He said her brain was on the mend, the swelling was looking better, and he wouldn't need to do surgery to put a shunt in at this point.  That was a welcome visit!  The other doctors are much less positive and are getting more outspoken about abuse.  One doctor said, "Out of 100 cases we see like this one, maybe 1 is not what we think it is."  In my mind I wanted to scream, "We are the 1!  Look at us!  Look at me!  I did not hurt my baby!"  But I am not a screamer.  I am not an arguer.  To say that I don't like confrontation is an understatement.  So all that came out were a few simple tears and shaking my head in opposition.  I gathered enough composure to say, "I am held accountable by God, but I need you to know I didn't hurt my baby."  For some it wouldn't have taken courage to just state the truth, but I already knew what I was up against and that they would invalidate me.  I'm normally a confident person, but when matched with opposition, I'd rather keep my mouth shut and even the facts to myself.  I expected the way I lead my life to speak for itself. 

We have met with lots of doctors and specialists in the past two days.  We sat around a table one day and they told us bluntly what they felt for Bryer's situation.  They said there is still a chance that we could lose her.  If she does make it, no one could tell exactly how she would be as she develops, but they explained there is a high chance that she could be in a vegetative state the rest of her life.  Eating through a tube.  No communication.  Wheelchair bound.  No voluntary movements.  Day in and day out of taking care of all of her basic needs.  Needless to say I am in denial.  How could they say that about my baby that was just smiling last week?  She is sweet and innocent and precious and has figured out how to roll over.  She coos and loves her siblings and is a part of our family.  Things like wheelchairs and feeding tubes do not happen to sweet babies like this.  I didn't say much during the meeting and just felt myself getting defensive of Bryer so I let it all seep out through my tears.  As if the diagnosis wasn't enough, they told us that they all strongly agreed on a few key phrases.  Non-accidental trauma.  Child abuse.  Traumatic brain injury.  Shaken Baby Syndrome. 

Sickening.  Absolutely sickening.  I can think of nothing worse.  It makes me sick to even write the words.  I don't doubt that some people loose their cool.  Or maybe they never had any to lose.  Some people, for whatever reason, feel it's okay to hurt children.  Or maybe they know it's not okay, but loose their patience and snap anyway.  I get it.  It happens.  But, I am absolutely mortified to think they would categorize me with those people!  It made me want to physically throw up, to regurgitate the opinions I heard.  To have all the doctors - the higher ups - the most trusted people in the medical profession - those men that I trusted to take the very best care of my baby - say these things about me was beyond my words.  I could feel my body tremble with distress.  It was beyond my control to help their thought process.  In a fight or flight situation, I'm definitely one to fly.  Yet I felt trapped there in my seat next to my husband, unable to move or say anything.  I don't remember leaving the room, but I must have at some point. 

We have had a lot of friends and family come by the hospital, complete moral support for us.  Some are there to cry with us, with nothing else to offer but a simple, powerful shoulder.  Some bring food - a much needed comfort for Jason, as he isn't the nursing mom eating off the hospital menu.  Some have tidied up our house back home.  Some have taken meals in to Jason's parents where our kids are staying.  Some have brought or sent cards, flowers, toiletries, basic necessities - because what else do you offer to grieving parents who are in a vice grip?  I am so thankful for all those small acts of service!  In the scriptures we are asked to bear one another's burdens.  That's exactly what these people have done!  It can be awkward and unnatural to know what to say or how to help, but these people just put themselves out there.  They acted on thoughts they had...  God-given thoughts on how to help.  They have lightened our load.  Where we felt the weight of the world as the doctors ridiculed us, there were others that were ready to bear that load, to also expose their own emotions with us and cry with us.  They couldn't make Bryer wake up.  They couldn't change the doctor's minds.  They just chose to care and stand with us, completely vulnerable right along side us. 

That's the state of mind I was in as we pulled ourselves away from Bryer's side and drove to the police station for our polygraph exams.  Just another hoop to jump through.  They asked for Jason and I to both take polygraphs, which was unusual because Jason was in a church meeting when I found Bryer not breathing.  The police requested that I go first, for obvious reasons.  I had a few people warn us about polygraphs, including our attorney.  He said it was his legal obligation to advise us not to take the test.  As a defense attorney, I felt he was telling us that for his best interest.  Defense attorneys are asked to prove a guilty person innocent, right?  An innocent person should be an easy thing to prove. 

I sat down opposite a police officer at his desk.  The very first thing he said to me was, "Right now, only one of us knows what happened.  At the close of this procedure, both of us will know."  That's exactly what I needed to hear and it put me at ease, however that was supposed to feel as I worried about my baby back at the hospital.  He explained how the polygraph would work; he would put a blood pressure cuff on me, a metal spring around my chest to measure my breathing, and something in my hands to measure sweat.  He prepared me with questions like, "Have you ever done something and then lied to cover it up?"  My first thought was "Of course not!"  I simply answered no.  He asked questions about being deceitful and if I was participating on my own free will.  He asked direct questions like "Did you hurt your daughter on December 19, 2010?"  He asked me if I had ever been dishonest.  It was left pretty open-ended.  Was I supposed to recount each time I had a piece of candy and then hid the wrapper in the trash so my kids wouldn't find it?  Or each time I said nothing was wrong when really it was?  Eventually he got to the test, which was video-monitored in another room by my attorney and another police officer.  He asked me similar questions during the actual test.  By the end, he unstrapped me from all the monitors and said, "Remember when I said that at the beginning only one of us knew what happened, but at the end then both of us would know?"  I shook my head that I remembered.  He assured me, "Now both of us know."  I felt a relief flush through my body.  He knew what I knew - that I was innocent.  Next stop - back to Bryer.  Back to where the attention and energy needed to be in the first place. 

The officer left the room and my attorney returned, looking very solemn.  He sat down carefully and I saw concern on his face.  I was not prepared for him to open his mouth and say, "You failed...  Probably worse than I've ever seen someone fail."  I remember being confused with his comment and trying to make sense of what that meant.  The officer had said that he knew what I knew.  That was a good thing.  How could that have been failing? 

I was escorted out to a meeting room to talk with Jason and our attorney.  I told Jason what the results were.  He just shrugged his shoulders and in my husband's true matter-of-fact style, he said, "Well, now what?"  My attorney stepped out for a minute to talk with the officers and returned a minute later.  Jason and I used to watch Law and Order together once in a while.  Now we felt like we were living it - right in the center of the hour long TV show that seemed to be taking much longer.  Our attorney said he had some bad news.  He explained that even though a polygraph is not accurate enough to use in a court of law, it is considered reasonable evidence to proceed with legal action.  He said that all 5 of our kids were being declared in imminent danger.  They were being taken from us, into the custody of Health and Welfare and would be put in foster care. 

My heart sank.  My whole body went numb.  My mind flooded with fog and depression.  Take my kids?  That was my life.  Not just the last 10 years of being a mom, but all the 31 years of my life's dreams.  These were my kids!  My own flesh and blood.  I felt them kick inside my womb, held them close when they were scared, kissed their knees when they fell down.  They are individuals with personalities and talents and tender feelings, not to be tossed into a pool of foster care kids!  These were my heart, my soul, my every waking hour.  All completely ripped away just like that.   I wanted to melt into a puddle into the floor, completely losing my will to breath.  I have never struggled with depression, but that must be what it feels like.  It's a deep, dark place without reasoning.  Sheer desperation.  I just didn't care about anything else after that. 

My attorney left the room for Jason and I to talk.  We cried together - one of the few times in the past several days that we both were at a loss at the same time.  We agreed when we got married that only one of us could have a bad day at one time.  It had worked most of the time.  Now it was hitting both of us head on, all at once with no way to escape it.  We hugged each other and bawled, sitting there together on that couch.  Everything we had worked hard for.  Family nights and sweet prayers before bed and reading together and eating dinner as a family and wrestling on the floor, tickling the kids to hear their giggles.  All of it  - just ripped out from under us.  Our very foundation of what family should be. 

In that state of anguish as we sobbed together, a thought came to my mind.  I blurted it out before I even made sense of it.  "I think God prepared us for this."  Jason didn't look up at me.  "Remember months ago when you had the strong impression to prepare for the event that we should die?"  I will never forget my husband's eyes at that moment.  So much grief and heartache, and then hope in his red eyes.  We talked about the discussion we had just before Bryer was born and the plan we made to get things ready in the event we both died at the same time.  We had looked over life insurance policies to make sure they were sufficient.   We hoped that Jason's parents would be willing to take our 5 kids, so we went to them and asked.  Not a conversation that we wanted to have, but felt strongly that we should.  We discussed with them life insurance plans and living arrangements and reasons why we felt they were the best ones for our kids - lots of family support, the same religious background, the small community we wanted our kids raised in, their experience raising their own 5 kids.  We then went back and had a family night and prepared our kids for a 'just-in-case' scenario.  We told them how we had felt about getting prepared, even though we were sure we wouldn't die.  We just needed to obey God's promptings.  We answered their occasional questions for weeks later about the details and how they would get to play with their cousins; they would still see their other grandparents; they would go to church with Grandma and Grandpa, and live at their house.  Jason and I agreed, sitting on that couch in the police station, knowing that 4 of our kids were at home with his parents....  That this was exactly the plan that was being put into place.  We were prepared.  His parents were prepared.  And our kids were prepared.  We just had never thought we would ever be alive to witness it. 

Could it be that God prepares us for our trials?  In Ephesians it talks about putting on the whole armor of God, that we will be able to stand against wickedness.  It talks about having a breastplate of righteousness, our loins strapped with truth, our feet prepared with the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, and shield of faith.  More than just 'nice verses' of scripture, these are true!  God does not just throw us out here onto earth and expect us to fend for ourselves.  He gives us tools - protection - all those pieces of armor to keep us as safe as possible as we go to battle.  For Jason and I, we listened to those promptings that prepared our family.  That was a huge piece of armor for our family that became a blessing to us.  God also put all the people in place that we would need to sustain us, support us, cry with us, and particular blessings we would need in order to endure. 
I fully realize that we are not the only ones that go through hard times.  You or someone you love may be struggling.  I challenge you to look for ways you, or they, have been prepared to endure this trial.  God knows us personally.  He knows our hearts, our challenges, our heartaches.  He also knows our strengths and talents.  He knows what we need before we know that we need it.  I know that struggles are personal.  I encourage you to write a list of how you have been prepared for a certain trial.  Use your own pen and paper, a journal, or the comment section on this post.  Once we write things down, they are more concrete in our memory and we can bring them back to our remembrance when we most need them.  (Kudos to the one who has the courage to leave the first comment! I'm not asking for you to share your trial unless you feel comfortable, but listing the ways you have been prepared may help others see how they have been prepared also.) 


  1. I don't know if this counts but when we found out about our baby's heart anomaly,I found myself "writing" her obituary in my mind. I fully intended not to have to actually write it, but when the time came to have to do it, the words and process of it all came least making one aspect of that situation easy.

    1. That little girl continues to be an amazing part of your family (if Disney Mom is who I think it is), even though her physical body isn't with you now. It's amazing the thoughts God sends to us to prepare us for what's to come, if we will listen. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Krissi,
    One of my greatest struggles in this life was watching a dear friend go through these trials. My heart ached as I knew my hands could not help, my words could not heal and that I had to walk in faith that my prayers were being heard and answered. You truly are an amazing woman and an amazing family! *Amanda

  3. My ex husband does horrible things to upset me and the children. Through having cancer for 8 years I have learned to live a peaceful life to create an environment for healing my body. As he is up to his old tricks I have to come back to the skills I have learned as I fight cancer to fight the emotional battles.