‘I was punched in the face by a man who claimed to ‘love me so much.’ Then he said, ‘Now I’m going to call my mom to let her finish the job.’’

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“John and I married in 2012, and shortly after we got married we started trying to have a baby. All I ever wanted was a baby and John wanted one just as much. I was only 19 when I got married. For three years we tried to get pregnant and I never could. My husband and I spent nights crying and praying for a baby. I was scheduled to meet with my OBGYN after having some cysts on my ovaries, to discuss getting on a fertility medication to get pregnant. Just a few days before that appointment we found out I was pregnant. I had a pretty healthy pregnancy besides extreme nausea and all-day morning sickness everyday, causing me to lose 40 pounds before we brought what our family likes to call ‘The hot mess’ into the world.

Courtesy of Shelby

She was a perfect 6-pound baby girl named Jadyn Mae. We were both so happy to finally have a baby and she was a true blessing. However, things with me weren’t so great. I developed postpartum depression shortly after having Jadyn. When Jadyn was 5 months old, we got a huge surprise! I remember being late on my period, well over a month late. My mother told me, ‘you’re pregnant.’ I said, ‘don’t be crazy, I’m not pregnant! I just had a baby.’ However my mind had not been in the best place and I knew I hadn’t been taking my birth control pills like I should. So after a few more days in denial, I finally took a pregnancy test. I am not going to lie, I cried when I saw the positive sign. Still in denial. I had mixed emotions of ‘how are we going to have another baby, when we just had a baby?’ I remember calling my grandmother and asking her if she was disappointed in me for being pregnant again. Her response was, ‘Of course not. A baby is always a blessing.’ That stuck with me. All those nights spent crying and praying for a baby weren’t for nothing. I remember going to work and one lady in particular telling me, ‘God thinks you’re such a great mother he is blessing you twice and giving you another child.’ A few months went by and we found out we were going to have a baby boy this time. We decided on the name Wyatt.

Remember me saying how I had postpartum with Jadyn? Well now I’m pregnant again just a few months after having baby. My hormones made my emotions completely jacked up at this point. I worked as a housekeeper at a veteran’s nursing home, where I had worked for about 3 years. When I was about 6 months pregnant with Wyatt is when things got bad. A guy named Daniel started working with me. I can remember the first time I talked to him and thinking ‘what a jerk.’ Almost everyone I worked with didn’t like this guy.

After about a month or so, he ended up on the same unit with me. He knew I didn’t really care for him and one day he said to me, ‘If we’re going to work together you might as well start talking to me and us try to make the work day go by faster.’ Before I knew it, I was telling this guy my entire life story, and every day we just seemed to become closer. I was training him on most things since he was newer, and I can remember some of the girls teasing how he was always following me around like a lost puppy. As the days went on we became closer, in fact we became too close. He had even brought gifts to me for my daughter, and would leave candy in my mailbox at work saying it was for me and Wyatt. At the time, I can’t say my mind was in the right state, and I was very vulnerable.

After a few months, Daniel had convinced me I wasn’t happy and had convinced me maybe I should leave my husband. My husband and I had been arguing a lot at this point in time and my emotions and hormones were completely all over the place. In December of 2015, I left my husband. Well, this was exactly what Daniel wanted. Maybe a week later, we were cleaning a room when he grabbed me and kissed me. Things moved fast, my husband had moved out and I was 8 months pregnant now with Wyatt.

Within a few weeks, Daniel and I were dating.

Daniel was there the day Wyatt was born. He came in and kissed me right before I delivered Wyatt and waited outside in the waiting room with my husband. You can imagine that awkwardness and how angry my husband must have been. I, however, was completely crazy over this guy and thought I wanted to be with him. I had torn my family apart and it is something I will always regret for the rest of my life.

After a few months my husband began dating other women, and Daniel and I ended up moving in together in May of 2016. In July of 2016, I was punched in the face for the first time in my life, by a man who claimed to ‘love me so much.’ It was one of the scariest moments of my life, and then he said the words, ‘Now I’m going to call my mom to let her come and finish the job.’ Now, Daniel’s mother was crazy and I thought, ‘They are going to kill me.’ I finally got up and Daniel grabbed me by the back of my shirt and was holding onto my bra strap when it popped which let me get away. I ran out the door and screamed the whole way over to the next door neighbor’s, thankfully they saved my life. The neighbors called the cops. After a few minutes Daniel’s mother showed up next door and ran in the house. The cops showed up and came and talked to me and the neighbors. Then they went over and talked to Daniel. They came back and were a bit rude to me asking me if I hit Daniel in the face. I said ‘no, I didn’t.’ They said he had a scratch on his face that looked like it could have come from the ring I had on my finger. I explained the only way that could have happened was if I scratched his face trying to get away as he repeatedly punching me in the face. I had never been in any type of domestic dispute. The police explained if I pressed charges, he would also press charges.

At this point I am terrified of him and his mother. I went back home and he showed up a few hours later and was extremely apologetic and told me over and over how much he loved me. Stupid me, I fell for his apology, plus I was terrified. He had made me distance myself from my entire family. He made me quit my job and so many other things. He began to control me, but never was physically abusive again towards me.

Fast forward to the end of August, my son Wyatt has become sick. He was very skinny and would throw up just about every bottle he ate. I had taken him to the doctor several times and eventually they had sent us to an outside children’s hospital that was about 2 hours away. We went, and the doctors ran many tests and never really could find anything wrong with Wyatt. They diagnosed him with failure to thrive and put him on a special type of formula. We got home after staying in the hospital over a week, and Wyatt was worn out and asleep. I asked Daniel if it would be okay if I took my daughter with me and we ran to the store to pick up a few groceries and he stayed with Wyatt. He was asleep in the living room and I didn’t expect him to wake up until I got back home. I had never left either of my children alone with Daniel.

I get to the store and get a call from him to get back home quickly because he dropped Wyatt down the stairs. I leave the cart in the middle of an aisle and run to get my daughter in the car and get home as fast as possible. When I get home, Wyatt was fine. He had a small scratch on his check and that was it. He seemed fine, and Daniel explained he had thought Wyatt might be more comfortable upstairs in his crib and as he was walking him upstairs, he dropped his pacifier and bent down to get it and then dropped Wyatt down the stairs. I called and asked Daniel’s grandmother who had been an RN if she thought I should take him to a doctor or if he would be okay. She told me I shouldn’t take him to the emergency room because they may think we had abused him. I thought that was kind of odd, but being that she was an RN and she said he was probably ok, and he was acting okay, I didn’t take him. A few weeks went by and Wyatt was actually starting to do better. He was taking the new formula well and even had gained a little weight.

September 20th, 2016, is a day I will never forget.

It was pretty normal, Wyatt and Jadyn went to stay the day with Daniel’s sister who had been watching them on the days my ex John or my mom didn’t have them. I trusted his sister and really thought she and her husband were good with my kids.

Courtesy of Shelby

We had gone to work, we had recently gotten a new job together. Imagine that, we literally were together all day every day. That afternoon we went to pick up Jadyn and Wyatt, and Daniel’s mom was there with his sister. On our way home an older gentleman pulled out in front of us which put Daniel in a rage. He turned around and went back to the gas station and went off on the old man. The man looked confused as could be. I’m not even sure if it was the right guy. After that, we went to the store and I picked up some diapers and then we went home. My head was hurting and I was sweaty from work that day. I told Daniel I was going to take a shower and then I would make supper. Wyatt had been a little fussy, I thought from teething. He was in his walker which was his favorite thing, and my daughter was playing in the living room as well. I asked him if he wanted me to pull Wyatt into the bathroom with me since he was a little fussy, and he told me ‘no, it was fine,’ and he could watch them while I took a quick shower.

I wasn’t in the shower more than 3-4 minutes when Daniel comes in and opens the door saying, ‘Something is wrong with Wyatt.’ I’m like, ‘What? He was just fine.’ I open the shower curtain and see Daniel holding Wyatt out and I thought his neck was broken. I instantly stop the shower and jump out freaking out. I throw on a shirt and shorts not even zipped or buttoned and say, ‘We have to get to the emergency room now.’ I didn’t call an ambulance because they take forever in our town. Daniel tells me to go ahead and take him and he would stay with my daughter. I said, ‘No! You’re going to have to drive and I’m going to have to hold Wyatt.’ He finally agrees and gets my daughter in her car seat and then drives to the ER. He ends up passing the ER and cusses and yells at me telling me I need to calm down. Wyatt was very pale, his eyes were rolling in the back of his head, his breathing was very shallow and his neck was very floppy.

He drops me off at the ER and I run inside saying ‘Help, help!’ There was a nurse standing there like an angel and she immediately takes him and runs. They wouldn’t let me go back and I was so terrified not knowing if he was alive or what. I left my phone at home and didn’t even have shoes on. Daniel comes in with my daughter and I ask him to call my mom. He didn’t want me and my mom having a relationship, but did call her. My mom says he called and said ‘You need to get to the ER now. Wyatt fell and is hurt.’ Finally I get taken back by a social worker into a small conference room. The social worker asks me a few questions about what happened, and I tell her everything I could think of, and that all I knew was I was in the shower and Daniel claimed he dropped him. However, my mother instincts felt that wasn’t right. She asked if I wanted anyone to come back. I said ‘yes, my mom and daughter.’ They came back and sat with me. I told my mom to call John and a few other family members.

A few minutes later my grandmother arrived and also comes back into the room. Then a doctor comes in and tells us that my son is in bad shape and that he had been having seizures, was vomiting and looks like he may have damage to his brain, and they are life-flighting him to the nearest children’s hospital.

While this doctor is in the middle of this, Daniel storms in demanding to know what is going on and referring to Wyatt as his son! My grandmother sits beside him and puts her hand on his knee only to tell him to calm down and that it is okay. That is when Daniel’s mother yells, ‘Don’t you touch my son!’ Then starts going off on my grandmother and mom, threatening them. I yelled and said, ‘get them out of here now!’ Security and police were at the door holding him and his mother back. The police had to drag them out. John finally got there right after all of this happened. I had never been so happy to see him in my life. This was the most traumatic day of my life, but also the day I woke up.

They life-flighted Wyatt, and my mom drove John and me to the hospital. We got there and were met first thing by a social worker. She of course asked me the same questions I had already been asked and apologized to John for not being able to tell him details over the phone. He asks her, ‘What are you talking about? I haven’t called here.’ She says, ‘Well he had several calls from a gentleman claiming to be John, Wyatt’s father.’ Come to find out, it had been Daniel calling and pretending to be John. The next few hours were intense. They wouldn’t let us go see Wyatt and called a Chaplin in. We had a waiting room full of our family and our daughter was with John’s mom. Finally, at about 4 in the morning, they let us go see Wyatt. He was hooked up to all kinds of machines and it was so hard to see him that way.

Courtesy of Shelby

He was always so bubbly and happy. He always had a smile on his face. A few days went by, and thanks to our doctors and social services, we finally found out the horrible act that had happened. Wyatt had a non-accidental traumatic brain injury, also called shaken baby syndrome. Daniel had told about 15 different stories at this point to friends, coworkers, my family, and was even heard by random people in the emergency room telling different versions of how Wyatt got hurt.

At this point doctors, had no hope for Wyatt and didn’t expect him to live. If he did, he would be a vegetable living on machines. This was very devastating to my entire family. My poor grandparents had just lost their only other grandson to SIDS a few weeks prior! You’re probably thinking, ‘how can so much happen to one family?’ Well, we haven’t even got half way through the story yet.

Wyatt was starting to breath on his own and was beating the machine they had him hooked up to. They finally took the vent out and doctors sure didn’t expect he would breathe on his own just fine! They said he will never cry or laugh or do anything, he will not feel pain, the only part of his brain working is the part telling him to breathe.

Courtesy of Shelby

After about a week, I had to go home to go to court. My mom and I went back home while my grandmother and John stayed at the hospital. We first had to talk with the detective. He had already interviewed Daniel with the social worker who had been handling our case. Daniel told them I had shaken Wyatt on the way to the emergency room to try to wake him up. The social worker said he claimed to love me and the kids so much. She asked if he thought I intentionally shook Wyatt and he said ‘no, I don’t think she meant to hurt Wyatt,’ but still was claiming he got shaken baby syndrome from me trying to wake him up. I told them I never shook Wyatt, there was no way I could have because his neck was so floppy I thought it was broken. I did pat him on his back as I held him to my chest telling him it will be okay, and thinking in my mind, ‘please don’t die.’

The detective and social worker ended up telling me that Daniel had shaken Wyatt so hard his head went between his shoulder blades. That was one of the hardest things to hear about your child. How could he do that? And he did it that fast, all while I was in the shower? How could he have gotten that frustrated in just a few minutes? All I could think about was Wyatt’s cute innocent face. I filed for a no contact order against Daniel. We went to court and it was granted that day. At the end of court, Daniel was arrested. Unfortunately, the judge only set a $2,000 dollar bond and Daniel was bonded out within a day. Within a few days we received a call at the hospital from the county attorney who had received hundreds of calls from our community wanting Daniel put back behind bars and his bond higher. We went back to court a few days later and I was put on trial, it felt like. In the end, the judge raised his bond but only to $10,000 when we were asking for at least $20,000. He went to jail again, and this time served only 12 days before his family came up with the money to bond him out again.

We finally got to go back home with Wyatt after being in the hospital for 30 days.

Courtesy of Shelby

Wyatt was already doing more than doctors thought. He was crying and moving his legs and could feel pain.

My husband John and I ended up getting back together. Somehow through this tragedy, it brought us closer and we bonded in a way we never had before.

Courtesy of Shelby
Courtesy of Shelby

For 18 months we continued to battle in court. Finally, in January of 2018, when we were just about to go to trial, he wanted to take a plea deal. We all finally agreed to a plea of 8 years. Unfortunately, he can come up for early release as he gets parole every 18 months. We will go to every parole board meeting and intend to write letters every time. I pray and hope he will serve the full 8 years and learn something from this. He still claims to be innocent even after taking the plea.

Wyatt is 2 years old now and goes to multiple therapies a week. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, vision therapy, feeding and speech therapy. He does have a feeding tube, he went through a phase where he had seizures so badly he was having over 100 a day. We finally do have them controlled and he is currently on two different seizure medications. He is in a wheelchair. The only words he says are ‘Da’ and ‘Ma.’ He does smile and laugh though. He loves to hear people coughing and thinks it’s hilarious. He loves to cuddle and be talked to. He is very delayed and will always be. We don’t know what the future will hold or what miracles God will perform, but I am believing Wyatt has a purpose and that he is a survivor for a reason.

Courtesy of Shelby

Daniel had been in jail 5 months now and life was starting to get normal. We also have a new child now named Avery who is one. My daughter Jadyn, who is 3, is Wyatt’s biggest fan and always helps take care of him. She calls him her superhero.

Courtesy of Shelby

She has always been healthy and never really got sick until the last few months. In June, Jadyn woke up puking and complaining of leg pain and was running a fever. I took her to the emergency room. They couldn’t find anything wrong with her, but didn’t do many tests either. They didn’t take a blood test at all. They sent us home telling us it was most likely growing pains and she was fine.

A few weeks went by and Jadyn woke up again vomiting and running a fever, complaining her legs hurt. I thought maybe it is growing pains so I gave her Tylenol and she ended up feeling better. Two weeks later we took Wyatt to the eye doctor. Jadyn and Avery went with us and the entire morning Jadyn acted tired. We got home and she was running a fever and vomiting. I gave her Tylenol again. She could hardly walk. I called my mom and husband and told them I was going to take Jadyn to the doctor. This time I didn’t take her to our ER, but an urgent care. I am now so thankful I did.

The doctor decided to have some X-rays done and she couldn’t find anything on them so then sent us to another clinic to have her blood drawn. About an hour later I got a call saying Jadyn’s white blood cell count was sky high and that she was anemic and needed to get to the same hospital where my son had been. My mom and I took her while John stayed with the kids. I had started googling her symptoms along with the blood test results. We got the devastating news they were about 99 percent sure Jadyn had leukemia. I was shocked. Could this be real? I was hoping they were going to say she just had an infection or something viral… Not cancer!

The next day they did a bone marrow test, and that evening it was confirmed my daughter had acute lymphoblastic leukemia Type B cell. The next day she was having surgery getting a port put in. This was a whirlwind and everything was going fast. Before I knew it, she was getting her first dose of chemo. Jadyn had somehow gotten a staph infection and her port became infected. She had surgery and got a new port. We finally got to go home after two weeks.

Martina Fox/Fox Photography

Last week we went to the doctor and found out Jadyn is in remission after only a month of treatment. The cancer is completely gone at this point. However, we still have a long road ahead of us as far as chemo and procedures go. We will be making a two-hour trip every week for the next 3 years.

Jadyn is spunky and says ‘cancer sucks’ and that she is kicking cancer’s butt. She has lost most of her hair, but is okay with it and says her hair will grow back. She is truly one of the strongest kids besides her brother I’ve ever seen.

Martina Fox/Fox Photography
Martina Fox/Fox Photography

We have had many people tell us God must have a big plan for our family and that he only gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers. It is something our family has questioned – how could all of this happen to our family? To our kids? It’s not fair and makes no sense. But we have no other choice but to be strong and get through all of this together. Everything has only made John and I closer to God. We have grown so much in our faith and are trusting God to heal both our babies.”

Martina Fox/Fox Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shelby of Kentucky. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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