Every parent has had to comfort a crying baby. But inconsolable crying can lead to danger. According to CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, this is the #1 cause of shaken baby syndrome. What you do in that moment literally can mean life or death for the child.
But even if the baby is shaken… and lives... what will his life be like?
"Matthew is deaf and blind and in a wheelchair and in diapers and nonverbal” said Jackie Washburn. “What kind of life is that?"
She’s talking about her adopted son Matthew. He was shaken when he was just 31 days old. Jackie adopted Matthew when he was two. Back then, she was hopeful. But today...
“Matthew is 13 years old and functions like a 2-month-old,” said Jackie.
Dr. Paul Grabb is a pediatric neurosurgeon in Colorado Springs. He says it doesn't take much shaking to cause injuries like Matthew's. “It's only a moment necessary to cause irreversible and at times fatal brain injuries,” said Dr. Grabb.
What's even more disturbing is that it's happening more and more in our community.
“We have seen … a dramatic increase in shaken baby especially from January to March of this year,” said Trudy Strewler with CASA. In that time, at Memorial Hospital alone, there were 12 suspicious cases. That's almost half of the number of cases seen there all of last year.
These may just be numbers. But they could represent kids just like Matthew. He'll never ride a bike, or smile for his school picture. And because of his feeding tube, he'll never even have birthday cake. It's a difficult existence for his mother to watch.
"Sometimes I just think if he got pneumonia and would just pass and go to heaven and he would have wings and he'd run and he'd jump and splash and run with kids and feel the wind in his hair, said Jackie. “Then think I must be a terrible person to think that. But your heart breaks to see the life that he has. I wouldn't want to live like that."
Despite her agony over the hardships Matthew faces, Jackie knows his life is not in vain. "His purpose was to make life better for people. And if it’s to suffer the way he does to give a lesson to someone, Matthew's life has purpose."