“I told my ex I didn’t want her around my baby…but he didn’t listen until it was too late.”
It’s never easy to meet the woman your husband destroyed your family to be with.
But as Erica stood across from her ex-husband’s new girlfriend, she realised she was feeling more than simple hatred.
It was fear.
There was something terrifying about Rachel – Erica felt sick at the thought that this woman would soon have access to her son.
“I couldn’t ignore the feeling I had about her,” the US mum first wrote on Love What Matters.
“I didn’t want Wyatt around her.
“The anxiety I experienced crippled me. I couldn’t sleep well at night, eat well, and it was even affecting me at work.”
“He told me he left Wyatt alone with Rachel”
But, thanks to successive court orders granting Erica’s ex visitation rights, she simply had to trust that he would keep their son safe.
She made him promise that Rachel wouldn’t be allowed to look after Wyatt.
And for a while, it worked…until one day, Erica got the phone call that changed everything.
“I received a phone call that Wyatt had been rushed to hospital because he was ‘breathing funny’,” she said.
“He admitted to me on my way down there, that he left Wyatt alone with Rachel.
“My heart dropped into my stomach.
“I was livid, but my main focus was getting to the hospital to Wyatt.
“Is my baby going to be ok?”
As she walked into the hospital, Erica saw the expressions on the doctor’s faces and knew it wasn’t good.
She crumpled to the floor in shock as she was told Wyatt had had a major brain bleed.
“All I kept asking her is, ‘Is my baby going to be ok?’ ‘He’s going to make it, right?’” she recalled.
“All she could tell me is he was in the best place possible, and they were going to do everything they could.
“The feeling of not knowing whether your child is going to live or die is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”
“He was not expected to make it”
But things went from bad to worse when Erica was told she couldn’t be with her son as he was rushed into surgery.
Instead, she had to be interviewed by child services as doctors suspected Wyatt’s injuries were not accidental.
“While I was being interviewed I was also trying to pray at the same time,” she said.
“I could not lose my baby boy.
“The doctors advised me that including the brain bleed and fractured skull, Wyatt also had broken ribs and bilateral retinal haemorrhages.
“They told me his injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”
“He was not expected to make it.”
“It made me sick to my stomach”
As the police took over the investigation, Erica discovered that she had been right not to trust Rachel around her son.
The woman had twice been convicted of child abuse – including one instance just 10 days before Wyatt was injured.
“It made me sick to my stomach,” she said.
“My immediate thought was, ‘How come people who sexually abuse children have to register, but people who physically abuse children don’t?’”
“I knew at that moment, I had to make a change in this world.”
“What would Wyatt be like today if he wasn’t shaken?”
But first, Erica had to adjust the impossible reality of being a single parent of a severely disabled child.
Although Wyatt has fought his way through successive brain and eye surgeries – he remains severely developmentally delayed.
He continues to suffer from seizures and is blind in his left eye.
“The thought I struggle most with is, ‘what would Wyatt be like today if he wasn’t shaken?’” she said.
“But I try to not think that way.
“I’m so blessed to have Wyatt here alive. I never take that for granted.
“He is my miracle boy.
“And over time I realised I wasn’t going to let what happen to him, happen to another child.”
This article was originally published by KidsSpot.com.
Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.