All Because of a Bruise: Our Nightmare with CPS

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As my son’s 1st birthday quickly approaches, I find myself reminiscing quite a bit on the last year, my first as a mom.  As cliché as it sounds, I never realized how much I could love another human until my son was placed in my arms. From that moment on, I knew my life was forever changed. All of a sudden, there was this life that depended on me 100%.

While the last year has been one of the most rewarding of my life, there was a dark cloud that hung over our family for part of it. There was a good 3 months that my husband and I lived in constant fear that our son was going to be taken from our home. These few months were the worst of my life.

As a new mom, I worried about EVERYTHING and leaned heavily on my pediatrician’s office, calling them frequently to ease my mind. This also resulted in many last minute appointments to be told everything is fine. This whole “motherhood” deal was new to me, I felt like I was doing the best thing for my son by consulting in experts, as I had no idea if the amount of spit up was cause for concern or if what I was seeing during diaper changes was normal.

So one day when I noticed a bruise on his bottom that I had no explanation for nor did my husband, I became Dr. Google and found some terrifying reasons as to why he could be bruising. As a concerned parent I called my pediatrician’s office like I had all the other times before and was given an appointment later that day. An hour or so later, the nurse called me back and explained she had spoken with the doctor and he suggested heading to our local emergency room so they could run some tests. I gladly obliged, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to make sure my son was OK, and that is where it all started.

For the next 4-5 hours I answered question after question, offered up past doctor visits and concerns I had had. I gave the doctors everything I had, to give them the complete picture of his health history; I wanted to make sure we had the best chance of figuring out what was going on. After all the questioning, a doctor came in and explained that all my son’s medical tests had come back clean and they could not find anything medically wrong with him to explain the bruise. I felt relieved that my son was given a clean bill of health, that was until she went on to explain she had also called the local police department and child protective services to investigate further since nothing medical came up during his tests. I was instantly in tears.

How could anyone think that I or my husband could EVER do anything to hurt this precious child?

The rest of the day is a terrible blur of being questioned and accused of doing harm to our son. That evening both my husband and I had to separately speak with detectives and explain our relationship, our family, our household, anything and everything. A social worker from CPS came and put a safety plan in place requiring that both my husband and I have 24/7 supervision when caring for our son. Thankfully my mom was able to drop everything and move into our home to provide this supervision so our son wouldn’t be removed. This meant she needed to wake up all throughout the night with me when I nursed our son, changed his diaper, played with him, basically had ANY interaction with him whatsoever. 

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We lived in constant fear after that. Fear that CPS or the police would show up and take our son away. Fear that we would be criminally charged with abuse and neglect.

With the help of our family, my husband and I hired separate attorneys to represent us. For the next month, we complied with everything required of us as they conducted their investigation. This included surprise visits, interviews, and additional doctor visits and testing to be done for our son. We did it all. There was too much at risk, there was no way we were going to take any shortcuts and risk losing our son. When the month finally came to an end, we were feeling pretty good about everything. The social worker showed up to discuss their findings. She explained that after the 30 day investigation they could not offer any explanation into what happened or who caused the bruising. We thought this was good news.  That was until she served us with court summons and explained that she was placing our son into foster care because they felt he was still at risk because they couldn’t identify who caused the bruise. We were devastated. Up until this point, we had been given every indication that this would be over after the investigation concluded. Thankfully, my family was able to set up and be the “foster parents” for our son. We were allowed to stay with him, as I was exclusively breast feeding, but could no longer stay at our home; we needed to be at my parent’s house.

We finally caught a break.

Two days later, we appeared before a judge who, after reviewing all the material submitted by the state and CPS, found no reason our son required removal from our home. We were allowed to take him back to our house but agreed to continue the 24/7 supervision until our next court appearance.

Following further court dates, thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and countless sacrifices made by our families, we did get our happy ending and our family remained intact. While this all went on we kept very quiet about what was going on. I can’t speak for my husband, but I felt ashamed and humiliated.

I was in disbelief that something like this could happen to us. I was afraid to call the doctor and ask any more questions. I was afraid that from now on, anytime we saw a doctor they would look in our son’s medical history and see “suspected child abuse/neglect” in the file and we wouldn’t be taken seriously. I was worried that he wouldn’t get the best care possible because the first thing anyone would look for would be abuse. I was angry for all those months we lived on eggshells and how it interrupted our lives. I was angry that even after a positive outcome we couldn’t go back and get any of that time as a family back.

It’s been about 6 months since this whole nightmare ended and I do breathe a little easier. I still find myself worrying about being able to explain any and all bruises our son has and am hesitant to call the doctor. I no longer look forward to his routine checkups or any interaction we have with his doctors.

But none of that really matters to me anymore. All that matters is our son is here, with us, at home.

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7 Responses to All Because of a Bruise: Our Nightmare with CPS

  1. Crystal Gonzalez January 27, 2017 at 7:18 am #

    Alexa, I am so so sorry this happened to you. With a heart of gold like yours, I can’t even begin to imagine what you felt & still feel from this. This exact situation is why I fear every tiny bump and tumble from my rough and tough little boy! My hope for you is that you have found peace! You know you’re a fantastic mom & you have a community of momma’s who also agree! 🙂

  2. Melissa
    Melissa January 27, 2017 at 10:47 am #

    OH MY WORD!!!! Just craziness … so sorry that you and your family went through all that! It’s a tough pill to swallow when you hear about crazy cases like this and then other cases that were actual abuse that weren’t taken seriously. Props to you mama for holding your cool and handling it like a pro! Proud to call you friend!

  3. Sue March 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm #

    So sorry to hear about this! Something similar happened to us and I worry that these kind of callous calls to CPS from doctors cause a lot of grief for families. Obviously many CPS cases are justified. But some are not. If doctors can file a CPS report for a bruise that leads to a months long investigation, what’s to prevent them from doing so for other relatively minor things that may lead to unresolved CPS cases? Shouldn’t there be more accountability for the people who file these reports?

  4. Jennifer Newlon April 10, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

    He was with family every step of the way. You are very fortunate for this

    • Alexa
      Alexa April 17, 2018 at 9:26 pm #

      And for that I will be forever grateful. <3

  5. A May 8, 2018 at 4:21 pm #

    We also got CPS called on us, so I don’t imagine what you went through, I can say I almost “know” what you went through. Our third child, a 2 month old, was having what turned out to be extreme gastric reflux. My sister, a pediatrician, thought it might be West’s Syndrome – a rare seizure disorder, and when my daughter choked during an episode of the reflux, we called the ambulance. We went to the ER where they refused to do an EEG but pressed us to do a CT scan; we refused this because my sister said it was totally unnecessary. My sister, for her part, pressed us to get a lumbar puncture, but we told her no because we didn’t think she had meningitis. Anyway, finally they did the EEG – and told us no seizures for 2 days. Then, at the end of 2 days, after knocking out the camera feed, and not being able to pull up his own data, the neurologist refuses to let us go home because of a “1 second suspected seizure” unless we start drugging our infant with phenobarbital right there. We asked for a 2nd opinion and the hospital suddenly becomes hostile. They say we can only go to their sister hospital by ambulance, even though my daughter is stable. We say we want to go to an equally distant hospital a state away where we birthed her (a very rich place where they don’t bully patients in general). They say we have to go AMA and get a referral from our pediatrician, so we do that. We also refused to put her on Previcid because they said we could either do that or wait for her sphincter to come in – if it was just gastric reflux. Anyway we make an appointment with a top not neurologist for a 2nd opinion, and they want the data from the original EEG. When we call the hospital to get it, at THIS point they call CPS, because they realize they lost most of the camera feed, and probably also half the data. They claim to CPS that I caused the data loss because I turned off the light to sleep on the bed adjacent to my daughter (whom they also berated me for breastfeeding during shots). Thus starts our 60 day investigation (they claim it was 45 days but, they lied about the start date – CPS and the hospital I am sure are working together on this). Anyway, our lawyer neighbor tells us to just be calm because the hospital is probably just worried we will sue and being proactively aggressive. Anyway, just to see what they submitted to CPS, I ask for the medical records. They start scrambling at this point and put together a FIVE HUNDRED page document for our 2 day stay; it starts out with a “mistake” saying that we are chainsmokers who refuse antismoking medication (we’ve never smoked in our lives). This is somehow in my DAUGHTER’s records by mistake. Anyway, then a few paragraphs down they tell 3 different stories, and at the end of each paragraph “parents do not vaccinate.” They then call our pediatrician and he violates HIPPA to tell them about my middle son’s slow growth issue (he dropped height %, we still have no idea why after gastro and endo panels). He advises me to just let things go through, because he sure as heck is not going to stand up against the hospital, and further patronizes me saying that my milk supply might go down if I don’t somehow deal with things in a less anxious fashion. When we have our 2nd opinion, our daughter as a gastric reflux episode in front of the daughter and he immediately recognizes it as such and said from what he got of the EEG data he doesn’t see any seizures either; and that he will drive down and testify in court for us if it goes to court. I have to take these records in myself because CPS’s fax machine supposedly broke. Only then do things finally end. Meanwhile my pediatrician sister is defending the hospital and CPS the entire time. My former best friend, whose wife is a social worker defends the right of CPS to exist even if our personal lives have gotten trampled by it. My other friends says “well this is what you get trying to be your own doctor and your own lawyer!” Only this other neurologist really stepped out, and my other Mom friend who was horrified by the ongoings. I think for the entire 60 days…I don’t even know if I slept. I kept thinking “they’re going to take the kids”, including possibly my breastfeeding infant daughter. My husband had just left the hospital after a near fatal 10 day stay for acute pancreatic attack from gallstones (we never drink, he just apparently has incredibly bad luck) – this happened 1 day after our daughter was born. So it was an extremely rough time. I still have PTSD from all of this. The neurologist said “I don’t blame you if you never trust doctors again after this” and you know what, I tried to tell him of course it won’t impact my trust – but, it does. I think the worst was going to our son’s useless “well” visit; my other son got sick waiting in the waiting area (and he is just now recovering), and the whole time the pediatrician ALL she wanted to know was whether we vaccinated or not AND gave our son milk with vitamin D. I explained to her that I regularly expose our kids to the sun so they can get it directly through sunshine, but she insisted that it could *only* effectively be gotten through milk. I later learned the milk lobby is deep into medicine, and that is how they have gotten this “milk is great for you” thing going. Worse, ultra high pasturized milk has been linked to gastric reflux in infants! (They fry the milk for a few seconds IN THE CARTON – so you can’t even make cheese out of it, it’s literally almost fried on some level, which also denatures the proteins) So this pediatrician was basically giving me the worst advice possible, that probably caused my daughter’s gastric reflux to begin with. I don’t think these are just “misunderstandings.” If you question your doctor – they will come after you. If you don’t subscribe to their filthy lucre, they will come after you. I pray every day that they come to repentance for the stress they are putting on parents, and, in my better moments, I hope they don’t have to pay eternally for the horrific things they are doing for money. Money, it’s the root of all evil – and I fully believe every doctor out there needs to be publicly shamed into repenting for the crimes they are committing on a daily basis.

  6. Erin Hintz June 7, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

    I can relate to this so much. Our daughter fell off the bed when she was 8 months old and my husband was changing her diaper. We took her to the ER TERRIFIED for her and they accused my husband of ” throwing her on the ground.” She also lived in fear for months and my husband had to live outside of our home. It was a living nightmare and we had to spend 10K on lawyers to have it all cleared up. The doctor that we say ” Dr. Knox” here in Madison was well known for falst allegations and she is still in practice. EVIL and almost tore us apart.

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