The words that this woman heard when she entered the vehicle and saw her lifeless son in the backseat will ring forever in her ears. Once she entered the car, her husband said, “You’ve got to believe me; I didn’t do it,” and she immediately knew he was not telling the truth. That day was when her son Logan became a victim of shaken baby syndrome, and everything changed in her life from that moment on.
That morning, as I rocked my sweet 11-month-old little boy and gave him a bottle of apple juice, I had no idea that would be the last bottle I would ever give him or that it would be the last “normal” morning we would ever have again. I went to work that day at my job as a cashier and left Logan in the care of his biological father, Steven (we were married at the time). As I kissed my baby boy goodbye in the backseat of the car and got out at work, I had no idea how much things would change in just a couple of hours.
I had just come back from my break when Steven burst through the doors of the store and told me I had to come with him immediately. I raced out to the car, where I saw Logan, in his car seat, covered in vomit, and turning blue.
As I was taking in the scene before me, I heard the phrase, “You’ve got to believe me; I didn’t do it.”
We raced up the street to our local hospital, where I was quickly ushered into an ambulance with Logan, and we were transported to a larger hospital. When Logan got to the bigger hospital, he started having violent seizures. For the next few hours, doctors were constantly in and out of the room trying to keep him stable so that he could be flown to the nearest children’s hospital.
Then, the hospital social worker arrived and started asking questions.
That was the first moment I realized that Logan had been abused. It was also the first time I heard one of the many stories that Steven told to try to explain away Logan’s injuries. The hospital social worker was told by Steven that Logan was in the living room by himself and had fallen down. He claims he found him on the floor seizing, tried CPR, and then brought him to me. After meeting with the hospital social worker, there was a meeting with a group of specialists who informed me that Logan suffered from shaken baby syndrome, that he was the worst case they had ever seen, and that they did not know if he would survive. When they said this, everything inside of me shattered. I could not wrap my head around the fact that someone would intentionally cause such harm to an innocent child.
Logan’s brain was destroyed with 80 percent tissue death, he had whiplash, and the force of his head going back and forth was so hard that it destroyed his eyes, filling them with blood and severing his optic nerve. The way the doctors phrased it was that the damage done to Logan was equal to a 10-story fall landing on your head, or an unrestrained high-speed head-on collision. The doctors also found signs that there had likely been previous abuse. When we were told this news, Steven’s story evolved to say he might have shaken him a little to wake him up, and that he suddenly remembered that on his way rushing out the door that he had Logan’s head on the door, causing it to snap back.
Steven was arrested and formally charged with felony child abuse. In his statement to police, he said that Logan’s crying while I was at work would get him so enraged that he would black out and not remember what he had done, and that he would even have to take Logan to his mother or to his neighbor because he would get on his nerves so badly.
Logan‘s first birthday was spent with him lying in his crib at my parent’s house with his little swollen body hooked up to a feeding tube.
Over the next year and a half, I divorced Steven, and we went to trial. Steven was found guilty of felony child abuse. He received the maximum sentence, at the time, of 20 years, and entered the prison system.
Steven was released on early supervised release, after serving less than nine of the 20 years to which he was sentenced. Steven passed away few years later, and as I watch Logan fight every day, I find that forgiveness is something I still struggle with.
Life with a shaken baby survivor is full of challenges and uncertainty. We have faced years of grueling therapy sessions and countless visits to specialists who all tell us the same thing: that it is a miracle that Logan is still alive today.
**This story was written by Miranda. You can follow Logan’s journey on his Facebook group.