Meet Jennifer Sanford
Where do you live?
How many children do you have?
2 - 10 Zada & 16 Christopher
How old were you when you first became a mom?
What has been the best thing about being a mom?
Watching my daughter grow and gain self confidence.
What has been the hardest thing about being a mom? How have you overcome or worked through it?
Watching my daughter worry about her self esteem and learning to teach myself to control what I say about myself in front of her. So she doesn’t think is okay to lower her own self esteem.
Tell us why you want to be featured on our site? What makes you or your family different from others?
My daughter and I have a story. That she’s over come so many obstacles in life and she’s truly a super women.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
At just one month old, little Zadas life was altered forever. Here is their story:
Zadas ¨biological father shook her at a month old on 12/7/08. I was at work and when I came home she was in her crib, but I noticed that her foot looked weird. She wasn't crying or fussing. I picked her up from the crib to hold her and foot just flopped over to the side and didn't stay. So I put her on my leg to "stand up" and she didn't put any pressure on her foot. I immediately told her Bio that "were going to the hospital, something is wrong". We took her to Cape Canaveral hospital in FL and they did a full leg X-ray, told us that her bones are so little and hard to read and that they'll have radiologist call us the next day and let us know the results but in the mean time they ace wrapped her leg and we needed to make a follow up appointment with her primary. During this whole time I'm panicking and freaking out and her biological father was more concerned about watching WWE and didn't care what was happening. I called her clinic and explained what was happening and was able to get a follow up appointment the next day with her primary. ¨
Something Is Wrong
¨The following morning, I got up to go to work, found out I didn't have to work and someone else was scheduled. I got the phone call that she had a possible tibia/fibia fracture and we needed to bring her back in, I told them I already had a follow up with her primary and. wanted to know if it was Okay to just bring her to that. When we got into her primary Dr appointment, her Dr came in, looked at us and went "I need to figure out what to do with this." and left.
I panicked and I freaked out. her biological father looked at me and told me, "you need to calm down." and told him "how can I calm down!? What is going on! They're gonna take our kid."
Her Dr came back in and told us "I called DCF, child protection and the local PD. You need to take her immediately to Rockledge Hospital". I told her I didn't like that hospital and wanted to know if we could take her to Cape Canaveral, she told us yes but we had 30 mins to get there. I told her not a problem, I already have everything in my bag. On the way to the hospital he's all calm and cool and I'm freaking out. I'm calling my mom and my mom called my dad. My mom knew he (Zadas biological father) had did something. We had to wait for the NICU to open up and then we were brought up there. I went down for full body x-rays with Zada and when I came back up to the Dr Dec Turner looked at me, my mom and my dad and said, "I need to know if I can tell you what he admitted to with everyone in here."
¨We all said yes. "He admitted to shaken her and slamming her on the bed." and then he goes, "I pretended to shake a baby and asked him how hard because he refused to show me and he said harder than that." fast forward to like 11pm and the ER Drs came in and told me that her cat scan came back abnormal and she needed to be air lifted to Arnold Palmer in Orlando FL. I didn't understand what they meant... they told me she had swelling and bruising on her brain and her skull was fractured. They then needed to put an IV in her heel... and I wasn't in the room with her and all I could hear was her screaming and crying as they poke and stabbed her... and there was nothing I could do.
On our drive to Orlando (45 mins) anytime I would close my eyes I would see a rag doll being shook. It was a constant night mare every time my eyes would blink. When we go to Arnold Palmer they asked to put her in under an Alias, in case the news media got ahold of it. It made my heart and stomach sink every time we would ask to get buzzed in, we had to ask for Melanie Cross. But I understood them wanting to protect her and our family.
We found out that her left ankle was indeed fractured, and they made a custom splint for it so her foot and ankle could still grow. (I still have it to this day) We found out that she had a second soft spot which is why she survived. Her fracture was also 2 inches on her left hand side. They looked at her eyes to make sure everything was still in tact and to make sure there wasn't any bleeding or ripped tissue. We were the fortunate family. She survived. She was only in the hospital for a few days and was discharged.¨
¨After being discharged our life went into a spiral. We filled for termination of parental rights. We were granted. We filled for her last name to be changed to mine. We were granted. We filled for restraining order. We were granted. We filled for CMS (children medical services). We were granted. Then came the Dr appointments. We has a spot medicine Dr that made her custom splint. We had numerologists. Her primary care and eye Dr appointments. We had to drive 45 mins to an hour for these appointments. She had MRI's and CATSCANS. and video EEGs where she stay in the hospital and then home study ones also. When her custom splint came off her ankle... we then found out that she had a fracture below her left knee also. Thankfully it healed fully. But, that's when we found out that 50% of her leg was fractured. Every time she went in for an MRI they would sedate her, and I would ball my eyes out because she would start to go limp in my arms and it make me feel like I was loosing her all over again.
Her biological was sentenced with a First Degree Felony of Aggravated Child Abuse with Great bodily harm. He was suppose to serve 4 years prison and 26 years probation. He served 3 years because of "good behavior". and is still on the 26 years probation.¨
The Aftermath & Life Long Effects
¨She has TBI - Bilateral brain damage on her temporal lobe. Both sides. and scar tissue. She has gait from her ankle being broken and it collapses in. She has dysautonima where her eyes are constantly dilated and she has to take miralax to help her poop from constipation. She also has ADHD Impulsivity (which the believe was caused from the TBI) and depression and anxiety. Insomnia, so she takes 2 sleeping medications. She is currently on a 504 in school. Still goes in yearly for VIDEO EEGs, has done P/T for 6 years. Has a rehabilitation medicine doctor. A orthopedic DR for her legs. A sleep medicine doctor. A neurologist. Use to have to see O/T. She has done 3 sets of walking casts to try and stretch her legs and ankles out, our next step is to do surgery and cut the muscles. Her neurologist is SUPER worried about her having seizures. And has told us that once she starts her period there is a HIGH chance she'll start having Temporal Lobe seizures and to keep an eye out for them. This is due to the area of her brain that is damage and it is so close to her puberty portion in her brain.¨
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Shaken Baby Syndrome is ¨a form of child abuse that involves the violent shaking of an infant...babies are victims of violent shaking mainly in their first year of life, as that is often when they cry inconsolably and when parents and carers become most frustrated¨.
This form of trauma and abuse is 100% preventable. According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome:
You may ask yourself - how can this happen!? And these numbers may shock you. As parents or soon to be parents or care givers - what can we do to help prevent this?
Awareness plays a big part in prevention. Also, proper training on coping skills and care taking skills for infants can play a drastic role in prevention. Additional tips such as making sure the baby is fed and has a clean diaper, soothing techniques such as rocking gently or going for a walk, and burping the baby can all help.
Sometimes as adults we get overwhelmed and need a break. It is OK to lay the baby down in a safe place and walk away for a short break. Maybe call a friend or loved one to talk it out. Reach out! You are not alone. Being a parent/caregiver can be very hard.
Ask your local hospital or Department of Health for training's on SBS.