‘I yelled, ‘My baby can’t see me! What’s wrong?!’ They looked at me. ‘You know EXACTLY what happened to your baby. You shook her, threw her against the wall and bashed her head on the floor.’

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“Baby girl, as you sleep in preparation for tomorrow, I go downstairs to get a glass of water. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of your cap and gown hanging in the doorway and I am overwhelmed with so many emotions. I have to take in this moment as it seems to be surreal. I feel a rush come over me as tears began to run down my face as I praise the name of Jesus for, he was faithful to his promise. You did it, when most said that you would not, you did it. The joy I feel is not solely for me, but for you. You fought so hard to reach this moment and I am so proud of you. You, my beautiful child, are a walking miracle. This tragedy was meant to break you, but in turn, made you stronger.

My name is Taneisha Crockett and I fell for a man I thought I could trust. He seemed to be a safe pillar of the community. He was well respected by others, served in Desert Storm, showed up to your school for career day, you even had his photo hanging on your wall. He was the one you called when you needed help. He was the one who saved one of my family members after a horrible accident which left her unresponsive in the middle of the road with her ear detached. He was a Lieutenant for Miami Dade Fire Rescue. He is 911 foreign and domestic and an Air Force veteran.

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

On August 3rd, 1999, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy girl named Drew Caitlin Parker, but I didn’t expect motherhood to take a tragic turn 9 months later. I was working as a Medical Assistant in Miami, Florida, for Pediatric Physician Norman Nash office when ‘R’ dropped Drew off to my father’s house.

After I got off work, I went to pick Drew up so we could go home. When I arrived, my father told me that she had been unusually fussy and crying a lot. I took her home and tried feeding her, but she appeared sleepy so I laid her down in her crib. I figured since she was sleeping, I could wash my hair, but something told me to check on her again. When I did, she started seizing and having convulsions.

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

I called Dr. Nash at home and told him what was happening with Drew.

‘Take her to the hospital immediately,’ he said.

I called her father who rushed her to Miami Children’s Hospital. I remember walking into the Emergency Room at Miami Children’s Hospital to Drew lying on her back. She was unable to move her right side, there was a glare in her eyes and she was not able to track my voice no matter how much I told her ‘Mommy is here baby.’ I was in disbelief. I was standing right in front of her and felt powerless as I couldn’t help her.

When my mom arrived, she tried calling out to her as well, but Drew began to whimper louder. It was in that moment I realized she had lost her vision. I yelled to the nurse, ‘My baby can’t see me! Why can’t she see me?! What’s wrong with my baby?’ They did a CAT Scan and MRI, then repeated the films.

‘What did you find out? What happened?,’ I asked the doctors when they came back in the room.

They looked at me and said, ‘You know exactly what happened to your baby! You shook your baby, threw her against the wall and bashed her head on the tile floor.’ I let out a heart wrenching scream and my mom came running in. I remember saying, ‘Momma someone tried to kill my baby, momma my baby, who hurt my baby?!’ I fell to the floor in tears, but her father appeared calm, trying to comfort me. I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett
Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

They called the police who on arrival took us to a room for questioning. They wanted to know our whereabouts and what we were doing hour by hour, week by week and who was with Drew, detailing her entire day. They said she had old and new injuries, so they wanted to know who was with Drew the last 24 hours because that person hurt Drew. The only people that were with Drew were me, her father, her grandfather and his girlfriend. We all had to take a lie detector test and all of us passed. I knew it wasn’t me, but during their investigation they took my 5-year daughter and placed her in the care of my mother. My older daughter was not R’s daughter.

Her father and I were the only ones allowed to visit Drew but had to be accompanied by a guard which was so embarrassing. I remember it like it was yesterday. Every time I walked in, the nurses would give me dirty looks. I came to visit Drew in the ICU. There were sick kids all around Drew.

If she lives, she will be a vegetable and have no quality of life,’ the doctor told me.

She was blind and paralyzed on the right side. I remember saying to myself, ‘this is a bad dream, this cannot be my healthy baby girl I gave birth to.’ Staying at Drew’s bedside devasted, I couldn’t grasp the prognosis. I couldn’t believe it; I wouldn’t believe it. I needed something to believe in, I needed to pull on God and get his attention.

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

Mother’s Day May 14th, 2000, I decided to do just that. I went to church at Mt. Moriah Missionary Church, I sat in the pew broken, crying out to God, ‘Help me Jesus, heal my baby.’ I remember Deacon Bruton singing a hymn called, ‘A Charge to Keep I Have.’ Tears began rolling down my cheeks. God moved in the church that day, but as I was leaving service, Deacon Bruton stopped me and asked in a firm tone of voice, ‘Do you want your daughter healed?’ I answered ‘yes.’ He told me to fast, no TV, no radio and gave me scriptures to read. He said, ‘Your Faith will heal your daughter. On Thursday, May 18th, 2000, take red balloons with you when you go see your daughter.’ I did as Deacon Bruton said and a miracle happened – Drew started following the balloons. I yelled to the nurse, ‘My daughter can see!’

She immediately called the doctor and they started running tests. That very day, Drew went from ICU to step down ICU, to home all in a month’s time. Drew began to get stronger day by day but I started to notice that at night she would cry a lot. When I took her to see the neurologist, she still had debris and fluid surrounding her brain which caused increased pressure in the brain when she laid down for a period of time. I was told he needed to place a shunt and she would need to have surgery. He told me to part her hair in ponytails and he would cut her in the parts of her hair. The doctor said that he could only rule out or determine the extent of her brain damage when her brain is back in position. He couldn’t tell me how she would learn while growing up, because kids with injuries like hers are dead.

As the case wrapped up at the state attorney building, I was told, ‘It’s better to have a live child that you don’t know what happen to, than a dead child and you know exactly what happened.’ I would go on for years until I find out who shook my baby. I was estranged from my Dad from 2000- 2005, and I felt it was his girlfriend. I would soon know the truth, which led to my second tragedy in December 2007. Drew’s father was charged with child molestation of my 12-year-old daughter, drugging and videotaping her. He abused both of my daughters, one sexually, the other, his own, physically. I felt betrayed by the very ones who are supposed to protect, serve and render help. I would have never imagined this would be the same person who would do these hideous acts on children.

Sadly, R never served prison time. l had his paramedic license revoked and he no longer works for Miami Dade Fire Rescue.

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

Drew had to overcome betrayal by her very own father who hurt her and her sister. When Drew started school, she could only use her left hand. Her right side is smaller, her eye would shut down then refocus on its own if she tried to look at the board from a distance longer than her arm. I had to fight with the school systems to place her with IEP’s and to keep her on a diploma track.

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett
Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

Drew’s injuries had similarities to a person with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and short term memory loss. Drew has taken all regular classes and pushed to have a high school diploma. Her goal is to become a Veterinarian. She doesn’t look like what she been through, it’s called grace. They said she couldn’t, so she did. I’m excited about her future and I hope my story will inspire others to push and let them be great!

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett
Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

So, baby girl, as I watch you get dressed, put on your make-up, cap and gown and walk across that stage, I can only marvel at the work that God has done in your life. It’s never how you start but it’s all about how you finish. Your light will be great in this world, let it shine, my beautiful daughter, for you have taken one more step towards greatness! In the words of Lee Ann Womack, ‘NEVER TAKE A SINGLE MOMENT FOR GRANTED, I HOPE YOU DANCE!’”

Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett
Courtesy of Taneisha Crockett

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Taneisha Crockett of South Carolina. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more inspiring stories of shaken baby survivors:

‘He asked me if he could murder the baby now. His father had been alone with him for 2 hours and everything had been fine.’

‘I got a call from Wyatt’s father. He was rushed to the ER because he was ‘breathing funny.’ My first thought was, ‘Who the heck was Wyatt left alone with?!’ My heart dropped into my stomach.’

‘I realized I had missed 20 calls from my mom. The night before, her father picked her up and took her home with him. I arrived at the ER very confused. All I remember was her yelling and crying.’

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