Grief Motherhood

A mother’s intuition

a mother's intuition -
Written by Tiffany Verzal

Written By:  Tiffany Verzal  (Read the three part series of this story here.)

I’ll never forget going to a baby shower for a co-worker’s wife, sitting in a living room full of women that I didn’t know. Most of them already had a child or two and were very sure about their mothering skills. I was a few months pregnant with Alexis, and had just started dabbling in the necessary reading for a new mother. Leaving that shower left my head spinning, wondering what else that I didn’t know about being a mom.

I definitely stepped up my reading of parenting books after that experience. I had all sorts of ideas…we were definitely going to be on a schedule of eating and sleeping. The schedule was never going to break. Possibly making my own organic baby food?  Reading before her first birthday? We would for sure have a genius before kindergarten…

I hope that a lot of you are getting a laugh from the above paragraph, because that is what a lot of the hype is…a good laugh. Most of us are never going to be able to follow the advice of the fifty different books of things we are going to “need to do” to raise healthy and well-adjusted children.


Because you know what…life happens.

Work happens.

Dishes and laundry happen.

Family happens.

my attempt at organizing chaos at home before Alexis was hurt

Go ahead and read books, seek advice, and get opinions. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. But there is only one thing that is going to get you through the messy chaos of life…a mother’s intuition.

Trust me on this one. I’ve learned the hard way. I was pretty caught up in my inexperience of motherhood. I had a lot of insecurities about how to take care of a baby.  I thought that every other mom knew more than I did, which resulted in some bad parenting decisions.

Alexis was in a home daycare with a woman who had children of her own. She had also taken care of other peoples children for nearly two decades. We knew a dozen families whose kids she had taken care of over that time. I thought she had it all together compared to me. After all, she had way more experience.

I had hints that things were “not right” that I chose to ignore. Like after Christmas, it took me FOREVER to get my decorations down. Between getting home from work, taking care of Alexis, and getting all of the home stuff done- it just wasn’t happening.

That wasn’t the case at daycare. Alexis’ daycare provider had the same amount of decorations as me, maybe even more. When we dropped Alexis off one morning they were still up, when we came to get her that evening- everything was down inside and out. Wow!

My thoughts… I was really unorganized. She could do all of that and still
watch six children???

I wondered why Alexis stopped grabbing a spoon and wanting to try feeding herself.  She almost looked scared when I tried to hand the spoon back to her.

She wouldn’t have diaper rash when she was with us for several days..but back at daycare, it would immediately come back. I chalked it up to teething and food changes.

Or the time I went to get her at daycare and she was in the kitchen with another little boy drinking milk. I told her she could get up and come with me, but she just sat there with wide eyes. It wasn’t like her. She looked scared.

Or a few days before she was injured, I picked her up and she had a cut lip, and blood on her dress. I asked, and got a strange explanation. I knew that things weren’t right.

All of this still makes my stomach turn. I don’t like writing about it. I don’t like telling people that I ignored these things. But I did, and I would prefer that there are parents who don’t make the same mistakes that I did.

I didn’t listen to my intuition.

When I told Brandon what I was going to write about this week, he asked me to share his side too. He said that a lot of times men have a different perspective. Sometimes mom’s worry a little too much. We read into situations. So when I started to talk to him about my fears, he tried to calm them. He didn’t want me to say anything. He didn’t want me to make the person who was taking care of our child mad. It made sense, but in hindsight, ignoring it wasn’t the right approach.

Here’s the thing…we are not the only family that this has happened to. We’ve had gut-wrenching conversations with others who did the same thing. People who knew better, ignoring something because they didn’t want to upset anyone. People who ignored that little voice in their head telling them that something was wrong.

It almost killed my daughter.

It has left her with major disabilities that she will have for the rest of her life.

God gave us mothers a special intuition for a reason, and it should always be given the opportunity to supersede other evidence to the contrary. Whether it is a mother of four, your Mom, your husband or the advice of an “expert” on television, God has only granted you this special, built-in protection for your child- don’t ever hesitate to act on it.

Brandon and Alexis before her injury..

Read the three part series of this story here.  

About the author

Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.


  • Thank you for posting that Tiff! Although I haven’t been faced with something like you and Brandon did as new parents, I really take this to heart and will be sure to take your advice with my little guy.

  • Oh Tiffany, we’ve all done it. We’ve all ignored those little voices that tell us something is wrong . Thanks for the reminder that we should always listen!

  • Thanks for sharing this Leslie and Tiffany. I am taking medically fragile infants through UNL (grad class) and this week we are discussing TBIs. Would it be okay to share Alexis’ story as I think others could really benefit from hearing a parent’s perspective on such a tough situation.

  • Tiffany, thank you for posting. It is encouraging to hear someone be transparent about parenting and motherhood. I strongly identify with you because of my intuition with my kids. This is one of the reasons I pulled my daughter from daycare. She was in a private home daycare when I caught her provider yanking her to the floor, all because she had gotten sick on her new carpet. When I attempted to go back to work a second time, my son (8 months), came home with an unexplained bruise and this was an a daycare center. These were the deciding factors in staying home with my kids. I’ll say it again, always go with your instincts, trust your gut.

  • With all of the advise and “must-dos” and pressure, I think this gets lost a lot. I think we don’t actually do all that much to help new moms when we try to help, ironically. Intuition is the most important part of parenting and we can’t trust anyone if we don’t trust ourselves first.

  • Thanks for sharing this. As a first-time mom it is very easy to get caught up in following the book and watching those who have more experience and seem to “have it all together.” I hope that you are not placing any blame on yourselves for the atrocities committed by your former daycare provider, regardless of your instincts. I hope those people are in prison, and can no longer even look at a child. It’s very difficult to entrust your child to a stranger, and I think it’s important that we do “worry too much” as mothers. For me, my career decisions have centered around this in having a business where I can bring my kids, they can stay at home with one parent or the other, and the daycare we use is a close friend. A few things I’ve learned about people who “have it all together” (at least the ones in my life)- they’re either on happy pills for their OCD, or they are a shred away from losing their sanity just like the rest of us. 🙂

  • As a daycare provider I thank you for your post. It is a reminder to me that the children that are left in my care are my one and only job while they are here. It is so easy to think we are super women and we can do it all, chores, watch children, etc. while the children are here in our care but that is not practical. We have to know that, especially an in home daycare, our job starts the minute the children walk in the door and does not end until they leave. We have to do our chores, housework, etc, like anyone else who has a job, at the end of the day. I know your mom and dad from our church and have followed your journey since the beginning. I admire the courage you have all shown. The strength and the fight that Alexis has had and continues to have. I hope that all the mothers who read this know that most daycare providers hope their parents are honest enough to share their concerns with them so that we can better care for their children. We am not perfect and know that we make mistakes. It is so important to me to have the communication with my parents and know their fears and concerns. If they can’t trust me with this than they can’t trust me. I totally agree about intuition. I tell all my people trust it, it is a gift given to you by God, don’t ignore it, it was put there for a reason.

  • All of us moms appreciate your honesty and the courage it takes for you to write about Alexis. Jen is right on about some people seeming to have it together, but being on “happy pills” or one step away from losing it. My hand is raised, and I don’t hide that fact. While Joey was sick, people told me I was handling everything with such grace, but at home I was breaking down all the time. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. When our children are too small to tell us, we have to let the signs do the talking. I love that you say that God has granted us the built-in protection; but it’s like faith – sometimes hard to believe. Particularly, as you described since this was a trusted person by many in your community. I’m wrapping you in a hug because I know your feelings – I didn’t want to believe that Joey was having headaches everyday. I thought he was just trying to get attention, and I said as much to him. I live with that and feel guilty about that all the time. But that doesnt make us bad mothers – it just makes us human. So much love and many prayers to you and your family.