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.

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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.

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