On my way home from work on Friday afternoon, I got a call from John. He wanted to "prepare me" for the garish lump on Vincent's eye and forehead.
Startling me out of a Benadryl-induced haze, the adrenaline shocked my system into speeding across bridges, toll plazas and law-abiding cars in order to make it home in record time. The entire way, I kept saying, "Dear God, thank you. Thank you for not letting him poke his eye out. Guardian Angel, please fly to Vince's Guardian Angel and tell him 'Good job.' 'Cause seriously... good job! Thank you, Blessed Mother, thank you Jesus, thank you everyone!"
I actually made it home before he and Vincent did.
When I threw open the door to greet them, I almost cried at the sight of my little boy's disfigured (but smiling) face. He threw his arms around me with an exuberant "MOMMY!" and I scooped him into the house and onto the couch where I could see the injury better.
I almost couldn't look! It took me several times to properly work up the stomach to view the egg-sized swelling that forced his little eye closed. He told me his "boo boo hurt" and didn't want me going anywhere near it. Otherwise, he was perfectly fine. He wanted his juice, he wanted his snack, and he wanted to play some games.
I wanted to take him to the ER since the swelling was so concerning. John kept assuring me he was OK. It looked terrible, but he'd be fine. He hadn't lost consciousness, he was still eating / drinking fine, and he was obviously in good spirits. John promised he'd be okay, and considering the amount of experience John has with knocks to the head with his sports background, I tried to ignore the screaming Mommy in my head yelling, "GET HIM TO THE ER NOW!"
That changed after I stripped him for his shower. I took off his shirt and almost had a heart attack when I noticed the three welts he had along his ribs. I immediately gasped and got John to take a look. Why had no one told us he had injured his back, too?!?!?!
I lost it. I went into Angry Momma mode and decided to take him to the ER to get checked.
You can't tell from the photos, but the injuries to his back were more pronounced and there was significant bruising. I'm not sure if the flash washed it out or what, but that image does no justice to what my baby boy had on his little body.
Why didn't we get a proper phone call from the daycare?! Why wasn't this reported on the incident paperwork?! How, exactly, does a child who supposedly fell FORWARD end up with injuries on his face and his back?!
Most troubling of all is my concern that the welts were in the shape of an adult woman's hand. Again, the photo above does this injury no justice, but there were two other welts that made the entire area look like a hand had smacked into him. Even that didn't make sense, though, as the welts didn't seem to be caused by a smack so much as some sort of rug burn.
Instead of attempting to play Sherlock, I decided we were going to the ER and having professionals take a look at it. I wasn't going to take a chance on his safety.
Once we got to the ER, they took us back relatively quickly. The two doctors agreed the marks on his back looked like a handprint, but even they couldn't figure out how a hand would do damage that somehow caused abrasions.
Due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the injuries (and, truthfully, how terrible they were), protocol stipulates they need to contact the Department for Youth and Family Services (DYFS). I understood and admit I took offense that they were even remotely suspicious that I'd cause such injury to my baby boy. I tried not to hold it against them as they've probably seen firsthand what some abusive parents are capable of. My heart broke at the thought...
When I was finally able to take him home, I was assured that DYFS would be following up with both me and the school. I thanked them and went on my way, immediately tucking Vincent into bed (as it was past midnight).
The next morning, my husband woke me up to tell me that DYFS had been by at 3:30 that morning. 3:30 AM!
Geez... that both irritated me and made me feel better about the plight of those children who ARE abused - at least I know they take concerns seriously.
Anyway, John said he let two women into the house at 3:30 so they could interview him and check our water, electric and food supplies. He said they'd be coming back later in the day to interview me since I was upstairs sleeping with Vince at the time.
So I cleaned the house a bit and waited for DYFS to give me the once-over. They showed up just as I was about to put Vince down for his nap (go figure). Vincent was in his normal, super-happy mood. Double it, though, because these people just saved him from nap-time. In thanks, he tried to share with them every single toy and crayon he could find. He welcomed them both with hugs and kisses, and couldn't stop bouncing around the house in utter joy that he had two new friends to play with.
Thank God. His overwhelming joy and happiness immediately confirmed that I was not a terrible mother and didn't go around beating him for fun. They really delighted in how excited and happy he was. I guess that went into "Points for John and Gina not being evil, scumbag parents."
They asked typical questions you would expect to be asked if someone suspected you of abuse. They also asked for a full account of what happened (or didn't happen, in this case) at daycare. Finally, they did a quick tour of the house to ensure there was hot water, electricity and food. Good thing I'd just gone food-shopping, huh?
I have a follow-up appointment with these folks today. I'll be getting a full report from the school regarding how Vincent sustained these injuries. I've already given an earful to the Director responsible for not calling John and I when Vincent fell. I've also spoken with his teacher who was in the class when the fall happened. I honestly can't wait to speak with the teacher who witnessed the fall (she wasn't in when I dropped him off this morning). I can't imagine they'd hurt him in any way, but I still need to know exactly what happened.
I don't think that's too much to ask, especially given that my life has now been interrupted three times by a government agency that has the ability to take my son away if they feel like we don't stock enough hot dogs in the fridge.
Prayers would be welcome.
As for Vince, he's doing fine. Aside from the occasional "Owww, Mommy!" I don't think he realizes how lucky he is. God is good. <3
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