Warning: This post contains details of post natal depression and may be upsetting for some readers.
She shook the baby.
She wanted the crying to stop.
“I threw him onto the bed and that caused a skull fracture.”
Tami says she injured her friend’s baby so greatly that he suffered a stroke, as well as a seizure.
“You cannot harm a baby by bouncing them on your lap. It is a very violent act. The nature in which I shook him caused him great bodily harm”
She admits it, she owns it.
“I shook him.”
The baby she shook wasn’t hers. Her babies went unharmed.
The woman, Tami, herself a mother, had been caring for this baby when he began crying, she picked him up and in an instant changed his life and hers forever.
“I shook him” Via IStock.
Tami Revering, a mother of two, and pregnant with her third recounts the time she shook her best friend’s four-month-old baby so violently that she almost killed him.
Six years on this mother, from the US state of Minnesota, tells the story over and over again, writing in blogs, giving interviews and lecturing at parenting classes.
She tells the story so that others do not go where she did.
Tami Revering from One Shake.org.
Tami writes on her blog:
"He has permanent brain damage. I don't know all of the details of his recovery that is for his parents to tell. His story is not mine."
The story that is hers is this one – the story of why she did what she did and her plea for others to understand the consequences of shaking a baby.
She says, “I am not telling this story because I think it's a good one, I am telling this story because my heart aches, and this could have been prevented.”
Tami Revering and her family today. Via A Mother's Journey.
The morning it took place was a routine one for this young mum. She was a full time stay-at-home mum as her husband worked long hours to support their family. She was exhausted, struggling with undiagnosed post natal depression and facing another pregnancy after having two boys just 14 months apart.
She too helped out their little family, by babysitting her best friend, Angie Pengelly's children.
That day, in November 2010 she took the four boys, her two and Angie's four-month-old baby and two-year-old to a playgroup, she then brought them back home for lunch.
The older three napped and she gave the baby a bottle before setting him down to sleep.
Then, Revering collapsed on the couch, wanting to sleep herself.
“I remember just wanting to get a few minutes rest. Just enough to carry me through the rest of the day. But the baby started to cry.
I went into the room and tried rocking him, that didn't seem to help. I laid him back down and went to sit on the couch. He was still crying, and I remember telling myself not to go back in there. The best way I can describe what was going on in my head sounds strange, but it is really the way I remember it.”
Revering describes it as being like “a white light on one shoulder telling me to stay on the couch the baby will be fine.”
She says on the other shoulder was a “dark light” telling her to make him stop.
“Back and forth, I don't remember how long I sat on the couch. Eventually the dark light won, and I got up, walked to the crib, picked up the baby, and shook him. “
Immediately she then knew she had done the wrong thing.
“His eyes rolled in the back of his head, and he started having a seizure. Time stopped.”
“His eyes rolled in the back of his head, and he started having a seizure. Time stopped.” Image via IStock.
She writes that as she held him she ran and called emergency services and then she began screaming.
“The police were the first to arrive, not because they knew what I had done, but because they were the closest first responders. Not many seconds later, the paramedics arrived. They operated under the impression that it was my baby and maybe he was sick. I must have been in hysterics, because someone clapped their hands in my face to snap me out of it. It was then that I yelled, "I shook him!" I then continued to plead with them to "just shoot me."
Anders nearly died.
At four-months-old his brain shook like coins in a jar, back and forth, violently bashing against his skull and causing irreparable damage.
He was in critical condition with cranial bleeding, but he survived.
Anders will go have learning disabilities for life and will likely always be on medication to keep seizures at bay.
Revering was arrested, she was placed in solitary confinement for three days then was admitted to a psychiatric ward.
Writing for a website called The Guiding Star Project, that aims to help stamp out child abuse, a friend of Revering, Leah Jacobson, says that Tami Revering’s story is of a “woman who could have been me or any other of my mum friends.”
She says, “Tami was just like many of us.”
“A young mother, college educated, staying home with her children, and afraid to ask for help. What Tami did in the depths of anxiety-riddled depression is something that I believe many of us are capable of doing without help and treatment.”
Revering hasn’t seen Anders since that day.
Before this took place the families were close, spending days together, going on holidays. The couples went even to university together, but now they keep in touch via email. The two women have appeared together a smattering of times at lectures. Angie Pengelly says she has forgiven Revering.
But their friendship could never continue.
Tami Revering's arrest photo and Angie Pengelly Credit: Anoka County Sheriff's Office and Facebook.
Revering was sentenced to a year in prison - a staggered sentence over eight years - she reports to jail for the entire month of June each year, the month of Ander's birthday, and for 15 days each November, the month the shaking took place.
She will do this for three more years.
She still suffers from depression and she still hasn’t forgiven herself but what she wishes above all else is that she can educate women to seek help for post natal depression where she did not.
“No one is immune to shaking a baby,” Revering tells students in parenting classes she lectures in. “You need to know your breaking point, and you need to know when to ask for help,” she tells students, listing ways to soothe babies and emphasising again and again the need to ask for help.
“Never hold a baby when frustrated.”
For help: PANDA: Perinatal and Anxiety Depression Australia. 1800 726 306.
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