Uncategorized

Christmas Miracle?

I realize I haven’t updated since I made my page, but honestly that’s because I haven’t had much more to really talk about. If any of you have ever dealt with the system, you know it’s a rather slow moving processes. If not, well let me tell you, they move like a damn slug. It’s down December, couple months since my last post and I finally have some news. I didn’t update because I figured no one wants to listen to me bitch or complain. Plus people are ‘judgmental’ and think I must be such a ‘horrible’ mother since I now have one closed case in in Nebraska and on going in Iowa. So, I just kept my mouth shut right now. But the Christmas spirit is working in my favor, I guess.

I’ve finally gotten some news, great news at that. My son is officially on the road to coming home. At the most, it can take three months. In three months is when I have the permanency hearing, but he can be placed with me before for that. So, in reality it’s 1-3 months he’ll be home. I still feel the Iowa system is fucked. Everyone has agreed there has been no actual PARENTING concerns, that it’s a drug case ( WEED ). Which I still can’t bring myself to feel is far. Simply on the facts that 1) It’s legal depending on which side of an imaginary line you live on and 2) We’re opening our very first dispensary here in Iowa this weekend. I simply don’t find it fair or right. I hear others say ‘either way if you are under the influence and being selfish you shouldn’t have your kids’. Okay, so I suppose the parents that enjoy a few beers, or on pain killers or xanax shouldn’t have their children as well? I mean they’re under the influence aren’t they? “Oh, well they wouldn’t take your kid if you simply were smoking pot. There has to be other factors”. Yeah, being screwed by Nebraska DHS because my kids dad beat me helped Iowa’s case against me. But that’s a whole other topic I’ll cover in a minute. Either way, I haven’t had a dirty UA since the very start of this ( my son didn’t even test for weed in his umbilical cord ) six  months ago, there are no PARENTING concerns, and he will be home soon. And I can’t wait. I’ll have my baby back. And for all the people who seem to want to judge and talk shit get a giant fuck you. So, win win.

As for Nebraska, is anyone a family lawyer over there or have any degree over there? Because according to my lawyer here in Iowa I was lied to. I’m pretty sure signing any contract or agreement under false information is ruled out. I was told Nebraska may not have full OPEN ADOPTIONS but can make arrangements to stay in the kids’ lives and whatnot. I was told I couldn’t be promised anything. So, I’m trying to figure out what is true or not true. Even Iowa feels like I got screwed out of a fair chance and wonder what the out come would of been if I actually had one. Fuck, maybe I would have all my kids today instead of in this shit.

Children, Uncategorized

To Whomever it May Concern…

I wrote this letter at the beginning of this year, before I ever signed over my rights for Andrew and Nevaeh. This was originally written for a judge or maybe a lawyer to read. I feel like my case was treated poorly. I honestly believe if I wouldn’t of had 5-6 workers in 2 years ( that’s pretty much a new worker every 6 months ), I would of had my kids back home. But a new worker every few months meant no one really knew my case personally, just whatever was on paper. Didn’t know the history. So my case ended up getting no where. Obviously, a lot has happened between now and when I wrote this so keep it in mind it’s not exactly up to date on the situation.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

To Whomever it May Concern,

I am writing this letter because I feel like my family’s case has been handed poorly, jeopardizing any chance of my family being reunited.
During that past year, the hospital had called CPS multiple times but the state didn’t see any evidence of their complaints and dismissed all of them. That was up until the domestic assault. That was the tip of the iceberg, along with the domestic the allegations towards me was misusing my prescription medication, not providing proper living conditions, and neglect of Andrew’s medical needs. I couldn’t argue against the domestic or taking an extra pill than what was stated on the bottle that day. Both happened, but blown out of proportion. After the incident with Dwight, I went straight to WCA and got help, including a restraining order. As for the medication, I have no drug record or problem. I proved that with the random drug testing in the beginning of all this. Another complaint on the order was ‘not providing safe and stable housing”, the hospital kept saying we were ‘homeless’. Yet again, not true. No, we did not have a place in Omaha but we’re making attempts to relocate there. It wasn’t something necessary, more of a convenience. Omaha proved to be more difficult than originally thought. Practically impossible to get on housing assistance or any help. They’re horribly underfunded and I stayed home and took care of the kids.Leaving only Dwight working. But we were not homeless. We were attempting to relocate but always could go right back where we were living in before we ended up there in February 2015, We lived with family. Andrew and I had our own room, I preferred him sleeping in the same room due to his health issues. Which CPS was suppose to look at but never did.
As for unsafe, my kids were never in danger. Their dad and I had never been in a physical fight before. It happened just that once and even that once, my daughter wasn’t in the same room or near it. We would argue but not in front of Andrew. The arguments were getting more frequent and more intense. In my opinion the stress of our son being born with such serious health issues and being at Children’s Hospital simply took a toll on us. I knew what it was like being that kid who grew up listening to parents. I wasn’t going to put my kids through it and I didn’t want that for myself. By the time we ended up back there, in February 2015, we were no longer living together to begin with. Andrew and I moved out and was living with family since October 2014.
The last complaint was neglect towards Andrew’s condition and medical needs. The hospital stated I lacked the medical training, that his health issues were caused by neglect, and how much less I was physically at the hospital after having Nevaeh. Firstly, I had done all of his medical training, only thing we were currently working on was how to take care of a trach when at home. He had barely had it for two months by the time they got taken away. We weren’t allowed to participate in trach cares right away to begin with. It was too new and needing to heal up some. Once healthy enough, I would participate or at least attempt to.
The first time I’d see his nurse that day, I’d normally ask if there was anything new, how over night was, and try asking if i can help with “Trach Cares” ( cleaning and periodically changing the trach ). Usually I’d be told they already did it. When he first got it put in, I’d always watch the nurses. It helps me learn when I’m able to be involved or at least right there watching, Respiratory also came down and demonstrated it to me.I knew how to sterile suction out his trach properly as need. I was able to change it a couple times with a nurse. I remember it just being me and the nurse doing it my first time and the second time Dad was there but didn’t feel comfortable trying it yet, So, me and the nurse did it. I could explain to you exactly how and what to do, but it’d still make me nervous. The first time went fine. Just scary. The second time, Dad’s first time there and it went horrible. Right when the nurse and I were about to switch the trachs, Andrew started vomiting right in the middle of it. You are in control of if that person can breath or not threw a whole in their neck, add vomiting to it. It’s nerve wracking.
Andrew got his trach November 2015. Main problems were it was a two person job and it only gets changed at earliest, once a month.By mid December 2015, Dad was in jail for the domestic assault, so I no longer had a second person. I participated in as much as I could but no matter what, it was required to have two individuals trained to be able to go home. I was running out of options.
Before Nevaeh was born, I was at that hospital 90% of the time. I’d sleep at his bedside almost every night. Normally the only time I’d sleep at the Rainbow House was on the weekends, Dad’s days off Only other times I’d leave would be to go get food, go outside for a few minutes, when he needed to sleep, or was told to. He’d like to fight his sleep if I was in the room, so I’d leave for he’d finally doze off or if he was having a “bad day” be told he needs to relax and rest and asked to leave. Once Nevaeh was born, it was much more complicated. I couldn’t always be there like before. I’d have nurses and doctors complaining and telling me that she shouldn’t be there and that i was crazy for risking her getting sick. Yet, if she wasn’t feeling good or I wasn’t feeling good and decided to stay away, they’re complaining about that. I couldn’t sleep in Andrew’s room anymore because kids can’t stay the night. Nevaeh wasn’t a fussy baby other than when it was time to eat but even that, would cause us to be asked to leave. I was told many times to leave. How was I suppose to be there and keep doing the trach cares if being told to leave all the time on top of taking care of my newborn? It was just me and they were making it impossible.
Lastly, his medical issues weren’t caused by me. He had his condition before I ever knew I was even pregnant. I was told there was nothing I could of done to cause or prevent it. I did everything I was instructed to do with Andrew and his needs. I have witnesses who can verify his care when at home.
With all that being explanned and history told, I can get to the point. As much as I know my kids are safe and taken care of, seems as though making that responsible choice as a good parent has also hurt my chances at beating this case and getting my babies back home. It’s been unfair and completely bias since the very start. I have the largest children’s hospital working against me due to a handful of staff that work there that judged me and my parenting. Instead of coming to ask questions, they’d just jump to conclusions. It also didn’t help that I have no problem speaking up and voicing my concerns or opinions, even if it goes against theirs. It’s mostly doctors and one social worker who had problems with Dwight and I. People who were around us a lot while we were there. One of day, one of the head nurses come into our son’s room and have the nerve to try discussing the relationship between Dad and I. My son’s head registered nurse had the audacity to come and pretty much try counselling us one morning. Andrew and Dad were napping and I was watching tv. He came in and sat by us, I woke Dad up Expecting some medical news about my son, I had to listen to him tell me how we should really work out whatever our issues were and stay a family. That it’d be in Andrew’s best interest. After about twenty minutes, I couldn’t sit there and listen anymore. I was irate. This man knows nothing about our relationship and is giving us advice? I told him he’s not our therapist, he’s our son’s doctor and to stick with his job. And left the room. I felt he completely crossed the line. I had never had a conversation with him before, he didn’t know me or my family..
They only got to see what us living in the hospital was like. Not at home. Not the weekly nurse who came to the house to check his weight and vitals, not AEA in my house and Ablekids appointments every week. Of course the doctors and state are going to back up the foster parents’ when the husband is a nurse at that very hospital. It’s one of their own, pretty much a family. It’s my word against a bunch of doctors and people with degrees. A hospital I had been having issues with since about October of 2014. How is anyone have a chance at beating a case like this?
Most recently, I’ve had NFC change my worker yet again. I believe this is the forth or fifth one. This case has been going on too long already and now to throw in a completely new worker who knows nothing about my family other than whatever Haley Johnson-Wright and previous workers decided to write in her reports. Which by what I observed from our short Family Meeting, Haley left a disorganized mess. My first meeting with Kayla was on November 30th, 2017.
Right from the beginning of the meeting, it was a mess. Firstly, Kayla was under the impression that I had not completed my domestic violence classes. She couldn’t find my certificate of completion. This wasn’t true. I have not only finished one class, but also an extra one at WCA. The other one was completed at the Phoenix House. I personally gave Haley my certificate with my attorney present months ago and it was submitted as evidence at the last court date. My attorney was able to locate it and send it to her.
Kayla also stated that supposedly the foster parents were having issues with me accurately giving Andrew the correct dosage for his feedings and medications. The only time me and the foster parents, Christian and Anita Anderson, have had any ‘issues’ regarding the feeds were simply about my way of setting the feeding pump versus the way they do it. Same result, different technique. The foster parents would measure how much formula to place in his bag using a measuring cup to ensure he gets the right amount. The way I did it was simple- I’d empty the bottle of formula into his bag and set the feeding pump to only give him a certain dosage. Once you set that amount, the pump with continue to run until it reached that amount.
As for the medications, it’s always be 1.2 mL at 2:00 PM. I contacted Christian immediately after the Family meeting. In my text message I simple wrote ‘So Kayla said something about his meds n feeds not ‘always being right.’ After about 10 minutes or so i got a reply from his stating “Regarding Kayla. We have only had a brief telephone conversation with her. You have been doing fine with his Med and feeds. Anything not right now for you is in the past. I think we’re working on talking about stuff so there are no errors and that’s great. I just don’t want another “case worker” to pin us against each other. Andrew’s favorite chicken are chicken fries from BK lol but he like nuggets too, and you know ketchup! Nevaeh has eaten hamburgers before and likes them pretty well.” The foster parents and I communicate twice a week, sometimes more. If there were any questions or concerns that they may of had, they would call or text me immediately.
Visits seemed to be another concern. She felt that since I’ve relocated that I haven’t been consistent on attending my visits and that its a growing concern of hers. I moved after very careful thought and planning went into it. I knew very well what I’d be getting myself into if I moved back up to Sioux City. One part of it is the traveling. Which I’ve had zero issues with. The only time I did miss a few visits were on October 23, we just got switched to semi unsupervised. They wouldn’t let me have the visits at my house anymore which caused an issue because I was always cooking their meals. I didn’t have any food that we could pack up and take to go. Second date was on November 2nd, had a job interview to go to. Didn’t just cancel it. Hailey and I both tried to get a hold of Haley to reschedule but she wouldn’t respond to me or Hailey. November 9th I drove all way down to Omaha for a meeting with Haley and my attorney, but had a fever the whole time. They both were there to witness it and felt how hot I was to begin with. So had to cancel those visits. Last day I missed was simple Thanksgiving. So out of about twenty or so visits, I missed four. And not completely by choice. I tried communicating and rescheduling visits but Hailey wasn’t responding to me or Haley.
Originally, my visits were Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I was able to get them changed to Thursdays and Saturdays just to make sure I wouldn’t be put in a situation that’d make me miss a visit. I get paid on Thursdays so there’s no risk of me not having the money to get to them. Saturdays were suppose to be Dwight’s days because of his work schedule. But we talked about sharing Saturdays. It’d help us both out and i think the kids would be so happy to see Mommy and Daddy together, even if we’re not a couple. We are still close and still talk just about every day. We’re still a family. I brought it up to Haley J. who told me it is a ‘thoughtful idea’, but as of right now are visits are seperate. But possibly something to discuss at a ‘later date.’ Well, a few days later I received a message from my attorney stating Haley is no longer with NFC and scheduled a time to catch up on the case before meeting the new worker. Part of that phone meeting was about Dwight and I sharing Saturdays. She wanted to know how I felt about it. I explained to her that I was the one who brought it up, it was my idea. I’m completely comfortable with it, completely comfortable with Dwight. He’s been my best friend for almost 10 years. I’m closer to him than any of my blood family. I know the domestic assault doesn’t look good and sounds horrible. It was horrible, I’m not going to lie. But it also happened once in seven years. He has never laid his hands on me other than that one time. I didn’t get beat up for years. Was a one time incident that happened two years ago. We have two amazing kids that we love to death. Just because we didn’t work out as a couple, doesn’t mean we can’t work as parents.
My attorney stated that as long as I’m comfortable with it, she’ll back me up on it. The only issue she has with it is that he hasn’t completed his domestic class. But that’s where she left it at, she will support me with my decision.
The first phone call I had with Kayla, our new worker, I asked her about Saturdays and if Dwight is able to join me. She stated that she’s waiting to hear all legal parties opinions and told me that with the domestic violence on record, it’s a concern. Once again I explained it wasn’t a situation where there was years of abuse or anything. It happened once in seven years. She took note of that and waited to hear from all sides. I met her for the first time on November 30th. We had a family meeting with her, my attorney, the kids attorney, and myself. It was incredibly frustrating and couldn’t completely bite my tongue the whole time. Kayla informed me that they decided against Dwight and I sharing Saturdays. As the kids’ attorney put it ‘they don’t feel comfortable with us being in the same room with a history of domestic.’ Yet again I corrected that statement. There is not a history of domestic violence. There is a one time incident on record. Huge difference. 1 bad day out of 2,555 days. It happened over two years ago now, and isn’t going to happen again. We’re not together. Both have happily moved on. We’re mature enough to still be friends and be able to co-parent. That is the whole goal of this court, correct? To help children have a safe and healthy place to call home, ideally back with the parents. So, if that’s the ideal scenario, how can the parents get told they aren’t allowed to coparent? We’re at the end of this case, and the state of Nebraska is going to tell us that we can’t co-parent. We love our kids, this is what mature adults do. Say the judge were to place the kids back with us within 30 days, what are we suppose to do? Ignore each other? Keep the kids from the other parent? That’s not a healthy environment. I refuse to take ‘No’ as an answer.
Towards end of her time on this case, seemed like Haley Johnson-Wright wasn’t doing half of her responsibilities as our worker. Seemed like she was working against Dad and I rather than helping to put the family back together. Come to find out no one’s backgrounds were actually completed. My family and I are from Iowa and require a Nebraska and Iowa background check to be completed. Even people who have already attended visits, for example my mother, could no longer join due to the worker mistakes, not mine. When it came to Dwight’s request forms for getting his visits going again with a new company, Kayla found it the day the request form expired and uncompleted.
We had court on September 27th, 2017 and I don’t think anyone thought it was going to go the way it did. I didn’t expect it to go badly, but didn’t expect it to go well nor in our favor. I had all my court orders completed. IDI done, domestic class done, had proper housing, and a job. But I knew moving from Plattsmouth to Council Bluffs and the time it took to find a new job hurt me. Time isn’t in our favor. Of course the state requested Judge Thomas to begin with proceeding the adoption process, luckily that didn’t happen. After reviewing all the information provided to him, Judge Thomas recognized that I had completed everything I was told I had to do and that Dwight only had his domestic classes to finish up. Instead of starting the adoption process, Judge Thomas ordered us to begin semi-unsupervised visits. Everyone was shocked. The state wasn’t happy at all.
Seems like ever since then Hailey J. was working against us more than ever and rather difficult to make any new progress. The very same day both Dwight and I were told we weren’t starting the semi-unsupervised visits quite yet and that once we do, we couldn’t hold them at our homes. I had been having my visits at my house already while supervised. Whether unsupervised or not, Hailey had to do a walk through and approve it before the children could ever be there. Only things she ever commented about was getting a gate in the hallway by the stairs even though both kids never went by there and the fact that my dad lived in one of the other apartments. My father is on the sex offender list, but did not have access to my home. We both had locks on our doors, I even got another one just to please Haley, I was the only person with the key to my door. My father is getting old and I lived up four flights of stairs. He would never come up there. I’d always have to come down to his house. I tried multiple times to get Haley to come look at my house to approve it a second time, but something always came up. She’d cancel on me.
Haley then informed me she was needing to come to my house to do the walk through because according to her my visitation lady, Hailey Tarpinian had informed her that I had mice and bugs. I was the one who told Hailey T. that I had seen a mouse only twice when it started getting cold outside. There was no food or trash out for them to eat or attract them. They were just finding some place warm to go. Even though I only saw one a couple times, I set out traps to be safe. I never did catch any and didn’t see any more. As for bugs, my house didn’t have bugs. No ants, no cockroaches, no flies, no bed bugs. Nothing of the sort. Only bugs that found a way inside once it got cooler outside was ladybugs. Annoying, yes, but nothing to cause concern. I did confront Hailey T. myself and asked her about it. She informed me that in her notes she stated that I told her about the mice, but that she personally never saw or heard any herself and that she only saw ladybugs in the house. Haley Johnson informed me that I could no longer hold my visits at my house anymore until she investigated it for herself and got the walk through done. I had tried scheduling a time for her to come the very next morning because my kids were suppose to come that day. She ended up cancelling on me shortly before she was suppose to be there. Tried rescheduling again, but same out come. My children loved coming over to my house and normally would rather be there than go out. If I take them to DoSpace, the mall, a park, or most other places, within the first half of the visit they would tell me that they want to go to Momma Ashley’s house.
On top of that, I always cooked them meals, not go get them fast food. That became an issue when I was told i could no longer have visits at home because I didn’t have anything I could simply pack up and bring with me. Also didn’t have the money for fast food. I ended up not being about to see them on October 26th for that reason. I tried having the just the beginning of the visit at my house for they could eat first but Haley J. wouldn’t allow it. Told Haley T. no.She was getting increasingly more difficult to contact and work with. Eventually, I just decided to move and get rid of the problems altogether.
After long and careful consideration, I made the decision to move back to Sioux City and officially moved around September 25, 2017. There are many reasons I feel like that was the best option for me and my family. For starters, it’s where we’re from. We have family here. Dwight was born and raised here and has all his family up here as well. Hailey J. kept wanting me to figure out a support system, here it is. Andrew was born in Sioux City. Only reason we had been in Omaha, was for Children’s Hospital. Children’s has played a huge part in Andrew’s life, that’s where he has all his surgeries and more intensive care. But he has had a pediatric cardiologist that’s seen him since he was first able to come home at about 2 months old. His name is Dr. Najadowi, he works at a local office, but is employed by Children’s. He also use to see a therapist from AEA that came directly to our house for appointments and went to AbleKids for OT, PT, and Speech. All of these doctors know and are familiar with Andrew and I’d be able to go to all his appointments. Other reasons that factored into the decision to move was it’s easier to get a job and cheaper to live. I had been back for less than a couple weeks I had a handful of interviews. Within a month I got two jobs. Plan on being able to get a house by the end of December/January.
As for the children’s medical needs, about October 20th, 2017 I was told by Haley J. that I would now be responsible for their appointments. I was originally told that I could have someone I trust go to Andrew’s appointments and INR level checks at Children’s Hospital for me since I can’t go due to the ban or to find them new doctors. There is just a few issues with that, Andrew will always need Children’s Hospital. Not necessarily all the time, but every few months more than likely and for any surgeries. He’s already had eight heart surgeries there. I refuse to let any other surgeon other than Dr. Hammel work on him. Andrew is a special kid. He isn’t like any other child, even ones with the same heart disease. Therefore there are no previous cases to go look back on for help or guidance. Dr. Hammel is the only one who knows Andrew from the inside out and I do not trust or feel comfortable with anyone else working on him. As for a pediatrician and therapist for the kids, I have no issue switching them. The only issue I have is, I’m not going to find them new doctors down in the Omaha area just to have to switch them yet again to someone else up in Sioux City. That’d be ridiculous and also stressful on my kids. My plan was to have them continue seeing their current doctors and have my mother go to the ones I can’t. She’s been around since day one for my kids. She was there for the hospital stays and Andrew’s surgeries. She’s watched the pain and struggle my family endured. She’s also seen the miracles. She’s been around the ‘hospital life’ and ‘heart warrior’ lifestyle. So she knows what to expect and has experience with it. She also had passed the background check and been on many visits with both Dwight and I. I informed Haley, my lawyer, and foster parents that I planned on her joining my visits on Thursdays so that we could take Andrew to go get his INR checked starting October 26th, 2017.
To check his INR, they have To draw his blood weekly and check his levels which help give us an idea of how his heart is functioning. It can be a scary and painful experience for a kid. Can be very stressful for him which is another reason why he needs someone he knows and is comfortable. Once we all got to Children’s Hospital, Andrew and my mom went in while Nevaeh and I waited out in the car. After a short while, they were back at the car. Andrew was just as happy as he was before going in, it didn’t phase him one bit. Didn’t even cry when they took his blood. He handled it very well. I felt like we made a great accomplishment. Afterwards we all went back to the mall and played.
On October 30th, I received a text from Haley J. stating that she spoke to her supervisor and that they agreed that I needed to find a different doctors office to take Andrew to so I could take him myself. My mother couldn’t take him to Children’s for me. Those weren’t the options I had been told repeatedly for months. I was told to find someone to accompany him to his appointments at Children’s since I’m not allowed on Children’s property. Yet the moment I do, they want to change the rules. Of course the ideal situation would be me, his mother being to be there for him for his appointments. I have always been the one taking him to all of his appointments. I like knowing exactly what is going on, the facts and information straight forward from the direct person. Not a middle person. But unfortunately that isn’t an option at this time. Haley was supposedly working with Children’s to get the ban lifted. Until then I plan on having someone Andrew is comfortable and close to take him to any appointments that are at Children’s Hospital. As for all their other appointments with pediatricians or therapists, I have the doctors planned out. Just waiting on when they can actually be up here or someone help with transportation up here to the appointments. At my last meeting with Haley and my lawyer on November 7th , Haley made it clear that the kids won’t be transported up here for any visits or appointments. Which I don’t understand how that’s far. Haley had a company that would bring the kids up to Sioux City for Dwight’s visits. He ended up messing it up because of his inconsistency, but that’s a bridge he burned. Not me. I wasn’t given the same option or treatment that he was offered. So, at this moment I haven’t tried moving forward with any medical appointments because I’m confused on what my options are.
Haley was communicating with Children’s Hospital and working on getting the ban lifted, at least that’s what she said. From what I was told, she has a couple doctors that were willing to fight to get it lifted. It’s not even about me. It’s about my son and jeopardizing his health, possibly even his life. Children’s has been taking care of him since he was barely a day old. He had his first open heart surgery there when he was only 8 days old. His life has been in the hands of the best pediatric cardiac surgeon anyone could pray for, Dr. James Hammel. I absolutely refuse to jeopardize and risk my son’s life by listening whenever someone tries telling me that I ‘might have to just take him to a different hospital’. Never going to happen. Not even an option.
Andrew isn’t your typical heart kid. He was born with a congenital heart disease called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in other words his left ventricle didn’t develop and nonfunctioning. But, even compared to others with the same condition, there isn’t a case like him. The shortest version of the past 4 1/2 years is this – his surgeon came up with a fairly new, alternative option for babies who’s left ventricle was slightly larger than your typical HLHS baby.
The traditional route is they have 3 major heart surgeries to help the blood circulate as well as possible, but at some point in their life, they’ll need a heart transplant. Never know when. Maybe 7 months old, maybe 7 years old, maybe 70 years old. Simply depends on the person. Dr. Hammel’s alternative option was if the LV is bigger than most HLHS patience and was confident about it, he’d try getting the LV to grow. Usually takes 4-6 surgeries which they go in that LV and carve out the dead scar tissue and put a stint in to allow blood to flow into it. Slowly it’ll start to grow and pump. The goal is for that ventricle to grow and strengthen until you end up with a full functioning heart before ever turning 10 years old. If all goes well no need for a transplant.
After a long talk with doctors and lots of deliberating, we decided to try this new procedure. Hammel seemed pretty confident with Andrew. I believe he was only the 7th or 8th baby at that moment to do it. The children before him had all had great results, but also the oldest one was only around five years old or so. Very new procedure, but sounded like the smart choice. Of course, it didn’t go as smoothly as that.. Andrew had his first open heart surgery August 20th, 2013 at 8 days old and his most recent surgery October 22, 2015 at 2 1/2 years old. He’s now four and to sum up the past four years= he’s had 7 heart surgeries, surgery to place a G Tube, a pacemaker put in, ended up with a trach for a few months, has an artificial pulmonary artery, and a mechanical valve. His LV did grow and start to pump, but his RV ended up getting damaged by a virus he caught. He is always in heart failure, just a matter of if it’s stable or not. Have tried getting on a transplant list but get told one minute he’s too healthy and the next too sick. As of today he has been out of the hospital and stable for almost a whole year! Which is absolutely amazing after living there for a year straight. He acts just like any other four year old boy and always has a smile on his face even after everything he’s gone through.
Andrew’s health is now stable, but when it does go bad, the doctors don’t have similar cases to go back and compare to. He’s had so much already worked on that he’s in his own calgary. That’s why he can’t go to a different hospital and have a new surgeon work on him. They don’t know him or his heart. For example where his sensitive spot is while doing surgery on his heart that’ll cause him to go into complete heart block or mess up his rhythm. His surgeons have been with him since he was a newborn and know him inside and out. That’s why I absolutely refuse to let anyone else work on him. I won’t put his life in danger like that. I will not listen to anyone who tells me I should try looking for a new hospital. That’d be completely irresponsible for me to do as his mother. It’s my job to keep him safe and in good hands. No matter how big the battle. I may not see eye to eye with some of the people there, but it’s bigger than me and them. No matter what, I know when it all comes down to it, the doctors and nurses have my son’s best wishes at heart.
We lived in that hospital for two years on and off. That was our second home. That’s why I was shocked when I got told I was banned from there. I was shocked because I was there more than I was at home for almost 3 years. I saw those people more than my own family. They knew me. They knew what I was going through. Other than just the fact of living there for almost a whole year straight, the last four months I was there was the hardest time of my life.
We were in the process of getting a new place to live, but I started having contractions September 1st, 2015. Six weeks before Nevaeh was due. They hospitalized me and finally got them under control. They sent me home on the 3rd with medication to keep the contractions stopped. Andrew had a therapy appointment scheduled for an hour after I was released. Within that hour, we were now rushing him into the ER. He was unresponsive. For the second time in two weeks, his blood sugar had dropped.
After speaking to Children’s Hospital, they agreed that since it was the second time, that they wanted to get him down to their hospital to see him. Thank the lord they did. By the next day, they still couldn’t get his sugars up and he had to be sedated and put on a breathing tube. He started showing signs of getting better, good enough that we could move from the PICU up to the 5th floor. Seemed like the moment we moved up, he started getting worse. Within five days he went from being good enough to move upstairs to his heart starting to fail. The doctors had planned on doing a heart cath on September 28th, but by that time he was too fragile. It would of been too risky so they decided he was going to need another surgery at that point.
On the 30th he had surgery to replace the Aortic valve with a mechanical valve since all the past attempts getting the leakage under control failed. There’s pros and cons of having a mechanical valve. Pro- you know it’ll work properly. Con- very high risk of blood clots and have to take blood thinners to try minimizing the risk. Surgery went better than expected but once again, that rapidly changed.
Dwight had to be at work by 6:00 AM the following day, October 1st. I hadn’t really slept well for days and wanted coffee to keep me going and McDonalds was only a block away. I had him take me real quick before he had to work. He then dropped me back off and headed to work. Right as I got to Andrew’s door the alarms started going off. His blood pressure had gotten so low that he was in cardiac arrest and not breathing. They wouldn’t let me in the room with my baby boy. I stood outside the doors in complete shock. Dwight just left for work. I was frantic and telling them i needed to call Dad. A nurse handed me a phone. I was trying my very hardest to be calm so that he could understand me. I told him he needed to turn around right now and get to the hospital. Andrew was coding. They were applying CPR to keep his heart going.
By the time Dwight got back the doctors were reopening his chest right there in front of us. They had to put him on ECMO (life support), a machine that does the work for your heart and lungs when they’re not. Nurses kept trying to get me to sit down, I was 8 months pregnant with Nevaeh. They were worried they were not only working to keep my son alive, but also end up delivering a baby at the same time. But I couldn’t sit down. My baby boy was laying there lifeless.
After they got him on the ECMO and had him stabilized they finally let us in to be with our baby boy. The image of him lying on the bed, chest open, and connected to the machine still haunts me today. No one should ever have to see or experience their child in that condition. But he was still with us and that’s all we cared about.They kept him on ECMO the rest of the day. By the following morning they decided he was doing well enough to take him off. He proved that he was stable enough to be able to stitch his chest back up on October 3rd. He was improving but the stress was taking its toll on me.
I started spotting by that night and decided to go get checked out at UNMC. While there and being monitored, I began having contractions for the second time now. Since I was now 36 weeks, they weren’t going to try stopping it this time. Nevaeh had made up her mind that she was ready to get out of there. Nevaeh was born at 2:04 AM on October 4th.
Within a month I went from being happily at home, almost having my daughter two months early, to almost losing my son and him being on life support and having my precious baby girl the next day. She was month early, but perfectly healthy and my son is in the hospital heavily sedated because his heart isn’t strong enough to support him. I didn’t know what to do. Here I am holding my beautiful little girl and suppose to be enjoying my newborn when I have my baby boy fighting for his life.
Luckily Andrew remained stable and sedated while I was stuck in a hospital and couldn’t leave yet. We were finally able to be release on the 7th. I was so happy, it was killing me being away from Andrew. The nurses and doctors kept telling me I was crazy to have my newborn with me at the hospital, but what other choice did I truly have? I have one baby barely holding on to his life and a newborn who needs to eat every two hours.
Thankfully, chose not to listen, he wasn’t getting any better. By the 10th, Dwight and I were told we need to be prepared for the worse. Andrew wasn’t doing good at all. He had remained in a medically induced coma since the end of September and now believed his LV was slowly dying. Within five days we were back to him in surgery and fighting for life yet again.
This time he ended up with a blood clot that was stopping his valve from being able to open. After dealing with that, they replaced the pulmonary artery before it turned into a bigger problem than it was, and also had to fix a tear from them having to do CPR. Things were quiet for a couple days. They then noticed his pulmonary artery ended up leaking more just like they tried preventing. They had to go back in and repair it. My boy just spent close to two months fighting for his life and three open heart surgeries. Still, his heart couldn’t handle him being awake, Haven’t been able to hold or hear my baby’s voice in two months. All while I was suppose to be enjoying my 20 day old daughter. I couldn’t help but feel confused and guilty. Nevaeh was a good girl, normally would only cry when it was time for food. But even just that would get Andrew irritated and going. He’d start stirring or blood pressure would go up. Eventually we’d be told to leave.
A consequence of being in a coma for so long, is not moving. Andrew’s left lung had now collapsed. After trying weeks of respiratory therapy, massages, and laying on his stomach instead of his back, Dr. Spicer sat us down for a talk.
Ironically, it was also the day that Nevaeh was suppose to be due, October 27th. I’ll never forget sitting there, not wanting to believe all this was truly happening. Dr. Spicer sat with us and had the conversation, every parent dreads hearing .We had two options. That’s it. That’s where we’re were at now. Option One- have another surgery to put a trach in and hope that’d help his heart support him so that he could finally wake up. Moving around would help get that lung to open back up and he’d be able to actually breath. Option Two- not get the trach and pray for the best. He probably wouldn’t get any better. More than likely just keep slowly deteriorating in front of our eyes. He’d already been this way for going on 3 months now. No Momma. No Daddy. I really hated the idea of him having a trach and was scared to death. A friends’ daughter had one and ended poorly not that long before this at that hospital. I was terrified by the thought.
Deep down, I knew that was our only choice. I looked at my little boy laying on that bed and for the first time asked myself ‘is this what he wants?’ Would he be happy living what ever life he had in store for him? Last thing I want to watch is my son suffer all his life. We truly had no idea what kind of state he’d be in. He could have brain damage from lack of oxygen and could of suffered from undetected strokes and/or seizures. He may have lost everything he’s learned. Motor skills. Speech. Anything was possible and we had no idea. He might not even be the same boy we knew anymore. His personality could of changed.
I knew it wasn’t quitting time yet. We had to try the trach. I couldn’t give up on my baby boy. If I’m not in his corner being his cheerleader, who’s going to be? That’s my baby and I gotta do everything I can do. So, we decided to do it. On November 3rd, Andrew officially was a trach baby and was handling it well. His stats were improving and they were able to start weaning him slowly off all sedation. He was able to open his eyes for the first time in months. At 1 ½ months old, Andrew finally met his baby sister for the very first time. He absolutely loved his sissy.
Being in the coma and laying in a bed for so long caused him to lose most of his muscle strength. He was too weak to crawl or even sit on his own. Nothing some physical therapy couldn’t fix. Other than that though, he was the same little boy. No damage done. He slowly worked on regaining his strength and getting to the point of not relying on the ventilator. Finally, process was being made.
I couldn’t of been any happier. I have my beautiful daughter and now my little man back. Everything was going in the right direction. Until the night of December 19th, that night changed everything. Dwight and I were over at a friends house that night with Nevaeh, simply enjoying being away from the hospital for a little bit. Nevaeh was asleep in the living room, not too far from the front door. Dwight and I stepped outside to have a cigarette while we had a chance. We ended up in an argument which escalated into a physical fight. Never did I think we’d be in that situation. But it happened. It ended up with a couple of the neighbors witnessing everything since we were outside and them calling the police. Dwight went to jail that night. I went and got my injuries checked out at the nearest hospital.
My life and family just fell apart in a matter of minutes. I was in shock and pain. And embarrassed. Not going to lie I stayed out of sight for a while. I didn’t want to be around people with bruises, goose eggs beside each eye, and a messed up face. On top of that I had a bruised rib or two and could barely carry my daughter in her car seat. I just about lost my son more times than I was willing to admit, sat next to his bed for months while he’s in a coma, had my daughter a month early, told without a trach my son pretty much wouldn’t get any better, got one, and now their dad, the man I been with since I was 19 just beat the crap out of me and strangled me.
Any normal person would probably have a psychotic break. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that option. Instead I hid at the Rainbow House for a little while, trying to process life. Plus on top of that seemed like any time I did try going up to the hospital a doctor or Andrew’s nurse would ask us to leave because he was ‘irritable’. I ended up asking my mother to come down and stay with me at the hospital to give me a hand since it seemed like the hospital was making it impossible to do my job as a parent and Andrew was starting to get sick. I was already beyond stressed and anxiety was through the roof. Him getting sick was scaring me. After everything he just went threw those last few months, I couldn’t help being scared to death.
I stayed the night up there with him and didn’t get any sleep naturally. By the next day, I knew I needed to at least be able to get a nap in. So, my mom brought me my medicine and I layed down in one of the ‘napping rooms’. After over 24 hours without being able to sleep because of my anxiety, I finally took a nap. I woke up four hours later and was walking out of the room right as his nurse was coming to talk to me. I went back to his room. Slept a whopping four hours in over 24 hours and they still had something to say/complain about. i was irritated and angry. Next thing I know, here comes one of the social workers whom I’m familiar with but never gotten along with very well.
She accuse me of being quote “xanaxed out” because I took three so that I could actually sleep. I took 1-2 just to get my anxiety down, of course I’d need another to help me sleep. I was past angry that she’d even say something like that. I don’t remember exact words but I do remember saying if I were “xanned” out I wouldn’t of woke up on my own in four hours. If I were all messed up off of them I would of slept way longer unless someone woke me up.
After that I stormed out of the hospital. I didn’t want to be there and around them anymore. It seemed like we were in a constant battle the last couple months. I went back to the Rainbow House with my daughter still heated. I went in the kitchen to eat. I was talking to myself, just venting. Letting off some esteem. Well that ended up biting me in butt. I was just running my mouth to myself and said something on the lines of ‘i wish i could just shoot them’. I don’t remember exactly what I said, I was just letting off steam. People say things like that all the time when they’re anger. Like ‘I wish I could just hit so and so’ or ‘i just wish they were dead’ or just something dumb like that. There’s no true intent behind it. Simply venting to myself, except someone overheard me and reported it. The hospital took it as a ‘serious threat’ and banned me.
CPS took my kids and Children’s banned me from the property all in the same day, January 20th, 2016. I was actually shocked and little hurt. I felt like the people working at Children’s knew me way better than to actually take it seriously or actually feel threatened. I’ve lived there for two years. I’m around these people more than I’m around my family or friends. On top of that, I have no criminal record whatsoever. No history of violence. Have never been aggressive to these people. Never given them a reason to even consider taking that seriously.
I had just been threw just about anything and everything you could throw at a person all in a matter of a few months. Yeah, I may of been an emotional mess, but I had earned every right to be. That hospital wanted Dwight and I out of there so bad that instead of being understanding my situation and how my life had completely changed. They have no idea what it’s like to be a parent and live there veruses to work there. I had lived there for most of the past 2 1/2 years. My son was more use to a hospital room than our own home. We became the family that had been there the longest and everyone felt sorry for. On top of that, all the extra stuff that happened in the past four months.
My personal health has been affected by the amount of high stress and anxiety for such a long continuous time. Not just mentally but also physically. I now have high blood pressure and elevated heart rate simply from my anxiety. Not to mention traumatized from not only what we been through at the hospital but the man I was with for seven years just beat the crap out of me. i just had a baby. Hormones alone are good enough reason to be depressed and overwhelmed. Banning me was a complete over reaction on their part. I am not sorry for non-violently letting out my anger and frustrations to myself, or was suppose to be just to myself.
Yet again, those people knew me personally and know I have never put them in a situation that they felt threatened or in danger. I have no history of violence. It was just a low blow move to get me out of there. Only thing I’m sorry for is not being able to do what I had been doing for the past two years, being there for my son.
That right there I see as a good enough argument against the ban and getting it lifted. I didn’t actually mean it or intend on doing anything, I’ve never put the staff in an situation they felt threatened, and I have no history of it to begin with. I was venting to myself. I had been through more in those couple years than any typical person has to their whole life. Then almost had a baby two months early, son having multiple heart surgeries, having my daughter a month early, son in a coma, being told my son may not make it, and then being beat by their father all within 3 months. Of course I was angry and depressed. Any normal person would be and should be.
As unprofessional as my coping skills may have been, I feel I handled the situation well. I have no problem admitting it was a struggle to wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and not give up. It wasn’t an option though. No matter now depressed and a mess I was, my babies were taken care of. Even in the first couple visits from CPS they could see the bond and relationship me and my children had. I have depression and anxiety issues to begin with, more so anxiety. Which is a side effect of living ‘the hospital life’. I have seen not only my physician, but also a couple therapists, they all say the same thing to me. They feel bad for my family and don’t blame me for having my issues. They all agree that I have high anxiety, which is normally the cause of my depression, but I’m also a strong and intelligent woman. I’m more mature than most people older than me, let alone my age.
The lady that taught my domestic violence course from the Phoenix House was a licensed therapist and we did talk quite a bit. She’d repeatedly complimented on how mature I was, that she didn’t feel I needed that class to teach me anything I didn’t already know and understand. She always brought up that I should consider being a therapist one day.
Her and all the other doctors would say the same thing, that I don’t need therapy, but having someone I could freely talk to wouldn’t hurt with the lack of a support system, I didn’t need mental help. No matter the hell I’m personally going through, my children come first. No matter how badly I wanted to wither away in bed, I had two children that needed me. I could never show them how badly I was hurting, I have to be strong for them..They give me my strength and hope for a better future and what has kept me sane through everything. Even a mess and depressed, they were taken care of and always had what they needed.
My children have been gone since January 2016, this case is going on two years now. Wasting everyone’s time. They haven’t been able to actually show I’d be an unfit parent after two years. They would of, the case would of been over a long time ago. Best part is that’s the state’s biggest argument to get adoption started, the amount of time the kids have been out of my care, how convenient.
My children were removed from me in January and by February I already found a job and a place to live in Omaha. It took awhile before Marsha Anderson finally approved it for visits but then Nevaeh started coming there. I didn’t get to see my son until about April or May. Everything was going well until two incidents that caused me to miss their visits. Firstly, I couldn’t always hear my phone over the A/C until and the tv so I didn’t hear my visitation lady try telling me she was there. Instead of knocking, knowing my car was outside and I was home, she just left. After that she had a scheduling issues and asked to reschedule on a day I had an appointment and work to get to. I told her that it wouldn’t work and yet in the family meeting it ended up being my fault.
I also ended up having some health complications in August. I fell and broke by foot about August 8th. Which got in the way of working. Then After a family meeting on around August 16th, I had my first seizure the next day and by the 26th had another one behind the wheel causing me to be in a roll over car accident. I wasn’t hurt to badly but I just lost everything. Went from being independant to complete dependent. I ended up losing that home.
By November I moved in with my aunt in Plattsmouth. I ended up losing my social security card which took about three months to get due to post office. Even my worker went with me one of the times. Once I got that, I not only worked everyday for 3 months straight, but also was attending my visits and behavioral therapy appointments for the children.
I ended up getting my own apartment yet again by April. I still couldn’t drive due to past seizures and my aunt’s health quickly deteriorated. She had throat cancer and past within a few months of finding out. With that being said, she was the one helping me with transportation, I ended up in a rocky spot getting to my domestic classes, visits, and appointments. And my job. Ended up losing it.
If you’ve ever lived in Council Bluffs, its nearly impossible to find a job close by. Most job offers I received were for way out on 114th or beyond in Omaha, buses didn’t run that far out. After a couple months I was able to finally find a job. At first, they were giving me good hours but it was getting to the point i could barely pay my rent. On top of that, Come to find out my heaters no longer worked in the apartement and the owner didn’t want to to spend the money to fix it. I had to move yet again.
So, I decided it was time to go back home, to Sioux City. Which is where I am currently at. I was able to find a job here within about two weeks, have transportation, and working on finding a decent, affordable place. I’ve never been one of those types of people who have had a lucky, easy road in life, but i ALWAYS manage to figure it out. That’s what life is about. Getting through the obstacles. And that’s what I’ve done.
In my conclusion, if the state had any evidence of me being an unfit parent, they would of terminated my rights by now, but they haven’t. Instead, they’re just prolonging the situation and using the time against me.

Children, Uncategorized

Life Story.

This letter is near and dear to me. Honestly, writing this is the reason why I decided to start this page. I had to write my life story as an assignment in treatment towards getting close to being discharged. It’s very personal and goes over quite a bit of my life, but there’s still a lot missing out of it too. After reading this out loud to my group, I felt a little better. Actually telling my story and people listening. It made me realize something though: A room full of strangers knew more about me than any of my friends and family. They know in general what I been through, but not in detail. Only way I can really describe is like an egg. They have seen the outer shell, but this shows what’s on the inside. If that makes any sense? Enjoy…

 

Writing my life story is honestly the most difficult part of this program. I don’t even know where to start. My life story is depressing. Full of struggle and unfortunate events. I have no happy ending to give you, but here it goes.

One of my earliest memories and probably the start of my continuous train wreck life. Started as any other ordinary day. I was seven years old and still living where I was born, Council Bluffs, Iowa. My family was still a family back then. I lived with my mother, sister, two brothers, their father, and our grandma who had her own room in the basement. That August morning everyone was already up except for Grandma. So, my mom told me to go downstairs and wake her up. When i got down there, i found my grandma laying off the edge of her bed, still snoring but when I tried waking her up, she didn’t budge. I went back upstairs and told my mom. Thinking her mom was just sleeping hard, she told me to turn on her stereo on and jump on the bed to wake her up. Surely that would work.

So off I go back downstairs to her room, turn her stereo up, and start bouncing around on the bed. After a few minutes I realized she wasn’t working either. I got down, knelt down beside her. I tried shaking her. Nothing. And that’s when I heard it. At that moment something told me that my grandma isn’t going to wake up. My grandma was gone…forever. At that age I don’t think I knew what death even was, until that very second. I started crying. My best friend was gone.

After a few minutes past, I pulled myself together, regrouped myself. I kept telling myself that I was wrong. This isn’t actually happening. I got back up on my feet and headed back upstairs. Yet again told my mother that Grandma still wouldn’t wake up. This time though, she decided to go downstairs herself.

Suddenly she screams at me – “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME SHE WAS PALE?!!” Obviously, at the age of seven I had no idea what that even meant. I believe that day put the rest of my life in motion. Everything changed. My mom was definitely never the same. Can’t really blame her though. She lost her mom at 26.

Not long after that, just a few months later my younger siblings and their father just vanished one day. We had no idea where they were and couldn’t find them. Come to find out their father decided to just up and leave, taking them all the way to Pennsylvania. Pretty much kidnapped them. My sister was about 4 years old, one brother a year old, and my youngest brother only a few months old and now separated from his mother.

On my 8th birthday, I spent the whole day with my dad. I wasn’t going to be able to see him for a good while. My mom needed to be with her babies. ALL of her babies. Which meant we had to follow them out to the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania. Leaving everyone we knew and loved thousands of miles away.

We lived out there for about two years. I loved it there. Its beautiful. Clean, fresh air. Nothing but woods. We lived in a very small town of 430 people. Where everyone knows you and nosy as fuck.

As much I loved it there, reality was it actually sucked living out there. My siblings father was mean and controlling, at least to Mom and I. They were always fighting and I have a bad habit of getting in the middle of it. I wanted to help my mom. One time it about got me shoved down the stairs.

I remember one day I was playing outside, minding my own business when their dad came over to me. He had something he wanted to ask me. He asked me if I would like it if he adopted me. Even at the age of nine I had some of my signature attitude and told him no while laughing. He’s an asshole. Hell no I didn’t want him as my dad. I hated him. Afterwards, I went and found my mother and told her what just happened.  Even to this day I start laughing just thinking about it.

Even my siblings grandparents and family treated me like dirt. I wasn’t one of them so I wasn’t family. They all favored my siblings. For example, for Christmas they all got homemade matching pillow and blankets. Did little, innocent nine year old me get on? Of course not..

Eventually, my life took another drastic turn. This time for the better. After putting up with the bullshit and abuse for two years, my mom finally came up with a plan of her own. Before school one morning she shared her secret with me. Today was going to be the last day at that school and last day I would see my friends. But I couldn’t say anything or act like anything was going on. We could not risk their dad getting wind of the plan. I wanted out of there almost as badly as she did, I promised to not tell a soul.

Later that day, my dad, his friend, and my great aunt came and got all of us and whatever my mom could pack up quickly. Two years later we were on the road, finally heading back home. Leaving that douche in our dust

KARMA’S A BITCH

We actually ended up in Plattsmouth, NE. At first living with my great aunt then getting our own home with my dad now living with us. I couldn’t of been any happier. Life was finally good for once.

I ended up losing both my grandma and my grandpa on my dad’s side when I was about 11. My grandma had a heart attack, leaving my grandpa alone in this world for the first time in ages. He didn’t know what to do and was miserable. A few months after Grandma past, he followed from a broken heart. They lived in a trailer which we ended up taking over. We were finally back where we started at, good ol’ Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Shortly after moving, my parents decided to call it quits and end their relationship. They were tired of fighting and were unhappy. Since I was older now, I got to choose who I wanted to live with. My mom or my dad. Really, it wasn’t even a question. My mom and I  had a rocky relationship and also fought all the time. I was always Daddy’s Little Girl and spoiled rotten. Obviously, I chose to stay with my dad.

My dad and I were always super close. All that suddenly changed once he started dating his now wife, I didn’t like her. Thought she was a bitch and were constantly budding heads. It only got worse when we moved in with her. After only dating for a short time, under a year, they decided they wanted to get married. Not only was my dad getting married to some chick he just met, but they decided they wanted to get married in Las Vegas with just a handful of family and friends. Adding fuel to my already lit fire, I wasn’t allowed to go. I wasn’t allowed to go to my own father;s wedding.Yeah, I hated her even more.

Things just kept going down hill. When I turned 13, my dad sat me down, he needed to talk to me. That was the night I was told the man who raised me and loved me wasn’t actually my biological father. We went through the whole “This doesn’t change anything…I still love you. I’m still your dad….” talk. Either way, I was upset. Honestly, I’m not sure if I was more mad that they kept this secret from me all my life and lied to me or that I wished he never told me at all. I didn’t care. The only thing that changed was my heart was now shattered. Didn’t change anything else. I didn’t care who my biological dad was. He was a stranger. A nobody to me.

I was a young girl in middle school trying to figure out who I was and now had all this new information hanging over my head. To make matters even worse, they made me switch schools, yet again. The new school was horrible. It was elementary school, middle school, and high school all crammed together in a small, hot, old ass school. I don’t remember really making any new friends. Didn’t get close to anybody. I would just hang out with my friends from my old school. Specially my best friend Amber. Boy we were an interesting mix. Here I was just you typical girl, wore whatever the popular trends was at the time, and listened to the mainstream pop music on the radio. Then you had Amber. Goth. Wore nothing but black and parachute pants with the chains, and her crazy, intense, screaming hard rock and metal. It was all completely new to me. Put aside our obvious differences, he quickly became best friends. Even today, I don’t think I’ve ever had that same connection with anyone else. I swear we could read each other’s minds.

Over time, our friendship grew stronger and stronger until one day I realized it grew to something deeper than that. I had fallen in love with my best friend and I didnt know what to do. I didn’t want to tell her and her not feel the same way and get all uncomfortable and weird around me. I didn’t want to lose my best friend.

I eventually gathered up all the courage I had and finally told her how I felt. Not only did I not lose my best friend but that ended up being my first love. We were still pretty young, barely teenagers so of course we never actually did anything other than kiss and cuddle. Which when I look back at it now, just makes it that much more special. That was the most innocent, pure love anyone is lucky to experience.

The fairy tale was short lived though. On Christmas Eve I convinced my dad to let me go stay the night at her house. We were cuddled up on the living room floor watching Lord of the Rings when the house phone went off. It was my dad. I was to get all my stuff ready because he was on his way to come pick me up. I was mad. He said I could stay the night and now I was reluctantly gathering up my stuff.

That ended up being the longest, most angry, hateful, and uncomfortable car ride of my life. I got in the car with him and his wife. After a little bit i realized we weren’t heading in the direction of our house. Confused, I asked where we were going. That’s when my dad informed me that they made a decision and that I’m going to go live with my mom now up in Sioux City. What the hell? Why? What was going on? I was even more lost and asked why. Come to find out, while I was over at Amber’s, my dad found my journal so of course he just had to read it. And well of course he didn’t like what he read. A lot of it was about how much I hated his wife. But you need to understand anytime she pissed me off, instead of running my mouth and getting into trouble I would go write in my journal and let off some steam. So, I’m sure there were parts that crossed the line and didn’t appreciate me calling her nothing but a bitch. With all that said, I don’t think that was what they had the hardest time processing or accepting. Not at all. The thing that caused the pot to boil over was that my dad learned I was dating my best friend. A girl. A girl who I was just cuddling with at her house just moments ago. So they did the only thing they knew would stop us from having ANY contact – kicking me out and forcing me to live with my mother 100 miles away. Merry fucking Christmas right? But we didnt let the distance between us stop our relationship. We would send each other letters at first, then once chatting online started becoming a thing we communicated that way. We ended up dating for over a year before we decided to go our separate ways. Over 13 years later we still catch up every once in awhile.

So, that’s how I ended up in this damn town. Needless to say, my relationship with my dad was never the same. A few years ago, when I was living with my son at the Children’s Hospital, I did attempt to repair it, but it just wasn’t the same. He’s still married to her and has four kids now. Three adopted and one actually his.He has everything he ever wanted now, his perfect little family.and there’s no room for me in that family picture. I’m the troubled child now, the embarrassment.

After only living up here for a little over a year, home life went from bad to worse. I was now living with my mom, my brothers, my mom’s boyfriend, and his son who was the same age as me. I always did good in school. When I wasn’t in school, I avoided being at home as much as I possibly could. Spent most of my time at the skate park. Alone. Didn’t bother me none though, was better than being home. There was always fighting going on. Either me and my mom, me and her boyfriend, her and her boyfriend, her and his son, or him and his son. It was always someone. I remember spending nights up at the top of the stairs, by where us kids’ rooms were, with my step brother. Just listening to my mom and his dad fighting, screaming, yelling, hitting, shit being thrown and breaking. I was just thankful it never woke my little brothers up and having to hear it. Or at least that’s what I choose to believe.

It was complete chaos. My mom’s boyfriend would even go to the extent of hiding or disconnecting the house phone so that my mom couldn’t use it. Which in return would end up pissing me off because that also meant I couldn’t use the phone. The cops were starting to become familiar of them. Same shit, different day. Well, until one day their dumbasses fucked themselves and the rest of us. Like idiots, they called the cops on each other. Not going to go through the details but they both ended up in jail that day and a good family friend came and got my brothers and I. We ended up in Carroll, Iowa at the family friends house since my mom wasn’t sure when she’d be getting out,

Well we never ended up being able to go back home. Instead CPS got called and forced us to go to the Crittenton Center. That place is fucking horrible! If it weren’t for my little brothers also being stuck there, I would of ran away.

After eight days, we got lucky. Really lucky. A married couple was willing to take all three of us. Not only did they keep my brothers and I together, they also gave us a good home. You always hear horror stories about really bad foster homes and parents. I’ll admit, I didn’t act really grateful at the time. I was angry, disappointed, and depressed. We just got taken from our mom and also learned she had a problem. She’s a meth addict. My little brothers were able to leave the foster home before I did. They ended up back in Pennsylvania, at their dads.I had the option of going back to my dad’s but i refused. I would rather live with a foster family than with a parent who disowned me for being bisexual and still dating her.

I eventually ended up back with my mom around like 15 or so. Got my first job the day I turned 16, had a car, paid my own gas and car insurance, bought myself my first prepaid cell phone. I paid for everything, my parents didn’t just give me shit. I was still doing decent in school. I actually ended up graduating a year early and became a manager at my job once I turned 18 and had my own apartment.

Shortly after getting out of school, I ended up pregnant with my oldest, Brayden at the age of 19. I left his dad and kicked him out while I was still pregnant. He would always be on his phone, not even say ‘hey baby! How was your day’ when i would come home from a long day at work, huge and pregnant, ankles and feet swollen. He was too distracted by his phone and to top it all off, wouldn’t do a damn thing to help around the house. I could barely move because of how swollen I was. So, I got rid of the dead weight.

Even after I had our son, we’d hardly ever see him. Instead of the father calling to see his own son, it was Grandma always asking for him. His own mother saw his child more than he did. My then boyfriend, Greg, and father of my next two children, was more of a father to my son than he was.

Brayden ended up having Chiari Malformation and had to have surgery to treat it. I ended up losing my job because of being with him at Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls. On top of that, his babysitter now refused to watch him because she was too worried and scared something would happen. My boyfriend had a job but his income alone couldn’t cover our bills, so we ended up not being able to pay our rent and losing our home. I had no idea what to do. Didn’t know where we were going to go. So, I made one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make, the RESPONSIBLE decision. I called my son’s father and told him what was going on and if he could take our son temporarily. Biggest mistake I ever made. He would just toy with me and never let me see my baby. The two or three times he did let me see him was only because I’d play along to his fantasy of us ever getting back together, being a family, and he wanted us to have another baby together. Once I put my foot down and refused to feed into his delusion, I never saw my son again. Every time I asked, he just played mind games. I even tried just showing up at their house one time. It was his birthday and i just wanted to see my baby and give him the presents I bought him. But his dad figured out what I was up to and was able to leave the house, with our son and go hide out at his buddy;s house. He knew I didn’t know where the person lived and wouldn’t be able to find them. Using a child just to hurt the mom because she refuses to be with you. It’s fucking sickening. I even begged him to bring him down to Omaha to meet his baby brother who was in critical condition and came close to losing him. To no surprise, he refused. Even to this day, Brayden has never been able to meet his siblings. His family. Unfortunately the law doesn’t do anything to stop these types of situations. Since he is the father he could do whatever he wants. No way in hell did I have enough money to get a lawyer. So, he pretty much just kidnapped my son. He actually just had a birthday. Turned 9 years old on September 14th. His dad ended up coming up with the money for a lawyer and got custody since has had him over the years. My son doesn’t even know who I am.

After all that I was smoking weed all the time. Drinking and popping pills here and there. Anything to help bury the pain. I was never the partying type. Never even smoked weed until after graduating. Never touched a pill until I had my wisdom teeth removed.

Fast forward to 2013, Greg and I had our son Andrew. It was one of the best days of my life,quickly followed by the worse. The celebration of my handsome little man was short lived. The day after having him, the nurses were doing their regular newborn tests before we can go home. He ended up not passing on the tests. He had a heart murmur. Greg and I had no idea what that could even possibly mean. The nurses kept trying to reassure us saying that it’s probably nothing. Some babies are just born with a murmur.

Lord how terribly wrong they were.

The next few years were the hardest, most challenging, and darkest time of my life. My son was born with congenital heart disease, more specifically he had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Basically, he was born with his left ventricle too small and non functioning. He also had valves that leaked. He had his first open heart surgery at 8 days old down at the Children’s Hospital in Omaha. The surgery itself went well, but he had some complications afterwards. He had to be placed on a pacemaker because his heart went into complete heart block ( his heart stopped beating on its own ). After about three weeks he slowly started getting his rhythm back and was able to get rid of the feeding tube and start eating from a bottle.

After about 45 days, I was finally able to bring my newborn home. As exciting as it was, it was equally as stressful. He was nowhere near out of the woods, never will be. He would need a minimum of 4-6 open heart surgeries, not including any emergencies or anything.

Andrew did really well that first but eventually it was time for his second surgery. This time we were there for a few months and ended up doing two surgeries. After that things started not going as well. After the most recent surgery, he wasn’t able to keep anything down. Not food. Not formula. Nothing. No one could figure out what had happen, he was perfectly fine before the surgery. Without any improvement on his vomiting, they just sent him home with a feeding tube down his nose and throat. It just made it worse by irritating the back of his throat and causing to gag even more. His vomiting had gotten worse so I got him an appointment Monday. But by the weekend he had taken a turn for the worse. On top on not being able to keep anything down, he was now fussy and not feeling good, then started getting lethargic on me ( pretty much non responsive/almost unconscious ). We went to the ER and Children’s was once again. By the time they got there, his body was going into shock. He had to be put on a breathing tube before being able to begin the trip to Omaha.

After getting some tests done, they found out he had caught the rhino virus, which is just a common cold to you and me. But for him, it ended up almost taking his life. I was told if I wouldn’t of taken him to the ER when I did and waited until Monday or even the next day, that he probably would not of made it. It ended up causing damage to his heart and needing more surgeries. After months of me complaining about his vomiting, they finally put in a more permanent feeding tube through his stomach called a ‘G Button’. It finally helped and he actually still has it to this day.

We were at the hospital a good six months, went home for almost two months when he went completely blue on me. I was pregnant with my daughter, Nevaeh at the time and she thought she needed to try coming 2 months early. Had to stay at the hospital for two days to stop me from going into preterm labor. Within an hour of me getting discharged, i was rushing my son into the ER. His blood sugar had gotten dangerously low. Back to Children’s we went.

This time was worse than any of our previous stays. Within 3 weeks he had 3 more heart surgeries. I had his heart give out on me not just once, but twice. Was even shoved out of the way by a nurse we he suddenly started to code and needed CPR. Yet, it only kept getting worse.After the second surgery, it was already after 5:00 AM, and in need of a coffee. Greg was starting a new job there in Omaha by 6:00. We were trying to move there officially to be closer to the hospital. I had Greg take me to the McDonald’s two blocks from the hospital to get my coffee before he had to head off to his first day at work. I was only gone maybe ten minutes, got dropped off at the hospital, and made my way to our floor. Right as I was approaching our room, I saw everyone running into his room, quickly followed his alarms going off. His blood pressure was so low that it wasn’t actually circulating. I had to call his dad to turn the hell around and rush back to the hospital, We had no idea to know if he was going to be okay or not. Which consequently cost him his job. His surgeon had to do an emergency surgery right there in the room with us watching right outside the doors.He had to be placed on ECMO ( a form of life support that controls your heart and lungs when someone’s body isn’t doing it on its own ) and his chest remained open, you could see everything in his chest. Later that day they were able to get off the ECMO and placed back on just a normal breathing tube.

The next few months were hell. I ended up having Nevaeh by 1:00 AM that night due to the stress. She was a month early, but perfectly healthy. As for Andrew, he had to be placed in a medically induced coma because his body couldn’t handle being awake and had one of his lungs collapse. Once again here i was with my new baby, my beautiful daughter, and being robbed the enjoyment and celebration of finally meeting her while my son was in the hospital and pretty much a vegetable at this point.

Over a month had past and Andrew hadn’t made any progress. We have had a lot of close calls and dodged a lot of bullets in the past but we never had to have “The Talk” until now. One of his doctors sat down with us to discuss our options at this point. We only had two options, really only one real option. It came down to either we continue what we been doing, Hoping and praying for him to start making progress. He had already been like this for almost two months. The likelihood of him ever bouncing back and get better was about slim to none. And there’s no way I’d allow my child to lay in a hospital bed as a vegetable for the rest of his life. That’s just cruel and selfish. Option number two was to have another surgery but this one to put a trach in. That was his only chance at maybe getting any better. There was no way he’d be able to inflate his lung when laying on a bed 24/7 and not up moving around. As much as a trach scared me, that was the decision. Our last, single, sliver of hope we had left.

Andrew was finally able to meet his new baby sister when she was almost two months old. H had to relearn everything, he couldn’t even sit up on his own. He lost all of his muscles. We had a long road of recovery ahead of us, but at the moment, I was just thankful to see his big, beautiful brown eyes once again. I was so happy to have my little man back.

Yet again, at slightest glimmer of hope, it was quickly squashed. A little over a month later, December 16th, 2015 to be exact is the day my boyfriend of the past 7 years and father of two of my children laid his hands on me. We were over at my best friend’s house that night. We were outside when  we got into an argument. That argument quickly turned into a full on brawl. I had never been hit so hard in my life. He was hitting me like a man. Of course I didn’t just stand there and take it, I fought back. I probably wouldn’t ne here today, especially with him strangling me. It was an apartment complex so multiple neighbors saw everything and called the cops. He went to jail and I went to the hospital.

My whole world had suddenly crumbled all around me. Here I was with a 2 ½ month old baby, my son in the hospital fighting for his life and now me trying to protect mine from their father, my best friend. Even today he denies everything, claims he doesn’t remember any of it. Pretty convenient. I don’t get how you can deny it when you have seen the photos the hospital had taken and all the eye witness accounts. Naturally, I wasn’t in a good place in my life after those last few months, hell I hadn’t been since Andrew was born.

Before I had my daughter I would go to a park near the hospital with another couple we met at the hospital and had grown close to. We’d go back in the woods where we built a decent little for where we’d go have our daily “therapy sessions”. We’d get high, smoke some weed and usually have a few beers after spending all day at the hospital with our sick babies. Afterwards, we’d go back to where the parents like us stayed at and went to bed just to wake up and relive our nightmare of a life.

I was usually high all day, every day just to stay sane. Occasionally drink and maybe take some pills. My friends, the couple from the hospital were one of the families that had been there the longest and everybody knew. Unfortunately, their story didn’t end happily. Their daughter ended up passing and they went back home. After awhile I realized we were now that family. We had been there for a good portion of the past 2 ½ years, this year alone we were there 11 out of 12 months. I was now that parent everyone felt bad for and whose kid has had the most heart surgeries. I absolutely hated it. I’m not a people person and was surrounded by hundreds of people every day. I hated all the attention. Always felt like all the eyes were on me.

After the beating, it probably took a good week or two before I showed my face back up there. It was embarrassing and I was beyond depressed on top of it. I didn’t want to be around all those people! Specially now. I just wanted to be left alone. As much of a train wreck I was, my kids still needed me. I might not of been taking the best care of myself at the time, but my kids were taking care of. Even after everything that had just happened, I still made sure they had a Christmas. Even if we were spending it in the hospital.

January came. Andrew was making great progress, but ended up getting sick. Which after everything, automatically got my brain on panic mode.I was trying to be a parent for the both of them, but it was starting to get a little challenging. Nevaeh was a good baby, usually only cried or fussed if she was ready for a bottle or getting her butt changed, but even that would affect Andrew’s sats. For example it seemed to agitate him whenever she’d start getting nosy causing his blood pressure to rise. I had his nurses ‘politely’ ask me to leave so he wouldn’t stress out. The hospital was starting to make it nearly impossible to be there for both my kids.

Since Andrew was sick, I really didn’t want to leave him alone. If I had learned anything from all of this it was how quickly things can go from good to horrible. I called my mom and asked her if she could come down to Omaha to give me a hand. Once my mom got there, I left Nevaeh with her in my room and I headed back up to Andrew. Stress, anxiety, and worry had me up all night. I can’t sleep when my mind is just racing.I had forgotten my meds back in my room. It was already in the afternoon and had now been up over 24 hours. I asked my mom to bring me three of my xanax. My body was used to my meds by now and my doctor knew if I had to use them to help me sleep, I had to take more than just the one. When she came I told her to just put then on the counter, I was busy doing something else at the moment. I then went to one of the sleeping rooms, took my meds, and finally got some overdue sleep.

I woke up about THREE hours later ON MY OWN. As I was on my way back to my son’s room, his nurse met and and stated she was just about to check on me. Which I didn’t understand why. I had been up for over 24 hours, have a newborn baby, and then add all the depression and stress from the last few months. Sleep was well needed and beyond over due at that point. Then the social worker walked up to me. I don’t remember the full conversation but it ended with me pissed off and her accusing me of being “xannied out”. I told her she must not know what the hell that even is because I was nowhere near being fucked up. If I would of over done my meds, my ass would of been knocked out and sleeping. But no. I woke up in an appropriate time frame and was ready to go on with the day. But instead it ended up going to shit and the hospital yet again harassing me/my family. At that point I was angry and had to get out of there.

And that right there is how I ended up losing my kids. The hospital and I hadn’t been getting along for awhile now, harassing us, or simply crossing the line by sticking their nose in my business. Like how we had one of Andrew’s DOCTORS come and talk to Greg and I about our relationship and how we should really try working out our differences and just be together. Pretty sure you sir are MY SON’S DOCTOR, not MY THERAPIST. That was completely out of line and not their place to tell me what I should do with our relationship. Hope he felt like a real dumbass when I walked into the hospital with bruises everywhere, two goose eggs on my damn head, and a busted lip. The hospital called CPS on me and took my babies January 20th, 2016. I was now accused of abusing prescription drugs, being homeless, and not providing a safe living environment for my children because of the domestic.

Fast forward to the past year or so. I spent the last 2 ½ years fighting for my kids back. Which just recently ended with me reluctantly signing over my rights voluntarily. In that 2 ½ years I had 5 or 6 different case workers so really none of them truly new my case or the history. My case isn’t going anywhere. All my court orders had been done and every time I tried asking what could I do to show more progress, I’d just get the same answer every time – “Just continue what you’re doing.” Which was simply keep a roof over my head and continuing to work. Which I did but it didn’t do anything to help.

In the summer of 2017, I ended up making a teenage mistake, Here I was 27 and ended up accidentally knocked up. I was with both my kids’ fathers YEARS before ever having children. I was embarrassed to say the least. I was hanging out with people who were no good for me. They ended up being completely different from who I thought they were. It just kept getting worse and worse, They were also starting to use a lot of meth. I watched as it slow started taking over their lives and ruining it. That wasn’t my thing and ended up just walking away one day and never looked back. Found out I was pregnant after I had already separated myself from the path they were heading.

About a month later is when things between me and my now boyfriend started flaring up. I’ve known since high school but never saw him like that. It was only recently, after spending more and more time with him that I started to develop feelings for him. He knew about my situation and never once judged me for it. Instead he embraced it and we starting dating in September.

At that point in my life, I wasn’t really doing anything. I wasn’t drinking of course was barely even smoking any weed. Maybe once or twice a month, if even that. I wasn’t really hanging out with anyone other than Tony. Really, I mostly just worked and slept.

It only took about a month before the distance between me and Tony really starting eating at me. About the same time I learned my heaters didn’t work and the landlord didn’t want to spend the money to fix them. So either way, I had to move. DHS would never let the kids live there with no heat. So I ended up doing what I swore I would never do – moved back to this damn town. Within a couple months I already had a job and was working and also travelling to Omaha 3 days a week to see the kids.

Months flew by and before I knew it Jax decided he was ready to meet his momma. He was born 3 weeks early on St. Patrick’s Day. Since my other children weren’t in my care, DHS ended up paying me a visit to make sure he had everything he needed and was taken care of. Lady had no concerns and was even going to put a good word in to my worker in Nebraska. A few weeks later another worker came knocking on my door. This one not as friendly. My drug test and his UA came back negative, but his umbilical cord tested positive for tramadol. I admitted to taking some for the pain I was in. I use to be prescribed it up until my pregnancy. And well that opened a whole new can of worms.

She made me do a hair stat and drug evaluation. I got the hair stat completed and mentioned to my Family Support Worker why would I do a drug evaluation if my hair stat came back negative? Just seemed dumb to me, but I still had one scheduled for April 16th. Before I ever even had the chance to get it done, the worker was at my door once again. This time she took Jax with her. Simply because of the statement I made. She didn’t even have the results from the hair stat back yet. But said I wasn’t “complying” with what she said I had to do.

The next day, I was lucky and able to get in somewhere else to get my drug evaluation done. After completing it I was told they didn’t think I needed treatment, but recommended mental health. I had to go to therapy. Once my worker found out, she was pissed. She called the person who did my evaluation to try changing their mind. The lady called me and told me what had happened and asked about the xanax incident at the hospital. My worker had told her about it to try persuading her. I told her what had happened and she said she still didn’t believe I needed treatment, but since my worker had called questioning her decision, she had to talk to her supervisor about it. Well the supervisor ended but siding with my worker and I was forced into treatment even after passing my drug eval.

I was hardly smoking weed as it is so doing treatment and random UA’s really wasn’t that big of a deal. More of a nuisance really. Time consuming. I have learned though, that it’s more tempting to do something when told not to. My hair stat did come back testing positive for weed. Which I was actually shocked. But the levels were very low, just enough to count as positive though. So, hair stat showed weed, but my son’s umbilical cord didn’t. Both go back three months. Weird, but okay then.

Fast forward to today, my youngest is now six months old, I voluntarily signed over my rights for my other two children, have never had any positive UAs, still fighting for my youngest to come home, hopefully here in December.

My biggest obstacle right now is my caseworker. She firmly believes I have a drug problem that I’m now “owning up to” and has actually told me I’m full of shit and not taking any of this seriously. And if I don’t make any changes, I won’t be getting my son back. Firstly, you took my child, so yeah I take this pretty damn seriously, and secondly, I don’t know how I can prove myself anymore than what I’m already doing. By going to treatment, going to groups, going to therapy, and never having a dirty UA which I take full pride in. Doing all this extra stuff on top of everyday living and working. She’s the only person who has these beliefs. My substance abuse counselor and mental health counselor both don’t truly believe I need to be in treatment. Which I’m actually going to be discharged here soon against her wishes.

Come December, it’ll be my job to show the judge that no one shares her opinion of me. Everyone else’s reports are nothing but positive. I refuse to lose my son just because of my workers personal dislike of me.

I have been with my current boyfriend for over a year now. Best decision I’ve ever made. He’s what a real man should be. Responsible, manners, hard working, not out here running the streets like all these guys, and girls, do these days. We’re happy and actually expecting one of our own in April. Ironically, the same due date as my youngest.

I plan on just to keep heading in the same direction I been going. This past year I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in a long time, minus DHS. Just trying to take it one day at a time. My son has been out of the hospital since April 2016 and been doing great. My daughter is happy and healthy and a split image of me. As for my youngest, we just recently found out he was born missing four ribs and has pretty bad scoliosis. He doesn’t have to have surgery or anything. Just keeping a close eye on him as he grows. Was told to treat him just like any other baby. No different.

We found this out after finding out I was pregnant again. If I would of known he had these issues, I would of thought twice about having another baby. But everything  happens for a reason. Just got to see what the future holds for us.