Update :Today, according to Jeremy Sennauser, his son Mason has been released from the Alfred I DuPont Hospital and transferred to ” the Ronald McDonald house for 8 weeks. He’ll be home on the weekends. During those 8 weeks he will be going through therapy Monday through Friday. At the end of those 8 weeks he will be home full time.”For the Sennhauser family the news is indeed a blessing and the recovery of Mason incredible.
Mason Sennhauser endured another surgery to help in the healing of being the victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome or Abusive Head Trauma. Mason suffered from the injury on March 2, 2015, when in the care of his mother, who is separated from Mason’s father, Jeremy Sennhauser, Mason was rushed to the hospital from what was described as a seizure. Jeremy describes that when he first saw his son he knew it wasn’t an ordinary seizure. Mason was covered in bruises all over his body. The anguish Jeremy felt cannot be described. Mason had to have brain surgery immediately to remove the pressure that had been building up. Mason survived that surgery and has been making progress on a regular basis while still in the hospital. Today’s surgery was to place a G.I tube to assist in Mason’s feeding and nutrition. Mason still faces therapy and a continued stay at the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital in Wilmington. Jeremy and his family are so grateful for the progress Mason has made. They know it could have been much worse. Police have investigated how Mason sustained his injuries but there haven’t been any arrests.
On November 13th 2007, Pam’s life was to change forever. Pam was the grandmother to twins, a boy and a girl who at the time were only 4 months old. Pam is also the grandmother to the twin’s older brother who was 19 months old at the time. On that night in 2007, Pam’s daughter, the mother of the children left them with Ronald Hicks the twin’s father. It was then that Pam received a phone call that her beloved grandchildren were in the hospital Hicks told emergency workers then the hospital that Pam’s granddaughter had just stopped breathing and her grandson had something wrong with him too. Pam found out soon enough that Hicks admitted to violently shaking her granddaughter and had thrown her grandson against a wall. Her grandson had a small brain bleed but her granddaughter suffered the worst damage. Pam describes the first night, “we were told not to expect much cause the brain swelling , bleeding in her head , torn retina, and seizures were extreme she probably wouldn’t make it through the night.” Well her grandchildren did make it. The extent of their injuries though have been catastrophic. Pam describes her injuries as such, “As for the little girl she is seeing not sure how well but she is not blind. She has been off seizure meds for 4 years now. Walking, running and talking a few words which is comprehendible and sad at the same time. She still has a lot of disabilities but she is alive and is still fighting. “Pam’s grandson has his own challenges too. He has learning disabilities and his development has been slow. Hicks did confess to the crime but the outcome isn’t what you would expect. He was sentenced to 4 ½ years to 16. He only served 4 years even though the children have lifelong injuries.
On Boston Children’s Hospital’s website an unnamed mother tells her story of how Shaken Baby Syndrome affected her family. The woman we will call Margaret had left her youngest daughter at home with her husband while she ran errand on a Sunday. Over the course of next few days, Margaret noticed her daughter was unusually fussy. The baby was vomiting her formula, very restless and by Wednesday she had a black stool in her diaper. Margaret called her husband to tell him she was taking their daughter to the doctor. It was then he admitted the worst thing imaginable. When their baby wouldn’t stop crying Sunday, he shook her. He was crying telling his wife how sorry he was but at that moment that didn’t matter. Sorry, but he kept the information to himself. Margaret rushes to the doctor who sends the child to the hospital for the ICU. Margaret’s husband was charged and was not allowed back to live with the family while the judicial system moved forward. The little girl endured a brain bleed and had many types of therapy. Today Margaret reveals her daughter has residual effects from the shaking, she has to wear glasses due to the damage to her optic nerves. That was 3 years ago. Today her daughter is thriving but still receiving early intervention for any delayed skills. Margaret also tells of how her husband is once again a part of the family as they have reunited. He was prosecuted but only received probation.
There has been talk that some cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome have been misdiagnosed and that there may be innocent people behind bars. There are those that say too many of the abusers only receive slaps on the wrists. As it is now, many perpetrators end up pleaded down so that they do not have a child abuse criminal record. They plead guilty to assault not child endangerment. The criminal justice system isn’t always fair, like the crime itself. The question becomes then, should the punishment match the crime? If the child is faced with a lifetime of injuries should the punishment be more than a mere four years?
The one thing that can be agreed on is that more it doesn’t matter your race, class, employment status or age, there is unimaginable consequences for your actions when you shake a child. Having a baby isn’t all giggles and fun. There are days that that beautiful creature you created will break you down but before you get to that point, before you do the unthinkable, ask for help. Lay the baby down in their crib and breathe deep breaths. Gently rock your baby, play soft music, sing, or hum to your baby. Take the baby out for a walk in their stroller. The CDC explains that no matter what, Don’t Shake a Baby, Ever.