When Victim Witness and the Prosecutor’s office asked me to consider speaking today, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I was angry, I was scared, I was sad, and I was hopeful. I was angry because selfishly, I still cannot fathom that all of this has happened. I was scared because the responsibility I feel in this delivery, this speech, these words, weighs heavy on me.
How is it fair to ask the mother of a now 15-month-old to speak on her child’s behalf in front of a judge, our ex-nanny Rachel and her family, and accurately share what would be my daughter Ebbe’s emotions, Ebbe’s feelings? How can I be Ebbe’s advocate? How will I explain all of this when she’s old enough to ask questions? How will I look Ebbe in the eyes and tell her I did everything I could to fight for her and protect her when I wasn’t able to protect her when she was 3 months old?
I was sad that this is my family’s reality, that I will have to relive this all again when Ebbe is old enough to ask questions. I was sad that my oldest daughter, Olive, will know what a forensic interview is for the rest of her life. I was sad that Olive was put in a position to get someone she loved very much in trouble, because at 4 and half years old, the woman who was tasked with caring for her chose to lie, chose to put her own well-being in front of Olive’s 3-month-old sister’s and chose to make Olive speak up for Ebbe, when Rachel wouldn’t.
But I was also hopeful. I was hopeful this may give me the closure my family needs. I was hopeful there would me no more tears at the mailbox, no more letters waiting with Ebbe referenced as the victim, no more calls from Victim Witness or the Prosecutor’s office. I was hopeful that Rachel would also be able to move on with her life with her daughter.
So where does one start with this type of statement? Do I relive what it felt like to ask Rachel on three separate occasions if she knew what had happened to my sweet baby girl? Do I walk you through what it felt like to plead with your pediatrician’s office that, although your daughter is not crying or vomiting, you know something is wrong and you don’t want to wait through the weekend? Maybe I should share the frantic text to my mom when I finally understood that my 3-month-old had a skull fracture, that the Department of Child Safety had been called, that I was no longer trusted to be alone with my children without supervision and that I didn’t know what any of this meant?
Maybe I should ask Rachel to imagine crying in the hallway of the pediatric wing of the hospital as they X-ray your child to see if there is a history of abuse, to see if she has broken bones anywhere else on her tiny body from previous accidents. How do you explain to your other daughters why the Department of Child Safety wants to see them and ask them questions about their mom and dad?
I can tell you that I read Rachel’s character letters and two things stood out to me. Two things felt like a bigger slap in the face than having the woman I trusted with three of the four most important people in my life chose to withhold care from an infant for fear she may get in trouble for an accident. That should be stated, what I can’t wrap my head around is I know without a doubt this all started as an accident.
What hurt about those character letters is I know Rachel is a kind and caring person. I have no doubt Rachel is a wonderful mom. Rachel cared for my oldest two daughters for a year before we asked her to nanny for our family. Why would I leave my little girls with someone who wasn’t kind or caring? Why is that even a question?
The second statement I think came from Rachel’s mom as she shared what a great mom Rachel is and how Rachel would never leave her daughter with anyone else because she can’t imagine it. Rachel’s mom is right, choosing to leave our girls with Rachel was one of the easiest and toughest decisions of my life. Easy because we knew Rachel was kind and caring. Tough because they are my girls, I am their mom. I want to be the one to celebrate all of their successes and lay with them as they drift off to sleep. I want to be the one to pick them up when they fall and kiss their boo-boo’s, and hold their hand if they need to see a doctor. Tough because I trusted Rachel to be there for them in good and bad. I trusted Rachel to pick them up when they fell, and kiss their boo-boo’s, and hold their little hand if they needed to see a doctor when I wasn’t there and it didn’t happen. I felt sucker-punched when I read that sentence. I couldn’t help but wonder if Rachel felt that way now because she knows there’s a chance that her daughter may not be put first if she were left with someone else.
I will share that Ebbe is healthy and happy. She is walking and laughing. She is babbling and waving. She is smiling and she is perfect. I have learned just how blessed I am to have three happy and healthy girls. I am thankful to Rachel because our family was forced to reevaluate our life. My husband and I are the ones there to kiss boo-boo’s and hold hands. We are there to celebrate successes and lay with them as they drift off to sleep. We both took pay cuts and now work part time. Life may be harder now, but we take nothing for granted.
Through this entire process, I wanted two things: I wanted Rachel to understand the responsibility of caring for other people’s children. To understand what it means to make day-to-day decisions on behalf of parents who have trusted her to care for their kids. To get a glimpse into the impact she has had on my girl’s for the rest of their life. I hope Rachel never has to have the conversations with her daughter we have had with ours. I hope she never sees the heartbreak I saw in Olive’s eyes when I explained she couldn’t see Rachel anymore because Rachel chose not to tell the truth. I hope she never has to hold her daughter as she sobs trying to understand topics a four-and-a-half-year-old should not have to try to understand.
The second thing I wanted to accomplish was to try to protect other parents from going through this.
In all honesty, I don’t know if either has been achieved, but I do know I can look Ebbe in the eyes and tell her I did my best to speak on her behalf. I did my best to make someone we trusted to care for her understand how deeply she has hurt our family, but also that we will get through this together. That Ebbe know we will be there for her everyday to make sure whatever long term repercussions the skull fracture has, we will be there to help her.