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Subject: Infant overnight stay
QUESTION: Unfortunately I’m going through a divorce right now and I’m having some difficulty with visitation of my 8 month old baby girl. I’m not sure whether you can help me with this or not, but if you could your help would be particularly beneficial in my case. I will tell you a little about my situation and see what you think please.
When I first found out I was pregnant I was scared to death. We were planning our wedding and I had just graduated from college (at 33 with two other children from a previous marriage). From the start I had to be put on Progesterone to carry the baby. I kept trying to miscarry so they had to keep me on it. They told us that the drug would be very difficult on me but didn’t tell me how it would be difficult though at the time. I don't know if you are familiar with this drug or not but it's really hard on you. A lot longer then they recommend I’m told. But every time they tried to take me off I would start bleeding. Well we went through with the wedding.
Shortly after this is when everything started to fall apart. The medicine made me someone I didn’t even know. I know I was hateful and everything seemed to get to me (things that I could usually over look). My husband was there in the office with me when the doctor asked how I was doing and I replied that it made me feel like someone I’m not (I looked over at my husband and he nodded his head yes and laughed) the doctor looked at us both and said, I’m sorry but yes it will, it is very hard on you but we will try to get you off of it as soon as we can.
The day I came off of the medication he told me that I had lied to him the whole time and that I had deceived him, that I put on a front, etc. He has put me down, cussed me, called me names and blamed everything on me. I stayed so upset after he left that I lost 10 pounds in the first week because I couldn’t eat or keep anything down. I stayed so upset and stressed that at 28 weeks I went into full labor (they told me that the baby weighted less than 2 pounds) but luckily they were able to stop it.
Throughout the rest of my pregnancy was the same thing. I stayed upset because all he wanted to do was blame me, cuss me, call me names, and put me down in some way. I tried with everything in me to save our marriage but nothing I ever said was good enough or to him it was a lie.
I had to have a C-section because my baby was transverse. During the delivery there were complications. My doctor said out of thirty-eight thousand and some odd births that he would rate it on his top three most dangerous deliveries. He said that we were both miracles. They lost me two times and she was born not breathing and was black and blue. My husband wasn’t there (he wouldn’t answer the phone when family tried to call him). When he did call back he still didn’t come to the hospital he said he was going to go on to work that night instead so he came down the next day. He knew something bad had happen during the delivery but never asked what happen to us. Instead when I come home he told me that the only thing wrong with me was when the nurse walked in that I wanted pain medicine. The doctors actually got onto me because I didn’t want to take the pain medicine as they told me too and recommend that I take it so I wouldn’t be in so much pain. So when the nurse had asked me for the third time if I would go ahead and let them bring it to me so I could rest better I said yes that was fine. (So he saw them give me medicine onetime. I’m always in the defense for myself because he tries to put me down in some way).
Now that you have some ideal what I’ve been dealing with throughout my pregnancy and right after I will explain why I’m contacting you for your help hopefully. He come to see our baby a couple of times after she was born. Still putting me down and being mean every chance he would get when someone wasn’t around, because my mom had to be here to help me with my baby and other two kids. I wasn’t able to even pick up my baby or walk. (I know most can pick up to 10 lbs but because of what happen they advised me that I wasn’t to even pick her up at all, that someone could put her into my arms though). Everyone in my family kept telling me that they didn’t understand why I even talked to him. (Several of them heard the conversations on tape). Anyways, when he came to see her on several different occasions he would fall asleep holding her. My mom or I would have to wake him up. Once he was on the end of my bed with her laying beside of him and he started to fall asleep and went over on her. I grabbed her from under him and he got mad and cussed me then too. When she was three weeks old she got put into Childrens Hospital for a week and he never come to see her on time. His family has never asked me anything about her or even seen her one time since she was born. After this he come to see her a few more times. For the most part he was fine and didn’t mouth off that offten.
The last time he seen her She was a month and a half. I would ask him if he was going to come and see her and he would come up with every type of excuse he could as to not come see her when I would ask. Most of the time he blamed me but never the less he always come up with some excuse. He would take and call to check on her. (I recorded these conversations too because when he would call he would ask how she had done the night before and I would answer him and that would be it. The rest of the conversation was about him).
On the last time he called to check on her, He was served with child support papers. He got so mad that he told me off and said he seen what type of person I was and he was going to take care of it. (I have recorded several times that he told me that he would sign over all rights if he didn’t have to pay child support). he filed for divorce and we went in for child support court. During court the attorney for the state asked about the condition of our child and how much longer she would be on her machine. I replied to him that they weren’t for sure at this point, that over the last month alone she had 6 episodes of not breathing and one episode she went 26 seconds without breathing. He then made a noise (as in disbelief, turned his head and smiled) and even the states attorney looked at him in disbelief that he had responded that way. His attorney recently sent a letter to my attorney basically calling me a liar about my baby’s medical condition and requesting proof. My attorney asked them how in the world would they know what was wrong with the baby because he hadn’t seen her since she was 1 month old. He has threw off time after time about her not being sick and telling me that I’m lying about her.
We are in the process of getting her medical records to submit to the court. I’m not comfortable with her going with him. He knows nothing about her. Nothing about what she has went though. He doesn’t know what comforts her, what she likes and don’t like, what her needs are, he doesn't know her cries either. He is really a stranger to her. She doesn’t know him either. He is requesting overnight visitation with her. He has never even put her down for a nap. When he did come and see her, she wouldn’t go to sleep for him. When I read your article I was so hopeful that maybe you would be able to help. I don’t know if you would be able to write a letter on your option of infants that are in my babies situation or a letter of recommendation. I was also wondering if you could take a copy of the article you wrote and maybe sign and send it to me so that I could also use it for my case on why I don’t think overnight visitation is a good ideal.
I know one of the judges here in the county (he use to be my attorney and he went into his office and asked him to represent him in our divorce and then told him way too much information. My attorney kept asking what my name was and he finally told him and he tried to stop him from saying anything else but he kept on so that he couldn’t represent me after the fact. So my attorney called me into his office and told me what happen and advised me on what to do. He told me that he would go for strict supervised visitation and stand my ground on it. He said there was something about that man that he didn’t trust at all and that he would get my divorce and get away from him as fast as I could. You would just have to know him, no one can believe he said all of that about him. He has seen a lot and I guess he is better at reading people, than I am for sure.
Please don’t think that he was this way when I married him because he was wonderful before, at least I thought so. He has told me so many times that my “true colors” come out when we got married. I know I’m nothing like he say’s I am).
I want to keep my baby safe. This is a brief overview of what I have been through over the last year and half. There is so much more to the story then I have here. I’m sorry this email is so long. But I’m desperate for help and answers. I feel with everything in me that he isn’t responsible enough or caring to take care of her much less overnight. I recently found out that he is seeing another girl and is now living with her. Our divorce isn’t final yet. We go back soon.
So if there is anything you could recommend or do please do so. Again, I’m so sorry for this lengthy email but I wanted you to know a preview of what has happen to know what type of father he is. If you have any questions please feel free to ask me. I look forward to your response.
ANSWER: Dear Anonymous;
You need to tell your attorney you want a full psychiatric and substance abuse evaluation on this father before the court even considers strict supervised visitation. From what you have written here I would listen to your attorney and your family. STOP trying to get him to be involved with your baby.
Also, point your attorney to the attachmentparenting.org website. There is guidance there for visitation with infants. An infant is very vulnerable and should not be separated from the mother for only short periods of time. There are numerous research articles about the consequences of separation interruption and attachment disorders when children are forced from the mother for long periods of time.
In addition this is not someone who want responsibility for your child. I have often seen these types of blow ups and usually it is about upsetting you. Evidently he gets a perverse sense of power out of upsetting and emotionally abusing you. Let him go.
Stop defending yourself or your behavior.
Get on with your life focus on yourself and your precious daughter. Wake up every morning full of gratitude that the two you survived and strive to life a life full of gratitude and joy! She needs you not him.
M. Kay Keller
Follow up with Anonymous:
Thank you for your answer to my question. I have done extensive research over the last week and a half and everything that I’m finding recommends that an infant/toddler shouldn’t be away from their primary caregiver, that the other parent should visit the child in familiar surroundings with someone (preferably the mother is what most recommend if possible, if not someone that the child has an attachment to and is familiar with) so that the child feels secure and safe. I have also found that when overnight visitation does resume that the child should be in their primary residence at night and that overnight visitation should be for fitted until the age of three when the child can clearly communicate and can understand the situation.
Research also suggested that it’s important that the child be able to realize and understand the “time frame” in which they will be away from their primary caregiver. I also found that numerous Child Physiologist recommend working up to the overnight visitation with a gradual transition when the child reaches an appropriate age. Many suggest before overnight happens at age three to transition with a day outing where the other parent takes the toddler for a couple of hours and then returns them back to their primary caregiver. Many suggest that this will show security in both parents.
I’m so afraid that he won’t take our babies best interest in mind. He seems only concerned with what he wants and not what’s best for her. I know that in the previous email I told you about her health issues and that he doesn’t take them serious. This is extremely alarming and frightening to me. I know we are going to enter medical records into court, but I’m concerned that he still won’t take it serious. In your answer to me you tell me “to listen to your attorney and your family. STOP trying to get him to be involved with your baby”. I have stopped trying to get him to be involved with her (he hasn’t called to even ask about her since June so I don’t have any communication with him at all now) even though I have stopped trying it is to my understanding that he wants to have visitation with her (even overnight). Besides entering her medical records and other studies that I have found is there anything I could do to keep her safe? (How do you get someone to believe you and care about the best interest of your child? If he is going to be in her life, am I going to have to go through this from now on trying to convince him of what is in her best interest?) Family, friends, and my previous attorney (now a judge in the county) has suggested that it would be better for her if he wasn’t in her life with the way he has done her. I hate to agree with them even though deep down I feel that she would be more secure and stable if he wasn’t. Is this bad of me as a parent?
I also read in your answer to me that you tell me to “Let him go. Stop defending yourself or your behavior”. I have let him go because I have no choice because he is with someone else now (and even if he wasn’t I don’t know why in the world I would even want him back because of the way he has done me, talked and cussed me). But why is it that I feel the need to defend myself and my behavior? I know that what he left over was nothing to leave a marriage over and he blames me for everything. I know that he would basically tell me I was nothing (but in much different way and not nice at all) then tell me that he wasn’t being mean he was just telling me the truth. I know that I’m trying to get over everything and let go. I just don’t know how I guess. I know I feel so much hurt and anger that I don’t know what to do. I guess I feel more numb in away now though (does that mean that I’m getting over him and all of this?)
I’m so afraid that with everything that I’m dealing with that someone will think that I’m trying to keep her from seeing him to punish him but that’s not it at all. I want her to be safe and happy not to feel torn away from me and upset. I worry about her well being and I try my best to put my hurt aside and make sure that I do everything I can to ensure her safety and happiness. I wonder if I’m overlooking something or if I should do more. I just feel so helpless and confused anymore.
I know there are several questions in here and I’m sorry but I honestly don’t know what I need to do or should be doing….
Thanks for all of your help and advice,
Answer: Dear Anonymous
I am going to be short and blunt. Stop letting this man rent space in your head. It is none of your business what he thinks of you or anyone else for that matter. Start living your best life so your child can learn how to live too.
It will take time to get over him and this relationship however do it! Life is way to short to keep playing these guessing games in your head and it steals your presence away from your child.
Grieve and let go one day at a time.
I can tell from your writing you will be fine. You will go on and you will have a good life.
M Kay Keller