Our son Cian Joseph Crowley entered the world on March 7, 2006. He would spend the next five months living the life of any normal infant – eating (his favorite pastime), sleeping (a close second), playing, and learning of the world around him. Cian, a name which means ‘ancient’ in Gaelic, was a healthy, thriving child who was consistently in the 100th percentile for height and weight and on-track for all developmental milestones.
However, this would all change in August of 2006. On August 18th, Cian developed a black eye, seemingly out of nowhere. This was the first sign something was wrong – yet his pediatrician’s office was not concerned. Within days, he started to act very fussy, which was not Cian’s demeanor at all. He stopped eating, which led us to wonder if he was teething or had an ear infection. We took him to Urgent Care on the 21st – we were repeatedly questioned on the black eye by a nurse practitioner; while it was looking pretty bad, we had no choice but to be honest and say we did not know how or why he got it. He was diagnosed with an ear infection and given amoxicillin. Cian proceeded to vomit all day the next day, so to the ER (a pediatric ER) we went. Again the black eye was questioned, but not examined. He was given IV antibiotics and then diagnosed with a common childhood virus - hand, foot and mouth disease – and we were sent home.
The next day, Wednesday, Cian was lethargic – but we thought that was from the late night at the ER and the IV medication. Thursday morning, the 24th, we knew there was something still very wrong as Cian was incredibly sleepy and again not eating, so we made another trip to the pediatrician’s office. Unable to determine the cause of Cian’s lethargy, we were advised to go back to the same ER we had just been at two days before. The ER doc was very concerned about the black eye and Cian’s sleepiness so CT imaging and chest x-rays were ordered. Within 30 minutes we were told he had bleeding in his brain and clavicle bone fractures. As John and I wept, in a numb and bewildered state, the room started to fill with people - the thought was, this is an abused child. We were stunned – only three people ever cared for Cian: John, myself, and a nanny who watched Cian three days a week – and the notion she could hurt him was a ridiculous one.