On January 16th, 2001 Lindsay VanDorn, the young mother of her beloved 11-month-old Weston, was just beginning to plan her day.
She had no way of knowing that day would end with the death of her child as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome caused by another person.
Now, after 14 years, Lindsay VanDorn-Hickman finds peace through her child abuse awareness organization she founded called "In Memory of Weston."
For the 6th year in a row, VanDorn-Hickman is highlighting in the month of April, which is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, the critical understanding that a baby or young child should never be shaken.
The details of how instantly deadly even just a couple of hard shakes can be, are chronicled in VanDorn-Hickman's own tragic story.
According to VanDorn-Hickman, Shaken Baby Syndrome, also known as Abusive Head Trauma is a form of child abuse that happens when an infant or a young child is violently shaken. This can cause serious brain damage, blindness and even death.
Bouncing a child on your knee or playfully tossing a child in the air does not cause Shaken Baby Syndrome, she said.
Through her child abuse awareness organization "In Memory of Weston", VanDorn-Hickman has spoken every year since 2008 to numerous schools, including Headstart and new parenting organizations.
"I began the organization in 2008 with the help of the former District 26 District Attorney Hollis Thorp and Former Victim/ Witness Coordinator Karla Taylor and other D.A. staff," VanDorn-Hickman said.
VanDorn-Hickman, who is the director of Boomer Kids after school program and the assistant director of the day care keeps her shelves stocked with helpful pamphlets that she disseminates when offering a program. Each pamphlet can help parents understand how to better deal with the frustrations of parenting a new baby.
According to VanDorn-Hickman, Shaken Baby Syndrome most often happens when a caregiver becomes frustrated and loses control, violently shaking the baby.
She said anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 babies are shaken each year in the U.S. and are injured or die.
"And those are just the ones that are reported or confirmed," she said.
A large portion of the public awareness that VanDorn-Hickman shares with students and new parents is how to better comfort a crying baby and how to recognize when caregivers need to give themselves a break or call for help.
VanDorn-Hickman hopes to educate new parents and even young caregivers who are perhaps babysitting, how to calm themselves and understand that crying is a normal activity for infants and that all caregivers should be educated if they are to be entrusted with your child.
Perhaps, in this region, no one knows better how quickly this kind of abuse can take a life than VanDorn-Hickman. And for sure, most do not know the pain that comes when a child is taken in such a way better than she does.
"After Weston passed away, I fell into a deep depression," VanDorn-Hickman said.
Part of the depression was caused by VanDorn-Hickman's confusion over how anything so instantaneously deadly even existed.
"I had never even heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome. I mean, I came from a small town where I thought nobody would ever do this," she said. "When the doctors told me and then I got the medical examiner's report that confirmed it was Shaken Baby Syndrome, it was hard to accept."
VanDorn reached out to a friend and told her friend how she was feeling and it was through her friend at Woodward Regional Hospital that she was introduced to a local minister who began to counsel with VanDorn-Hickman.
"As a healing exercise, he told me to do something special for Weston...something to honor his memory," she said. "That's when I had a decal designed for Weston. Then, after that I realized there wasn't enough chid abuse awareness, so that was when I began my child abuse awareness organization."
For more information go to www.dontshake.org or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. VanDorn can be reached through her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lindsay.vandornhickman?fref=ts.
When My Baby Cries
I can try different things to calm my crying baby
I can give my baby a warm bath
I can let my baby listen to and watch running water I can turn on music and dance and sing with my baby
I can take my baby for a ride in the car
I can put my baby in a safe place, walk away and come back to check on him/her.
I understand that sometimes, none of these will work and that sometimes crying is normal for any baby. It doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong with my baby.