Tami Revering, who admitted to shaking her best friend's 4-month-old son, is sharing her story to increase awareness about depression and shaken baby syndrome.
Revering was pregnant and had two children in the fall of 2010, and she would routinely babysit her best friend Angie Pengelly's two children. That's what Revering was doing on Nov. 10 that year, and she was unusually stressed and sleep deprived.
And little Anders Pengelly was crying. A lot.
She was easily agitated and had a lot going on in her life – she and her husband were struggling with finances, and she had signs of depression that she was embarrassed to share with anyone, Revering wrote on a blog.
She tried to calm the infant, but it wasn't working.
"I remember telling myself not to go back in there. ... It was like I had a white light on one shoulder telling me to stay on the couch, the baby will be fine. I had a dark light on the other should telling me to go to the baby and make it stop crying. Back and forth, I don't remember how long I sat on the couch," Revering wrote. "Eventually the dark light won and I got up, walked to the crib, picked up the baby and shook him."
Anders had a seizure, and suffered severe brain damage. Revering called 911 and confessed.
"We walked into a room and Anders was hooked up, he was in a diaper and he just laid there kind of lifeless,” Pengelly told WCCO of seeing her son in the hospital.
In May 2011, Revering pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, the Star Tribune reported. She was sentenced to a year in jail on staggered terms – she reports to the Anoka County Work House for 15 days each November (the month the shaking happened) and each June (the month Anders was born). For the next 20 years, Revering has to report to a probation officer every other week.
She and her husband have custody of their three boys, who are now 6, 4 and 2 years old.
Spreading the word
It's now been nearly four years since the incident. Anders is stronger, but still struggles with fine motor skills and has short-term memory loss, WCCO says. He also is subject to seizures, which are controllable with medication and has some lifelong learning disabilities, Sun This Week reports.
Pengelly told WCCO that while Anders was in the hospital, she rarely felt anger towards her friend. She told the news station she has forgiven Revering, but their friendship isn't the same.
The two keep in touch, she updates her on Anders and sends her photos. Sometimes Pengelly joins Revering when she shares her cautionary tale with various groups, including high school students, young mothers and families in crisis, or people who are at or have been at their breaking point, Sun This Week says.
She shares her story hoping it will save the lives of other babies.
“No one is immune to shaking a baby. You need to know the breaking point, and you need to know when to ask for help. Never hold a baby when you are frustrated,” Revering told Sun This Week.
Back in March, Revering went to Coon Rapids High School to talk to students about the dangers of shaken baby syndrome. She shared her story about suffering with depression, although is careful not to make excuses for her behavior, which is how she understands the events that led up to shaking Anders, ABC Newspapers reports.
Revering has also detailed her struggle with depression, postpartum depression and what led up to her snapping and shaking Anders on a blog. She shared her story in four different parts, titled: the beginning, the beginning of rock bottom, the dark time and the dark time, continued.
Revering was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and meets with a therapist and psychiatrist frequently. She also continues to battle with depression daily, but says she knows now to ask for help when she needs it, ABC Newspapers says.
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