The last four months have been a trial - to put it lightly.
On April 26th, I went to pick up my daughter from daycare as usual, and she wasn't there. The front door was wide open, the hose was still running in the back, and the phone was dead. No one was there. I didn't have my cell phone. I wasn't panicking at this point, but pretty close. I figured they had gone to the park or karate or basketball or the pool or something and were late and had forgotten to call. Finding the door open was not completely out of the ordinary.
I went to the neighbors house to call my husband to see if anyone had called....no one had. Panic level rising.
I gave the neighbor (Mike - definitely a good Samaritan) my husbands number in case anyone showed up at the house and got his in return. I got in my car and headed to San Luis to check to see if they were at the pool and to get my phone. They weren't at the pool and when I got home to get my phone, still no word. At that point I collapsed, sobbing, terrified, completely lost and out of my mind with worry. Sheer, gut-wrenching, debilitating terror. I had no idea what to do. I had no idea where my daughter was. I had no idea if she was ok or even alive. Every horrible scenario possible played over and over in my mind.
My husband had to stay home with my stepson, had to stay calm and not let the boy know anything was wrong. I couldn't do it. He always has been tougher than me. I had to get in my car and go looking for her. There was no way I was going to sit there and call people. I had to do something.
I tried to call the police and discovered that my phone for some unknown reason wouldn't call out. Of course! I texted my best friend and simply said I need you. I can't find Caitlin. She called me immediately, and once I explained that my phone wouldn't call out, she called the police for me.
That's when we discovered that my daughter's daycare provider had been in a car accident. Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt, but we discovered that none of the kids (three daycare kids and one of her own) were not strapped in, two of them were wearing only diapers, and the daycare provider was drunk. Beyond drunk - wasted. At 2:30 in the afternoon. She had been on her way to pick up her two older kids from school and apparently overcorrected on a turn. She hit a light pole and a parked car, and her SUV tipped on its side and slid down an embankment.
Her blood alcohol content was .258.
Every single day I give thanks that my daughter is alive and well and with ME.
We finally knew what was going on, but we still didn't have our baby girl back with us. The police told us to sit tight, that a Child Protective Services worker would bring her to us as soon as the paperwork was done. We were not allowed to go pick her up. We had to sit around the house waiting, wondering what she was going through, what she was feeling, who she was with. We didn't get her back until 11:00 that night. I have never cried so hard in my life.
That was absolutely the worst day of my life. I am so lucky to still have my girl.
(A little bit about how I was feeling can be found here.)
I called my boss that night and quit my job. I applied for unemployment on the basis that I was emotionally incapable of putting my daughter into another daycare, and so needed to find a job that would allow me to work nights and weekends. Apparently the person who did my phone interview was a complete idiot because he denied my claim on the basis that I had no child care. I guess her father and her grandparents aren't good enough (in his opinion) to constitute reliable childcare.
I appealed the decision and waited on pins and needles for my hearing. Meanwhile, I looked for a job and got ready for our court date against the daycare provider.
The court date was a farce. The judge refused to award me any money, saying that I "elected" to quit my job, that I didn't have to. I'd like to see his reaction if it were his kid in the same situation. My faith in compassion and common sense is pretty much nil at this point. We will be getting a settlement from the insurance company to cover the medical bills, and hopefully she won't need any sort of counseling in the future.
So we dropped the court case (too traumatic - not worth it; she'll be sentenced for her felonies anyway) and I continued to wait for my unemployment hearing.
While all this was happening, we have been living with my husbands parents, trying desperately to get the money together to move out on our own again. This event was a crushing blow to that goal.
Now, four and a half months later, I am celebrating. I am ecstatic. About a month and a half ago I got a job I like that allows me to stay with my daughter during the day. The daycare provider will be sentenced this month for four counts of felony child endangerment as well as felony DUI. The DA's office is pushing for a year in prison, along with treatment, probation and I'm sure a lot of money in fines. I don't know if she gets to keep her own kids or not. I'm torn on whether she should or not. I'm glad that's not my decision.
I won my unemployment hearing and we now have enough money to move out. I just found out twenty minutes ago that we got approved for the apartment we applied for. It has a nice pool, a patio with a little patch of grass, a woodburning fireplace, and is right next to a park. We are moving in on October 2nd.
Tomorrow is my daughter's third birthday and she is here, healthy and happy, to celebrate the most wonderful day in the world with us. I am making her pink cupcakes with pink icing and rainbow sprinkles tomorrow, and having a full birthday party on Sunday.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that has been supportive and loving through this. I couldn't have made it without you.
And thank you to the angels who are watching over my baby.