To: Dr. Michael F. Holick
From E Date: September 9, 2023
In February of 2023 when my baby was only five weeks old we had taken her to Children’s Hospital due to extreme fussiness. She had been fussy since birth and we were told she had colic from our pediatrician. We took videos out of concern to show the extent of how much pain she seemed to be in, but as first time parents we subsequently listened to the pediatrician saying it was how a normal colicky baby acts. When we got to Children’s they took an X-ray of her stomach to see if there was a blockage which was our main concern as parents and what led us to taking her to the ED in the first place. After the X-ray and a physical exam we were sent home with paperwork saying she was a “colicky baby”. This left us frustrated because we were being told we just had to watch our baby cry and scream in pain every day. We reached out to my mother several times with questions on how to ease her pain as well as searched many websites and YouTube videos on how to relieve a gassy or colicky baby.
A few days later we noticed what looked like a faint purple line on our baby. Unsure of what a bruise looked like on a baby I immediately sent a picture to my mother and asked her if she thought it was a mark or a bruise and what it could be from. My mother is a nurse and has a long history of working in the Mother Infant Unit as well as Labor & Delivery. She told me to keep the picture to show my pediatrician in a few days since we had a ED follow-up visit scheduled. The morning of the follow-up appointment I noticed a similar line-like mark on her leg. I took a picture of the mark knowing we would be seeing the pediatrician later that morning. I asked my mom to drive us to the appointment because I did not have much sleep the previous night due to comforting my baby from her pain. When we got to the appointment the nurse tech asked if we had any concerns and I showed her the photos of the marks and showed my concern for a possible blood disorder and easy bruising. I was happy to see that my pediatrician was finally concerned and was willing to send us to a local branch of Children’s Hospital for some bloodwork.
We went and got the bloodwork as soon as we left the appointment and as we were driving back to my mother’s house to enjoy our evening together I got a phone call from my child’s pediatrician. She wanted to go ahead and send us to the main branch of Children’s to the ED for more testing as she was growing more concerned the more she thought of it. We were happy to go as we were concerned for my baby’s health at the time not knowing that it was a complete set up and they would not be testing for more health issues, but for child abuse. I thought it was strange when she told me that she had already gotten the results and nothing seemed off on her labs considering it had only been an hour since we left from getting her blood drawn, however I was happy to finally be getting to the bottom of her pain and discomfort.
When we got to Children’s Hospital my baby was looked over by multiple nurses and techs. We were then sent to the waiting room. By this time I had contacted my partner and he was on his way to the hospital from work. When my mother and I got called back, I decided to change my baby’s diaper. When I pulled up her onesie I noticed a round bruise like circle on my daughter’s belly that was not there just earlier when she was looked over by nurses and techs. I immediately pointed this mark out to the nurse when she came in and she documented it. There was a rule in place that only two adults were allowed in the room at a time so when my partner arrived my mother went out to the waiting room to wait. We were allowed to go back and assist with X-rays and the CT scan as well as the IV. When they came back into the room to give us results they told my partner and I that our daughter had 5 posterior rib fractures on ribs 6 & 7. We were in absolute shock. In the same sentence that we just found out our child was so badly injured we were also told that we were being investigated for NAT, which means nonaccidental trauma. I sent a text to my mother telling her the news and she was shocked as well as upset and confused. I asked my partner to go get her as she is a nurse and to please wait in the waiting room while we try to get more answers. The Dr. came back in and my mother asked them about the labs and asked if anything was off or concerning. He said he was an adult Dr. helping out because they were short staffed that night and didn’t seem to have much knowledge on child labs. He stated that a few things were off, but he wasn’t concerned with them. We asked for bone density testing to be done as well as vitamin D and blood disorders. They ended up running some bloodwork for vitamin D (they were not going to run her vitamin D until my mother demanded).
Next a social worker came in and asked us all kinds of questions about us and our home. After she left the Dr. came back in and asked if her father or I bruise easily and I told them I do as I have my entire life. He asked if I had a medical reason and I told him I did not yet have one. That was the only question about past medical history that was asked. They then told us we would have to stay overnight in the trauma center and trauma Dr. came to speak with us and would not answer any questions. We asked if she was going to need surgery and he told us that would be discussed later. We were so worried and traumatized. When we tried to brainstorm other causes the only response we would get is that there was no other possible cause other than abuse. multiple people would come into our room at a time asking us many questions and making us feel like monsters when the entire time we had been trying to help our daughter. They sent us to the trauma unit at about 2am. We had been at the pediatrician’s at around 9am so this was over 12 hours of poking my poor baby with needles and taking 20-something X-rays and she was tired and fussy. We did not sleep much that night.
Morning came and they sent 5-6 nurses in. They intimidated us by sending in large amounts of nurses and overloading us with questions. There was never a time where they would stop and listen to our concerns or agree to run more tests or consider other avenues. They decided it was abuse and that was that. They never asked about our medical history. A CPS social worker and an officer from our town came to our room and asked us the same questions everyone else had been asking. They were very accusatory and rude. When my mother tried to bring up other things that it could be they told her to stop making excuses for us. We were then asked to go to the police station for an “interview”. We thought this was to get our account of events but it was a separated interrogation for 2 hours each. They made me cry and hyperventilate multiple times. By the end of the interview we were so drained and defeated. They told us if we did not know what happened then our 5 week old baby might have to go into foster care. This was extremely traumatizing. They eventually said that she could go to my mother’s house for now, but that could change.
We got back to the hospital and they were discharging her to my mom. Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to explain what we were feeling. We did all the right things and sought out help from people we have been taught to trust. If we had done something we would not have gone to the pediatrician appointment when she had the marks on her body. We would not have taken her to the ED the week before. A million thoughts were racing through our heads and they were making us feel insane. They kept saying they thought it was an accident and when we still had no clue what happened they would say it would have taken extreme force to do this. We did not get much sleep the next few days and we lost about a pound per day from the trauma. We were limited to 2 hours a day that we were allowed to see our daughter and I had taken an unpaid maternity leave for 12 weeks, so I was sitting at home all alone when my partner went to work.
I kept watching the patient portal for her lab results. In the meantime my mother asked me if our baby was on vitamin D because the nurse asked her what all our daughter was taking when we were being questioned. I told her no and that our pediatrician had told us she would get everything she needed from my prenatal. We also had her on Mylicon for her gas. My mother was shocked as all exclusively breastfed babies should be on vitamin D. I reached out to the pediatrician and asked if we should start her on vitamin D and she said that we could, but didn’t acknowledge that we should have been the entire time. We are first time parents and that was her job to tell us that from the beginning when I asked what we should have her on.
The results finally were in and her levels were off by a large amount for multiple labs, but the most concerning to me was her vitamin D level of 13 which is severely deficient and one point away from what is considered critical. I called the pediatrician immediately thinking we finally found the reason and we needed to go back to the hospital for further testing but was met with a careless answer back from the nurse hours later saying that the pediatrician said we would discuss the level at our follow-up in a few days. I was shocked by this reply.
At her appointment my mom had to come with me because I was not allowed to be alone with my daughter. It was such a degrading feeling. The Dr. came in ignoring the situation and asked if we had concerns. I brought up the vitamin D and she completely shot down the idea that vitamin D was the cause and once again said she trusts the professionals and this was done by extreme force and that vitamin D could not affect a rib injury on an infant. The test results came in after we left the hospital with her in my mother’s care which means they failed to rule out anything else before calling it NAT and now they were trying to cover themselves and so was the pediatrician.
It was weeks into only seeing our daughter for two hours a day that I got a gut feeling to research more on vitamin D. I was being tested for arthritis and autoimmune disorders up until getting pregnant and then we had to stop because the only options were arthritis medications due to them not being able to find a reason for my bone pain. My exact words to the Dr. were that it felt like my bones were breaking. I also have a long medical history or surgeries, stomach issues, dislocations and fractures. I started researching unexplained fractures in infants and came across an article about something I had never heard of called EDS and in the article it mentions Dr. Holick and his studies on vitamin D. Upon reading further I was shocked at the similarities in my past medical history and EDS symptoms.
I sent an email to Dr. Holick thinking there was no way that a Dr. at Boston Medical Center was going to reply to me as he was probably extremely busy. I received an email the next morning asking to do a video chat with my partner and I. We set up a video chat and filled out a questionnaire about past medical history and symptoms and he told us that he was almost certain that I had EDS and that he would like to see my family for testing. We set up an appointment with him at his facility in Boston. We had to push our court back in order to get the testing in Boston since Children’s failed to ever call me about the results that I saw in the patient portal and my pediatrician failed to acknowledge the extremely low level of vitamin D. Nobody even asked for a recheck on labs. They kept saying that they just wanted to make sure our daughter was safe, yet were allowing her to go untested or treated. They put more effort into incriminating us than they did to see what was wrong so she could get the help she needed. Instead, a Dr. hundreds of miles away wanted to help us.
In June we took our then 4 and a half month old daughter all the way to Boston with my parents and my partner since we could not be left alone with her. Dr. Holick was so kind and was the first person to acknowledge all of our efforts as parents and treated us with care rather than looking at us like monsters. He put us through a series of tests in a physical exam and his findings were that both my daughter and I had EDS. He also said that my daughter had rickets level vitamin D which proved our pediatrician to be wrong. He said that normal handling could result in fractures due to the vitamin D level alone, but certainly with EDS on top of that. He wrote a report for us of his findings and we presented this to the prosecutor days before our trial. After reading the report they chose to dismiss our case the day before trial.
Our daughter was taken from us for four long, traumatizing months. This ruined our opportunity to bond with her, affected my breastmilk supply which is very important for a baby’s immunity and growth, affected both my partner and I’s mental health, and took precious memories away from us that we will NEVER get back. We are traumatized and have PTSD. We do not trust most doctors now and have a fear of her being taken again. I struggle with panic attacks and nightmares. They ruined our names and our lives. They took the first few months of our first time being parents away from us. We had appointments with a parent coach once a week, supervised visits at a disgusting facility once every two weeks, therapy once every two weeks, in-home visits from Help Me Grow and visits from CPS and the Guardian ad Litem. They left us feeling unheard and scared. They never even tried to look into our medical history. Dr. Holick is an angel and he will never know how grateful we are for his kindness. He heard us and treated us with gentleness and acknowledged the agony that Children’s and our pediatrician put us through. He took the time to look at my daughter’s medical history and mine. He opened up his busy schedule to do an exam and answer our questions and did not rush us. He wrote the report that freed us from being labeled child abusers for our entire lives. He had a open mind and understands that not all injuries in babies are abuse. Unfortunately, sometimes they are but you cannot automatically label it abuse without ruling out further medical complications. Children’s was not even going to test her vitamin D if my mother had not asked. This is happening to parents all over the world and it is disgusting. Our Doctors need to do better. Dr. Holick has a Ph.D., M.D. and has been honored with many awards and accomplished many things in his career. The Doctors at Childrens’ egos get in the way of their treatment and there needs to be change. They must be educated on other causes of injuries in infants. We need more open-minded doctors like Dr. Holick if we are going to make a change and keep families together. Innocent people are getting jail time and losing their children. That could have been us if we did not meet Dr. Holick.