Sometimes, it seems like people without severe allergies doubt the importance of food aversion. Nothing happens to them when they eat peanuts, so why would anything happen to anyone else? They might start to assume an allergy is all in someone's head, when in reality, the consequences of food allergies can be dire.
The delusion one woman's mother-in-law maintained about allergies led to her toddler being hospitalized. Now, the police are involved, legal action is being taken and family ties have been severed.
This is the dreadful story:
Patty was obsessed with her granddaughter, Cece. It was her first grandchild and with her big blue eyes and little blonde ringlets, she was adorable. And, to her grandmother, Cece was perfect, and she took every opportunity she could to completely dote on her.
"I don't say anything about it when she buys $300 dresses my daughter will only wear once. I've encouraged a relationship between them. I've let Patty have her way on holidays."
To Cece's mother, Jennifer, her 3-year-old was perfect, too. She was Jennifer's first and only child, and Patty's only grandchild. But, unlike her mother-in-law Patty, Jennifer understood that her daughter wasn't invincible. The child was born with several severe food allergies. The worst were peanuts and eggs, but Cece also couldn't eat dairy or bananas.
According to Jennifer, Patty had always doubted the severity of Cece's allergies. Her little granddaughter was just so perfect, there was no way she could have anything wrong with her. But why would Jennifer and her husband fake this? Life would be so much easier of Cece didn't have allergies -- they could eat out, Cece could enjoy cake at other children's birthday parties, they wouldn't have to worry or be constantly vigilant all the time.
And perhaps Patty's borderline crazy obsession with her "little princess" was the reason why Jennifer had never left Patty alone with Cece. Something just didn't feel right about it. Patty often offered to babysit for Jennifer and her husband, but they always found another sitter.
And soon, Jennifer would find out her instincts were spot on.
Patty had come over to spend the day with Jennifer and her beloved Cece. Patty and Cece were in Cece's room, playing dress up with tiaras and Disney princess' gowns -- Elsa from "Frozen" was Cece's absolute favorite. Everything was going splendidly... and then the mother-in-law got the perfect opportunity to test her crazy theory.
"Patty had never 'tested' to see if Cece's allergies are true... until today."
A little into the play date, Jennifer's head started to ache. She asked Patty if she could watch Cece while she lies down for an hour or so. Patty enthusiastically agrees, and Jennifer pops an aspirin and lies down on the couch.
Twenty minutes later, Jennifer is woken by a shrill shriek. "SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE BABY! SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE BABY!"
In seconds, Jennifer sprung from the couch and raced down the hallway into her daughter's room. Cece was on the ground, choking and clawing at her throat. Her lips were turning blue, fast.
"CALL 911!" Jennifer screamed at her mother-in-law. She grabbed one of the Epipens she always keeps nearby and injects her writhing daughter. That is when she noticed something peculiar.
_"My daughter was able to take a deep breath... and I noticed she smelled like banana." _
Because their house was only about a mile from the station, the paramedics arrived on the scene quickly. They started Cece on an IV and gave her medications to regulate her breathing.
One of the paramedics pulled Jennifer aside and asked what happened.
"My mother-in-law," Jennifer gasped through tears. "She gave her something. I don't know what. She has allergies."
In all the chaos, nobody saw the little piece of a cookie that was lying on the floor until Cece was carried out of the room. That same paramedic picked it up and inspected it.
He turned to Patty, holding up the peanut butter and banana cookie. "Did you give her this?"
Patty and Jennifer stood there, frozen. Jennifer glaring at Patty, Patty staring in disbelief at the cookie the paramedic was still holding up.
"Yes, I gave that to her," Patty eventually uttered. Then she burst into tears and blubbered, "But I didn't know it would hurt her! I didn't know! I was just trying to show them that there was nothing wrong with her! She's too perfect! Nothing was wrong with her!"
Jennifer stormed out and left Patty blubbering in Cece's abandoned room. She climbed into the ambulance Cece was being lifted into and rode with her to the hospital, holding her little hand the whole way. En route, she called her husband and Patty's son, David, who was at work, and told him everything that had happened.
But Patty had already contacted David and told him a much different story.
David arrived at the hospital shortly after Jennifer and Cece.
"Mom has been calling me nonstop," he said.
Patty was wailing on the other end of the receiver, still claiming nothing was wrong with Cece, accusing Jennifer of being too paranoid, crying that the couple had "odd" ideas about their daughter's health (such crazy notions as eating healthy, wearing sunblock, and ensuring she was up-to-date on all her vaccinations). Then she confessed that she had been doing the unthinkable. Jennifer knew Patty had doubted Cece's allergies, but she never realized it had gotten this out of control.
"This woman admitted to David that she's been making allergen-laced cookies for more than a year. She bakes a huge batch and freezes them. She puts one in her purse every time she sees my daughter, just in case she gets a chance to slip it to her."
While the messed up news Patty just dumped on the distraught couple was swirling around Jennifer's mind, innocent little Cece wanted nothing more than to see the woman who had just put her in the hospital.
"When is grandma coming to see me? I want to show her my pretty bracelet," Cece said, holding up her hospital band for Jennifer to see. Jennifer didn't know what to say. How do you tell a child they couldn't see their grandma, whom they loved? She made up a little white lie about why Patty couldn't come see Cece to placate her daughter.
Luckily, they had gotten to the hospital so quickly that Cece was going to make it through, but Jennifer and David were obviously devastated at how close to death their daughter had come. Never in their wildest dreams did they see something like this happening. Not to them. Not to their Cece.
That disbelief quickly bubbled into anger at what Patty had done. Jennifer turned her phone off after ignoring the first few calls from her mother-in-law. David did answer, though.
"SHE ALMOST DIED MOM! YOU TRIED TO KILL MY DAUGHTER. ON PURPOSE. YOU MAY AS WELL HAD HER DRINK _POISON_. DO NOT CALL ME AGAIN."
He then proceeded to block the number as he was so hurt and angry at what his mother had done to his baby girl, the most precious person in the world to him that he would do anything to protect. As a result, David had 11 voicemails. His mother was doing anything in her power to get back in their graces and see Cece again.
"Several of them were just her screaming that she's going to kill herself because she can't live without her BAAAABYYYY."
Seeing as her calls remained unanswered and her voicemails unacknowledged, Patty was going to get her message through one way or another.
The voicemails weren't the only attempt Patty made to show Jennifer and David how much she needed Cece. While Cece was at the hospital, David went home to grab a few things and found their front porch crammed with new toys. Fuming, David loaded up all the new toys, took them back to the hospital and gave them to the other children who were there. He was not going to give Cece anything from Patty. In the meantime, ever so slowly, Cece began to recover. The hospital sent a counselor to work with her as she went through bouts of hysteria due to the steroids and episodes of drowsiness due to the Benadryl. She had a lingering full-body rash, but also got brand new Frozen pajamas (remember, her favorite movie) and her favorite foods. Jennifer and David made sure to keep her happy.
Still, she was asking for her grandma.
"She is still asking for Patty. The counselor suggested telling her, 'grandma made you very sick on purpose, so she's in time-out and can't see you. We don't hurt other people, right?' So we've just been repeating that."
Luckily Patty had no way of getting into the ward where Cece was kept. After they first arrived, Patty was taken into custody as she was threatening to kill herself if she didn't get to see her little baby again. Once released (charges were still pressed, of course), the ward was locked and guarded, so there was no way she could get past security.
On top of ALL of this, Jennifer and David had to start learning how to deal with the fallout. David's family, while in shock, were split. He had emailed all of his immediate family about what had happened... but not before his mother had called them first. Some of their relatives sided with Patty, and even suggested that it was Jennifer and David's responsibility to help Patty cope and get through this. But their only duty was to their daughter.
Jennifer and David decide that Patty would never see Cece again.
Once Cece makes a full recovery, Jennifer is planning to take her child and go stay with her own mother while David makes plans for the family to move a few states away -- just so Patty will not be able to get to Cece. Her mother lives all the way in Ireland, and Jennifer is flying home to put as big of a distance as she can between her child and her mother-in-law.
"My mother-in-law is being charged with endangerment of a child. Our lawyer has told us that she will probably not spend any time in jail. In any case, we have a restraining order against her and warned my daughter's preschool. She will never lay eyes on my child again if I can help it. There will be no second chance for her to murder my child."
Jennifer and David are also pursuing a civil case against Patty for the hospital bill.
The couple started taking Cece to a therapist and, thankfully, the child does not seem to be suffering from any emotional trauma. David is also seeing a therapist to help him deal with the trauma of what his mother did, and having to cut her out of his life completely.
"Here we are, holding steady and moving forward."