Saturday, January 2, 2016

Update on Mila and the Gym

It has been 6 months since Mila was abused and neglected at 24 hour fitness gym child care area. She continues to be the sweetest girl and is very smart and her giggle melts our heart.  For about 3 months she was very scared when I would hand her to someone to hold her especially if it wasn't someone she knew, she would sort of panic and have a worried look in her eyes like "don't leave me, mom" It.  Broke. My.  Heart.  Every time. After much reassurance and days of just holding her all day ( which was totally ok with me) she now is comfortable being held by other people and just recently at a restaurant she was smiling and giggling to another patron waiting for their table and Mila reached out to her to have the stranger hold her.  It was super cute.  Through the sharing of Mila story many people have reached out and sent sweet thoughts and words and many prayers on her behalf and our family.  Many people have given good advice and referrals to law enforcement on how to handle the incident as well.  I want to say thank you to everyone that has been so caring to our family and Mila.  I also took the advice of another blogger that left a comment on my blog sharing that while she was a young mom she took her children on walks in a stroller/jogger and hiked up big hills to work out.  I appreciated that advice so much after this happened because it wasn't just the suggestion, it was heaven sent, it came from a sweet angel and it was meant just for me at the moment to read it and be touched for what I needed to do in my life.  I know it's an option to work out with kids, in a jogger or workout at home, not in a gym, but I honestly didn't want to.  I wanted to drop my kids off have a moment to myself and let them play while I worked out.  I needed extra motivation to actually get my butt exercising in the first place, not to mention packing up two kids, diapers, snacks in a double jogger ready to hit to trail hoping they were happy while I worked out.  The thought of it all was enough to throw in the towel and not exercise at all!  But her words came at the perfect moment, I took to heart what she said and felt inspired that this was probably what I needed to do in my life at this exact moment in time, I also felt that no matter how hard it may be to get it together and make it happen in the end it would be worth it, so I did just that.  I have been consistently taking the two little ones in the jogger for my work out for months since school started for the older kids (recent weather has been raining and super cold (we Californians are such wimps when it come to "cold 60 degree" weather)  so I've done work outs at home until just this last week) We would walk the older boys to school then I roller bladed (sometimes jogged) along the bike trail.  It has been the most rewarding thing not just physically but getting to look down and see little Roman (3 years old) be so tender and sweet to baby Mila by sharing crackers, goldfish and his sippy cup with her, talking to her, holding her hand, sharing his batman with her and letting her rest her head on him while she drifts off to sleep.  It's very relaxing to cruise along the bike path on roller blades and it's a great work out most days we stop at the park to play after as well.  We go for anywhere from an hour to three hours sometimes we stop at the grocery store or target to pick up things we need.  I see this as the silver lining about the whole horrible event.  Precious, precious moments with these two that I would not be getting if I was working out in the gym.  I would still be able to go on walks and do this but I probably wouldn't have taken the time- sad to say- after I had already worked out for the day.  A trip to the park would probably be once a week not almost daily how we do now.  

Mila has now turned one and is honestly the sweetest little girl ever.  She is quite the little trickster trying to stand up while riding her little friends bike (see below) and is so cute and happy as you'll see in the pictures below.  We are celebrating her birthday with family in the next week.  We wanted to wait until all the holidays passed since her birthday is in December.  

Update on the San Bernardino police department child crimes detectives.  They researched the abuse and neglect that happened to Mila by one or more of 24 hour fitness' employees, via camera footage and they closed the case based on not having proof to convict someone with criminal child abuse. In order for the employees to be questioned beyond a phone interview and actually interrogated and questioned in person, detectives would have to have evidence other than the bruises and marks all over Milas body.  They looked at video footage on old camera equipment that has no sound and was pixelated.  They saw several children holding mila and interacting with her.  24 hour fitness has a policy that children aren't allowed to play with babies or hold them and are in a separate area however older children held Mila and one child entered the baby area had her hands on Milas legs while she was in her car seat, the employees stood and talked while this went on for 10 minutes, the camera angle was not able to see Milas face to see if she was crying or happy during this time.  At no point in the hour and 20 minutes Mila attended the child care was a camera ever able to see her face, because the camera couldn't see her face or Milas expressions there was no proof that she was in distress.  Although the employees admitted that Mila cried hysterically for 30 minutes straight, admitting to only paging me and not trying to find me in the gym it wasn't enough to question the employees more or ask questions to witnesses, other parents that came in and out of the child care.  The detective also said he would have to see a grimace or an angry expression on the employees, or childrens face who held Mila or see Mila being hit, spanked or beat in order to have evidence/proof that there was criminal intent to hurt her.  But how could he on camera footage that was so pixelated, I asked.  He replied "I didn't see anything that could convict someone of child abuse".  Very disheartening that there was nothing else the detective could do.  No one was interviewed other than employees the first deputy talked to, who believed this was abuse and neglect, his report was written up as a criminal child abuse charge.  24 hour fitness didn't close their child care or have different employees work during the investigation.  No precautions were made for other children that attend the gyms child care.  The 24 hour fitness gym in Rancho Cucamonga was extremely neglectful in their child care, hired employees with no experience taking care of babies I would not trust the 2 female employees that were in charge of the children that day with anyone's children.  I have gotten a full refund for me and my husbands gym pass and I am in contact with "Trust Line" the agency responsible for licensing gym, grocery stores and other places like ikea.  I will not stop until adequate camera, better policies, consequences to employees, not just background checks but experience and training in child care is mandatory at these type establishments.

I share our experience so that others will be cautious and avoid the hurt and pain Mila endured through this horrific incident.  Luckily she will not remember what happened.  As a mother I will always remember and I will carry the pain and the look in her eyes when I picked her up from the child care in my memory forever and the trauma her little body suffered.  So very sad that there are terrible people out there.  They will answer to God in heaven for the suffering they caused.  I pray they do not do this again to another baby or child.