NEW ORLEANS -- It was a story that shocked people last October. A Belle Chasse father was charged with pouring alcohol in his infant's feeding tube, while he was in the hospital.
"They say you don't understand a mother's love until you hold your baby for the first time. I had seen the ultrasound. I had felt the kicks, but the first time I held him, it was like it wasn't anything better than that," said Erika Wigstrom, with tears in her eyes.
Wigstrom, 19, now faces a tough life. Her eight-month-old son Lucas Ruiz was born with Down syndrome, then suffered seizures and later severe brain damage after her fiancé and baby's father allegedly poured rum in the hospital feeding tube while Lucas was waiting for surgery to fix three holes in his tiny heart.
"That baby had a seizure in that hospital bed with me and all the nurses and the ICU doctors standing around his bed, for 58 minutes. I talked to that baby the entire time, trying to get him to come back to me," said Wigstrom.
When asked where Lucas' father was, she said "he was sleeping on the sofa."
Lucas had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. She says doctors told her it was .298. No alcohol is safe for a baby's developing brain. At one point, doctors and social workers questioned Wigstrom about the baby's unexplained respiratory distress problems. Later police interrogated her for several hours.
Police say her fiancé confessed.
"What he told police is he didn't mean to hurt him. He wanted to help him sleep at night. But another time he said he wanted to end his suffering," said Wigstrom.
The Jefferson Parish District Attorney's office says Cesar Ruiz, 19, is now incarcerated in Jefferson Parish. He is awaiting trial. Bond has also been set. He is charged with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. Attorneys say Wigstrom currently is a witness in the case.
"Right now, I have no relationship with him. I do not desire a relationship with him. I will never have a relationship with him," said Wigstrom.
She says she only spoke to Cesar once by phone after the confession.
She said he asked, "Do you still love me? Do you think I didn't do this? Do you still love me? You know I love you. You know I love Lucas."
"And I just lost it. I couldn't," Wigstrom recalls of her conversation.
She says she has never asked Cesar why he did it. And she never asks, "Why me?"
"Why my son, not 'Why me.' I'm not worried about myself. Why my baby? Why? Why him?"
The family is now looking into hyperbaric oxygen treatments for baby Lucas with Dr. Paul Harch of LSUHSC.
The baby is on Medicaid. Insurance does not cover the treatments for this medical indication since it has not been approved to treat brain tissue.
There is a medical account at Regions banks called "A New Life for Lucas."