Boy thriving 16 months after mom dumped him in hospital trash can

An Iowa toddler is healthy and thriving more than a year after his mother dumped him in a hospital trash can.

Ashley Hautzenrader, 24, was at the University of Iowa Hospital, in Iowa City, with her ill daughter, Ahnna, in May 2016 when she unexpectedly gave birth to a boy, Matthew. KWQC in Davenport reported that Hautzenrader tried to flush the newborn down the toilet and, when that didn’t work, wrapped him in a pillowcase and a bag and left him in a trash can.

Hautzenrader was initially charged with attempted murder, but last month made an Alford plea on charges of neglect or abandonment of a dependent person, a felony, and misdemeanor child endangerment, the Gazette, in Cedar Rapids, reported. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt, but concedes that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove its case.

Hautzenrader told police she did not know she was pregnant and that, once she gave birth, she believed the baby was stillborn. She told investigators that she cleaned up the restroom where she gave birth and left, not telling anyone about the birth.

Nurses at the hospital found Matthew after they heard him crying, the Gazette reported.

So as I'm sitting here waiting to here the verdict from Iowa city, I feel like it's the right time to come forward. Fill...

Posted by Brandon Addison on Friday, September 1, 2017

Matthew's father, Brandon Addison, told KWQC in Davenport that he suspected Hautzenrader was pregnant and confronted her about it, but she denied it.

"She had plenty of opportunities to tell me, and I still don't know why she didn't," Addison told the news station.

Addison said he was initially with Hautzenrader at the hospital, helping to care for their daughter, who was suffering from complications from a heart transplant she had when she was younger. He had to leave the hospital to return to work in Davenport, which is where he was when he received a phone call from the Iowa Department of Human Services informing him that he had a son.

"That is when my heart sunk," Addison told KWQC. "All I could think of was, 'Please let him be OK.' They said he was really cold and he needed to be put under a heating lamp."

It was during that treatment that Addison met his son for the first time. Matthew survived his ordeal and today is a healthy 16-month-old with dark eyes and blond hair.

Hautzenrader was facing up to 15 years in prison on the lesser charges, but a judge sentenced her last week to five years of probation. During her sentencing hearing, Hautzenrader addressed the court, detailing the ordeal of daughter’s illness, which kept the young family going back and forth to the hospital for more than a year.

"I'm just asking you to listen and try to understand what I've been through," Hautzenrader told the judge, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

A psychiatrist also testified on Hautzenrader’s behalf, telling the court that the defendant suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a condition known as pregnancy denial at the time her son was born.

The judge based the probation decision on Hautzenrader's clean criminal history, her age and the fact that she agreed to treatment for PTSD immediately after the incident, the Press-Citizen reported.

Part of the plea includes a no-contact order that forbids Hautzenrader from having contact with Matthew for five years, the Gazette reported. Her parental rights have been terminated and Addison has custody of both Ahnna and Matthew.

Addison told the Gazette that he was "incredibly disappointed" that his former girlfriend avoided jail time after leaving their son "for dead." He said Matthew is doing well in his care and that Ahnna's health has greatly improved since her own hospitalization.

The 27-year-old father told the newspaper that he doesn’t want the outcome of the case to seem like an “easy way out” of the difficulties of parenting.

"It's your job as a parent to step up and make sure they are safe and protected at all costs," Addison said.

He encouraged parents to learn about adoption and about Iowa’s Safe Haven law, which allows a parent to turn over a newborn to a hospital, with no questions asked, if he or she cannot take care of the child.

Addison told KWQC that he will someday have to tell his son the circumstances around his birth, but that it can wait until he is old enough to understand what happened.

"It will initially be his decision to forgive her," Addison said.

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