(this is an old post, re-inserted due to deletion) “Everything happens for a reason?” Personally, I really do not believe this. (did you just GASP?!!!) I think it is one of those things people say to you when you tell them something about your life that undeniably sucks. I think those platitudes are just our mind’s way of trying to contextualize experiences that don’t fall inside our usual frameworks for making sense of the world. I believe that sometimes we all make pointless, useless choices…..and these are the times you make “lemonade out of lemons”. There are just too many really bad things out there for me to rationalize “everything happens for a reason”. I guess a lot of it comes down to situations like this: The mother of a severely handicapped child who has to listen to the well-meaning chirping’s of her friends who say “everything happens for a reason…(or) God only gives special children to special mothers who are strong” Yes, these people do not know what else to say…they are well-meaning. But this mother is thinking…. “there’s NO reason good enough that I should have to deal with this severe disability….and I don’t think it is part of a LARGER plan!”. Here is what I DO believe: We ALL have life experiences that make us STRONGER. We learn from these experiences. These experiences are what mold us. They help us better our choices for the future. I have no real problem believing in the randomness of life. Or, that maybe SOME things happen for a reason. BUT….. This is only MY take, albeit a very unpopular view…..but it is what it is And I am what I am:-) I’m definitely not trying to change anyone’s thought process. Just give insight on another view.
I have been very mixed up about religion my entire life. Having been raised in what I consider a cult The religion of my birth has caused great divides in my family. The members claim it is the ONLY TRUE religion. They actually say you will know it by the love shown. I am here to tell you, I have not felt any love. It is a very cold religion. Recently at a funeral for my cousin there were many witnesses present. Some were cordial and spoke to me. One uncle , however, would not even return a polite nod. How Christian is that? Going as far to walk off when I attempted to take a picture of him and his siblings.
Since being free of that cult, I have visited many churches. I have learned the things taught about other religions as a child was false. the people there were nice, honest, and sincere for the most part. I was especially impressed with all they did for the community and the mission work overseas. And WOW, the witnesses were especially harsh on Catholics. Since I’ve been out I have had a few friends who are of the Catholic Faith. They are the most loving, giving, honest and wonderful people I know. Coming out I found that all religions were not bad.
Here is my view, however unpopular. I do not believe that going to Church is a salvation issue. I believe I can, and do, have a relationship with God through Christ. Some feel going to church strengthens that relationship. For them, it probably does. But, for me, putting that time and energy into something else, like simply talking to God through prayer and meditating on his works, is what bolsters my relationship with God. It solidifies my faith every time I pray for a friend, or a friend of a friend who is sick or having some difficulty. I feel the power of prayer. I have attended different Churches from time to time. The people there have been very nice at most of them. I’ve enjoyed the sermons at most. I have a great respect for churches that give so much back to their communities.
I am a very private person. I don’t have to let anyone know what I do or give. God knows. And he knows me as a person. That is enough for me. I accept the gift of grace. Ephesians 2:8:
American King James Version
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God
What really seals my attitude is when someone says "You need to go to church." Or "You must not have Jesus in Your life." How could anyone know that? Or the worse one, "you’re going to hell!" This kind of thing makes me turn to God in prayer for them. We all are imperfect. We all make mistakes. The best we can do is love one another. Let people make their own choices. Can anyone honestly say everyone not going to church is evil and all churchgoers are saints? I think not.
What I would say to the Church-goer worried about me because I do not go to church: Don’t worry about me. Jesus died for us all. My relationship with God through Christ is a very personal one. I am happy for you, please be happy for me.
Post note: I feel we raised our children with good morals. We taught empathy for others. We are very proud of the adults they have become. My son and his wife attend Church. My daughter does not. One can only look at the way she is raising her children, the way she handles her responsibilities, and her conduct to see she is a good person. I’m proud of my children. Whether they choose church or not. She may choose to attend a church one day. I don't think she is opposed. Sometimes a church has to be the right fit for a person.
However, if she never does, I will never doubt Jesus’ love for her and her love for Jesus.
Intermittently in our twenty-six years of marriage, and five years of dating before, I have been so angry at Dennis I have felt like walking out. Packing up and taking off. But I never did. First of all I have always loved him even through the tough times. Even when I didn’t like him very much, I always loved him. When the kids were small it was tough at times. We didn’t get along perfectly. But he was a wonderful father to our children and there was no way I would take them away from that. Just thinking about a step-parent situation with my kids made me sick. I didn’t want my kids to have a step mother. I only wanted Dennis to be their father, no stepfather. He was such a doting and loving dad. He was tough when the situation called for some tough love. The kids respected and loved him. Focusing on the love was what bound us together. No matter what the problems were, we had love. I could not imagine being with anyone else. Sometimes I take for granted how good he is to me.
Now we are empty nesters. Kids out of the house. We have a couple of wonderful grandson’s. We still continue to have conflicts. I’d rather he not climb on houses or flimsy aluminum ladders with his bad hip! He took a fall just the other week and could hardly move for a day or so. Thanks to Aleve, Advil, and the Chiropractor, he managed to feel a little better. Enough to go to his gig in New Orléans for Mardi Gras Security. I nag him about his health. He needs a hip and shoulder rotator cuff surgery. He has agreed to call a doctor for an appointment for his hip. I will update if that happens. I am looking forward to growing old-er with him. Still so many things we would like to enjoy. Got to get started on that Bucket list!
Postnote: Chris Young is one of my favorite Country singers. This song is so true. Makes you think.
This was the day a Beautiful boy would rock my world. He was HUGE, sick, and alert as a three-month old. Of course being born on February 2, although due December 23rd might have given him a little extra time for maturing. This ten pound seven ounce baby looked like a giant in the neonatal nursery at Clayton General Hospital! Especially when they placed his little bed next to the preemie weighing only two pounds. My boy was very sick, with an infection from the fluids in the womb and Jaundice. To compound issues, one of the nurses there was sure he had Down Syndrome. Which clearly he doesn’t. Stephen was born with what appeared a simian crease in his hand. Only one dominant line. He also had a lot of fat. He weighed ten pounds seven ounces. The nurse I mentioned said there was a redundunt skin roll in the back of his neck. I thought his whole neck was chunky! But she was really upsetting me by being so matter of fact. She said there were help groups available and I should contact one or either decide whether to on raise this child. This blew me away!!! Stephen was at the hospital ten days and since he wasn’t in a room, they had thrown Barco lounger in a closet for me to set up camp. It was easier to stay there as I was nursing him. When she had this discussion with me, I remember walking to the cafeteria with tears streaming down my face, and I sat alone in the most private corner. There was no way to find out definitively immediately. The test they sent off would take a couple of weeks. But, I KNEW she was wrong. This child didn’t look like anyone I had ever seen who had down syndrome. His eyes were badly bruised from birth. But I could just tell. Mother’s instinct, I guess. Later that week, I was in the nursery getting ready to hold and feed him, and the head of one of the departments (I think it was radiology, but my memory fails) came up to me and asked if I was Stephen’s mom. I said, “Yes, Sir” . Wondering , what now? He was so nice. He showed me his hand. He had a simian crease. He told that he had heard about this possible down syndrome baby and wanted to see him. He said I have no worries! This child is going to test negative. He does not have it. He said if I have not already done the tests, don’t bother. WHEW! What a relief! That was my angel sent from heaven.
This boy came home the tenth day. Bright eyed and smiling so big. What a blessing in my life. So dependent on me. Would I be a good mom? From the time I brought him home, his needs or even wants are more important than mine. Ahhh, Motherhood. Stephen had some reflux issues. It was an enigma! he was gaining weight because he threw up so much. The ongoing joke with my sister’s was Yeah, I’ll babysit, just let me get my slicker and rain bonnet on. Because sometimes it was projectile type. My sister, Margie, counted six times of throwing up in just the time it took her to get up from the couch and walk across the room to get the remote control for the T.V.. Yet, his pediatrician said not to worry. He would outgrow it. He is thriving and gaining weight.
As Stephen grew he picked up on things very fast. He had an amazing vocabulary before the age of two. I remember a conversation with him about his second birthday party. He was describing his cake and what kind of balloons he wanted. I couldn’t believe how smart this little guy was. He was already proficient at working our VCR . He always knew which movies he wanted to watch each day. He and I had a lot of One-on-One time before the arrival of his little sister, Erin. So, I was afraid he might be a little jealous. And he was, a little, which is normal. But I was so happy he embraced her and seemed to really love her from the beginning. Stephen was a sweet child.
From four to five, this was the early l990’s and y’all know what that meant. BRAVES were HOT. Or getting hot. It was an exciting time for baseball. And little Stephen Hammond was a Braves fan from a very early age. Stephen had never gone to preschool or a nursery because I wanted to spend that precious time with him . We lived next door to Dennis’ parents. We also lived a house over from my Dad. His mom was so good about having him over when he wanted. Of course she always had a Yoo Hoo or Hug in a Jug in the Fridge for him. That is what Grandma’s do, isn’t it? Spoil the grandkids with goodies. Stephen would sit with his Pop (D’s dad) outside as he would peel an apple with his pocket knife and cut him bites. Those were the days. Both my kids were so blessed being raised next door to such wonderful Grandparents. We miss them dearly. Although Stephen had no formal schooling at this point in his life, I had taught him his alphabet and numbers, and when he was in kindergarten he was putting words together and reading. At the age of five he would go to the mailbox to get the mail and the newspaper. He would spread the paper all over the living room floor and dig for the sports section. Then check out his favorite Braves players and their line scores or stats. Of course with his love of Baseball, he also wanted to play. We started him in little league when he was about five. He started playing Muppet soccer when he first turned four. At one point he was wrestling with the Coweta Cobra’s, playing soccer, and baseball. One Saturday he had all three events in one day. A wrestling match that a.m. , an afternoon baseball game, and a late afternoon soccer game. He LOVED it. It was a lot of planning and work for me as I had to pack coolers and uniform changes and try to hydrate and feed him properly. His grades were always extremely good and never suffered through all the extra curricular activities. Stephen was a very motivated child. He asked for an alarm clock when in elementary school. He set it to wake up and get ready for school on his own. I think he enjoyed it. Or at least resolved to go as he knew he had no choice in the matter. He was also very good with money. He would ration his birthday money or Christmas money so that it lasted until the next occasion he would receive money. He earned money as a referee for CCSA at the age of fourteen. He collected our cans for extra money as well as doing other jobs for money. He also had his regular chores he did which did not pay anything but a “well done” from his parents. He was pretty good at doing his part. Once when we first built our new house back in 1999, we asked Stephen if he thought we should build a swimming pool. He gave it some thought and got back to us. He told us he just didn’t have time in his schedule to keep a pool up. He realized he would be responsible for a lot of the upkeep and didn’t want to take this on. He enjoyed his sports and knew his classes were just going to get tougher. He was able to handle his tough classes and Ace them. His grades always made us so proud. He graduated with high honors from Newnan High School. That is where he met his Sweetheart, Katie. I remember thinking there is something about her. I could tell there was a spark that day we were standing in line at the DMV to get Stephen’s learner’s permit. Katie was there with her dad, Mike. Stephen and Katie both have birthday’s in February. Stephen kept turning around to smile at her. I believe that was 2002. They graduated three times together. Once from Newnan High. Twice from Mercer. First time at Mercer for their College diploma, Stephen completed his Doctor of Pharmacy program and Katie for her Masters. They got married in 2009. Stephen is a Pharmacist for CVS. He is also a Spanish major which helps since his CVS has a lot of customers whose main language is Spanish. Katie teaches Advanced Placement History at Newnan High. An interesting note about Stephen’s school career from Kindergarten through twelfth grade; he was only counted absent once! This was when he signed out to attend a friend’s father’s funeral. And with block scheduling he was not counted present for that day.
Stephen started Kindergarten at Moreland Elementary. He began Cub Scouts in the first grade and stuck with it through fifth grade. I was one of his Pack leaders. He worked hard at this and anything we ever involved him. He had such a competitive spirit and a wish to learn. He cultivated some friendships at Moreland that he still has to this day. His best man at his wedding was a grammar school buddy, who he had also been on his little league baseball team as well. Moreland Elementary was a wonderful school with excellent teachers who really cared about the children. I feel blessed that my children attended that school.
Middle school would bring exciting times. He was able to play school soccer in the seventh grade. And of course we all know about those middle school dances. Stephen had not hit a growth spurt and was a bit shorter than his date. But he was so handsome. He was always smiling and had such a likeable personality, and still does.
One thing I remember about middle school is a talk Stephen had with his Dad. He came to him and said school was boring. He felt he wasn’t being challenged….he needed more. That is how hungry he was to learn. His dad contacted some of his teachers and they gave Stephen extra work. Some said he would not get credit, but that really didn’t matter to Stephen. He also became active with First Baptist Church in Newnan. He enjoyed the youth programs. One year he and sister Erin, traveled to N.Y. on a mission trip. He actually got to travel to Costa Rica with a select group of young men through a church mission program. He developed a friendship with the Youth Minister, Drew Porterfield. Even though this person was not associated with First Baptist when Stephen was ready for Baptism, he agreed to baptize Stephen. This took place at his friend Seth’s Grandparent’s, pool in our neighborhood in Moreland.
Stephen received an academic scholarship to attend Mercer University at Macon. He was inducted into Pi kappa Phi Fraternity. Affiliated with an organization called Push America. n 2007, my son, Stephen, raised around $5,500, for Push America, an organization that exists to improve lives of those with disabilities, in an event called Journey of Hope. He bicycled as part of a 30 man team from San Francisco, CA to Washington, DC. It was a 63 day journey stopping daily to volunteer and interact with people with disabilities. Dennis, Erin, Katie, and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet him as he pedaled in to finish this journey. He was fortunate to not have any illness or bicycle malfunctions that would inhibit this journey. He was able to pedal every mile of that journey. Something to be proud of. He did have some stomach issues, but none that were severe enough to keep him off the trail.
Well, I have so many stories about Stephen I could share. I could go on an on. He kept us all entertained. He was good at that. We all still remember his special words for certain things that he made up when he was little. Erin thought these were the real words for these things and when she found out they were bogus via using them in front of friends, she was pretty mad. I guess we just took it for granted she knew Stephen made them up. Words like Dadoo for Apple, and Pootah for Foot. I don’t even know where he got these words because from a young age he could articulate. He also made up a “ditty” or two we all still sing from time to time. His most famous video as a child is “There’s a Spider outside”. I love this video because it showcases both my babies. Erin as a newborn. Stephen as one of the cutest little guys ever. Trying to talk his mama into letting him take his shirt off in October.
I hope I have inculcated a love of music to my children. I always had music playing when they were young. I introduced them to music of many genres. I picked up on some of Stephen’s musical favorites when he was in high school. We have attended several concerts together. Music is very important in my life and I am so glad Stephen enjoys music.
Although Stephen rarely ever disobeyed or gave us any trouble whatsoever. We had rules and most of the time he followed these rules. I stumbled upon some video of he and some of his friends recently and it was truly funny at this point. But had I known then, he probably would have been in trouble…well for breaking a rule or two. In these videos he was lighting tennis balls and slinging them, riding the four-wheeler wildly with no helmet. Many other shenanigans. Priceless, boys will be boys type stuff.
I am so proud of Stephen. He is an intrinsically good person….and very handsome. Even though each Ground Hog Day marks another year that he is older, I still think of him as my son, my boy. He has grown into such a wonderful man. In closing I want to give his dad a lot of credit for being such an exemplary father. He was always leading as a role model and always put his kids first. I think this was a huge influence on Stephen. I will close with a quote I recently sent Erin after the birth of her second son, Bennett. It is a quote that touched my heart…..it is so true. Stephen, I hope you know I love you.
“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world.
It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.
I was mostly sitting on the couch in the large birthing room at Piedmont Newnan. Cringing every time Erin had a contraction because I knew they were painful and I could not take that pain from her. But let’s go back a few weeks. She had gone for a regular visit to her doctor’s office, Southern Crescent Women’s, and was told she had a condition called Polyhydramnios. Which is too much amniotic fluid. She was also told the baby was measuring too big for the week she was currently in her pregnancy. They recommended she start seeing a high risk Doctor, again. (As she had at the beginning of her pregnancy. She was carrying triplets, but lost her twins ). An appointment was made and she saw this doctor the next week as well as her regular doctors every week up until her due date. On her due date her doctors did a procedure which probably has a fancy term, but I call it scraping the cervix. Sometimes this triggers labor. In Erin’s case, it did. She began to have contractions soon thereafter. She was also told at the previous appointment they estimated the baby’s weight at around 8 lbs. But what I do not understand, in hindsight. I don’t know why she was not induced earlier? She was told she was dilated to three approximately three weeks before Bennett was born and to 5 at least two weeks before. She was having Braxton Hicks contractions intermittently. On Friday, January 9, she had contractions for hours. We talked her into staying at our house. We called the hospital and was sure she was going to deliver that day. Suddenly the contractions stopped. She spent the weekend with us, but on Sunday she loaded up, went home and being the strong woman she is, taught school all week. So, back to the contractions on January 12th. By nine that evening we knew it was time to get her to the hospital. We loaded up, her and Adam in their car, Dennis and I in ours. We were the lead car. We ran into a detour that raised our blood pressure a little, but we got there, As Adam was wheeling her back I noticed her stomach was incredibly caddywampas. I made the comment that he would definitely have to change his position. They got her admitted and We all, Dennis, Adam and me, were with her as she suffered through contraction after contraction. Finally, she was able to get an epidural which helped a lot.
We all made wagers on when Bennett would make his appearance. We were all wrong. Everyone was shooting around 4:00 am. That was around the time they had to manually break her water. She was and ready to push soon after. I could see everything from where I was in that room. I knew my daughter was trying her best to birth that baby. But after hours of pushing the Doctor came in repeatedly and threatened her with a C Section if she didn’t push that baby out. The truth is the baby was hitting a bone. There were visible indentions on his head that showed just how hard his mom had pushed. She tried so hard her eyes were bulging. Yet, this doctor made her feel like a failure. She could not have this baby on her own. She was going to have to have a Cesarean. But at this point the baby’s vitals were all over the place. My daughter had a fever and was cold and shaking. Yet this did not stop her from having her try, try, try. She gave her time limits. If you can’t do this in thirty minutes I’m calling it. I will do a c section. All the time I’m thinking why the hell don’t YOU call it! She has pushed for hours. I can see the crown, but it is going NOWHERE. I honestly do not know what she was thinking. She actually told us that a c section was now complicated because the baby was stuck. I am scared to death and I began to pray. I was texting Dennis who was probably wondering what happened. I then was kicked out as they prepped her and took her in for surgery. I don’t remember the exact time, but it was probably around 7:50 a.m.
Out in the waiting room was very intense. We were very scared. When after about twenty minutes we asked a nurse to check and get us an update. Finally a nurse came out and told us he was born, had a little trouble breathing at first, but was fine. She said he weighed 9 lbs. (actually 9.7) We waited and waited. Adam texted his mother that they were ok. He didn’t want her to worry. Later he told me it was the scariest time of his life. We later were told the baby was being transported to Egelston, then we found out it was actually Grady. The pediatric Doctor and Dr. Shepard came out and told us he had something called metabolic acidosis and would need to lie on a cooling blanket. Then later the pediatric doctor told us more test confirmed that he was fine. It wasn’t until he got to Grady that we realized exactly why they sent him. Tha t child was bruised so badly. He had lost oxygen. They were afraid his brain was going to swell. This was the first time Adam and Erin learned of possible brain damage. This was a botched delivery. An MRI was ordered. Had Erin been induced when she first began to dilate. The baby might have not been a whopping 9.7 and it would have been easier. Between two sets of doctors it would seem they could make a decision that would help my daughter. The high risk doctor had suggested an induction about a week before she delivered, but made it seem elective and not necessary. The doctors should have made the call. One that would NOT send my grandson to a neonatal nursery for almost two weeks.
Grady did an MRI on Bennett. A resident gave out information to Adam and Erin that turned out to be false. He said Bennett had water on the brain. The doctors at Egelston were sent the results to make an assessment. They concluded that Bennett’s MRI results were perfectly normal. Oops this resident caused the family a couple days of unnecessary worry. This was serious as well. But that was GREAT news…he’s normal! But I wonder if he will have any residual issues from his trauma. This is heavy on my mind. Which is why I feel litigation is necessary to protect Bennett. I also feel it is not the fault of Adam or Erin that Bennett suffered birth injuries. Therefore, his bill at Grady should not be their burden. Sometimes litigation is necessary. I witnessed my daughter pushing with all her might, even though she was running a fever and shaking from being cold, and only to be scolded. I was told she was crying as she was wheeled into the operating room for a cesarean because she thought she was a failure. This Doctor needs to work on her bedside manner. She also needs to realize when a baby is not able to come out a Doctor needs to make the call on a C section without making the patient feel like a failure. And this decision does not need to be called too late. As she did that night. While realizing she is only human, I also know she has been trained to do a very important job. When things do not go as planned there are consequenses. Bennett did not get to lie close to his mother and latch to her breast. He was wisked away. We were discouraged from contact as he was to lie on a cold mat for a few days being fed through a tube. Imagine that, a COLD mat after being in that nice warm womb. Then onto the warming blanket. He was stuck with needles. Had wires everywhere. His poor little bruised head probably hurt as well. I could see the indentions where he was pushed on the bone so many hours. My heart ached for him. And his mother who cried like a baby as he was transported from Piedmont Newnan to Grady had to stay there in the wing where all the other mother’s had their babies with them in their rooms. They had big beautiful ribbons on their doors. Pink for girl, blue for boy. But none for her and no baby in her room. And how about Adam having to leave his wife to go to Grady to be with their son? I’m sure he wanted to be there with Erin to comfort her. But he also wanted to go with Bennett. Thinking about baby Jackson. He is well taken care of by Adam’s mom, but you know he is wondering what is going on. All of this was unnecessary. Doctors should make the right decisions. Erin should have been induced early December. At best a cesarean called early. This could have been prevented. Erin was a high risk pregnancy. This particular Doctor’s office has many doctors as staff. Why not have two on call for a high risk case?
Bennett was transported to Grady. He was kept on a cooling mat for several days, then a warming mat. Being fed through a tube. Erin pumped and froze breast milk for when he would be able to eat. We were baffled that he weighed 10.7 on Saturday the 17th, less than a week from weighing 9.7 at birth. Makes me wonder if the weight at birth was accurate. Not sure how he could have gained that much on that cold mat.
Many may wonder how I stayed in that birthing room observing that abuse without speaking up. I did delicately say to her once I thought Erin was pushing as hard as she could. But I could not afford to make her angry. She was the one who had the lives of my daughter and Grandson in her hands. As much as I wanted to go off on her I remained calm. But I was brewing inside. And at this point I am very angry at how things went down. I want this story told, maybe it can prevent someone else from having such a horrible experience.
We are totally in love with Bennett and cannot wait to introduce him to Jackson.
The sweet is ever so sweet. As my daughter Erin, approaches her due date. I am so eager to meet my second grandson, Bennett. He will have such fun with older brother Jackson and all of his wonderful cousins. However, I want to take a moment to remember the twins who were lost earlier in her pregnancy. One week she was told the heartbeats of all the babies was strong. The next week she was met with the grim news that the twin’s had no heartbeat. From the time we learned of her pregnancy with triplets and saw the initial sonogram pic we all fell in love. We dreamed of the three with brother Jackson. We are blessed that Bennett survived and we are praying that he will be happy and healthy. But we have not forgotten the two who are not with us an are sure they are guardian angels watching over us.
I am so proud of Erin for all she has endured. This has been a very difficult pregnancy. I am also proud of her writing skills. She was able to put her emotions to paper in this poem:
By Erin Hammond Parker:
I carried you so carefully
I kept you close at heart
I fell in love so deep and pure
Never thinking we would part
In my dreams I heard your laughs
I held you in my arms
I knew that I would do anything
To keep you out of harm
But two so rare and beautiful
Aren’t meant for Earthly things
Before they even take a breath
They are given Angel Wings
Here on Earth I will miss you
I’ll always wish you could have stayed
But I will tell your story
And the difference that you made
Babies, I’ll always love you
With every piece of my broken heart
But I know it’s not forever
This time that we’re apart
We will meet again in heaven
I will take you in my arms
I’ll finally get to tell you
Just how Beautiful you are