Mother’s Day is a special day, as we all know. We love and appreciate our mothers all year long, but this one special day gives us an extra excuse to slow down and say thank you to our Mothers. I chose this story to be our Mother’s Day story of the year because Melody shares her heart and soul about her headstrong daughter and the love they have for one another.
By Melody Brooke
My daughter Athena is an extraordinary person and mother. Growing up she was the most headstrong child you can imagine. My friends and family all thought I should be more of a disciplinarian and reign her in more. But she was the kind of child you could have beaten till she was out cold and she would have continued to fight you (not that I ever did, I just instinctively knew this). So I learned ways to set limits with this extremely bright, headstrong child.
After graduating from college from the University of Texas, she moved to San Diego to be near her boyfriend whom she had met online. She moved to the other side of the country on her own, with only the boyfriend, and an aunt, as a connection there. She financed the move on her own, living at her aunts for only a month. She got a job within a month of being out there and was on her own. She then stared law school and eventually married her boyfriend.
Then, joyfully, she got pregnant with my precious grand daughter. At Christmas time, 2010, my husband and I went out to be with her after the baby was born. It was a difficult labor and delivery, but all seemed to have gone well. They came home three days afterwards. But my grand daughter just didn’t take to breastfeeding. I knew that was not that uncommon so I encouraged her to stick with it, helping her any way I could. But within a week, we knew something bigger was going on. She reached out into the community for help and finally, three weeks later, discovered that she had not developed the ability to suck at all. Then they realized, she was completely deaf. As they continued to struggle with feedings, they slowly found that this beautiful little girl had been born with an under developed brain stem. After several months of it taking them three hours to feed her, and feeding her every four hours, they opted to put in a feeding tube. The baby began to thrive as they got her more and more help. All of this, while attempting to continue her law career. Both she and her husband are active in her care, sharing feedings and changes when he can. Luckily she worked for a small firm and they have been tremendously supportive as they have gone through this process.
Sometime in the first few months, they also discovered she has a rare eye condition in which her cornea has no feeling and she doesn’t know to protect it, and , to make matters worse, it can’t heal properly. This requires them to be constantly vigilant to protect her eyes, and to keep putting eye drops in every 15 minutes. She doesn’t feel the dry eyes, so they have to keep them moisturized for her or she will go blind.
In November she was approved to get little Eve a cochlear implant. This was finally done in January, and it was turned on in April. As far as she can tell, there is still no hearing resulting from the procedure, but they keep trying. And they keep learning sign language, and fighting for help from within the medical and educational system.
Athena now has a part time position where she works from home much of the week. This allows her to got to the multiple therapy sessions and doctors appointments set for this charming little girl. Sometimes she wants to give up. Sometimes the panic over her eyes and the fact that she may end up deaf and blind overwhelms her so much that she doesn’t know if she can go on. But she does, looking in to the face of this beautiful child, my grand daughter Eve, keeps her going. Her love and persistence in caring for Eve have surprised and pleased every doctor they have seen. Eve, in spite of her problems, is now crawling, and even pulling herself up. She has begun eating some solid food and signing.
We all expect our children to be born perfectly, with no problems other than the normal ones. Athena is no different. But rather than whining and complaining and resisting acceptance of what is, Athena takes the bull by the horns and fights for her daughter. This is where her headstrong, bull headed personality have paid off. God knew what she was doing giving this child to her.