I just read a post on Freshly Pressed, Abort and Try Again and it prompted me to give a testimony to those who are looking for encouragement at the news of carrying a baby that by the world’s terms isn’t perfect.
I worked since 1985 in Labor and Delivery as a nurse. I have seen many tragedies and many miracles. I entered the field when I was still a teen. I am a premie born 3 months early at 2lbs, 2oz. I was born in the days of gloves reaching into an incubator. We hadn’t the benefit of studies on bonding. Mothers were generally anesthetized and laid flat spending days in a hospital to recover from what was supposed to be natural. I was one of the lucky ones, I ate, gained weight and went home. All my siblings were also premies; My mother had 11 children, one a set of twins, and only 3 of us lived. So I chose this area of the hospital because I could be around life and women and encourage them through their experiences.
My youngest living brother was born at a military hospital in 1964, 8 months after my younger brother. He was 3 1/2 pounds. My mother had a history of not handling anesthesia well so she went without meds. Tom was born with a cord around his neck and the doctors did not untangle it before he was born and so he suffered from cerebral palsy. There’s no suing the government, but my Korean mother’s lack of English put her at a disadvantage anyway. They told her Tom would be a “vegetable” so better to institutionalize him. Thank God, all my mother knew was it was her baby and no one was taking him away.
Tom would endure much in his younger years. He didn’t walk until he was 3. We put him in a rocking chair and looking back he seemed autistic. His eyes were crossed so he didn’t see well either. My father was gone most of the time overseas and so my mother did whatever she could. She taught us to drag him across the floor while she moved his legs in a crawling motion. We put on music and tried to stimulate him (he still loves music today..and no, he can’t sing..well). Being Asian American didn’t serve us well. Kids would push him down under monkey bars and we would find him sitting and playing with kids taunting him from above. He was unable to move because he wore braces on his legs. They didn’t have joints in them so he was basically trapped, straight-legged in the dirt. It still amazes me how authorities look the other way when kids hurt one another, figuring kids will be kids. But he endured and so did my other brother and I.
We had so many doctor’s visits. At 9, Tom got eye surgery and his eyes now faced forward. He wore those black-rimmed spectacles (not cool back then) and generally sat on them to avoid kids calling him names. His vision was terrible but within a few years, it was perfect. In his teens, his muscles grew faster than his bones and he was flatfooted. He wanted to run, but the doctors said no. Tom exercised, ran, cried in doorways trying to stretch muscles and keep them from shortening so he could run. He did run and set records in our high school, much to the amazement of others.
In 7th grade, we realized he couldn’t read and stuttered terribly. You can imagine the hassling we all got when Tom was around. He always got stuck on the word, “i” and “and”. So it was like talking to a machine gun and kids definitely took advantage of that. He was left-handed, too to make things more complicated. They put him in special education. We had never taught Tom the word, handicapped and it only took one day before he demanded to be put back in his regular classes. I worked with him nightly, typing his English assignments and practicing Math until he could get it neatly on the page. Teachers gave many praises. They said if grades included effort, Tom would always get an, “A”. Tom would have a surgery that replaced part of his upper thigh with a titanium rod about 9 inches long. He has a massive scar from it and this was back in the 70’s. He still works on that one leg and suffers with arthritis and eventual trouble walking when he retires from pushing it too far. He later became a firefighter and packs get heavy in the midst of a fire. Tom played the flute and had an extraordinary knack for taking things apart and putting them back together. He had a lawn mowing business in high school and fixed “mopeds”(remember those…lots of fun). The lawn mowing business would lead to a mobile van landscaping and plumbing apprentice.
Tom decided he wanted a career and after high school, began EMT school.Then, he progressed to paramedic and eventually RN, Supervisor, Angel Flights, American Heart Association, Coordinator of EMT program, Massage Therapy, and a degree in Hospital Administration, Business, and now schooling in Nurse Practitioner. He is an inspiration to us all.
He has saved lives and was named firefighter of the year a few years ago in Port Orange, Florida for saving the life of a little boy found floating in a canal. His motto is you never give up, especially when its a child. He believes they are resilient and he says he can live easier knowing he tried. That little boy survived with almost no noticeable setbacks.
I know many days he suffers the pain of walking on a leg that has endured so much but his spirit is intact. He doesn’t know what life would have been like it my mother had given in, if we hadn’t all pitched in together and believed and helped him do his best. But, it is truly his doing. The love and beliefs of others are a great foundation, but each child or person must decide for themselves to endure, to fight, to persevere for what they want despite the meanderings of others.
I do not feel sorry for him, but I remember on days when i feel I can’t go on that he did. Many are alive today because he did not give up but he will tell you that his mother made the difference. Her strength, her courage, and her love created what others saw as a “vegetable” into whose life is a testimony to love and to what the Father says in His Word. What they intended for evil, God intended for good. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. And so I will end with a quote from the One who gives life and whose opinion it is that life continues; the One who loves without being asked to, whose there when all give up hope, the light in the darkness and who thankfully gives us parents, siblings, friends, strangers who see beyond the outside of a person.
For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29so that no man may boast before God. 30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”
I Corinthians 1: 18-31 NASB, emphasis mine