It was Tuesday April 15th, tax due date.
It was also the due date for my first baby.

I work up feeling very agitated. Clients and their accountants, with their last minute tax questions and needs, had made me irritable at work the past week. I decided to work from home that day. I was uncomfortable and felt the need to sit or recline most of the day. The 50+ pounds that I had gained these past 9 months were literally dragging me down more each day.

I found out the cause of my irritation later when, in the middle of the night at 4 AM, a sharp pain woke me and my water broke. Finally, I was in labor! I had the fears that all first time mothers have and prayed that it would go smoothly and quickly. My dreams for and anticipation of my baby negated my concerns a bit. Fear turned to excitement.

Little did I know that April 16th would be my date with destiny. In a few short hours, my carefully planned life would be turned upside down. My idyllic family dreams would be shattered. From that day on, my life would never be the same again!

9:49 AM April 16th Lauren Elizabeth Barker is born. She is beautiful and a big baby at 9lbs. 14 oz., but something is wrong. She is bluish and very tranquil for a newborn. She’s not crying or making a sound except to gasp. She is whisked away from me before I can comprehend what is going on. “Is she stillborn”, I ask dazedly? “No” is the answer but nothing more is said as she is taken away. I am too groggy to grasp the situation.

We don’t find out about Lauren and the severity of her health condition until hours later, after she has been transported to St Christopher’s Hospital for children for evaluation. The news is not good. Immediate heart surgery is needed to save her life. Poor baby Lauren came into this world only to face a horrid and painful surgery on her birthday!

It pained us to see her suffer the following days as she fought for life and recovery. It is a nightmare that no parent, especially a first time parent, wants to experience. It truly made my heart ache.

Our roller coaster ride began that day! And the whirlwind ride didn’t end for 5 unrelenting years as it jerked us up and down, over and over – Lauren’s health set backs; her tortuous slow death from a hospital staph infection; my breast cancer diagnosis while pregnant with Bryan, etc.

But it was not all bad. We had so many joyous times with Lauren for over 2 ½ years when she was well. She was an inspiration to me then and now, as my guardian angel. She taught me so many life lessons with her impish personality, her love, and her tenacity. I’d have done 5 more years on that horrid ride if it meant that she would be alive today. But she isn’t, and there must be a reason for all of this.

I believe that the basis is to share and tell her/our story with the hope that it might inspire others or possibly save lives. Bryan’s life was miraculously spared and he and I are thankfully alive and well today 20 some years later.

I had a date with destiny back in April 1986. I am now expecting a second date, but this time I expect fate to change my life for the positive, with the promise of my forthcoming book being published this year.

Changed by Chance…Champion by Choice
is lovingly dedicated to Lauren Elizabeth Barker 4/16/86 – 4/29/89.