I thought that it might be a good idea for you to know a little more about me. This will give you better insight as to what this blog and my forthcoming non-fiction book are all about.
Elizabeth Barker and Family at Cape Cod Wedding
I am the eldest of 5 children. My life and growing years were relatively “normal” (hmm…how do you define that?). Point is, there wasn’t much trauma in my life other than the usual teenage growing pains. I dutifully went through 12 years of catholic education, including 4 fine years at Mount St. Joseph Academy, then on to college at Philadelphia University.

Growing up initially in Italian influenced South Philadelphia (home of Rocky, Vince Papale, etc.), I had a close relationship with my maternal grandmother, Rose Martino Notaro. “Gram”, as we affectionately called her, was the proverbial grandmother to us. She was a hard working, kind, loving and very strong (physically and mentally) woman proud of her heritage and her family. Her soft spot was children. Her eyes always misted up when she spoke about her baby daughter, Rose, who died when she was a toddler, from illness. Little did I know then that history would repeat itself with me losing my little girl too. Gram was fortunate enough to be alive when Lauren was born and adored her. Lauren died before Gram did though, at age 3. Later, Gram, after 3 years in a nursing home with dementia, died at age 96. I proudly wrote and delivered her eulogy.

In junior high, we moved to Lafayette Hill. While in high school, I met my husband, James J. Barker, who graduated in 1974 from St. Joseph’s Prep. We met through my cousin, who was a crew team member with Jim at the Prep. We had a good time in high school with several groups of friends from both of our schools and from our neighborhoods of Lafayette Hill and Roxboro. Many of these people are still friends with us today, which is truly a gift. We are fortunate to have met some wonderful people in our lives. We have supported each other through many of life’s ups and downs over the years together – marriage, divorce, children, sickness and death.

Because we married young, by today’s standards, right out of college, we deferred having children until we were “settled”. We worked hard and advanced in our jobs. We saved. We traveled. We bought a home. And finally at age 29, I felt my biological and maternal clock chime “Mommy Time”! I had no problem becoming pregnant. I enjoyed my pregnancy despite the weight gain, etc. I had never been happier in my life as I looked forward to a baby. The nine months passed quickly and uneventfully as we excitedly prepared. After our years of careful planning, we were ready to welcome our baby and to start another happy chapter of our lives together.

We were fortunate that, on either side of the family, there had never been any genetic issues or childbirth tragedies, other than early miscarriages with both of our Moms. Even my labor and delivery was good, just 5 hours start to finish. And when I showed up at the hospital, I was fully dilated and ready to go.

April 16, 1986 9:49 AM
Lauren Elizabeth Barker is born
9lbs. 14 oz. 22” long

Lauren is bluish and gasping for breath. Her much anticipated birth turns into a nightmare. Then and there our idyllic life came to a crashing halt!

This date and time mark an extreme turning point in our lives. From that day forward, we would never be the same again. This day marked the beginning of a years long cycle of tragedy. Mishaps that followed were going to take us on the roller coaster ride of our lives and school us in the dark secrets of life. We’d experience lessons that they never taught us in school, nor did we know how to handle. This was the beginning of a rough era that would test my tenacity to achieve motherhood.

Throughout it all – Lauren’s special needs, baby James’ birth, quickly followed by Lauren’s tragic death, and finally the heartrending diagnosis of breast cancer, while 5 months pregnant with Bryan – I battled and won.

This is what my forthcoming non-fiction book is about – my own personal reality show in replay of those difficult years. Aptly called “Changed by Chance…Champion by Choice”, the book details the dramatic story of all that transpired and how I battled it all to survive, and ultimately thrive.

I invite you to join me on this blog and to travel with me on my present book quest journey. Follow along on the blog, as I walk the unknown path ahead to launch the book. Along the way, we’ll reach back to the past and fast forward to the present to detail what went on and why. There is so much to tell and many topics that I will touch on: The World of Special Needs Children, Breast Cancer, Holistic Health Care, Self Advocacy, Yoga, Spirituality and Fate, and most importantly, utilizing your inner strength to overcome adversity. I will have guest interviews regarding these topics and related links. I welcome your feedback and appreciate your following and support.