The birth of a child is often one of the happiest moments in a person’s life. Yet there Brandy Simpson was in a hospital room scared beyond reason. Her new son, Blaise, had significant medical issues, including cerebral palsy and microcephaly. She didn’t know what to do, how to feel or how to move forward.
“I was overwhelmed emotionally,” she said. “As soon as I found out he was special needs, I felt like it was my fault because I didn’t bond with him at first.”
Brandy pushed forward. She and her oldest son, Zaiden, learned how to care for Blaise. The single mother worked hard to provide for her family in the face of medical bills that often were thousands of dollars a month. Every dollar mattered. And when she didn’t have enough of them, she was facing eviction.
“I was stuck. I was facing homelessness,” Brandy said. “I wasn’t able to afford rent. I was having issues with my son. I didn’t really know what was next.”
Desperate, she began searching the internet for help for single parents in the Amarillo area. She discovered Buckner Family Pathways, a program that strengthens single parent families by providing safe, secure housing and help with childcare so parents can achieve their educational goals, setting them up for lifelong success.
“By the grace of God, I got in,” Brandy said with a sigh of relief.
Being in the program removed the pressure of needing to provide a place to live. Brandy could breathe. She could focus on more than making it through the day and look to long-term plans for her and her family.
“I’ve never been able to say I don’t have to worry about money before,” she said. “Just the program offering reduced housing and help, I can focus on school.”
The change has been visible. Brandy has lost 65 pounds and counting. She’s happier, so she smiles more. She connected with Susana Guevara, director of the Family Pathways program, as well as other women involved in the ministry. They’ve become a support network that’s helped her develop healthy relationships with others and her children.
“It’s family,” she said. “Susana’s become that big sister/mother for me and my family. She’s more than a program manager. I tell her everything. She’s where I go to vent. I tell her everything. I don’t know where I’d be without her and Buckner.”
The experience has transformed her connection with Blaise in particular. Through the nursing program, she’s seen her experience with giving birth to a special needs child is far from unique. Many mothers struggle with it. She now wants to work with critical care children and looks for opportunities to help others love their children as fiercely as she loves Blaise.
“I can make a difference,” she said. “It all started with my little one. I know what it’s like to have a son that’s different. I know what it’s like to not bond immediately. And I know that it’s all worth it.”
Brandy looks forward to what the future holds. She’s excited by what’s already happened during her time at Family Pathways, and has learned even better things lie ahead, precisely the advice she gives other single mothers.
“Keep going. There’s always going to be bad times. You’re going to have bad luck. Things aren’t always going to go your way. Keep going. Keep pushing. You’re going to end up somewhere. Chances are, it’ll be better than where you are.”