LIMA — At the young age of 16, Jamie was faced with some of the hardest times of her life.
She gave birth to a baby girl who weighed under one pound. Athena, now 14, was in the Intensive Care Unit for two and a half months and underwent numerous surgeries when she reached 2 pounds, suffering brain hemorrhaging and barely surviving.
“It was a nightmare,” Jamie said. “They just kept telling me she was going to die. Especially with how young I was, I was scared and I didn’t know what to do.”
Jamie, 30, is a mother of four children now, and all were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. She is currently going through a divorce after a nine-year marriage and she works part-time in a customer service job, along with trying to go to school online full-time to earn a degree.
She went back to high school after Athena’s birth, when she was forced to move out of her mother’s home at 17 because her sister was pregnant as well. So she went to work for a bit and worked on getting her GED. She obtained her GED not long before the birth of her second-eldest son, Hercules.
Hercules, now 11, was diagnosed with autism and attended Marimor through kindergarten before he was cleared to enter mainstream schools. Athena was the same way, Jamie said.
Her third child, Zeus, 9, was born shortly after.
After his birth, she worked toward getting her commercial driver’s license, in hopes to be able to drive a tractor trailer. Things were looking up, she said. She was passionate about getting to drive and it was something she liked to do.
But things drastically changed for her. She was 21 at the time and suffered a heart attack while at the wheel.
“I thought everything was great,” she said. “I’m not allowed to drive anymore, which was what I loved. But I am allowed to work.”
Since then, she has had open heart surgery twice and has been forced to give up her dreams as a driver, but she remains optimistic that she is still allowed to work and earn some type of income.
It was then, that she met her husband of nine years, and had her fourth little boy, Aries, 6, with him.
“He (Aries) is a complete momma’s boy,” she said, smiling. “He’s got a thing about wanting to sit on my lap and play with my hair and suck his thumb. That’s how he sleeps every night, since he’s been born.”
Athena is a “girly girl,” she said, who likes anything pink. She said the girl is asking for a new DVD player this Christmas.
Hercules’ niche is reading. Jamie said he is a big reader and he also likes Xbox 360 video games.
Zeus loves puzzle books, Jamie said. He loves to do word searches and any types of puzzles on paper. He also enjoys video games.
Aries is really into reading as well, she said. Even though he’s only 6 years old, he’s already reading at a fourth grade reading level. He also likes Xbox video games.
The struggling mom of four said that her divorce has made it hard right around Christmas time.
“I’m pretty much starting over because I wasn’t allowed to take anything with me after the divorce,” she said. “At this point, I’ve got nothing.”
The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies: Bradfield Community Center, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Federal Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. For past stories, go to LimaOhio.com/emptystocking. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants’ privacy.