Helen Baldwin,  —

Helen partners with Randy, her “retired” husband of 46 years, in assorted endeavors: a rental cabin, carpet dry-cleaning business, and bees — lots of bees! — and all that goes with them, namely honey and beeswax products. Her favorite role is “MomMom” to Clara and James. Originally from Texas, Helen taught kindergarteners with orthopedic and multiple disabilities after a move to Columbia, South Carolina. A few years later, Helen, Randy, and their children, Matthew and Katie, moved close to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. In the spring of 1997, they welcomed baby Jeffrey, a big surprise harboring an even bigger one — spinal muscular atrophy. Helen’s teaching expertise was called into action until their precious little guy snagged his wings at 5-1/2 months. She wrote a book, “The Jeffrey Journey,” about their special assignment and is delighted to continue sharing in her column, “We're Not in Kansas Anymore.”

Articles by Helen Baldwin

A Lifelong Friendship Started with a Thud

Life is typically made up of occasional, seemingly random thuds. Thuds are moments when we sit up and take notice. We don’t usually know what we’re noticing, but there is no mistake that thuds are significant. The first thud, as it relates to this story, occurred…

The November We Set Our Angel Free

The month of November kicked off eventfully in 1997 in the wee hours of the morning when our electricity went out. Jeffrey, our 5 ½-month-old baby with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), relied on blow-by oxygen and an oxygenator for comfort, and the power outage rendered…

Putting the ‘Grand’ in Grandparenting

The excitement of baby news for novice grandparents rivals that of the soon-to-be parents. Giddiness pervades the pondering. Who will the baby look like? What strengths and interests will the little one inherit: academics, arts, sports, creative thinking  … common sense? Names, nursery decor, baby projects, and pregnancy…

Déjà Vu and a Second Chance at Missed Memories

When my husband, Randy, and I decided to expand our family, I promptly became pregnant … and miscarried. Optimists, we tried again. And again. Meanwhile, we returned to school for teacher certification and accepted teaching assignments in Columbia, South Carolina. We were blessed the following…

Brockman Bears, Together Again

What seems a lifetime ago, my husband, Randy, and I decided to return to school for our teacher certifications. After quitting our joint job at a residential facility for at-risk teens, Randy went first. To pay the bills, I applied to be a substitute teacher.

Little Bird … Good Night, Not Goodbye

Deciding on a column topic isn’t always a simple matter. Sometimes, I’m shoved into a new direction with a thud. Other times, the nudge is light as a feather. In this case, it was a feather. Angelic intervention. A gift of love Many…

SMA and the Big Sister

If our daughter, Katie, had arrived on her due date, I’d be writing about her birthday instead of her decision to hold off a few days — eight, to be precise, but who’s counting? I’ll tell you who was counting back then — I was.

Spreading SMA Awareness in August and Beyond

Like most families broadsided with an unexpected, rare diagnosis, my husband and I had never heard of the one attached to Jeffrey, our third baby. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) was completely foreign to us, so it came as another shock to learn that SMA was the…

Diagnosis Day — and the Day After

Keeping up with the calendars around here can be dizzying. One desk calendar is reserved for scheduling jobs for our small carpet-cleaning business. Reminders to do one thing or a hundred dot almost every square on another. We have a reservation book for our cabin…