“I want my girls to know that their mother’s a fighter; things are as they are, and you have to move forward”: Real Life Stories on Motherhood

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*pic is for representation purpose only

Mum Monica, who had a 09-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, met met her new partner Tony after her painful divorce. Both were delighted when they got to know about the new bundle of joy they were expecting.

In 2007, she had a C-section, and though she worried about complications, Monica delivered a healthy baby girl. But hours after Sofia was born, Monica began running a fever. No one was concerned at first—Monica figured it was just hormones—but three days later the fever hadn’t broken, and Monica’s abdomen was swollen and painful.

The doctors at Monica’s hospital thought she might be infected with a deadly strain of bacteria. They flew her to a hospital in Boston where she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria. Defying the odds, Monica survived, but many of her organs didn’t. The doctors removed Monica’s uterus, ovaries, gallbladder and part of her colon that same day.

Within four weeks, Monica’s infection had restricted the blood flow to her arms and legs. Her nurses cleaned her limbs every day. Eventually, doctors told Monica they had to amputate both arms and both legs.

The surgery sounded scary, but Monica was determined to put it behind her and get back to her daughters.

“I was frightened at first, but when they told me my arms and legs had to be amputated, it was: ‘Do it. I’ve got to go home,'” Monica says. “I thought, ‘I have a life to live and it’s not here, and until you amputate, I can’t move forward.'”

After her amputation, Monica spent two months in the hospital, where she underwent a total of 37 surgeries.

“She’s a fighter,” Tony says. “If they told her two hours of physical therapy a day, she’d ask to double it up to four. She wanted to come home as soon as possible. They didn’t think she’d ever walk again, but she made it happen.”

Right before Christmas, Monica got what she’d been waiting for. She was given the okay to go home to her husband and two daughters.

Nurses and doctors say they expected a “why me?” breakdown from Monica while she was in the hospital, but it never happened. “I did have moments of ‘If God just left me one arm or one leg, life would be a little bit easier,’ but that’s not the way it went,” Monica says. “You make do with what you have. I could still love my girls. The bottom line was I am still here.”

Monica says she has moments of sadness. “For a while, I really couldn’t lift my daughter up,” she says. “I could hug and have her hug me back, so that was good, but I miss being able to braid her hair, paint her fingernails, toenails—the things that moms and daughters do.”

“What good are you to your children if you’re miserable? What are you teaching them? That you give up? That’s not what I want to teach my kids,” Monica says. “I want my girls to know that their mother’s a fighter. I’ve come to the realization that things are as they are, and you have to move forward. Life goes on,” she says. “There’s no sense dwelling on it—that just hurts too much and you don’t live your life the way you want to. And with a wonderful husband and two great girls, life is fun.”

*courtesy Oprah
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