Motivating Stories from Local Women
Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.
Photo by Emily Pérez Long / Photos taken on location at Proof Bar and Incubator
Susan Reynolds, North Chattanooga
About a year after I married my college sweetheart Jim, we found out we were going to have twins. Although the idea of two infants was a bit frightening, we embraced the blessing and knew that we could do this together. I was young, healthy, and looking forward to the rest of my pregnancy. Our doctor talked to us about the increased risk of carrying twins, but I was being monitored closely and felt like things were going fine – until suddenly, they weren’t. I went into premature labor at 27 weeks and delivered two precious little boys about three months early. They each weighed 1.5 pounds, and there was little-to-no medical precedent to give us hope that they would survive.
For the next four months, Jay and Alex lived in a hospital, clinging tenaciously to life, while my days were spent in a stressful, postpartum haze. We had no idea from one day to the next whether the boys would survive. After what seemed like forever, I finally got to hold, feed, and be with my two little fighters. Not unexpectedly, they both suffered complications from their premature birth – Alex had brain damage, which resulted in severe cerebral palsy, and Jay had severe hearing loss. At 24 years old, there was nothing quite like the experience of watching my boys battle such adversity.
Jim and I realized early on that our highest calling was to give our precious children great love. Having Jay and Alex at home was fun, scary, and exhausting. The ensuing years were spent navigating the challenges of raising special-needs children. As we adapted to our new reality, we found love and support in terrific doctors, therapists, family, and friends. Jim and I learned sign language. We ordered Alex’s first wheelchair. We took one day at a time, and we always remained thankful that the twins had survived. We embraced and learned to love our routine. It brought us closer to God, and after praying for more children, nine years later, our son Jack was born, and 12 months after that, we were blessed with another healthy boy, Sammy.
We have never taken for granted the fact that Jack and Sam can hear, walk, and talk, and we remain acutely aware that these abilities are gifts from God. Each of our four boys brought to my life a different set of challenges and a unique kind of joy.