WHYIFIGHT Abby Stern
Abby Stern is the epitome of an Everyday Fighter, yet she is not a boxer, she has not boxed a day in her life. Fighting is a spirit, not a sport, and Abby definitely has that. She has had not one, but two big fights in the past twelve years, and she uses her fighting spirit to get her through each and every day. She gets her inspiration from her son, who has been a fighter since birth. We are inspired by Abby and her strength, her attitude, and her philosophy towards life. Thank you Abby, for sharing your story with us, and for being part of the #EverybodyFights community.
WHYIFIGHT Abby Stern:
I am not so sure I would have always considered myself strong. It’s not that I don’t think I had the fight in me; I guess it’s more that I didn’t need it to come out.
By 2003, I was married for a bit under a year and we were trying to have children. What should have been easy turned into a stressful time in our lives. After five attempts at In vitro fertilization, I was pregnant with twin boys. I was able to let out a deep breath, but only for a second.
My pregnancy was complicated from the start. I had to be on bed rest by 18 weeks, and 22 weeks into my pregnancy, I was admitted to the hospital. I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed, other than to shower. As I lay in bed, I would feel the boys’ kicks, knowing they were fighting, so I had to also. I called them Rocky 1 and Rocky 2.
The boys were born 3 months premature, weighing 2 1/2 lbs. each. Zachary’s lungs were so severely underdeveloped that he passed away 7 hours after birth. Jared spent 180 days in the NICU. I had no time to grieve for Zachary’s death because I was fighting for Jared each and every day. I had no time to think that I was missing out on being a first-time mother because my days were spent learning to care for a medically fragile child. At 6 months of age Jared had a feeding tube and a tracheostomy. He was attached to a ventilator until he was 19 months old. I was a first time Mom who instantly took on the roles of a doctor, nurse, and respiratory therapist. I was fighting for my son in every sense of the word. I was his advocate. I was the one who had to speak out and up for this sick little boy. And the strength in me was instantaneous. My fight was instantaneous from the moment the boys were conceived. I was a different person. I was strong and tough. I’m sure if I breathed for a second of it, I would have fallen apart. But I had no time for that. Each and every day was a rollercoaster of one step forward and two steps back.
Jared soon thrived and in 2005 we added another son, Jeremy, to our family. Then in 2009 I got hit again. I thought to myself, “Wasn’t once enough?” I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was in the early stages and I was thankful for that. But I needed to have a single mastectomy due to the large amount seen. And so I had a pity party, but only for a couple of days. Then I got up and said, “Enough is enough, it’s time to fight.” And I did. And I went on. And I go on each and every day.
Sure, there are days I want to cry. And sure, there are days when I do cry. Jared continues to have repercussions from his early days and life is full of challenges for all of us. Jared is the fighter in my family. He is the one who faces obstacles that are harder for him than for most of his peers, and he goes head on. I guess there is something to this fighting thing!
People hear my story and I’ve been asked before; “You have been so strong. How do you do it?” The thing is, I’m no stronger than any of you. We all have fights going on in our lives and we all have the fight INSIDE of us. Some battles may be more obvious than others, but we all fight each and every day. One of my favorite quotes is “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
Pass it on. YOU GOT THIS! #EVERYBODYFIGHTS #WHYIFIGHT #FIGHTITFORWARD