LIMA — Thirty-six weeks pregnant with her sixth child, Lauren has taken on a second job to support her family while her fiancé recovers from a dangerously low heart rate, which slowed to 23 beats per minute earlier this year.
“I thought he was going to die,” said Lauren, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.
Lauren’s children were confused when her fiancé woke up one morning shaking and vomiting. He called Lauren and was rushed to the hospital, she said, where he spent days unconscious in the intensive care unit before he was released with a temporary pacemaker to stabilize his heart.
But that meant he was now unable to work, so Lauren would need another job to support the growing family even though her two oldest children were living with their father.
The couple’s rental assistance is expected to end soon, she said, creating yet another financial strain as she and her fiancé struggle to survive on Lauren’s wages with two birthdays and Christmas just weeks away.
Yet the pain of working long hours 36 weeks into her sixth pregnancy is “miserable, really miserable,” Lauren said.
And after previously developing polyhydramnios during her last pregnancy, Lauren worries she may once again suffer from excess amniotic fluid, which would increase her risk of pregnancy complications.
“The more pregnancies you have,” she said, “it takes a toll on your body.”
The couple needs help with rent and replacing a mini refrigerator that is too small for a growing family of five, and they need help buying Christmas and birthday gifts too.
For the boys, toy guns, cars and games for the Play Station 4 make good gifts, Lauren said, while her 2-year-old daughter likes unicorns and gifts related to the nursery rhyme show Cocomelon.
Clothing sizes include boy’s size seven and size five and girl’s 2T. Shoe sizes are boy’s size one and two and girl’s 7T.
Two of Lauren’s children will also celebrate birthdays in December: A 7-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl. But as Lauren said: “I didn’t raise my kids to be picky.”