Last week introduced us to a new couple this season, mom Laurie, 59, and her daughter Sarah, 26, who have seen their roles reversed due to Laurie’s declining health, with Sarah now regularly caring for her mother to try and make sure she stays healthy.
For her part, Laurie’s concerns mainly focus on why Sarah’s boyfriend Miguel hasn’t popped the question yet, as she desperately wants an engagement to happen while she is still around so she can plan and attend the wedding.
Laurie, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida, suffers from a string of health issues including type 1 triple diabetes and chronic kidney disease, and it took her 10 years to become pregnant with Sarah when she was younger.
Because of her conditions, the pregnancy raised her blood pressure to a point where medics advised her that she should have an abortion as she risked having a stroke at any moment. She went through with the birth, but Sarah was born premature at 3lbs 3oz and spent the first three months of her life in Neonatal ICU.
Laurie, who herself had to be cared for in the Cardiac ICU, was released a month and a half earlier but was too unwell to visit Sarah in the hospital so she didn’t get to spend time with her baby daughter for the first three months of her life.
The pair spoke to Monsters and Critics in an exclusive interview about those scary early months, and how they have since formed an unbreakable bond which means they are not just mother and daughter but also best friends.
“When Sarah finally came home from the hospital, it wasn’t all rosey,” Laurie said. “I was extremely worried that the instant mother/child bond everyone spoke about was never going to happen.”
“After she was born, I was rushed to Cardiac ICU and she was swiftly rushed away to Neonatal ICU. I never even got to touch her or see her up close. I never experienced seeing her full head of hair or to hold and feel her on my chest, or tell her I love her. We were in different areas and floors of the hospital and were both confined to our beds.”
When Sarah was finally allowed home, still weighing under 5lbs, Laurie says she felt like a stranger to her daughter.
“I could still barely take care of myself. Between all my complications of diabetes and pregnancy — enlarged heart, kidney failure, eye pressure hemorrhages, stroke-level blood pressure and pre-eclampsia to name a few — let’s just say I couldn’t even remember if I took my meds or my dogs seizure meds! Our bonding was drifting even further apart.”
However, with time the pair have since managed to form one of the closest bonds a mother and daughter can have, regularly sharing “snuggle parties” on the couch.
Sarah puts their closeness down to Laurie always being her “biggest supporter and best friend”.
“She has always been such a big part of my life,” says Sarah. “Her and her mother were never very close, and she told me her goal was to make sure I never went a day without feeling loved. She has never failed.
“As an only child, my mom was my best friend. She would do absolutely anything and everything for me. We always shared an unbreakable bond that was deeper than just love.
“She would take me to all of my dance classes and cheerleading practices and sit in the waiting room for hours while other parents just dropped their kids off. She never wanted to miss a second of my life.”
The moment Sarah found her mom collapsed on the stairs
Growing up, Sarah never realized her mother was sick, and thought the daily insulin shots she gave herself were just a “way of life.” Then, when Sarah was four or five years old, she found her mother collapsed on the stairs.
“As the spoiled little only child that I was, my mom came running at my every request no matter the time,” says Sarah. “One night I woke up from my sleep and remember wanting my mom, so I began screaming for her to come to my bedroom. This was something I did regularly, and she always came right away. This night was different, though. I woke her up from her sleep and I remember her yelling back ‘I’ll be right there.’ A few minutes passed and she never showed up.
“Normally I would just go back to sleep and let it go, but this time was different. I became so angry that she didn’t show up. I remember thinking to myself ‘where is she and why is she not coming to me?'”
Sarah says she got so angry that she leapt up from her bed to go and find her mom, and that’s when she discovered her collapsed on the stairs.
She called for her father and they phoned 911 before Laurie was taken away in an ambulance. Sarah’s grandmother wouldn’t let her go to the hospital, so she spent the night sitting on their downstairs recliner wishing and hoping that she could talk to her mom again.
“I will never forget the feeling I had that night. Even at such a young age, I felt connected to her from a deeper, spiritual level. It turned out that when I woke her up from screaming, she realized then that her sugar was dropping in her sleep. She was trying to walk downstairs to drink some orange juice when she passed out.
“It turns out that I saved her life that night when I woke her out of the deep sleep that she was in with her sugar dropping drastically. If something in me did not make me angry enough to go look for her when she stopped answering, we would not have found her on the stairs until it was too late.
“Till this day years later, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and call her, or send her a text, to make sure she is okay.”
Today Laurie and Sarah have seen their mother-daughter roles almost reversed, with Sarah now looking after her mom to make sure she stays hydrated and gets all the exercise she needs.
“As I started to get older, I realized that my mom was sick and I had to accept it,” she says. “Realizing that my mom was slowing down and her health was declining made me come to the conclusion that she now needed me and our roles have reversed.”
Sarah says this has led to their relationship becoming even closer. However, Laurie worries that all the time Sarah devotes to her means her daughter isn’t being able to live her own life to the fullest.
Laurie worries Sarah devotes too much time to her
“Yes, I am worried and concerned that Sarah devotes too much time to me,” she says. “She is like an angel sent from heaven! Sarah is a selfless, generous, bright and cheery personality… she’ll give you or a stranger anything you need or want if it will just make you feel better.
“But because of that, she feels bad inside if she gets free time and thinks about doing something with friends, Miguel or even herself. It makes her feel guilty that I will think she doesn’t want to see me.
“I love when she goes to lunch or the beach with friends! I love hearing the fun and excitement of her day. That warms my heart.”
Despite Laurie’s concerns, Sarah says her mom has never made her feel guilty about doing other things — and that is her own choice to devote so much time to her.
“I do not feel like my mom is holding me back at all, whatsoever,” she says. “My mom doesn’t ask for anything and she never complains. There are days when she isn’t able to leave bed and she will text me positive messages like everything is fine so that I do not worry about her.
“However, she dedicated her entire life to me and gave me the absolute best upbringing a child could ask for. The least I can do is make sure is she comfortable, has what she needs, and is living the best life she can possibly live. My mom is the first one to push me to reach for all of my dreams. She would never do anything to hold me back. I live my life to the fullest while taking care of her at the same time.”
“I enjoy spending time with her and sharing the amazing bond we have. It makes my life a happier place to have her in my life and know she is okay,” Sarah says.
One thing Laurie has been vocal about is her wish that Sarah’s boyfriend Miguel — who Sarah lives with and who she has been with for more than three-and-a-half years — would finally pop the question.
Laurie knows that getting engaged and tying the knot is something her daughter wants, and she hopes to be around to see it when it happens.
“It does worry me that Miguel is holding back from proposing to Sarah,” she says. “He is holding the ring subject over Sarah like a dangling carrot because the subject is coming up more.”
“I can see him finally possibly giving her a ring, but I also see many more years before those wedding bells will ring!”
“I’m not saying they don’t truly fully love each other — which makes this so much harder for Sarah — I am saying they are very different people at different stages of life with different wants and goals. They say opposites attract, but there still needs to be give and take, love and support, an acceptance to differences and change on both sides, not just one.”
Sarah says Miguel is an amazing partner when it comes to giving her the time she needs to spend with her mom.
“Miguel understands our bond and supports it,” she says. “He understands that my mom is sick, and he never wants me to miss an opportunity to spend with her. He encourages me to spend time with her on my days off and supports both of us every step of the way. He often tells me to spend money on taking her out to eat or for special day trips to make her happy.”
Despite her mom wanting Miguel to pop the question, Sarah says she doesn’t feel pressured by her to speed up the process — and it hasn’t affected her relationship with Miguel.
“I understand that it’s something she wants and I want to give that to her,” she says. “However I know she wants me to move at my pace to ensure I am always happy with the choices I am making.”
“My mom’s biggest concern is that Miguel doesn’t see urgency in starting the process. She sometimes fears we will live a life without marriage, which she knows I also do not want.
“She definitely puts more pressure on Miguel than me. She wants him to give me the fairytale proposal and wedding that I have always dreamed of.”
“I don’t think the pressure has affected my relationship with Miguel. It has definitely created some uncomfortable conversations, but I wouldn’t say it has negatively affected our relationship.”
One thing is clear, though — Laurie isn’t the only one who wishes Miguel would hurry up in putting a ring on it.
“Miguel and I have been together for over three and a half years now — I definitely am ready for a proposal,” says Sarah.
“We have been on so many amazing dream vacations to places like Paris, Greece, and Italy. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting a proposal on some of our vacations.
“Miguel has never viewed marriage as a top priority. He always said that his love for me is the same either way. He is in the real estate field and prioritized buying real estate.
“He and I purchased our first home together in March 2019. He promised that since we made his dream come true, mine would be next. So I do see a proposal in the near future? Hopefully!”
sMothered airs Sundays at 10/9c on TLC.