PORTLAND – Two days this year shaped Jacki Shremshock’s young life: July 4 and Oct. 26.
The 19-year-old Gorham woman was driving home alone from an Independence Day camping trip with boyfriend T.J. Moore in Harrison when she hit a deer on U.S. 302 in Raymond, an accident that left her a paraplegic.
Shremshock was four months pregnant at the time of the crash, and doctors monitored the baby’s condition through her numerous surgeries and treatments.
On Oct. 26 she gave birth to Calli Faith Moore, a healthy baby girl.
Shremshock’s days now are a combination of therapy and watching her daughter. She’s slowly getting accustomed to using a wheelchair and depending on others. But she counts herself lucky to have her family, her boyfriend’s family and a community of friends to ease the transition.
“It’s been hard, it’s really hard,” she said. “But I’ve got to do it because of the baby. She’s obviously my main thought.”
Shremshock spent more than four months at Maine Medical Center. She still has use of her arms. With physical therapy during the next two years, doctors believe she could be able to regain the use of her hands.
“It was tragic, it’s your worst nightmare,” said Sue Kelley, Shremshock’s mother, who took an unpaid leave from her job to help her daughter. “But basically, it’s two miracles. The baby and her survival.”
Friends have worked to help the family by watching Calli Moore, running errands, and helping with other household work.
After Calli Moore’s birth, but before Shremshock was released from the hospital, members in the community came together to help build a small, handicapped-accessible apartment.
Tammy Woodbury, Moore’s mother, said the accident and her granddaughter’s birth have made for a growing extended family. Woodbury learned she was going to be a grandmother close to when she found out she was also pregnant.
Although it saddens her that she won’t be able to teach her daughter how to swim or ride a horse, she knows her daughter will continue to be her inspiration for a long time.
Most of all, she looks forward to raising Calli Moore and the day her hands will be able to guide her daughter through books and school work.
“I have to do it for her – my life revolves around her,” she said.