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Mom in a coma due to preeclampsia, dad fights to bring her back
For seven years, Sean Brown and his wife Heather tried to conceive, so the moment it actually happened is something he will never forget.

"We wanted this so badly," Sean, 38, who works in law enforcement in Gladewater, Texas, says. "Doctors told her that she would never be fertile, so when we got the great news, it didn't sink in at first. We were in awe and shock."

Tragically, Heather hasn't been able to enjoy a single moment with her son, John, who was born on September 15, 2012 at 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

While Sean was in Afghanistan, Heather suffered a brain aneurysm and slipped into a coma at 34 weeks pregnant and was forced to undergo an emergency C-section.

Sean received an email that night from Heather's aunt, who told him he needed to call her because something was wrong.

"I hitchhiked on different planes to get home," he tells PEOPLE. "It took three days, but I finally got to them."

A police escort took him to the hospital where he walked in and first saw his baby.

"It was tough," he says while choking up. "Everything about this has been bittersweet."

Their Life Together
Sean and Heather met on a blind date.

"A mutual friend of ours set us up and I wasn't really into it," admits Sean. "I gave her a call about a week later."

After their first meeting over a casual dinner, the two became inseparable.

"We would stay up until the wee hours talking, and about a month later, we moved in with each other," he says. "We got married the following year. I guess she was willing to put up with me for the rest of her life."

Sean says he was immediately impressed with Heather's sweet demeanor and how she had worked her way up the ranks as a business office director for an ambulance company.

It didn't take long for them to decide that they wanted to have a family.

"I could tell she was going to be a great mom," he says. "She was a natural with kids."

When she finally did get pregnant, Heather, who Sean calls "superwoman," couldn't sit still – even when she was told she had high blood pressure.

All she ever wanted was to have a family and be a mother, he says.

"She is the most nurturing woman you could ever meet," Charity Robinson, the friend who set them up on their blind date, tells PEOPLE. "So the fact that she can't wipe away John's tears or give him a kiss is so heartbreaking."

Robinson says that Sean is the strongest person she has ever known.

"He has rarely left her side. He works two jobs so he can keep his insurance and also raises John at the same time," she says. "Sean and Heather are best friends and she deserves to be enjoying all of this with him."

Looking Forward
Sean doesn't try to look into the future.

"I take it day by day. I can't dwell on the future – what it needs to be or what it can be. I try to take it for what it is," he says. "Going through something like this makes you realize what you appreciate in life. I still have hope she is here with us."

Heather can move her fingers and blink her eyes to yes-or-no questions and has whispered a few words.

"She oncee said my name and John's name," he says. "I never realized that I had an Achilles' heel until she wasn't here."

As for John, he knows and loves his "mommy."

Sean just hopes that his wife and son, who turned 3 on Tuesday, can enjoy the relationship they were meant to have.

"I hurt for her that she has missed out on everything," he says. "I just hope he can get to know his mom, too."

He adds, "I want us to be a family. I'm not giving up."

299 views Jan 29, 2016

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wow, I have no words.....this story hits home for me, our pregnancy took a turn at 18 weeks///  the doc's gave us less than 1% chance of success.......Lilly is 7 now.  You Sir, are a very strong person and I want you to know that your story is an inspiration to me.   My heart goes out to you Sir, thank you for your service to my country and many prayers being sent your way Sir.  God bless your family
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Jan 29, 2016