Stacey Herald, just 2ft 4ins tall, has a rare genetic condition called Osteogenisis Imperfecta, which slows her growth and causes underdeveloped lungs and brittle bones.
The dear mother leaves behind husband Wil, 35, daughters Kateri, 11, and Makya, 10, and son Malachi, eight, all living together in the family home in Kentucky.
Stacey has become a mother against the advice of doctors, who warn that if she becomes Pʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ, the baby could grow too large and crush her lungs and heart. The mother-of-three, however, defied medical care to have a family, giving birth to three children in just three years, yet her two children – Kateri and Malachi – inherited her condition, which family hopes to avoid.
Her youngest child, Malachi, was born eight weeks Pʀᴇᴍᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ in caesarian on November 28, 2010, weighing only 2lb 10oz.
Stacey, who had 34 stitches on his stomach after the surgery, said at the time: ‘He’s the most beautiful perfect guy I’ve ever seen. I just want to be by his side.’
She added: ‘Malachi didn’t have any broken bones when he was born. People like us are born with broken arms and legs because our bones are fragile and can be ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇd during childbirth.
I explained that they are all special kids, but the Gɪʀʟs will have to be careful with Malachi, until he gets a little older. When we found out Malachi had my condition, it was difficult. But we knew we would be the best support we could for him, because Kateri and I were both there. ‘
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Stacey took an active role in caring for the children, along with her husband Wil, whom she married in 2004 after meeting him in 2000 while she was working on a super town.
She breastfeeds Malachi and has a specially built pedestal that allows her to bathe them and change diapers from her wheelchair.
But intern Wil’s father, who is 5ft 9ins tall, took care of them at night because it was getting too difficult for her by then.
Stacey said at the time of the birth of her third child: “Anything I can’t do, Wil can. He’s so good at getting up at night and changing diapers and feeding Gɪʀʟs, he really is one lucky person.’
Stacey especially needs his help in taking care of Makya, who is only two years taller than her mother.
She said: ‘I couldn’t stop her if she was upset. She’s too big for me now, so Wil has to take care of that,’
Yet despite the hardships she faces – and the incredible danger she ʀɪsᴋs giving birth – Stacey still enjoys motherhood, explaining that she considers herself a ‘Mɪʀᴀᴄʟᴇ’ ‘ and know that her children ‘will be Mɪʀᴀᴄʟᴇs too’.