HAVERHILL, MASS. (WHDH) - A Haverhill mom opened up about her tough recovery after a life-saving leap from her burning apartment building.

That fire ripped through her complex a year ago, right before Mother’s Day.

She made a courageous decision to protect her young son, but had to pay a high price for it.

“It’s been a long journey,” Christina Simoes said.

It’s still a painful struggle for Simoes to walk, but it’s light years away from where she was a year ago.

“I just remember yelling at my legs…please work, please work, and they wouldn’t,” she said,

Just before Mother’s day last year Christina found herself trapped in a raging apartment building fire in Haverhill.  She says she had no choice but to grab her son Cameron, who was 18-months-old, and jump from her 3rd-floor apartment window.

“I knew there was no other way out,” she said.

Cameron survived with barley a scratch, but Christina broke her back and lost feeling in her legs.

“I was told by the neurologist that I was never going to be able to walk again, that I needed to get used to the idea of not being able to be a full time mother to my son anymore,” she said.

But Christina says that’s not something she could accept.

“I’m getting emotional, just thinking about missing out on everything with him just killed me. I didn’t care what it was going to take. I didn’t care how much pain I was going to have to go through.  I knew I had to do it, for him.”

Encouraged by her doctor in rehab, Christina slowly worked her way back, going through painful therapy, taking her first steps a month after the fire, two months after that walking out of the rehab center on her own with Cameron in her arms.

“I just cried and cried because I made it to my goal, besides giving birth to him, I think it was the greatest moment of my life,” she said.

“Just think back to where I was last year on Mother’s Day and how difficult that was for me. So being able to celebrate it this year, it’s a good feeling.”

When asked what she’s learned in the past year, Christina said it’s all about finding inner strength.

“I used to be a very defeated person, if somebody told me I couldn’t do it, I would say OK I can’t do it. But I’ve learned that if you are determined to do something and you put your mind to it, there’s nothing that can stand in your way,” she said.

Christina has made incredible strides in her recovery, but she is still haunted by that day one year ago.

She said she still has nightmares of escaping the fire, but with her son left behind.

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