BETHANY - When Delores (DeeDee) Dear learned she was pregnant she and her husband Charles were overjoyed.

"I had difficulty getting pregnant and when I did in April we were ecstatic," she said.

But a couple of months later her pregnancy took a turn for the worse.

"In July I started noticing preterm labor symptoms and in August I went to the hospital and was put on bed rest," she said.

"I had no idea what to do with my 3-year-old, Faith, she was going to day care two days a week and we had just bought a replacement car," she said.

Dear explained that finances were tight. She is a nurse at Brighton Gardens, an assistedliving facility in Woodbridge. She explained that per diem staff receive no benefits which means she had no sick leave to use while unable to work.

Not only was bed rest difficult under normal circumstances but Dear said her Type A personality made it even tougher.

Dear said she and her husband who is a firefighter for the City of Bridgeport have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from their parish First Church of Christ, Congregational.

"We're speechless, we're tearful and we're so very grateful," she said.

"They watched my child, they brought us food and they wouldn't let us pay for anything," she said.

"I couldn't get out of bed. They did everything for us," she said.

From October to Thanksgiving I couldn't get out of bed," she emphasized.

"They sent the daycare a check to pay for three days a week from September to February and they took my daughter places I couldn't get to," she said still amazed at the generosity bestowed on them.

The Rev. Louise B. Higginbotham, interim pastor at First Church of Christ, Congregational said the inspiring part of the story is that none of the funds came from the church coffers but through a special weekly offering for the Dear Family.

"I think it's an incredible act of generosity on the church community," Higginbotham said.

"They didn't have the funds to pay for day care (with Delores unable to work)," she said.

In fact the Special Mission was able to raise enough to increase the youngsters day care an extra day.

Higginbotham said Delores came off bedrest just in time for Advent season and she asked her to light the first candle, the candle of hope.

"I think it was fitting for the expectant mother," Higginbotham said.

Higginbotham expressed how the congregation felt about the Dear family.

"They were our own Christmas holy family," she said.

Noah was born Dec. 19 and he is doing pretty well. He did have some problems with jaundice around Christmas and has been using a bilipad to correct that issue.

Delores said there are many people she wants to thank for their time and generosity.

They include but are not limited to: the Brighton Gardens nurses and the entire congregation at First Church of Christ, Congregational.