After all the anticipation for a regular childbirth, and seemingly things headed in that direction, it was to Shelly Cawley’s surprise that the doctors were going to need to perform the emergency C-section.
While the baby, Rylan, is delivered totally healthy, the mother ends up suffering from a blood clot triggered during the operation which leads to a coma due to the clot having clogged vital arteries.
The husband, Jeremy, recalls the nightmare that was unfolding:
“The doctors had done everything they could. At this time, they were absolutely sure that they would lose Shelly. You are so unbelievably excited that your child is born … and in the next moment you believe you’ll have to say farewell to your wife forever. It was like being numbed.”
Suddenly a nurse had an idea. Ashley Manus, the nurse, explains:
“We knew that skin contact from a mother to her newborn can be very helpful – so why wouldn’t work the other way around?”
They decided to take the naked baby, and lie her on the chest of the mother who was in the coma.
The nurse explains further: “I was hoping that Shelly was still in there somewhere, so she could feel her baby and her heart, to let her mother instincts wake up.”
The baby ends up falling asleep very peacefully upon immediate contact with her mother.
“We tickled her, even gave her a couple little pinches,” tells the dad Jeremy. “It lasted 10 minutes then she gave a loud scream.”
Then something happened. Something on the level of miraculous.
“We saw the heart monitor flash to life. The screaming had brought Shelly back into the fight. I had my wife back!” Jeremey recalls with tears.
A week later the 23-year-old mom does indeed wake up. She is completely out of the coma. Now she can hold her baby in her arms for the first time.
“I stared at Rylan’s face and thought to myself that she was the most beautiful baby in the world,” says Shelly. “I know that every mother thinks that, but we had such a special connection after everything that happened.”
Rylan just turned 1. The mother reflects on the past year: “Last year I fought for my life and this year I have a wonderful 1-year-old daughter. When she’s grown up, I’ll tell her that she saved my life.”