The entire medical team couldn’t stop screaming when they realized what this woman gave birth to

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“The medical team couldn’t stop screaming when they realized what this woman gave birth to. A mother who spent 7 weeks in a coma after falling ill with COVID while pregnant was welcome to discover that she gave birth to her baby girl, Laura Ward, 33, from Tinsley Wigan. Her condition deteriorated from the virus while pregnant with her daughter Hope.

She was sedated for an emergency C-section at 31 weeks, more than 2 months before her due date of October 15. Thankfully, all was well with her baby, who was born weighing 3 lb 7 oz at Royal Bolton Hospital. Despite spending five weeks on the neonatal unit, she’s now fit and healthy, weighing 10 lb 7 oz. However, for Laura, it was just the beginning of a horrific ordeal. At one point, her family feared she would never recover.

The Tilney Primary School teaching assistant had finished school for the summer holidays with a bit of a cough. A lateral flow test concluded that she was negative for COVID. However, when she didn’t improve, she decided to get a PCR, which came back positive. Following the guidance to isolate, she was struggling to breathe. After calling 111 for advice, she was advised to go to the hospital.

With her condition worsening over the fortnight or so in the hospital, she was sent to maternity to check on the baby and was told they may have to deliver early. The last thing she remembers is arriving back on the COVID ward. Despite being told that she nodded her head to give consent to Hope’s delivery, she has no recollection whatsoever.

Her partner John Leese was called to the hospital, but due to COVID restrictions, he was not allowed into the theater. Laura’s next memory was waking up 5 weeks later on September 30, greeted with the sight of the precious daughter she didn’t even know she had. Laura said, ‘I opened my eyes to see Hope on the bed with me, but I couldn’t move any part of my body.

All I could do was shake and nod my head.’ Having had a tracheostomy and feeding tubes fitted, it was 2 weeks before Laura was even able to speak. She had to relearn how to do most of the basic everyday activities. ‘I was just lying in bed at first and not able to move at all,’ she said. ‘I tried really hard to lift my arms, but I just couldn’t. It was frustrating because I couldn’t speak. I wasn’t able to write anything down that I wanted to say either. I had to learn to feed myself, brush my teeth—all the things you learn as a toddler. It’s like learning everything all over again.’

The muscles in her legs had deteriorated over the weeks, and it was only at the beginning of December when she managed to walk again. Firstly, making her way down the hospital corridor with a frame and then holding the hand of her three-year-old son William. It’s those weeks with him and Hope that Laura is most looking forward to catching up on when she’s finally allowed home on Monday.

John, 37, who works for the firm PSI cleaning extractor fans at schools and offices, was among the family and friends who could regularly chat via FaceTime to Laura while she was in the coma. Not knowing whether she could hear them or not, he referred to their daughter only as ‘baby girl’ until they could both agree on a name.

He has kept a scrapbook of things the children have done while their mom has been in the hospital. ‘He’s been amazing,’ Laura said. ‘He really has. He’s been coming to see me every day with Hope, and he’s been bringing William when he can. And our children Lexi and Josh, who stay with us a lot when they’re not at their mom’s. They wanted to get that bond between me and Hope, so she’s been lots. But with William, we wanted to try to keep him in his routine as much as we could.’

William first came to see me on his third birthday in October, and I got really emotional as I hadn’t seen him since July. I’ve missed his first day at nursery and Hope’s first weeks, her first bath, and that kind of thing. John keeps telling me I’ve not missed much, as all she does is sleep, poo, and drink milk. But I can’t wait to get home.

After her initial treatment at the Royal Bolton, Laura was sent to Winshaw Hospital, where she spent 35 days of her coma on an ECMO machine, the highest level of life support. With her lungs absolutely gone, her family, including parents Lynn and Bill, were told it was the last resort. Laura said, ‘My family were obviously panicking. The doctors and nurses clearly thought it’s not looking good. Jon has managed to keep everyone upbeat about it, though. He was telling them she’s not giving up, and neither are we. Let’s keep positive. We’re not going to lose her. She’s going to be fine.’

After 5 weeks in Winshaw, Laura returned to Bolton’s Intensive Care Unit, where she eventually came out of her coma. From there, she was later transferred to Trafford General, where she’s since been rehabilitating with intense physiotherapy and occupational therapy, with the goal of returning home for Christmas. ‘I have a timetable of classes with exercises that I do every day,’ she said. ‘I’m getting stronger every day, and the nurses said she hasn’t seen anyone make as much progress in such a short time. I think it’s helped to have that goal of getting home for Christmas and also to get home to my kids. I’ve missed them all so much.’

As well as thanking the staff at the hospitals she’s been treated at, Laura, who hopes to return to her job at the primary school when William starts there in September, wants to thank her family, including parents Lynn and Bill, cousin Kirsty Atkinson, and friend Emma Chatwood, for all their support. She’s had no underlying health conditions other than gestational diabetes and didn’t have the COVID vaccination earlier in her pregnancy because initially, it wasn’t recommended for pregnant women. By the time she was offered it, it was too late. After the ordeal, Laura says she’s recommending the jab to any pregnant women. ‘I’d say just get it. I wouldn’t wish what’s happened to me on anyone, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.’

For this woman, it was a survival journey. Ellen Smart was just 23 weeks pregnant when her water broke. Even though the mom from Des Moines, Iowa, wasn’t due until November, she stayed calm. ‘I knew if I panicked, the baby would pick up on that and get stressed,’ Smart told today’s parents. ‘I couldn’t let that happen.’ Smart broke down crying when doctors at Iowa Methodist Medical Center explained the seriousness of the situation.

They said I was going to have to deliver in the next day or two, and there was a good chance he wouldn’t survive,’ Smart recalled. ‘That was the moment when I fell apart.’ Smart and her boyfriend Jordan Marrow welcomed Jaden Wesley Morrow via C-section on July 11. He weighed just 13 oz. According to the World Health Organization, the average birth weight for male babies born full-term is 7 lb 6 oz. The little boy came out fighting; his arms and toes were moving, and he was trying to breathe on his own. Smart told today’s parents, ‘He’s our little miracle.’

Jaden was transferred to the NICU at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. He will be discharged on his November 6th due date. For the most part, Jaden is stable, Smart said. He’s on a ventilator and had a small infection, but his doctors think he looks great. He’s getting breast milk and gaining weight. Jaden has a long road ahead, according to Dr. Christa Haynes, a neonatologist at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Babies born at 23 weeks are at risk for developing premature lung disease, brain bleeds, infections, bone fractures, and blindness. ‘Long-term, we know that there are motor and cognitive delays, as well as fine motor delays,’ Haynes said. She noted that very premature babies are at higher risk for developing autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. ‘We know too that some of these babies do really, really well and that they can function similar to their peers,’ Dr. Haynes said. ‘Early intervention is the most important thing. It’s absolutely crucial.’

Smart is counting down the days until Jaden sleeps in his own crib. ‘I have moments where I get sad because I want to be home with me,’ she said. ‘But I’m staying positive for Jaden. This was a special gift. It’s a time of life when most mothers are enjoying more time to themselves as their children get older, with some having really become grandmothers. But one Scottish mother is delighted to postpone all that, having given birth to her miracle baby at the age of 53. After 25 years of failed fertility procedures, Helen Dalglish had endured 21 grueling rounds of treatment at a cost of almost $100,000.

Miss Dalglish from Glasgow underwent the successful IVF procedure that led to the birth of her daughter Daisy Grace in Cyprus, where she lives with her partner. Now 54, she has spoken of her joy at finally giving birth last year after refusing to give up on her dream.

She said, ‘When you get that little miracle at the end, you forget about the 25 years. I was looking down at the bump, and it was getting bigger, and I thought, Am I dreaming? Even now, looking at her, I can’t believe I’m a mom. It’s surreal.’ Miss Dalglish first moved to Cyprus in her 20s and originally began trying for a baby with her then-husband when she was 28. She added, ‘Every time that fails, you’re absolutely devastated. It’s like a death.’

Miss Dalglish grew concerned because each time medics tried to transfer her embryos back into her womb, the procedure was unbearably painful, as though they were hitting a wall. More than a decade into her IVF journey, a different consultant said her severely tilted womb was to blame. After that, Miss Dalglish became pregnant three times, but on each occasion, suffered heartbreaking miscarriages.

She said, ‘What kept me going was I just kept seeing this baby.’ Eventually, she decided to use donor eggs instead of her own. Initially, without success, she then approached a different IVF Fertility Center in the city of Kinia. Now with the other partner, she decided it was time to try again. But following the death of her father in Scotland, she almost did not undergo the final procedure until her mother persuaded her to keep going.

The couple were stunned to conceive on their second attempt. Miss Dalglish recalled, ‘The two of us burst out crying and screaming. I think my dad must have had something to do with it.’ Describing her feelings after giving birth to Daisy Grace in September, she said, ‘When we came home, I burst out crying. It felt like 25 years of grief trying to escape. She seems the most placid, laid-back, happy baby. It’s almost like I waited so long, and now I’m being spoiled.

Miss Dalglish’s doctor, Alper Erin, said that her determination would be an inspiration to others. He said, ‘Even though it can be both psychologically and financially burdensome sometimes, with our support, knowledge, and experience, we aim to help women who want to have a healthy baby. We’re so happy to see women like Helen finally getting the chance to have their own children, and we will continue to do our best in helping other couples achieve this dream as well.’

It started out like any other delivery when 24-year-old Elizabeth Moana went into labor in her village in Zimbabwe’s border of Mozambique. She wanted only to give birth to a healthy baby. But after encountering complications and undergoing emergency surgery, Miss Moana would have not one newborn but four. All along, I thought I was carrying a single baby, she told UNFP. I delivered the first baby at our local clinic, but I remained in labor.

The health workers realized something was wrong and called for her to be sent to the nearest hospital. I then had to be rushed to St. Peter’s Hospital, which is near our local clinic. When I arrived there, they immediately put me under a scan, and I was then rushed to General Hospital in an ambulance, as they had discovered that I still had more babies in my womb.

By the time she arrived at the second hospital, she was bleeding profusely. ‘These are true miracle babies, considering that when the mother was wheeled in here, she had lost a lot of blood and suffered postpartum hemorrhage and many complications associated with being in labor far too long,’ said Langala Zisa, the nurse in charge of the hospital’s maternity ward. Miss Moana was immediately whisked into an operating theater where surgeons performed a C-section and delivered her three remaining babies. The four children, three boys, and a girl, are all healthy. Miss Moana named them Godwin, God knows, Godfrey, and Gertrude.

A world of difference. Only five years ago, Miss Moana’s story would have been very different, very tragic. Likely, following years of chronic underfunding, the Zimbabwean health system was in a state of decay. Many skilled health workers had left the country, and most health facilities had only outdated hospital equipment. Stockouts of essential medicines and commodities were common. Unexpectedly large family. Miss Moana has two other children as well, six-year-old Bongai and three-year-old Judith.

With four more mouths to feed, she knows she has her work cut out for her. Her husband is a migrant worker in South Africa, and Miss Moana struggles to afford clothes and supplementary milk for the infants. ‘The babies are always crying, as I cannot produce enough milk,’ she said. ‘Even buying milk can be difficult in her rural corner of Zimbabwe. It takes a while for the milk to arrive here, even when my husband sends it.’

But she’s no less grateful for her unexpectedly large family. ‘To hold these forms in my arm and be there to tell my story is a miracle,’ she said.

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