Shelly Cawley had the dreadful feeling that she would not wake up from surgery when doctors wheeled her back for an emergency cesarean section. The Charlotte, North Carolina mother was right – until a miracle happened.
WCNC News reported that Shelly had to be put to sleep during her emergency C-section. During the surgery, doctors discovered that a blood clot had broken loose; and Shelly went into a coma.
Her husband, Jeremy, told the station: “She had a lot of fluid in her lungs, there were having trouble getting oxygen to her brain, they were having trouble with her blood pressure up. And it just seemed as if she was done fighting.”
The medical staff also began to give up hope when Shelly remained in the coma after a week. Then staff nurse Ashley Manus had an idea: Why not try kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin contact, between baby and mom?
Jeremy placed baby Rylan on Shelly and watched what happened. Their thriving baby girl went right to sleep. Jeremy said they tried tickling Rylan and touching her to encourage her to make noise, but she continued to lay contentedly on her mother. At last, Rylan began to cry out, her father recalled.
“We saw the heart monitor flash to life,” said Jeremy. “The screaming had brought Shelly back into the fight.”
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Now, a year later, the Cawleys call their baby girl a miracle.
“I think it’s pretty amazing,” Shelly told the station. “It just amazes me that a baby so little can have such a big impact. They’re pretty much helpless. They can’t do anything, but yet she was able to… Her crying was able to give me something to fight for.”
Gil Weiss, MD, an OB/GYN, told Yahoo News that studies have shown comatose patients’ brains do in fact react to familiar sounds such as voices of loved ones. However, since Cawley hadn’t met Rylan before, or heard her cry, she didn’t fit into the category of familiar.
“Throughout thousands of years, this is the way babies were taken care of by mom – mothers held their babies close,” said Weiss. “There may be some primal reflex deep in the brain that we don’t know about or a part of the brain that responds even without higher level function. […] There is a bond between mom and baby that we can’t always explain scientifically. That’s the beauty of the mother-child connection.”