Mother Wakes from Coma After Hearing Her Newborn Cry

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In the predawn hours of one Saturday last September, Shelly Cawley’s husband and their newborn daughter were being escorted through hallways of a North Carolina hospital. Cawley had slipped into a coma during childbirth and some thought it might be time for her family to say goodbye.

According to the Washington Post, her blood pressure was dangerously low (60/40, doctors later told the family) and her heart rate was soaring (more than 180 beats per minute). Cawley was hooked up to what doctors called “the last-chance ventilator,” a machine pumping air into her lungs with such force that it rattled her hospital bed with each artificial breath, her husband, Jeremy Cawley, said.

But the hospital staff had one more idea to try.

“The nurses instructed us to strip the baby down and put her skin-to-skin with Shelly,” her husband told The Washington Post. “Their hope was that if Shelly could smell the baby, feel the baby, hear the baby — even in the coma — it would give her a reason to fight.

“They needed her to start to fight.”

And they thought Rylan Grace Cawley — just hours old — might be the only one who could help.

They put the newborn on her mother’s chest, Jeremy Cawley recalled, and the child went right to sleep.

“We pinched Rylan and tickled her a little bit so that Shelly would hear her cry,” he said with a chuckle.

When the baby did, her mother’s vitals jumped, doctors told Jeremy Cawley. He said he was told it may have given her the strength she needed to push through. A week later, Shelly Cawley woke up and met her baby daughter.

“It was a weird feeling — like I was between a dream and reality,” she told The Post. “But I do remember as clear as day looking at her face, how beautiful she was. I don’t think I knew at the time I had been asleep for a week. But it was my first time meeting my daughter. I was so overwhelmed.”

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