A year ago this month, Shelly Cawley had a general anaesthetic to deliver her baby daughter Rylan by emergency Caesarean section.
Although the routine procedure went well, and little Rylan was born healthy, tragically, her 23-year-old mum slipped into a coma and didn’t wake up after the operation.
The situation was so serious that Shelly’s distraught husband Jeremy, was convinced that the doctors thought they were losing her and that she would never come round.
However, Ashley Manus, one of the nurses looking after Shelly, had a brainwave and decided to use baby Rylan to try and rouse her from her coma.
“We’re a big proponent of skin-to-skin [contact],” Ashley told People magazine. “We believe it has great benefits for the mom and the baby, and we just thought it can’t hurt, might as well give it a try.”
Rylan was undressed and laid gently on her mum’s chest in the hope she would eventually cry and the noise would somehow kick-start Shelly’s maternal instinct and wake her up. Instead, little Rylan fell fast asleep, warm and content against her mummy’s skin.
But dad Jeremy was so convinced that if Shelly could hear her baby it would bring her round, he embarked on lots of tickles (and even a pinch!) to encourage baby Rylan to let out a wail.
Eventually the little girl performed and to Shelly’s medical team’s amazement, she began to slowly wake up from her coma.
It was another week before the new mum was completely conscious again and able to properly meet her newborn but Jeremy is in no doubt that it was baby Rylan who saved her mum’s life.
“It was the crying that got Shelly going again, got her fighting again,” he said. “I got my wife back.”
Now, a year on, the family have been celebrating not only Rylan’s first birthday but the miracle that meant Shelly is also here to see it.
“I just look at her now and think of the amazing bond we have,” Shelly told People magazine. “I can tell her when she grows up that she saved my life.”
Writing on her Facebook page last week, Shelly shared pictures of her time in hospital and how things are very different to what they were this time last year:
“I reflect on my day and how different it was than at the same time a year ago. What a difference a year makes!” she wrote. “Last year I was fighting for my life, and this year I have a 1 year old who is thriving, and I am back in nursing school doing what I love.
“Satan tried to take me down but thanks to our mighty God and all of you amazing prayer warriors, what could have been an end to my life has just been a bump in the road on my journey! Can’t wait to discover what God has planned for my life, and to just enjoy the ride on the way there!”
What an amazing story!
Pictures: Shelly Ann Cawley/Facebook