Birth Day

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Shelly Cawley gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It should have been the happiest day of her life. However, something terrible happened that made her end up in a coma and her husband scared for her life.

Beautiful Surprise

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Shelly and her husband Jeremy weren’t planning on having a baby any time soon. The universe had other plans, though. While they were living in Concord, North Carolina, Shelly discovered that she was pregnant.

Getting Ready

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The couple was extremely surprised to find out that they were expecting a baby. They quickly began preparing to welcome the new addition to their family. They started buying items for the baby and saving money for when the baby arrived.

Wanting a Natural Birth

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Shelly was set on having a natural birth. She didn’t want any medication administered during the birth. Unfortunately, those plans were thwarted. Eight months into the pregnancy, Shelly started to experience some complications. These complications would lead to a blood clot in Shelly’s leg.

Not Fair

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Shelly was devastated that she couldn’t have her baby as she planned. “Having a child with the person you love is such a big deal. I was looking forward to getting to experience that… Then all of a sudden, that plan was taken away from me,” she told The Washington Post.

Getting Worse

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The doctors prescribed Shelly blood thinners in hopes to get rid of the clot in her leg. Then another complication happened. Shelly’s water broke much too early. Jeremy brought his wife to the emergency room at Carolina’s Medical Center-Northeast.

More Complications

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Once Shelly was admitted to the hospital, the birth didn’t progress as it normally should have. Shelly was diagnosed with liver disease and preeclampsia, which were life-threatening complications. To make matters even worse, her blood pressure skyrocketed.

Quick Acting Doctors

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With quick thinking, the doctors brought Shelly into the operating room for an emergency C-section. This would not only save her life, but her baby’s life as well.


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“I was telling doctors that I was scared I wasn’t going to wake up. To this day, I don’t know why I had that feeling. I guess it was some sort of sense I had that something was going to go wrong – a premonition – because they had treated everything throughout my pregnancy just fine, “Shelly told The Washington Post.

Healthy Baby

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Shelly’s daughter was delivered safely and healthy. They named her Rylan. She was born weighing 7 pounds 11 ounces on September 4, 2014. While the baby was healthy, Shelly was experiencing more health issues.

Whisked Away

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After the C-section, Rylan was brought out to Jeremy. He had no idea what was going on behind the scenes with his wife. “They just told me that Shelly was going to be in recovery and it would be a little bit before she reunited with us,” he said.

Grim Situation

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After the C-section, the doctors realized that Shelly had fluid in her lungs and the blood clot had moved to her respiratory system. This caused her to have a fatal pulmonary embolism.

Slipping into a Coma

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Suddenly Shelly’s heart rate increased while her blood pressure decreased. The doctors put her on a ventilator to help her breathe as she slipped into a coma. The chances of her survival were slim.

The Ventilator

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The doctors hoped that the ventilator would stabilize Shelly and eventually help her to breathe on her own again. It didn’t look like that was the case, though.

One Last Shot

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In hopes of reaching Shelly while in the coma, the doctors put her baby on her chest and let the baby cry. They hoped that Shelly would hear the cries and know that she had something to live for. While it wasn’t a medical procedure, they still hoped that this would help wake the new mother.

Never Losing Hope

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“We didn’t know how she was going to make it and she had had no interaction with her child. If that was going to be it for her, we wanted to be able to tell the baby, ‘Your mom held you.’” Ashley Manus, a nurse at the hospital, told The Washington Post.


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Putting the baby on Shelly’s chest seemed to be working. Her vital signs were improving and Jeremy felt new hope that his wife would eventually wake up. A week after holding her baby, a miracle happened.

Waking Up

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Shelly finally woke up from her coma. “It was a weird feeling – like I was between a dream and reality. 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,” Shelly recalled.

Affecting Her Life

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Just one year after waking up from her coma, Shelly graduated nursing school. After her experience in the hospital, she was inspired to work hard and love her life. It gave her a whole new perspective on life.

Live Each Day Like It’s Your Last

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“It hits me a lot. I see patients come in the emergency department, some of them critical and on the edge of life and death, and I know that was me. You have to take a step back and pray for them and for their family and then live the best life you can,” Shelly said. She tells her daughter and husband how much she loves them every day and lives each day as if it were her last.