An Irish mother has spoken for the first time about the day she woke up from a coma to be told she had given birth to her baby son ten days earlier.
Ciara Murray, from Enniskillen, suffered a stroke when she was 37 weeks pregnant back in October 2015.
She lay on her bedroom floor all day unable to lift herself up to call for help. It was not until her husband John returned from work hours later that the alarm was raised.
Ciara’s stroke was caused by a blood clot on her brain, and doctors had to put her into a coma to save her and her baby.
Ciara was quoted in the Daily Mirror. She described the frightening experience: “My husband was at work and I couldn’t get up at all to get the phone. Every time I tried to pull myself up, I kept slipping down.
“I couldn’t feel the baby at all. I was far more worried about him than myself. I thought I had just fainted.
“I was so frightened. I just had to close my eyes and hoped that the time would go quickly.
“I was so glad to hear the key in the door, I said to him ‘Is that you John?’ He came in and he tried to lift me.”
When John found Ciara he called for an ambulance and she was taken to South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen. Although she had suffered a stroke, thankfully, a scan showed that Ciara’s baby was fine.
“It was so lucky that he was alright, but they found that I had a clot on my brain and told me I had to be moved to the Royal Victoria Hospital.
“I knew that I was very sick, but John tried to tell me that we’d be fine. That is the last thing I remember.”
The following day, doctors carried out a three-hour procedure on Ciara, to remove the clot on her brain and also perform a caesarean section.
Baby James was born on 30th October 2015, weighing 5lb 5oz. He was healthy and able to leave hospital a few days later.
However, Ciara remained in an induced coma for ten more days so that her body had time to heal from the operations.
She woke up on 10th November and was finally told that she had given birth to her son.
Ciara said: “They didn’t tell me before the surgery that I was going to give birth. I woke up on November 10, which happened to be my husband’s 35th birthday. The nurse told me the date and I said ‘That’s John’s birthday.’
“Then she told me that I’d had a baby. I couldn’t believe it. John brought him into me and it was just amazing.
“I could hardly move but he just lay there on my chest. He was just a wee tiny bundle but he was perfect.
“I just felt so lucky that he was doing well because I was so worried about him.”
Ciara’s treatment was not over yet though, and she had to stay in hospital for a further five months to undergo rehabilitation to regain the feeling on her left side.
John was determined that the family spend time together and everyday he made the 160-mile round trip with baby James to visit Ciara in Belfast.
She said: “It was quite a journey for him every day but it was worth it. Luckily, I had no problem bonding with James. I clicked with him and loved him straight away.”
Thankfully, Ciara was moved to Enniskillen hospital to continue her rehab, meaning she could see John and James more frequently, although it wasn’t long before her treatment took her back to Belfast.
“After 10 weeks in Enniskillen, I moved to Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast to the brain injury unit for intense rehab for three months.
“It was hell knowing that I had to leave the baby again.”
Finally, in April 2016, Ciara was fit enough to return home to her husband and baby.
She said: “I had to learn to change a nappy with one hand as I couldn’t use the other. It was definitely challenging but having to look after him was great motivation to get better and stronger.”
Ciara receives support from a local stroke group which helps her learn to live with the effects of her stroke, which had left her without feeling down the left side of her body.
She explained: “Getting out with other young stroke survivors means I can talk about it with people who understand.
“I am still having rehab as well, but it is a long process. I have regained some feeling in my leg, but there’s no arm movement yet.
“I am still in a wheelchair, but I can walk a bit round the house with a stick. I’m just working hard every day and I’m determined to get all my mobility back.”
Luckily, James, now 15 months, is fit and well and didn’t suffer any impact from the stroke.
“He is completely fine,” Ciara said. “He’s full of energy and he’s ready to walk at the minute. We’re both trying to get on our feet at the same time.
“Doctors still don’t know what caused the stroke but I’m just so pleased that we’re both doing ok now.”