Mum gives birth while in a coma
CAITLIN Stubbs was not expected to live long enough to ever see or hold her baby girl after giving birth prematurely while in a coma.
But the 25-year-old, who had a catastrophic brain bleed 32 weeks into her pregnancy, has been able to cuddle her tiny blue-eyed bundle after slowly regaining consciousness in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
Her partner, Jonathon Welsh, who proposed just three weeks before Caitlin's brain haemorrhage, made sure that within hours of their little girl's delivery by emergency caesarean, she was taken out of her humidicrib and placed in bed with her Mum.
"I didn't know if Caitlin was going to make it or not so I said they've got to have a bit of time together before anything happens, just so they could feel each other," he said. "There were tubes everywhere between the both of them."
Caitlin, and the little girl she named Quinn way before she was born in the early hours of July 24, have spent time together every day since.
"It's crazy," Jonathon said. "Caitlin's heart rate would be high, like 180 beats per minute, and her blood pressure was really bad, but we'd put Quinn on her and it would settle. I think it helped them both.
"The first week the doctors were pretty much saying they think she's going to be brain dead.
"But it's five weeks now and she's definitely not brain dead. She's moving all of her body and she's starting to try to talk a little bit. She can't fully talk but she can whisper.
"She's very confused. I've just been explaining to her things over and over, showing her videos to jog her memory. I got our proposal on camera. I show her that every day because sometimes she doesn't remember us being engaged. She gets a smile every time."
Caitlin began feeling unwell on the way home from a night out with Jonathon and friends on July 23. Soon after they arrived home, the young Mum-to-be collapsed and he called for an ambulance, fearing she was having a brain bleed.
In the weeks before she unexpectedly fell pregnant, Caitlin had been in hospital with a much smaller brain haemorrhage and was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels in her brain.
She recovered and doctors were planning to treat the malformation with radiation, but needed to delay the procedure until after the baby was born.
When Caitlin arrived at the RBWH with Jonathon after her second, more serious brain bleed, he was warned to prepare for the worst before they wheeled her away for an emergency caesarean.
"They pretty much said she wasn't going to make it through the night," Jonathon recalled. "I gave her a kiss. I got to say goodbye before they took her away. I didn't know whether she'd make it out."
Jonathon first met and touched Quinn, who weighed just 1940g, in the first couple of hours after her dramatic entry into the world at 2.30am.
"I thought: 'She looks like Caitlin, she looks just like her Mum'," he said.
Since Quinn's birth, he's had to be both Mum and Dad. But Jonathon has ensured that Caitlin has also been involved in the care of their much-loved baby. Her colostrum and some breast milk were expressed and fed to Quinn in her first few days of life.
Jonathon, 25, had never changed a nappy before Quinn's delivery.
"I'm doing all the Mum duties, really," he said. "She's pretty chilled. She takes all her bottles, no worries. I'm just lucky that she's an easy, good little baby."
Quinn was discharged from hospital last Monday and Jonathon has moved in to live with his parents at Cornubia, a suburb of Logan, south of Brisbane.
"It was really bitter sweet," he said. "It was awesome to get her home. But leaving Caitlin felt really bad. Caitlin's quite aware of what was going on as well, I think, so she was a bit upset. I just want to have both my girls home."
He and Caitlin, a dental assistant, had bought a house in Cornubia, but he's had to rent it out.
Jonathon, who owns an electrical business, has been unable to work since Caitlin's medical emergency and he's unsure what the future holds.
Doctors plan to operate on Caitlin in about six weeks to remove the malformation in her brain.
"She's still not out of the woods at all, not even close to being out of the woods with this operation," he said.
"The chances of her losing control of her legs is almost certain but there's a chance she might not.
"It's high risk but I think she'll get through it. She's got through everything so far, she'll get through that as well.
"I've got faith in her. We're more hopeful now. She'll be right. She's young, fit and healthy."