A mum woke from a Covid coma to discover she’d given birth to her baby girl.
Laura Ward spent seven weeks in the coma after falling ill with the virus while pregnant with her daughter Hope.
Her condition deteriorated so much that she was sedated for an emergency C-section at 31 weeks, more than two months before her due date of October 15.
Laura Ward, 33, contracted the virus while pregnant with her daughter Hope.
Thankfully all was well with baby, who was born weighing 3lb 7oz at Royal Bolton Hospital, and despite spending five weeks on the neonatal unit, she’s now fit and healthy and a thriving 10lb 7oz.
But for mum Laura it was just the beginning of a horrific ordeal that at one point her family feared she would never recover from.
It all started when the Tyldesley Primary School teaching assistant finished school for the summer holidays with ‘a bit of a cough’.
Despite a lateral flow test showing as negative, when she didn’t improve, she decided to get a PCR, which came back positive.
Following the guidance to isolate, she was struggling to breathe and after calling 111 for advice she was advised to go to hospital.
With her condition worsening over the fortnight or so in hospital, she was sent to maternity to check on baby and was told they may have to deliver early.
The last she remembers is arriving back on the Covid ward and despite since being told that she nodded her head to give consent to Hope’s delivery she has no recollection whatsoever.
Her partner John Leece was called to the hospital but, due to Covid restrictions, was not allowed into the theatre.
Laura’s next memory was waking up seven weeks later, on September 30, to be greeted with the sight of the precious daughter she didn’t even know she’d had.
“I opened my eyes to see Hope on the bed with me, but I couldn’t move any part of my body,” says Laura, from Tyldesley, Wigan.
“All I could do was shake and nod my head.”
Having had a tracheostomy and feeding tubes fitted, it was two weeks before Laura was even able to speak, and she has since had to learn how to do the most basic things all over again.
“I tried really hard to lift my arms but I just couldn’t. It was frustrating because I couldn’t speak, but because I couldn’t move my arms or hands, I wasn’t able to write anything down that I wanted to say either.
“I had to learn to feed myself, brush my teeth, all the things you learn as a toddler, it’s like learning everything all over again.”she said.
The muscles in her legs had deteriorated over the weeks and it was only at the beginning of December when she managed to walk again – firstly making her way down the hospital corridor with a frame and then holding the hand of her three-year-old son William.
John, 37, who works for the firm PSI cleaning extractor fans at schools and offices, was among the family and friends who would regularly chat via FaceTime to Laura while she was in the coma, not knowing whether she could hear them or not.
He didn’t want to name their baby – referring to her only as ‘baby girl’ until they could both agree on a name – and has kept a scrapbook of things the children have done while their mum has been in hospital.
“He didn’t want to name her before I’d woke up,” said Laura. “He’s been amazing, he really has. He’s been coming to see me every day with Hope and he’s been bringing William when he can and our children Lexi and Josh, who stay with us a lot when they’re not at their mum’s.
“They wanted to get that bond between me and Hope so she’s been lots, but with William we wanted to try to keep him in his routine as much as we could.
“William first came to see me on his third birthday in October and I got really emotional as I’d not seen him since July.
“I’ve missed his first day at nursery and I’ve missed Hope’s first weeks – her first bath and that kind of thing. John keeps telling me I’ve not missed much as all she does is sleep, poo and drink milk, but I can’t wait to get home.”he said.
After her initial treatment at the Royal Bolton, Laura was sent to Wythenshawe Hospital, where she spent 35 days of her coma on an ECMO machine – the highest level of life support – and with her ‘lungs absolutely gone’, her family – including parents Lynn and Bill – were told it was ‘the last resort’.