Carolinas HealthCare System
Picture of Shelly and Ryland after their complicated delivery.


Shelly Cawley had that pregnancy "glow." She couldn't wait to bond with her newborn child. She admits she loved being pregnant. Right up until her water broke.

Shelly and Jeremy recounting their tale of Ryland's complicated delivery.

A complicating blood clot

Her labor started out normally, but it wasn't progressing. And Jeremy, Shelly's husband, grew concerned when she became lethargic and overly tired. It turned out a blood clot diagnosed earlier in her pregnancy and other complications were shutting down her body.

Though she and her husband had planned on a natural birth, Shelly's blood pressure was spiking and she wasn't getting oxygen, so doctors performed an emergency C-section. Her daughter was born healthy and happy. But Shelly wasn't waking up.

Shelly, Ryland, Jeremy, and big brother enjoying an afternoon in the park together.

A mother rescued by her baby

Shelly has no memory of what happened during this time. But her husband choked up when Shelly explained what happened next.

"One minute my husband was told I was going to be fine," said Shelly. "And the next minute they came in to tell him it was time to say goodbye to me."

The clock was running out for Shelly's medical team. As they considered their options, a nurse offered a suggestion. Shelly explains: "The nurse said, "Why don't we get the baby on Shelly's chest and make her cry?" She thought maybe, just maybe, my subconscious would hear my daughter crying and that would give me a reason to fight."

One big happy family

When Shelly's crying daughter was placed on her chest, something magical happened. The sound of her baby's cry helped doctors stabilize Shelly so they could continue providing lifesaving care. It's hard to imagine a more powerful demonstration of the bond between parent and child.

Talking about it makes Shelly and Jeremy tear up. It also fills them with gratitude for their fast-thinking nurse and the tireless efforts of her Carolinas HealthCare System medical team for her full recovery and the bundle of smiles and cooing they named Rylan.

"I can't wait until my daughter is old enough so I can tell her she saved my life," said Shelly.

Photo of baby Ryland who saved her mother's life through skin-to-skin contact.

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