Pregnant mum-to-be woke from Covid coma to discover she’d given birth to baby girl


Laura Ward awoke to find her baby daughter, Hope, lying next to her on the hospital bed having been in a Covid coma for seven weeks

Laura Ward awoke from a Covid coma to find her baby daughter lying next to her
Laura Ward awoke from a Covid coma to find her baby daughter lying next to her

A teaching assistant who went into a Covid coma woke up to discover she had given birth.

Laura Ward last remembered being wheeled back onto the Covid ward before seven weeks passed and she woke up to find her little girl, Hope, lying next to her on the hospital bed.

The mum had nodded to doctors to give consent to deliver Hope after medics told her they might have to deliver the baby early, although Laura said she has no recollection of that whatsoever, reports the Manchester Evening News.

“I opened my eyes to see Hope on the bed with me, but I couldn’t move any part of my body,” said the 33-year-old. “All I could do was shake and nod my head.”

Laura first feared she might have the virus when she had a “bit of a cough” when she finished school for the summer holidays. But she thought she was OK when a lateral flow test came back negative.

Yet her condition did not improve so she decided to take a PCR test 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.

Hope weighed 3lbs 7oz when she was born
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Laura continued to deteriorate whilst in hospital and doctors sent her to the maternity ward to make sure the baby was OK. It was here she was told by medics that they may have to deliver her baby early.

Her condition worsened to the point where she had to be sedated for an emergency C-section at 31 weeks, more than two months before her due date.

Laura’s partner John Leece was called to the hospital but, due to Covid restrictions, was not allowed into the theatre.

Hope was born weighing a tiny 3lb 7oz, and despite spending five weeks on the neonatal unit, she’s now fit and healthy and a thriving 10lb 7oz.

Yet Laura would not be able to speak to her little girl for another two weeks having had a tracheostomy and feeding tubes fitted.

Laura said her husband, John, has been ‘amazing’
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“I was just lying in bed at first and not able to move at all,” she said. “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.”

The muscles in her legs had deteriorated over the weeks and it was only at the beginning of this month 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.

It’s those lost weeks with him and Hope that Laura is most looking forward to catching up on when she’s finally allowed home on Monday.

Laura only started walking again at the start of December
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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’s [John] been amazing, he really has,” said Laura. “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.”

Laura ‘can’t wait’ to get home
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After her initial treatment at the Royal Bolton Hospital, 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”.

“My family were obviously panicking,” she said. “The doctors and nurses clearly thought it’s not looking good.

“John has managed to keep everyone upbeat about it though. He was telling them ‘she’s not giving up and neither are we’ and ‘let’s keep positive, we’re not going to lose her, she’s going to be fine’.”

After five weeks, Laura returned to Bolton’s intensive care unit where she eventually came out of her coma.

She’s since been rehabilitating with intense physiotherapy and occupational therapy, with the goal of returning home for Christmas.

Laura has been having intense physiotherapy and hopes to be home for Christmas
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Laura said: “I’m getting stronger every day and the nurse has said she hasn’t seen anyone make as much progress in such a short amount of time.

“I think it’s helped to have that goal of getting home for Christmas and also to get home to my kids. I’ve missed them all so much.”

As well as thanking the staff at the hospitals she’s been treated at, Laura, who hopes to return to her job at the primary school when William starts there in September, wants to thank her family, including parents Lynn and Bill, cousin Kirstie Atkinson and friend Emma Chatwood for all their support.

Laura, who had no underlying health conditions other than gestational diabetes, didn’t have the Covid vaccination earlier in her pregnancy as initially it wasn’t recommended for pregnant women. By the time she was offered it, it was too late.

After her ordeal, she says she’d recommend the jab to any pregnant women.

“I’d say just get it,” she said. “I wouldn’t wish what’s happened to me on anyone and it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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