A mother has shared heartbreaking images of her stillborn son who she spent five days with after giving birth to him while in a coma – and believes he sacrificed himself so she could get well and care for his brothers and sisters.
Charley Moran from Burnley, Lancashire was rushed into hospital in May after contracting sepsis from a kidney infection while 25 weeks pregnant.
The mum of five was put into a medically-induced coma and woke up three days later to discover she’d given birth to baby Timothy, but he sadly hadn’t survived.
It’s possible for a woman to deliver a baby naturally while in a coma, although it happens very rarely.
The 31-year-old then spent five days making memories with her son who weighed just 1.8lbs – less than a bag of sugar.
Stay-at-home mum Charley is now raising money to help fund a cuddle cot to help other families spend precious time with babies who are born sleeping.
Charley from said: ‘He’s my little guardian angel, he gave his life for me.
Charley Moran and her partner Chris Stott with their stillborn baby Timothy Stott who she gave birth to while in a coma
‘I gave birth to him while I was in a coma and I didn’t remember any of it. I didn’t remember birthing my son.
‘They told me I had stage four septic shock and my body had started shutting down but once I’d delivered him I started to recover.
‘Everyone told me to look at it like he’d been released to help me because I was needed back at home to look after his brothers and sisters.
‘He gave up his fight so I could win mine and come back to them.
Dad Chris Stott with children (left to right) Illeana Stott, 2, James Moran, 11, Amelia Stott, seven, and Liam Stott, six.
‘I found it very hard to take. I was thinking ‘what baby should have to give up its life to help its mum?”
‘I delivered him naturally and he was born at 7.14pm on May 4 weighing 850g.
‘I just remember them bringing him back into the room and placing him in my arms. It felt like I’d been robbed of the chance to give birth to him.
‘I had my family, partner and two nurses break the news to me that my son had passed away.
Is it possible to give birth in a coma?
Because of the risk of administering anaesthetic to an already sedated patient, a Caesarean is not the safest option for a comatose mother.
Instead, doctors are more likely to attempt a natural delivery with reduced sedation.
In 2012, Emma Mynors from Essex fell into a coma and suffered two stokes after developing pneumonia, but managed to give birth naturally a fortnight later to daughter Amy whilst still unconscious.
Nurses at Colchester General Hospital only realised she had gone into labour, prematurely at 29 weeks, when they saw the baby’s head emerge.
In 2011, Becky Powers from Michigan was put into a coma at 25 weeks pregnant after her lungs started failing and her organs shut down due to the H1N1 flu virus.
At 28 weeks she started going into labour, but it was too risky for doctors to perform a Caesarean as she was on blood thinning drugs and dialysis.
While she was still on a ventilator, doctors reduced her sedation to a minimal level while still keeping her in a coma.
According to doctors, her labour progressed naturally and her son was born safely.
She woke up five weeks later with no memory of the birth.
‘I don’t know how to put into words how that felt, I was destroyed.
‘I broke down, I couldn’t understand what had happened to me.
‘It didn’t feel real. I had no memory of delivering him and no scar as I didn’t have a c-section.
‘I think that would have made it feel real, it was like a dream.
‘I had this beautiful little boy and I just wish he would have made it until the Sunday when I woke up and they brought him to me but it was not meant to be.’
Charley and shop assistant partner Chris Stott, 36, got to spend five days cuddling, talking to and taking pictures of little Timothy who stayed in a cuddle cot next to Charley’s bed in Burnley General Hospital.
Charley said: ‘I stayed with him until the Thursday then I had to let him go because the cuddle cot could no longer preserve him.
‘In those final days I was able to cuddle him, talk to him, kiss him, sing to him and change him.
‘I told him about the things I wished I could have done for him and that he could have done with his brothers and sisters.
‘We knew he was due before the children broke up from school so we wanted to spend the summer with him so that his siblings could get to know him.
‘My 21-month-old girl Illeana is so bossy so it would have been amazing to see how she reacted to him.
‘We didn’t get as long with him as we’d hoped we would. We wanted to take him outside into the gardens but it wasn’t feasible.
‘He’d started to deteriorate and we knew it was time to let him go. I was devastated.
‘But it was so important that we were able to make memories and take photos which was thanks to the cuddle cot.
Mum Charley Moran with son James Moran, 11, and daughter Illeana Stott, two. She said their baby brother is still very much part of their lives
A Guardian bear for Timothy Stott who died at 25 weeks, leaving his family heartbroken
‘At least I got to show him some of the love I should have shown him when he had been delivered.
‘We had identical bears, I had one beside me in hospital and Timothy had one in his cuddle cot.
‘When he was taken to the morgue we swapped them so he had the one with my scent on it.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection.
Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
Sepsis symptoms include a high temperature (fever) or low body temperature, chills and shivering, a fast heartbeat, fast breathing, a change in mental state – such as confusion or disorientation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting
Sepsis can be treated by antibiotics if detected early.
There are around 123,000 cases of sepsis a year in England.
Around 37,000 people die every year as a result of the condition.
‘He had massive feet which were completely out of proportion to his body like my other children. We say big feet means a big heart.
‘All my children have the biggest feet and the biggest hearts.’
Charley, who only found out she was pregnant three weeks before Timothy died, was told she had a urine infection during her first antenatal appointment.
After feeling pain in her back and having contracted sepsis nine months before due to a kidney blockage she decided to go to hospital.
Things took a turn for the worse the following day after the infection got into her blood-stream and her body started to shut down.
Charley said: ‘I was diagnosed with stage four sepsis shock and they put me into a medically induced coma.
‘Between them taking me into theatre and putting my in a coma I just remember saying ‘what about the baby?’
‘I agreed to them putting me into a coma because I wanted to fight the infection and save my baby. I thought ‘if I can’t fight it how can this tiny baby?’
‘I would have done anything for that tiny little boy.
Charley has told her children that when they see a white butterfly, it’s Timothy coming to play with them
‘I keep thinking ‘why didn’t I notice or do something about the infection before?’ I’m always going to feel like I could have done more.
‘He was my baby and my responsibility, there was nobody else that could protect him. He was growing inside me and I should have protected him.’
Charley takes comfort from talking about Timothy with her children James Moran, 11, Amelia Stott, seven, Liam Stott, six, and Illeana Stott, 21 months.
Charley said: ‘It took us about six weeks before we were able to show the pictures to our children.
‘We now have a framed pictured of Timothy’s perfect little feet on the wall.
‘We sat the kids down and said to them “when Mummy was poorly she was pregnant and the baby died from an infection that almost killed Mummy”.
Charley admitted that she’s struggling to cope, but has to keep going for the sake of her children
‘My 11 year old was very upset and asked me why he couldn’t be saved.
‘We talk about him all the time, we’re going to make sure his memory is kept alive.
‘We had a memory guardian bear made and the children talk to it every day.
‘We tell the children when they see a white butterfly that it’s Timothy come to play with them.
‘It doesn’t matter where they are if they see a white butterfly they shout “hello Timothy. Are you coming to play?”.
‘Even though he’s not here they acknowledge they have a little brother.
‘We had him cremated and will place his urn in a flower plant in the garden so he’s there with his family where he belongs.
‘I’m struggling to cope but I’m trying to keep going forward because of the children. When they’ve gone to bed I have my time when I can grieve and feel sad.’
Charley is now raising money to fund an extra cuddle cot for Burnley Hospital – which costs around £1,500.
‘I want to thank the NHS,’ she said. ‘Even though he couldn’t be saved they helped me and gave me that time. They let me make the decision on when to take him to the morgue.
‘Any time I feel stressed or upset I feel like I have his protection.
‘I’m trying to do this in his memory and to honour the sacrifice he made for me.’