A mum who had a cesarean while she was in a coma has told how she didn’t meet her son until he was three weeks old – and refused to believe he hadn’t died.
Danielle Johnson, 24, went into labour five weeks early after catching pneumonia, forcing doctors to put her in a a drug induced coma to save both their lives.
Little Lucas was born healthy, but when medics tried to wake up his mum, Danielle’s body didn’t respond and she remained in a coma for 20 days.
When she eventually woke up she thought just a few hours had passed and was convinced she had lost the baby and the nurses had turned against her.
The mum-of-two was so convinced her son had died that she attacked her brother when he showed her a picture of Lucas, because she thought he was lying.
She wasn’t well enough to meet him until he was 24 days old but she didn’t have the strength pick him up and cuddle him for the first time until he was ten-weeks-old.
But after initially struggling to bond with her second baby, a year on proud mum Danielle has an amazing relationship with her two children.
Speaking for the first time, Danielle from Manchester, said: “I had hallucinated and thought all the nurses were horrible and I thought they were trying to kill me and that they baby had died.
“I just kept saying ‘you need to get me out of here’ and ‘prove it’ when they said the baby was alive.
“My heart started pounding. I was so upset. I just couldn’t understand.
“When I was with it a bit I realised that my son was three-and-a-half-weeks old and I hadn’t even met met him.
“He didn’t even have a name.
“I was just thinking what if I don’t get a bond with him – it was traumatising.
“Even when I met him I was still like thinking that I was supposed to have a newborn baby – at first it felt like it was someone else’s baby.
“I had a bond with him but it wasn’t the instant bond like I had with my daughter.”
When Danielle became pregnant she was hoping she was going to have a son.
She said: “I found out at 20 weeks it was going to be a boy and I was really happy because then I would have one of each.
“I couldn’t wait to meet him.
“I didn’t tell Mia for ages that I was pregnant and when I told her she was going to have a little brother she was like: ‘Oh my God! Really?’
And Danielle said Lucas’s father, Freddie, was “very excited.”
She added: “Even though we weren’t together he was going to be really involved.
“I was really relaxed about being pregnant as I knew what was happening because he was my second baby.”
Everything was normal, but when Danielle was 35-weeks pregnant when she started to feel unwell with a cough and cold.
She went to the doctor who told her she had a chest infection and gave her antibiotics, but a few days later, on Christmas Day 2015, Danielle had pains in her stomach.
Her mum, Joanne Brennan, 49, took Danielle to hospital after she began having difficulty breathing, and doctors discovered she had pneumonia.
It was causing her to go into early labour and then put her in an induced coma for 24-hours to deliver her baby on Boxing Day.
Danielle said: “The pains were so bad I couldn’t walk to my mum’s car so she called an ambulance.
“I kept saying to them you need to stop it because it’s too early. I kept asking them to stop it.
“I told my mum no one is going to see the baby expect you until I woke up.
“But that wasn’t possible.”
Lucas – who at that point didn’t have a name – was born perfectly healthy weighing six lbs.
Doctors tried to wake his mum up the next day but she was unresponsive.
The infection had caused the fluid in her lungs to harden.
So while her daughter was in a coma, Joanne put the newborn’s first baby grow in her hand so Danielle could smell him.
Danielle and Freddie, 23, are not married so he was unable to take him home until a week later when Joanne was registered as the baby’s next of kin.
Freddie, Joanne and Danielle’s twin sister Emma, 24, looked after the newborn and Danielle’s daughter, Mia, six, while the new mum remained unconscious.
Freddie said: “It was just horrendous – I was just all over the place.
“It was great meeting Lucas but I just wanted Danielle to wake up and meet him too.”
As a last resort new drugs were shipped from Canada but Joanne was told if this didn’t work there was “no plan B”.
The grandmother-of-three said: “They said ‘this is the last thing we can try with her, the next 48 hours are crucial’.
“‘If the drugs don’t start working there’s nothing else we can do’.
“I collapsed. I didn’t want to lose her and I really thought I was going to lose her.”
Thankfully just hours after the medication was administered – and 20 days after being put in a coma – Danielle woke up.
But as soon as she came around she screamed out in pain and apologising for losing her baby.
She was convinced it was still 2015 and that only a number of hours had passed since she went in for a c-section.
Danielle’s brother Stephen even showed her a picture of her son to try and convince her he wasn’t dead – but thought he was tricking her with a pic of her nephew.
She said: “Everything that was going on in my head was a nightmare that I thought I was actually living. I thought all the nurses were trying to kill me and that Lucas was dead.
“When I woke up I still thought I was in it. I was very confused at first. I couldn’t speak properly or do anything so when people were talking to me I was just looking at them.
“Thinking Lucas was dead was devastating. I was agitated, trying to get out of my hospital bed and just saying: ‘Prove it’ when people tried to tell me Lucas was alive.
“I was just irritated with everyone. I thought everyone was against me.”
Two days later Danielle started to come around and realised Lucas was alive.
“When it sunk in that what went on in my head didn’t actually happen – it was such a relief. I was very emotional. I just remember thinking: ‘Thank God for that – he’s fine, everything’s fine.'”
Four days later Danielle was finally well enough to meet her little son and she burst into tears and named him Lucas.
But when she held him for the first time, she didn’t have the same connection she had with her daughter.
“It was like one of those sacred moments. I’d never loved anything that much in my life.
“That moment with Lucas was robbed from me.
“But there was nothing I could do about it. I was lucky to have him healthy and there. I was gonna have him and he was gonna have me.”
Danielle had to learn to walk and speak properly again, but was allowed home a week after waking up.
Freddie said: “It was like having another baby because she couldn’t eat or drink.”
Speaking of the difficulties of bonding with him, she added: “It was hard to get a bond with him as I couldn’t pick him up or bathe him.
“I used to get angry. I was jealous that everyone else could pick him up when I was his mum and I couldn’t. It felt like I was on the sidelines.
“I was scared that when I could pick him up it would be like when you give your baby to a stranger and they start crying.
“I was worried he wouldn’t know who I was. It was frightening – but I just wanted to get better. When you have kids it motivates you to get better.”
But Danielle finally mustered the courage to drag Lucas’s Moses basked over to the sofa and pick him up on her own when he was ten-weeks-old.
“I just looked at him,” she said.
“The love I had for him was amazing. I kissed him and I said: ‘I love you my sunshine.'”
It took six months to recover fully and finally move out of her mum’s house.
Little Lucas has just celebrated his first birthday, but the experiance has left the whole family nervous.
She said: “I had a cold on Boxing Day of this year and I panicked.
“My little girl Mia keeps asking: ‘If you get a cold are you going to go away again?’
She added: “Everything is perfect now but he is attached to my mum a little bit more which is lovely as both my kids have a good bond with my mum.”