Melissa Carleton was in a coma when she gave birth, but her husband wanted to make sure she was the first to meet their 5-pound, 9-ounce baby boy.
West Nathaniel Lande was placed on Carleton’s chest after he was delivered by C-section at the University of San Francisco Medical Center on Thursday.
“She was still obviously under anesthesia, but he got to at least smell her first and feel her skin first,” Carleton’s husband, Brian Lande, told ABC affiliate KFSN-TV.
Carleton, 39, went into a coma in March after suffering a seizure caused by a benign brain tumor, according to her father, John Farrell. Although she has been hospitalized and unable to speak since she was 26 weeks pregnant, she carried her baby boy to full term.
“It’s tinged with some sadness because of Melissa’s condition, but today is a great joy,” Farrell told ABC News while waiting to meet baby West Thursday. “She’s wanted to have a child for years…Today, I can’t begin to tell you how happy we are. It’s indescribable.”
Lande has barely left his wife's side, according to KFSN.
Doctors discovered Carleton’s tumor during her second trimester after headaches landed her in the emergency room, Lande wrote on a GoFundMe page created to help cover the family’s medical expenses and other bills.
Carleton decided to wait until the baby was born to undergo surgery to remove the tumor, but her health deteriorated too quickly, Lande told KFSN-TV. In March, she struggled to walk from the hospital parking lot to its doors, stopping frequently to rest on the ground.
The following morning, Carleton had a seizure that damaged part of her brain and prompted doctors to perform emergency surgery to remove the tumor, Lande said.
"She was also terrified that she would miss the baby and something would happen to her and she wouldn't get to meet our son and she wouldn't get to participate in being a mother," Lande told KFSN-TV.
The surgery went fine, but the seizure left her “unable to fully wake up,” according to the station.
Although Carleton is in a coma, she’s able to open her eyes and squeeze her family members’ hands, Farrell said. And Thursday morning, just before surgery to deliver her son, she was the most awake Farrell has seen her in weeks.
“In a few tender moments, she reached out to Brian, took his cheek, pulled his cheek down to her face and held it there,” Farrell said. “It was the first time she had hugged Brian since this trauma happened.”
Once Carleton recovers from surgery, she will be moved to a rehabilitation facility, where doctors hope she'll come out of her comatose state, according to KFSN-TV.
“Though we have a daughter that is in the state that she’s in right now, we will also have a grandchild,” Farrell said just minutes before the birth. “To be here at this point is a great gift for her. It’s a great gift for us. It’s a great gift for her husband, Brian. It’s going to be easy today to be joyful and happy.”