'I fell into a coma immediately after giving birth. I met my baby three weeks later.'

When I was pregnant with my second child, I came down with bronchitis. I was terribly sick throughout the pregnancy and my GP thought I had mild pneumonia. But I felt so sick; I wasn’t eating; I was in pain and I couldn’t get out of bed. The last thing I recall was a Saturday morning. I was lying in bed and my sister was looking after me – I’d be dead if she hadn’t been there as she insisted that I be taken to hospital. 

Later, I was told the doctors couldn’t work out what was wrong with me. At first, they thought it was renal colic, but by 3am I went into labour. I have no memory of giving birth to my son Ben but apparently, I pushed him out in two pushes! 

He was having breathing problems so he was immediately taken away from me. One of the midwives told me she knew I was very sick because, usually, when a baby is taken away from a mother right away, she will react - but I was silent.

Then I was taken to ICU and, because they thought I had pneumonia – which turned out to be swine flu – they put me in an induced coma. They’d just planned on knocking me out for two days because the ICU doctors said they’d never seen anyone go downhill so quickly. According to my sister, they then intubated me. By the time the doctors realised I had swine flu, it was too late to give me the anti-virals. 

All I know is I didn’t meet my son Ben until he was nearly three weeks old. 

Watch: Questions about childbirth (answered by mums and non-mums). Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

And my time in a coma was the most bizarre experience of my life. 

While I was in a coma, my health was deteriorating; my blood pressure was erratic, I was down to 60 per cent oxygen availability and doctors thought that if I survived, I’d have brain damage. There was massive DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in my groin.

But these are the strange things that happened while I was in the coma. It was like being in another world – a kind of “waiting room.”  

Various family members visited me because they were told I probably wouldn’t survive and they should plan for my funeral. My three-year-old daughter Amelia learnt not to talk about me, because she knew people cried when she spoke about me.  

One of the strangest things that happened in my coma was the two people who were constantly by my side: my late sister and my late father. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them talking and laughing. They spent a lot of time laughing at the behaviour of my family.  

Image: Supplied.

My mum and sister were focused on rearranging the way my hands were placed on the bed – for example my mum preferred my hand with the palm facing down, then my sister would come in and turn my hand up again. So my late dad and late sister were was watching my hands being repositioned as mum and my other sister argued about how my hands should look. My late Dad and my late sister– who sounded like they were near my bed – were giggling.

And in my head, I was speaking to them. I remember saying, “This is not funny, stop laughing, stop being ridiculous.”

Hearing the voices of my late dad and sister manifested itself into very weird dreams that felt very real to me. For example, I believed I’d turn into fried chicken.  

My eyes were rolled open but I wasn’t conscious – but I’d sometimes see things – for example, I thought the sprinkler units on the ceiling were jam cookies.

I also remember my dad saying to me, “You will be fine.”  


While I was in the coma, I wasn’t awake but in a strange semi-state of consciousness – you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. I heard a nurse ask, “Who let flowers into ICU?” My eyes were open, I was able to see the flowers, but I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  

Another time I heard a doctor say, “It’s time to wake her up,” and I thought he was Superman wearing a cape. I also thought 13 years had passed and everyone had died, so I wanted to kill myself. So I tried to grab a flower from the table beside me because I wanted to stab myself with a gerbera. A nurse said, “Knock her out,” and they gave me an injection and I lost consciousness again. 

When I first woke up, I still thought I’d been turned into KFC and all that was left of me was the chicken bones. I was tied to the bed, with my arms by my sides, because I’d been trying to pull my tubes out. A nurse said, “You’ve been very sick Kate.” 

When they had me out of the coma, I remember breathing in short sharp breaths – you feel like your lungs are made of iron, they’re not able to move. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t eat and couldn’t even pick up a pen. So they said “Let’s see if you can stand up”. I tried standing up, but I was just skin and bones, and fell straight to the floor. 

Over the next six weeks in hospital, I had to learn to walk again, breathe again, and eat again. The strangest part of all was being handed my three-week-old baby Ben for the first time. 


I had absolutely no energy so when the nurses handed him to me, I could only look blankly at him. I remember them saying "Oh he knows your voice"  and then he snuggled closer to me, but my brain was so out of it, I just couldn't react. I knew this was my baby but I couldn't feel anything, I was using what little energy I had to just breathe on my own.

It took months for me to really bond with him, all my energy had to go into mentally forcing myself to get better because I also had a three year old to care for. So many times every day I just wanted to give up because breathing and moving was just so difficult, I kept falling out of bed, I couldn't feed myself and even sitting up in bed was beyond me.  They had to pick me up and force me to sit up in a chair because I couldn't do it myself.  After six weeks I was finally able to walk from the car to my front door. "

My biggest lessons from being in a coma:

I woke up thinking, “Why should I put up with shit anymore?” I knew I didn’t want to live an average life anymore. I’m not going to compromise my morals and values; and that’s what I’ve put into my wellness business – Eir Women.

I decided to be more like my father. He was an old-fashioned GP who cared for people and listened to his patients – people just loved him. He was kind, clever and knowledgeable. So the biggest take away from being in a coma and hearing my father’s voice, was knowing I want to follow in his footsteps. He made a huge difference to people; he changed their lives – and I now want to change people’s lives too. 

Image: Supplied.