Local Mom Gives Birth While in a Coma

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

A local woman is eight months pregnant and gives birth while in a coma! And her husband is faced with an agonizing choice. It's an amazing story you'll see only on NBC 15!

The Wenkman family of the Wisconsin Dells had it all: a new home, a healthy young son, and another on the way. But just weeks before the birth, things took a turn for the worse.

“I guess you don't realize what you have until it's almost gone,”

Shawn Wenkman had a choice: save the love of his life or his unborn child.

“To be put in a position to have to choose was not easy,” said Shawn.

“That position I think is the worst position you can put anyone in ever,” said nurse Shannon Sullivan.

It was an ordeal that gave Shawn and his wife Ashley a new outlook on life.

“Everyday is a a new day,” added Shawn.

Ashley had a normal pregnancy. But eight months in in February, she contracted the H1N1 flu virus.

“The flu, or h1n1 is very bad for pregnant women,” said Dr. Susan Davidson at St. Mary's Hospital.

Eventually she developed pneumonia.

“I was having a really hard time breathing at that point,” said Ashley.

“Ashley was probably about as sick as she could be,” said Sullivan.

Her declining health put baby Preston in distress.

“The problem was when Preston needed something, it was counter-productive to what Ashley needed,” said Shawn.

“It was like walking a really fine line, trying to keep her healthy we could while trying to keep Preston healthy,” said Sullivan.

Her condition was so severe, doctors had to put her into a medically induced coma. And they prepared Shawn for the worst.

“I think the most difficult day for us was that first night when she was here when we asked him if it comes down to it, do we save your wife or do we save your baby?” said Sullivan.

“I know at one point they said whatever decision you make, it can't be the wrong decision because no one knows what's going to happen,” said Shawn.

Her due date was still weeks away and doctors said Ashley probably wouldn't survive a C-section. As they were they were deciding what to do next, Preston decided for them.

“Mom went into spontaneous labor,” said Dr. Davidson.

Still in a coma, Ashley gave birth.

“I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't move, I couldn't talk, I had no muscle function whatsoever, but I knew that he was coming,”

“I remember trying to push and I remember the doctor announcing that he was here,” said Ashley.

Preston was born healthy and Ashley's health began to improve as well.

“And as soon as she delivered Preston, her recovery was dramatic because they could finally treat her the way that they needed to,” said Shawn.

“It was the best feeling I think I've ever had as a nurse,” said Sullivan.

“I never seen doctors cry and be emotional and they did after things kind of turned out. They actually had tears in their eyes,” added Shawn.

Three months later, the Wenkman family arrive at Saint Mary's Hospital. They came to thank nurse Sullivan for helping saving their family.

“I'm extremely lucky. I'm not only lucky to be here today, but I'm lucky to have my son who has been amazing,” said Ashely.

“Whenever I hear Ashley's name or Preston's name, I just get a big smile,” gushed Sullivan.

Now, the Wenkman's are looking forward to living their lives, one day at a time.

“I'm the luckiest person there is, and I mean that. Live life everyday like it's a new day,” said Shawn.

“It's the time that you have together, it's the memories that you make everyday,” said Ashley.

Mom and Preston are both doing well.

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