A woman in a coma gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and in a touching Facebook post, one of the woman’s family members described the family's, the friends', and the dad's reaction to the magical birth. “The room erupted. The magic had returned. The joy that we had awaited so long was finally here.” As reported by KTVU on May 22, West Nathaniel Lande was born via C-section at 10:56 a.m. on Thursday morning.
Like most dads, West’s dad, Brian Lande, could not be any prouder or happier holding his newborn son in his arms for the first time. Unlike most dads, however, he does not get to share the amazing experience with West’s mom. "As happy as I am to meet my son, it is incredibly painful for Melissa not to be awake with me for this," explained Lande.
The story of Melissa and Brian is a fairy tale story until doctors discovered that Melissa had a brain tumor. Brian, who is a Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Deputy, and 39-year-old Melissa Carleton, who is a marriage and family therapist from Fresno, got married in a dream wedding in Norway last year. A short time later, the happy couple found out that they were pregnant, and that they were going to be expecting their first child.
During Melissa’s second trimester, however, doctors discovered that the mom-to-be had a benign brain tumor. Despite the devastating news, Melissa hoped to have the necessary surgery to remove the brain tumor after the baby was born, but when she had a debilitating seizure, the choice was taken out of her hands.
“Brian remembers the day before his life would change forever. Melissa was being admitted into the hospital and was so physically exhausted, she could hardly walk. ‘And she was needing to stop and sit on the parking lot floor to rest and then we'd only be able to walk a few feet before needing to stop again,’ explained Brian. The next morning, she had a debilitating seizure. Doctors told Brian if Melissa wasn't already in the hospital when it happened, she would have been brain dead.“
As reported by ABC 30 Action News, the seizure damaged the part of Melissa’s brain which was responsible for wakefulness, and even though doctors were able to remove the tumor during an emergency surgery, Melissa was unable to fully wake up again.
Since that dreadful day in March, Brian has been at Melissa’s side at UC San Francisco. A retired San Francisco police officer donated an apartment to Brian where he could go to in order to have some home away from his Fresno home. The only presence of the couple’s beloved dogs is in the pictures that adorn Melissa’s hospital bedroom.
Since Melissa’s seizure and surgery, she has lost control of her wakefulness. While she might be aware of what is going on around her at certain times, doctors have cautioned family members not to be too optimistic. Until West’s birth on Thursday, Brian didn’t know if his wife or baby would survive the pregnancy.
On Thursday morning, shortly before the birth, Melissa moved Brian's hand to her stomach where the baby was kicking.
In Papichka’s Facebook post about that special morning, she writes, “As each of us entered the room before the surgery/c-section delivery, we were greeted with her open green eyes, as open as they have been, searching the room for faces to match the voices she heard. Each of us was able to communicate to her just how much we love her, and just how excited we were that West Nathaniel Lande was about to make his entrance. Each of us carried our own emotions, with different emphases, but all focused on our lovely girl, our lovely woman. We each were able to hold her, and talk to her, and to allow her to hold us too, her hands, especially her right one, wanting very much to hold and to be held. Each of us looked in those green eyes, and she looked back. And as the surgery was drawing very nigh, she reached out to Brian as he look[ed] in her eyes, and she first placed her open hand on his shoulder, and then on his cheek, and pulled him in close. It was precious, and so appropriate and fitting that on this day, after 10 weeks of laying in a coma, largely asleep, she was able to be awake and aware enough to reach out and give Brian the first hug he has had from her since before the initial trauma. No dry eyes in the room.”
For Brian, Melissa’s first hug after 10 weeks and the arrival of his son have been an amazing experience. "She puckered for a kiss. These are things we've waited for months to happen and she did them today," he told KTVU. "He's got his mom's nose and his mom's ears and he's opening his eyes and looking around already," said the beaming new dad. “I'm overwhelmed I have no idea what I need right now. I just can't see further than my nose.”
Besides being the happiest and most grateful dad, Brian is trying to keep Melissa and their new baby boy together. For anyone who would like to support Brian, Melissa, and their new baby West -- the couple’s friends and family members have set up a GoFundMe.com site to raise money for Melissa's treatment.
CBS San Francisco, which also covered the story, quoted grandpa John Farrell. “This is a story of joy, and it’s not lost on us that this is a story about Brian and his love. He has taken care of our daughter in a way that parents can only hope for, and that’s a credit to Melissa, because (she) chose him.”