Can a coma patient become pregnant

"My life without me": Becoming a mother in a vegetative state

Because of an aneurysm, Carola Thimm fell into a coma for five years. When she woke up, she had a kindergarten-age daughter. The now 47-year-old reports on the limbo between life and death and her struggle back into a self-determined everyday life in her book "My life without me - how I experienced five years of coma".

"A stabbing pain runs through my head. In the distance I see a stroller in one of the fields, above me a buzzard circles in the cloudless spring sky. His scream, which sounds sharp in my ears, is the last thing I do in this Perceive the moment - then suddenly everything is black. " These are the last memories of Carola Thimm, before she collapsed while walking twelve years ago and lost consciousness. At that time, she is five months pregnant.

The artificial coma is followed by the vegetative state

In the hospital, an aneurysm is finally diagnosed; a ruptured vessel in the head had caused a bleeding. Carola has to be operated twice on her open skull in order to minimize the pressure on the brain. At some point she slips from the artificial coma in which she was placed into a vegetative state - a state that lasts for five years.

The mother-to-be, whose pregnancy is maintained by the doctors for as long as possible, no longer has any memory of how she went into labor in the 31st week of pregnancy. Carola's daughter Marie is then brought into the world by caesarean section. She's still pretty small, but healthy.

The birth of her child, Carola Thimm, does not bring the here and now back. She remains in a twilight state - with her eyes open. At the age of 39, she was finally admitted to a nursing home after spending time in various rehab clinics.

The family never gave up on Carola

In numerous passages of the book, which was created with the support of co-author and journalist Diana Müller, Carola's extraordinary and moving fate is told from the perspective of relatives and medical staff. Carola's husband Michael, her sister's family, her parents and therapists describe how stressful it was to care for and accompany the seriously ill: The endless hours at the bedside without a reaction and the countless attempts to address the patient through speech, physical closeness or reading aloud to lure books out of their mysterious slumber again.

Even little Marie, who is growing up into a spirited tomboy, is often with Carola with her dad, aunt or grandma. She takes it for granted to exercise on her lifeless mother's bed. She knows that the woman who always lies motionless in bed with a blank look is her sick mother. She only knows them like that.

Trapped in her own body: Carola noticed herself all the time

Particularly touching and impressive are those parts of the reading in which the coma patient has her own say and can actually remember a lot of what is happening around her, albeit in fragmentary pieces of the puzzle. She always recognizes every visitor from her family. But she cannot communicate, she is trapped in her immobile body.

"Am I dead? Am I alive? I don't know. Life is different," she describes her feelings and impressions. "I'm lying in bed, I'm warm. Pain? No. Sometimes I'm afraid. Lots of people come and go. What do they do? Often I'm tired. Very tired. Just want to sleep. Sleeping is nice. I don't feel anything. My head is calm. No thoughts. I saw Mutti. She was here. That feels good. I want to raise my hand and wave my fingers, say something, wink at my Mummy. But it doesn't work. No strength. Everything is as light as a feather Too easy to move hands, feet, or face. "

Your own daughter - familiar and strange at the same time

Carola even registers her daughter's visits. However, she does not know that the girl who comes to see her regularly is her own child. "Who is that? Has my sister had another child? That would be great! (...) The little new girl likes me. Funny, we don't even know each other. Sometimes she comes with my mother, sometimes with Michael. Then she climbs up on my bed - she has laid down with me a few times - and hugs me. The child feels warm and smells. But it's also difficult. "

The tough fight back to life

In 2009, five years after the collapse, a medical miracle finally happened. Carola Thimm makes contact with her environment again after her medication has been reset and suddenly a slow wake-up process begins. The formerly enthusiastic diver forms an O with her fingers in response to a question, the diver's sign for Okay. Then it takes another five arduous years until Thimm fights his way back to life with incredible energy. She has to learn everything from scratch: brush her teeth, walk, speak and write.

The great happiness of suddenly being a mother

Carola now consciously gets to know Marie. But it takes some time before Carola really understands that the happy, bright child is her flesh and blood. Because she no longer remembers that she was pregnant before the cerebral hemorrhage. So she first has to learn to develop feelings of motherhood.

"I have a daughter. I am a mother. (...) I slowly let the word melt on my tongue. Inside me it gets very warm. I still can't understand it, but the little girl my mom often brings with her , is my daughter. Marie (...). Now I am happy without end. That is a deep feeling of happiness in me. Marie is a great child. "

Marie lives with her father today

Although the now 47-year-old can now largely lead a self-determined life again and is happy about every new day, Carola's dream of a happy new beginning with her small family has not come true. Their marriage ultimately broke down from the painful and stressful years of the coma awake. Your husband is in a new relationship today. Carola also has a new partner. But everyone gets along well.

And Marie? She lives with her father, but Carola shares custody with him. Mother and daughter now see each other every 14 days. Then the now eleven-year-old Marie is with her mom on the weekend. A mom who was so different and still a little different from most mothers. After all, the two missed the first five precious and formative years in their relationship with each other. Carola is now all the more enjoying her belated motherhood when she can live everyday life together with her child on a few days a month.

Confidence and courage for the future

With the publication of her book, Carola Thimm does not only want to process her fate to a certain extent. With her extraordinary story, she would like to encourage other affected families who are looking after a relative in a coma to never lose confidence and give up. In keeping with this, she closes her book with the lines: "The future lies ahead of me and I am looking forward to it. Everything is good. I am alive."

Book: Carola Thimm, Diana Müller, My Life Without Me, Patmos-Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-8436-0570-0

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  • Subjects:
  • Parents,
  • Health and nutrition,
  • Family,
  • Vegetative state,
  • Fate,
  • Birth,
  • Caesarean section,
  • Pregnancy,
  • Care,
  • Carola Thimm