A boy in California has defied the odds by celebrating his fourth birthday — after being born under the most tragic circumstances.
Little Beckham Hughes, from southern California, was born via an emergency C-section after his mother, Rachel Hughes, suffered a blackout behind the wheel of their car in 2019.
Her body slumped forward and her foot pressed hard on the gas, causing the car to careen off the road at 55mph and smash into a stone wall.
Doctors warned the boy may not survive when he was born weighing 2lbs. He had to stay in hospital for more than three months and was intubated and fed via an IV drip.
At the age of six months, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy — a neurological condition where sufferers struggle to move and communicate. He still can’t walk but has learned to sit, stand and pull himself around with his arms. He also struggles to speak, with doctors saying he will likely need to learn sign language.
At the age of six months, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which doctors said happened because of damage to blood vessels inside his brain
Rachel Hughes, 24, from California, needed an emergency C-section after she was found to have a burst placenta following a car crash. She is pictured above holding her son Beckham who was born at 27 weeks when he weighed just 2lbs 8oz
Beckham is shown above being held by his father Hunter along with his mother Rachel and younger sister Blakely, now three
Ms Hughes said: ‘I carry with me a lot of guilt and often question if I did enough to protect him.
‘There are days when the weight of it all feels unbearable.
‘But then, I look into Beckham’s eyes and see his resilience, his beautiful spirit shining through, despite the pain. And in those moments, I know I must carry on and be strong for him.’
Hughes, then 24 years old, had been driving to work at 10am in June when she suddenly realized she had forgotten her laptop and turned back.
But when she reached an intersection, the then mother-to-be, who was 27 weeks pregnant, suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous — and passed out ‘before my brain could even communicate with my body to hit the brakes’.
The next thing she knew, she was being carried out of the wreckage of her car by a passerby who had called emergency services.
Doctors are not sure why the expectant mother passed out, but said it may have been because her placenta had ruptured — causing massive internal bleeding.
Placental abruption — when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus — happens in about one in a hundred cases, estimates suggest.
The cause is often unknown, says the Mayo Clinic.
Ms Hughes was flown to a hospital in Utah where scans showed she had suffered no broken bones, only bruising.
But there was massive concern about her unborn son, whose heartbeat was starting to slow down.
He was immediately delivered via emergency C-section weighing just 2lbs 8oz.
Ms Hughes said: ‘The doctors warned us about the potential loss of our baby, brain damage, brain bleeds, infections and cerebral palsy.
‘It was unequivocally the most terrifying moment of my life.
‘Nothing can prepare a parent for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) rollercoaster, but the love I felt for Beckham was stronger than the fear and uncertainty.’
Her son was kept in the NICU for more than three months while his internal organs matured before being allowed to go home for the first time.
He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at six months old, which doctors said was caused by a massive bleed on the brain that damaged neurons.
The boy also struggled with speaking, but at the age of two had been helped to say ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ by a speech therapist.
Ms Hughes said: ‘The first time I saw my baby I was filled with love. He was absolutely perfect and incredibly tiny.’
The crash happened when Ms Hughes blacked out, causing her to drive off the wall and into a stone wall at about 55 miles per hour
Beckham spent about three months in intensive care after his birth (pictured) before he was discharged
He is pictured above in hospital where he needed to stay for more than three months before being discharged
He is pictured above with his sister, who was born about a year after him
Ms Hughes and her husband Hunter had a second child, a daughter called Blakely, the following year.
They now blog about their experience raising a child with cerebral palsy on social media, and their TikTok has wracked up more than 200,000 followers.
Ms Hughes added: ‘Instagram feels like I’m opening up and showing everyone I’ve ever met my most sacred thoughts and feelings and it’s terrifying.
‘It took me two years to share with anyone outside of family and literally two or three friends that Beckham was diagnosed with cerebral palsy because it was accompanied with so much grief. Grief I can’t even describe. Then I look back at these videos.’
She added: ‘The day they told me he was dying, so they were going to let me hold him for the first time to say goodbye.
‘I see more grief and sadness than my heart and mind can even comprehend but I also see the literal miracle he is.’
About nine in ten babies born between the 27- and 30-week mark survive, doctors say, because many of their vital organs are already well-developed.
This includes the lungs, which mature at around 24 to 28 weeks, allowing youngsters to breathe outside the womb.
More than half of babies born at this point are, however, later diagnosed with a neurological disability. Some 20 percent of these have severe neurological problems.
Read the full article here