A California boy has defied the odds by celebrating his fourth birthday – after being born in the most tragic of circumstances.
Little Beckham Hughes, of Southern California, was born in 2019 via an emergency C-section after his mother, Rachel Hughes, suffered a blackout behind the wheel of their car.
His body leaned forward and his foot pressed hard on the gas, causing the car to veer off the road at 55mph and crash into a stone wall.
Doctors warned that the boy might not survive when he was born weighing 2 pounds. He had to stay in the hospital for over three months and was intubated and fed through an IV drip.
At six months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy – a neurological condition where sufferers struggle to move and communicate. He can’t walk yet but has learned to sit, stand and pull himself up with his hands. He also struggles to speak, with doctors saying he may need to learn sign language.
At six months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which doctors said was caused by damage to the blood vessels inside his brain.
Rachel Hughes, 24, from California, needed an emergency C-section after she was found to have a ruptured placenta following a car accident. She is holding her son Beckham who was born at 27 weeks weighing 2lbs 8oz
Beckham is shown above being held by her father Hunter with her mother Rachel and younger sister Blakely, now three.
Mrs Hughes said: ‘I carry a lot of guilt with me and often question whether I did enough to protect him.
‘There are days when the weight of everything feels unbearable.
‘However, I look into Beckham’s eyes and despite the pain his resilience, his beautiful spirit shines through. And in those moments, I know that I must carry on and be strong for him.’
Hughes, then 24, was driving to work at 10 a.m. in June when he suddenly realized he had forgotten his laptop and turned around.
But when she reached an intersection, the then-mother, who was 27 weeks pregnant, suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous – and ‘before my brain could communicate with my body to hit the brakes’.
The next thing he knew, he was being pulled from the wreckage of his car by a passerby who had called emergency services.
Doctors are not sure why the expectant mother died, but say it could be because her placenta ruptured – causing massive internal bleeding.
Placental abruption — when the placenta separates from the uterine wall — occurs in about one in a hundred cases, according to estimates.
The cause is often unknown, says the Mayo Clinic.
Ms Hughes was taken to a hospital in Utah where scans showed she had no broken bones, just bruises.
But there was great concern for her unborn son, whose heart rate had begun to drop.
She was immediately delivered by emergency c-section weighing just 2lbs 8oz.
Mrs Hughes said: ‘Doctors warned us of possible harm to the baby, brain damage, brain haemorrhage, infection and cerebral palsy.
‘It was unequivocally the scariest moment of my life.
‘Nothing can prepare any parent for the rollercoaster of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), 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 he was allowed to go home for the first time.
At six months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which doctors said was due to massive bleeding in the brain that damaged neurons.
The boy also had difficulty speaking, but at the age of two a speech therapist helped him say ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’.
Mrs Hughes said: ‘I was filled with love when I saw my baby for the first time. She was absolutely perfect and incredibly tiny.’
The accident happened when Ms Hughes blacked out, sending her off the cliff and into a rock wall at around 55mph.
Beckham spent nearly three months in intensive care after his birth (pictured) before being discharged.
He is pictured above the hospital where he had 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
Mrs Hughes and her husband Hunter had a second child, a daughter named Blakely, the following year.
They now blog about their experiences raising a child with cerebral palsy on social media, and their TikTok has amassed over 200,000 followers.
Ms Hughes added: ‘Instagram feels like I’m opening up and showing everyone I meet my most sacred thoughts and feelings and it’s terrifying.
‘It took me two years to share with anyone outside the family and literally two or three friends that Beckham had cerebral palsy because it was with so much sadness. I cannot describe the sadness. Then I look back at these videos.’
He added: ‘The day they told me he was dying, they let me say goodbye to him for the first time.
‘I see more grief and sorrow than my heart and mind can comprehend but I also see literal miracles.’
Nine out of ten babies born between 27- and 30-weeks survive, doctors say, because many of their vital organs are already well developed.
These include the lungs, which mature around 24 to 28 weeks, allowing the young to breathe outside the womb.
More than half of children born during this period, however, are later diagnosed with neurological disabilities. About 20 percent of these have severe neurological problems.
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