‘My baby­was shot in my womb but sur­vived’

Tif­fany Dav­iswa­seight­month­spreg­nantwhen­she wasshot in the head and stom­ach as she­came­out of a su­per­mar­ket in Mi­ami, Florida. As she slipped into a coma, the race­wa­sonto save her baby

Friday - - Society - Tif­fany Davis, 28, lives in­Mi­ami, Florida, with her daugh­ters, Naomi, seven, Tif­fany, four, and Skyler, one.

Pick­ing up a bas­ket, I strolled along the con­ve­nience store aisle, smil­ing as my baby kicked in­side me. I was eight months preg­nant with my third child, and do­ing some shop­ping for din­ner. My mum Kim­i­lee Davis was look­ing af­ter my two daugh­ters, Naomi, seven, and Tif­fany, four, while my boyfriend, Phillip Mil­ton, was at work. “I’ll feed the kids then put my feet up,” I thought, pay­ing at the check­out.

I was walk­ing to my car in the park­ing lot and was still think­ing about what to make for din­ner when sud­denly I heard gun­shots.

Al­most in­stantly I felt some­thing hit me in my left side. It stung and knocked the wind out of me, mak­ing me dou­ble over. Whoosh! I was hit again, this time on the fore­head and was fall­ing face down. Ev­ery­thing went black...

I could hear muf­fled voices, and peeled my eyes back. I was ly­ing in the park­ing lot with a crowd of peo­ple star­ing down at me. My head throbbed and the left side of my stom­ach felt like I was be­ing stabbed over and over.

“Call the po­lice. She’s been shot,” some­one said, while another knelt down be­side me. “Oh my gosh, she’s preg­nant,” some­one else yelled. “We need an am­bu­lance now!” For the next sev­eral min­utes I floated in and out of con­scious­ness as I lis­tened to the paramedics take my vi­tal signs and lift me into the am­bu­lance. “My baby,” I wanted to shout, but I was in too much pain to speak.

I heard the paramedics dis­cussing how a man, who’d walked out of the store be­hind me, had also been shot. “It must be Rod­ney,” I thought, pan­ick­ing. Rod­ney Du­rant Ju­nior was a friend and we’d been talk­ing in­side the store. He’d been be­hind me at the check­out.

I could hear alarms go­ing off, but didn’t know where they were com­ing from. I was strug­gling to keep my eyes open. Ev­ery­thing hurt and I was be­ing en­veloped by pain.

“I don’t know if she’s go­ing to make it,” one of the paramedics said, un­aware that I could hear him.

“Please just save my baby,” I whis­pered, be­fore I closed my eyes and slipped into a coma.

Emer­gency surgery

I ar­rived at the Jack­son Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal in Mi­ami less than 10 min­utes later and was im­me­di­ately prepped for an emer­gency cae­sarean sec­tion be­fore I was even treated for my head in­jury.

An ul­tra­sound showed that my un­born baby had been struck in­side my womb, leav­ing her left arm shat­tered from the bul­let. She was the doc­tor’s first pri­or­ity be­cause the wound was se­vere and it could have been fatal.

In a mat­ter of min­utes, while I was se­dated in a coma, Skyler was born, five weeks pre­ma­ture weigh­ing just four pounds (1.8kg).

The bul­let was re­cov­ered from my womb and Skyler was fit­ted with a cast on her left arm to hold her tiny bone in place. She was then rushed to in­ten­sive care. Thank­fully Phillip, 28, had been called and was able to be with our baby while I was un­con­scious.

He would come and hold my hand and tell me about our pre­cious lit­tle girl, who luck­ily was per­fect ex­cept for her in­jured arm. “Wake up,” he’d beg me, but I couldn’t hear him.

In­cred­i­bly, the shot to my head had just missed per­ma­nently dam­ag­ing my brain, al­though it got lodged there.

Doc­tors de­cided to leave the bul­let in situ. An op­er­a­tion to re­move it could have left me paral­ysed if the brain or a nerve was dam­aged.

But the more press­ing mat­ter was if I’d ever wake up. For while Skyler was re­cov­er­ing in the in­ten­sive care unit, I was still in a coma and fight­ing for my life. The doc­tors told Phillip that while they were happy that I hadn’t suf­fered any brain dam­age, they weren’t sure when I’d wake up. “We’ll just have to wait,’’ they said.

Over­whelm­ing ter­ror

The lights were bright, too bright, but I had to open my eyes. I blinked, my vi­sion blurry as my eyes ad­justed to the white. I was in a strange room. There was no one else there and I had no idea where I was. Frown­ing, I glanced around, try­ing to re­mem­ber but ev­ery­thing was a haze.

I scratched my head, and froze. There was just stub­ble be­neath my fin­ger tips. My hair had been shaved off. Pan­ick­ing, I sat up­right, and that’s when I re­alised my stom­ach was flat­ter – I wasn’t preg­nant any more.

Ter­ror over­whelmed me and I be­gan tear­ing at the feed­ing tubes and IVs, call­ing for my fam­ily and de­mand­ing an­swers.

“Where am I?” I screamed. “What’s hap­pened to my baby?” I couldn’t re­mem­ber any­thing – and it was scar­ing me. Had I lost the baby? Had I been in a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent? I didn’t know.

Then the door opened sud­denly and two nurses rushed in. “Your baby is fine,” they soothed me. “Skyler’s in another room, wait­ing for you to wake up.”

I smiled when I heard my baby’s name. It was beau­ti­ful. Her full name was Skyler Mir­a­cle Davis, and Phillip had cho­sen it for her. He then came in and told me all that had hap­pened

in­clud­ing that I had been out cold for two weeks.

“It’s a mir­a­cle you sur­vived this,” my mum said as she held my hand and kissed my cheek. “You and Skyler are liv­ing mir­a­cles.”

I couldn’t help but cry, re­al­is­ing all that Skyler and I had been through to­gether be­fore she was even born.

Phillip told me that no one had been ar­rested for the shoot­ings and po­lice had no sus­pects or in­for­ma­tion about who had attacked us or why, al­though there were re­ports of a green mini­van speed­ing away from the park­ing lot im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­ci­dent.

But there was even worse news. Rod­ney had been shot dead in the at­tack af­ter be­ing hit twice. I couldn’t stop cry­ing, re­al­is­ing how close to death we’d been.

“I need to see my baby,” I cried and held out my arms when they brought her in.

Meet­ing Mum

“Hello beau­ti­ful,” I said, cradling Skyler. She was so pretty, with big brown eyes and wisps of curly hair. She was wrapped in a pink blan­ket, but when I opened it up I gasped.

Her arm was still in a cast and she had feed­ing tubes in­side her mouth and sen­sors on her arms mon­i­tor­ing her vi­tals. “You’re so brave,” I told her. I’d missed the first two weeks of her life, but I loved her fiercely and would never let any­thing bad hap­pen to her again.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble,” my doc­tor said to me later. “She’s one of the youngest vic­tims to sur­vive a vi­o­lent crime like this. Her life was nearly taken be­fore she even had a chance to live.”

Look­ing down at my lit­tle girl, I nod­ded. “She’s a fighter,” I as­sured the doc­tor. “Just like her mum.”

It was a month later, on Jan­uary 10, 2013, that I was al­lowed to go home. The trauma had af­fected my speech and mo­tor skills, for which I was told to un­dergo ther­apy for a few months. It helped and my speech is fine now.

As for my daugh­ter, she’s now a year old and grow­ing up fast. She con­tin­ues to be fit­ted with new casts ev­ery few months be­cause the bone has still not healed com­pletely as it is in a fast-grow­ing phase. But be­sides that, she’s ab­so­lutely per­fect. Be­cause she has a cast, she finds it dif­fi­cult to crawl around but she en­joys mov­ing around in her walker. She is al­ways smil­ing and cheer­ful.

As for me, I suf­fer from chronic headaches and numb­ness in my chest, arms and fin­gers some­times. Doc­tors say that it could be due to the bul­let lodged in my head press­ing against some nerves.

But there is no amount of pain that will stand in the way of me mak­ing up for lost time with my ba­bies.

Un­for­tu­nately the po­lice were never able to find the crim­i­nals re­spon­si­ble for shoot­ing me and Skyler and killing Rod­ney. As there were no sur­veil­lance cam­eras at the store or enough wit­nesses at the scene, po­lice weren’t even able to iden­tify any sus­pects.

But I don’t let that get in the way of my life. My at­tack­ers are still on the loose, but I can’t be afraid or live in fear. I was just some in­no­cent mum in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I want to make the most of my life now.

I al­most died, and my baby could have been killed too. We were both in­cred­i­bly lucky, and to make up for lost time, I threw a fab­u­lous first birth­day party for Skyler. We had some close friends and their chil­dren over and Skyler had the time of her life, rev­el­ling in the at­ten­tion.

I was so happy for her. Like her mid­dle name, she is truly a mir­a­cle and I will not let any­thing or any­one take her away from us.

real life

Skyler’s arm was shat­tered while in Tif­fany’s womb

Skyler still has to wear a cast on her left arm

Tif­fany with chil­dren Tif­fany, Skyler and Naomi

Skyler at one month. She weighed just 1.8kg at birth

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.