We didn’t know if our Andy would live.. he was in a coma, no spark in his eyes. But then he saw the baby scan and it was like he really understood
Dad’s bond with baby who helped him beat death MUM-TO-BE ON THE MOMENT SHE KNEW INJURED BOYFRIEND WOULD PULL THROUGH AFTER ACCIDENT
As he lay in a coma, Cheryl Mainland stayed by her boyfriend’s bedside, telling him over and over again about the baby growing inside her.
Hit by a car just four days after finding out he was going to be a dad, Andy Irvine’s life hung in the balance.
But Cheryl refused to give up, talking to him about every stage of the pregnancy until he started to regain consciousness.
Against the odds, Andy pulled through and today has a unique bond with his son Miller, who helped save his life.
Cheryl said: “Andy was in a coma for three weeks. For the first week both his mum and I slept in the waiting room because we couldn’t bear to be away from him.
“I would sit beside him and talk to him about the baby we were having – willing him to wake up.
“At first we didn’t know if Andy would survive. Then, when he started to come round, we didn’t know if he’d ever be able to walk or talk, feed or dress himself.”
Andy, 37, was struck by a car while walking home from a night out with friends in Aberdeen.
He suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, bruised lungs and a severe leg injury. His most serious injury was swelling and bleeding on his brain.
As he came out of the coma, Cheryl was due her 12-week scan and decided Andy had to be there.
Cheryl, 36, said: “When Andy and I discovered I was pregnant, we were very excited. But just four days later our lives were turned upside down.
“It wasn’t like in f ilms – he didn’t suddenly open his eyes and ask what he was doing there. His brain still wasn’t working the way it should – there was no spark in his eyes.
“But it meant the speech therapists and physios could come in and start doing their work to try to bring him back.”
Cheryl says over the next two months Andy’s brain star ted to slowly “reprogramme”.
One of the biggest leaps forward came when nurses helped organise for him to go with Cheryl to the maternity unit for her first baby scan. Cheryl said: “It would have been an emotional day anyway but to have Andy there was wonderful.
“He doesn’t remember anything y g
about it but he held my hand and was tr transfixed by the screen with our baby’s im image on it.
“It was as if he really understood w what he was seeing.”
Andy continued to improve and was m moved to a rehabilitation unit where C Cheryl says he appeared to “awaken”.
He worked to regain skills, including e everything from learning to speak a again to being able to walk up stairs.
He was finally allowed home from h hospital in June 2016 – just six weeks b before baby Miller was due.
Shopping centre operations manager C Cheryl, who became a carer while b becoming a first-time mum, said: “It w was important to get Andy settled into h home life before Miller arrived.
“In the end, Miller was two weeks la late and I knew I wanted Andy to be at m my side when he was born.
“Andy still needed a lot of support b but he was there holding my hand and d doing everything he needed to do. “It was perfect.” Cheryl says the extent of brain injury Andy suffered means he will never be the person he was before his accident.
But she says Miller, now 20 months, is the perfect aid to Andy’s recovery.
She said: “Andy has worked so hard to find a way to overcome any problem.
“At first he was nervous about holding Miller as he didn’t have a lot of strength in his left arm but he did everything he could to build its strength up.
“Now Andy is Miller’s favourite buddy to play with, read books with or do anything with. They have a very special bond.
“Miller has been our little beacon of light. He has given us both hope and determination – and pulled not just Andy but both of us through.”
Almost 1000 people every day are admitted to UK hospitals as a result of suffering an acquired brain injury, including strokes.
Cheryl and Andy are supporting brain injury charity Headway’s Right First Time campaign, which is calling on the Government to make changes to disability benefits assessments they say fail a large number of brain injury survivors and their families.
Returning to work was deeply impor tant to Andy, a contract engineer, whose employers backed him with a phased return into a new administrative role.
But Cher yl says a “lack of understanding” of head injuries by the Department for Work and Pensions left them without any employment support allowance before Andy was ready to take up the post.
Cheryl, who returned to work from maternity leave earlier than planned, said: “Andy wasn’t ready to properly return to his work but the DWP said he was capable of getting another job instead. We didn’t know what to do.
“Did we turn around to Andy’s supportive employers and tell them he was handing in his notice to look for another job?
“The best thing was for Andy to go back to work with fami liar colleagues and familiar surroundings – rather than starting a job in a new company where he would need to learn new skills.
“During the face-to-face assessment, Andy was asked to fold a piece of paper in half and stand on one leg. These were not suitable tests and showed a lack of understanding about the complex nature of brain injury.
“We were asked whether Andy can cook a meal. Yes he can. But he might leave the gas on. People with brain injuries have good days and bad days, good moment s and bad moments.
“You’ve got no idea how the brain injury wi l l affect them from one day to the next and it’s very difficult to convey that through the assessment process.
“Miller has been our light through some dark times. He makes us laugh – and he gives us the strength and determination to figure things out.”
LITTLE TREASURE Andy has formed a close bond with Miller PRIDE AND JOY Andy with newborn Miller
FAMILY GUY Doting dad Andy and wife Cheryl with their baby boy Miller TOUCH AND GO Andy in coma in hospital