When Carolyn Isbister put her
20oz baby on her chest for a cuddle,
she thought that it would be the only chance she
would ever have to hold her.
Doctors had told the parents that baby Rachel only
had only minutes to live because her heart was
beating once every ten seconds and she was not
I didn’t want her to die being cold. So I
lifted her out of her blanket and put her against
my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.
It was the only cuddle I was going to have with
her, so I wanted to remember the moment.”
Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of
her mother’s skin kick started
Rachael’s heart into beating properly, which
allowed her to take little breaths of her own.
We couldn’t believe it – and neither
could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.
The doctors came in and said there was still no
hope – but I wasn’t letting go of her.
We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and
waited for her to slip away. But she still hung
And then amazingly the pink color began to return
to her cheeks. She literally was turning from gray
to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up
The sad part is that when the baby was born,
doctors took one look at her and said
They didn’t even try to help her with her
breathing as they said it would just prolong her
dying. Everyone just gave up on her,” her mom
At 24 weeks a womb infection had led to her
premature labor and birth and Isbister (who also
has two children Samuel, 10, and Kirsten, 8 ) said,
“We were terrified we were going to lose
I had suffered three miscarriages before, so we
didn’t think there was much hope.” When
Rachael was born she was grey and lifeless.
Ian Laing, a consultant neonatologist at the
said: “All the signs were that the little one
was not going to make it and we took the decision
to let mum have a cuddle as it was all we could
Two hours later the wee thing was crying. This is
indeed a miracle baby and I have seen nothing like
it in my 27 years of practice. I have not the
slightest doubt that mother’s love saved her
Rachael was moved onto a ventilator where she
continued to make steady progress and was tube and
syringe fed her mother’s pumped
Isbister said, “The doctors said that she had
proved she was a fighter and that she now deserved
some intensive care as there was some hope.
She had done it all on her own – without any
medical intervention or drugs. She had clung on to
life – and it was all because of that cuddle.
It had warmed up her body and regulated her heart
and breathing enough for her to start fighting.
At 5 weeks she was taken off the ventilator and
began breastfeeding on her own.
At four months Rachel went home with her parents,
weighing 8lbs – the same as any other healthy
Because Rachel had suffered from a lack of oxygen
doctors said there was a high risk of damage to her
But a scan showed no evidence of any problems and
today Rachel is on par with her peers.
Rachel’s mom tells us, “She is doing so
well. When we brought her home, the doctors told us
that she was a remarkable little girl.
And most of all, she just loves her cuddles. She
will sleep for hours, just curled into my
It was that first cuddle which saved her life
– and I’m just so glad I trusted my
instinct and picked her up when I did. Otherwise
she wouldn’t be here