A woman told she was expecting weeks after being paralysed from the chest down is delighted to be a new mum – despite medics believing the pregnancy may have caused her disability.
Kara Scott, 33, had no idea she was pregnant when she suffered a seizure on holiday in Majorca in July 2019 with her husband, Jonny, 35, and their son, Isaac, aged three.
She collapsed again on the flight home and was rushed to hospital where doctors diagnosed a central nervous system disorder called Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) – and was paralysed.
Fearing cancer, it came as “a massive surprise and relief” when a CT scan six weeks later picked up an ominous ‘shadow’ – which ultrasound revealed was her unborn daughter.
Delighted Kara gave birth to 5lbs 5oz Winnie, now seven-months-old, on January 7th via C-section and, despite being disabled, wouldn’t change a thing.
Kara, a holistic therapy and beauty business owner from Keighley, West Yorkshire, said: “I’m not dead am I? I’m here – I’m still me.
“I was just shocked. I thought I couldn’t be pregnant. I rang my partner, Jonny, who said, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing’.
“It was obviously meant to be, but I thought, ‘I have no idea how to live life as a paralysed person, let alone how to do it with a baby’.
“I’m a mum-of-two now. The first time round was hard enough to do fully-bodied and fully-abled.
“I didn’t really have time to register being paralysed – it was more about how am I going to be a good mum.
“Life is really testing me but I like a challenge. I always want to do something different. When they said at first it was just a shock.
“I kept on hoping it would be temporary. But I’m also a realist and so I said to the neurologist to tell it to me as it is and she told me I’ll probably never walk again.
“The trigger was probably me becoming pregnant but no one can be sure. I would not change it though, as I have Winnie now.”
Unbeknown to Kara, the NMO began 10 years ago, aged 23, when she suffered a numb face, went cross-eyed and began losing her balance.
She used a walking stick and doctors at first thought it was MS.
Medics later found three masses on her brain stem, which a biopsy revealed were not tumours, but massive inflammation.
Doctors cannot be 100 per cent sure, but believe the pregnancy exacerbated the condition.
Compared with being “so excited” when pregnant with Isaac, Kara said experiencing pregnancy with Winnie – while paralysed “was awful” – and she could not “appreciate it”.
She said: “I couldn’t stand up and see my tummy grow. It was sad because I couldn’t experience my pregnancy – I didn’t enjoy it. I wanted to enjoy it.
“It made me feel like a bad mum because I bonded when I was pregnant with Isaac, but I couldn’t until Winnie was born.
“It is two massive things in your life but one seems quite negative and one is positive.”
Kara could not feel the bump or any kicking unless she put her hand on her tummy towards the end of the pregnancy.
“I was terrified we wouldn’t make a connection,” she added.
But as soon as she gave birth by c-section and saw Winnie it was “love at first sight”.
Kara added: “It’s not about me anymore – that doesn’t matter. It’s about my little girl.
“She went straight to my boob for a feed – your whole body goes straight into parenting world. It incorporates into your world.”
Kara lives with her parents next door, who are now her official carers, alongside her twin sister, Ina Harris.
She said her positive attitude comes from her ‘supportive’ family and Winnie gave her the ‘motivation’ to carry on.
Kara said: “My family are really positive people. If I just had the paralysis to focus on, I might stop and struggle and think it’s too hard.
“With a new baby in the mix you have to do it – you have no other option but to be the best mum, you have to really make that effort.
“I don’t dwell on the negatives. In my head I have no other option but to be happy and be a good mum.”
Kara has been in several different wheelchairs since being diagnosed and is now in a self-propelling chair which she can control herself.
She added: “I’m a fiercely independent person. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I’m disabled. To have this label, it has negative connotations. I didn’t want to admit that.
“If I’m disabled it shouldn’t stop me. I want to influence people’s opinions on disability. I don’t want to be treated differently just because I’m a disabled person.
“It’s not changed who I am – I just don’t have legs that work.”
She praised charity Spinal Injuries Association for supporting her after her diagnosis and while adjusting to life with paralysis.
“It showed me what you can do in a wheelchair and how life can be easy,” Kara said.