Toowoomba baby Alessandra Nelligan-Cooke was born premature to disability advocate Alyce Nelligan and her fiance Brendan Cooke on July 25, 2018.
Toowoomba baby Alessandra Nelligan-Cooke was born premature to disability advocate Alyce Nelligan and her fiance Brendan Cooke on July 25, 2018. Erica Henderson

'I couldn't stop crying': Toowoomba woman's miracle baby

ALYCE Nelligan was always told she'd never have children, because of her severe disability.

When she and long-time fiance Brendan Cooke discovered she was 13 weeks pregnant, doctors said she wouldn't make it to 20.

But the Toowoomba disability advocate and her "miracle" daughter Alessandra have left doctors baffled and defied the odds after the baby was born by C-section on Monday, July 25.

Toowoomba baby Alessandra Nelligan-Cooke was born premature to disability advocate Alyce Nelligan and her fiance Brendan Cooke on July 25, 2018.
Toowoomba baby Alessandra Nelligan-Cooke was born premature to disability advocate Alyce Nelligan and her fiance Brendan Cooke on July 25, 2018. Brendan Cooke

"When we got to see her, I couldn't stop crying because she's just perfect," Ms Nelligan said, fighting through tears.

"She's here, healthy and beautiful and she's actually mine."

Weighing just over two pounds and having only spent 30 weeks in the womb, baby Alessandra has become the dream that Ms Nelligan thought she'd never see.

Ms Nelligan, who has a serious and complex disorder called minicore myopathy as well as severe scoliosis, said doctors believed her to be the first woman in Australia known to have given birth with the condition.

Toowoomba disability advocate Alyce Nelligan, on ventilation, visits her daughter in hospital.
Toowoomba disability advocate Alyce Nelligan, on ventilation, visits her daughter in hospital. Brendan Cooke

Minicore myopathy causes the muscles to weaken and waste away, particularly in the core part of the body.

The former Greens candidate for South Toowoomba said the final two weeks of the pregnancy were the hardest as her daughter started to grow.

"The last two weeks of the pregnancy were really bad and I couldn't breathe," Ms Nelligan said.

"I just hoped I would get to meet my daughter - there was still risk right to the very end (that) I could've passed away and so could she.

"In myself, the only thing that got me through is that I knew I'd be relieved when I saw her face."

Toowoomba's Alyce Nelligan and Brendan Cooke see their baby Alessandra for the first time.
Toowoomba's Alyce Nelligan and Brendan Cooke see their baby Alessandra for the first time. Erica Henderson

Ms Nelligan was taken to the intensive care unit for three days to recover from the invasive surgery, but after three days she woke up and demanded to see her daughter.

She was still on a ventilator when she laid eyes on Alessandra for the first time.

Disabled women are often discouraged from trying for a baby when it can lead to medical complications, according to Ms Nelligan.

But she hoped her breakthrough would inspire others like her to keep the dream alive.

"It is a reminder of how much harder it is for us. I hope I've encouraged other women that they can do this," she said.

"Someone's got to do it, hey?"

Alessandra will spend the next eight weeks in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital before the happy couple can take her home to Toowoomba.

Ms Nelligan's fiance Mr Cooke summed his new daughter up best.

"She's a proper miracle," he said proudly.



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