It's a split-decision no one should ever have to make, but for Colorado mom Karisa Bugal, it became all too real on the morning of November 3, as she was lying on a hospital bed, giving birth to her second child. That's when doctors broke the news that Bugal had a very rare and life-threatening condition: an amniotic fluid embolism.
"The amniotic fluids surrounding the baby or part of the baby's skin or hair gets into the mother's bloodstream and that causes catastrophic shutdown of all the organs," Dr. Kelly Gerow explained of the condition to NBC-affiliate KUSA.
With the baby's heartbeat dropping, Karisa told her doctors to go ahead and perform an emergency C-section to save him.
“That was about the last time I saw her,” Karisa's husband Wes later said. "Deep down I knew it wasn’t good but I wanted to keep the faith."
A short time later, Declan Jay Bugal was born, at a healthy, 7 pounds, 4 ounces. His mom, who remained conscious for a little while after the birth, is said to have asked the doctors "How big is he?" before passing away.
"That’s the hard part," Wes told reporters. "How to explain to him that his mom’s gone [after] giving birth to him. Explain to both of them where their mom’s at, when they ask, ‘Where’s Mommy?'”
Karisa, who was just 34 years old at the time of her death, was also mom to a toddler daughter. According to the Go Fund Me page that was set up following her death, she had a lot to look forward to.
"Karisa ... was set to celebrate her 8-year wedding anniversary on the 5th, followed by her 35th birthday on the 8th of November," wrote Kendall Tinnes.
For her family, though, the only thing that soothes the pain they feel over her passing is the incredibly beautiful and selfless gift she gave her son, Declan.
“She came to the hospital to be a mom, and she did what she was supposed to do,” her sister, Maren Oates, said, adding that on November 3, her sister delivered more than just a baby boy — she delivered "a miracle."