MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities family is celebrating a very special birthday today. One year ago, Liana Albers’ heart stopped as she gave birth.

“You had to prepare for the fact that there would be a very high chance she wouldn’t live for the first 24 hours,” Dr. Charles Lais said.

But the situation went from tragic to remarkable. And despite the odds, mother and daughter are doing great.

WCCO’s John Lauritsen shares their emotional reunion with the medical team that saved their lives.

“An overwhelming flood of emotion I would say,” Liana said.

It’s not exactly the way Liana thought she’d be celebrating her daughter’s first birthday. And while 1-year-old Lydia won’t remember this party, her family will never forget it.

“I know we are really, really lucky to be here and I thank God every day that I’m with her. That I’m able to spend the day with her,” Liana said.

She’s also thankful for the doctors and nurses at Regions Hospital. Liana had an amniotic fluid embolism while giving birth. Something that happens once in about 40,000 births. It began with a seizure prompting doctors to deliver her daughter by C-section in 3 minutes while Liana went into cardiac arrest.

“It accounts for a large part of maternal deaths that occur,” Dr. Lais said. “And it’s sudden and it’s an acute thing and you have to respond quickly to it.”

Julie Nault was the primary charge nurse who realized what was happening.

“It was probably one of the scariest days,” Nault said. “It was one thing I’ve never experienced before and I’ve been here 17 years. When you have to do CPR on a mom that’s pregnant, that’s a hard thing.”

Which is why Friday morning was so emotional.

Liana and her family brought treats to her care team, but the icing on the cake was a healthy and very happy Lydia.

“She is a miracle. Definitely a miracle,” Nault said

Because of a brain injury caused by the embolism, Liana struggled for months to re-learn simple things all while learning to be a mom. They’re getting through it a day at a time- baby steps for both mom and daughter.

“I know this is the way things were supposed to happen. It’s a blessing in disguise. It really is,” Liana said.

Liana said she isn’t seeing a speech or occupational therapist anymore but she does see a psychologist to talk about the mental trauma.

Because that day was so traumatic, doctors and nurses also received counseling and support.

John Lauritsen