Mom grateful for life

Kelly Mitchell has plenty to celebrate this Mother's Day.

Last year, as she celebrated her first Mother's Day as a mom, the Daily Pilot published her first-person account of a health scare that she endured during and after that pregnancy.

Mitchell, 40, a former Newport-Mesa schoolteacher, was seven months pregnant in 2009 when headaches brought on by what she thought was "pregnancy brain" became unbearable.

They got so bad that she could barely see or remember anything. After a string of specialist visits and tests, doctors found an avocado-sized tumor in her brain. The cancerous growth was benign, but was making her "delirious and blind." She had to make a difficult decision — and fast.

She delivered Curran — Gaelic for "hero" — by C-section. He was premature at 35 weeks, but healthy. Her first few days of parenthood were foggy and anxious. A week later, she went in for a seven-hour brain surgery.

Mitchell recovered and was reunited with Curran four days later. She has been healthy since.

"I feel like every single day is better than the one before," said Mitchell, who lives in Huntington Beach with Curran and her husband, Jon, who works for the Newport Beach Lifeguards.

"I don't think they can get any better, but the more they do, the more fun it is to watch," she added. "It's just been the best year."

Now celebrating her second Mother's Day, Mitchell is due to give birth to her second child — a girl — in four weeks.

A few weeks ago, Mitchell received a call from the USC University Hospital, where she had undergone surgery. It was not bad news, but rather a special request: The hospital wanted to honor her as one of its "success stories" by allowing her to throw the first pitch at a Dodgers game.

"The first thing I thought was I had no idea how to pitch a baseball," Kelly said. "[But] of course I said yes, I would do anything for those guys. They're asking a favor of me and I owe them everything."

So she practiced and, on April 17, wearing a Dodgers cap, she threw out the first pitch at a home game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Jon was the catcher. The Dodgers wound up coming from behind to win the game on a two-run homerun to deep centerfield by Matt Kemp in the bottom of the ninth.

"It ended up being the most wonderful experience because we were treated so special," said Mitchell, who also appears as the star patient featured in a USC University Hospital-made video, which was shown on Dodger Stadium's Jumbo Tron to mark the occasion. "I just felt like it was a celebration."

Now, the stay-at-home mom is enjoying getting ready for her second baby, decorating a nursery and embracing every moment.

"When I was 35 weeks [pregnant] last time, I had no brain and no memory and no vision," Mitchell said. "Now at 35 weeks, I've got four weeks left and I actually get to enjoy it."

Mitchell said she plans to spend this Mother's Day picnicking in Dana Point with her extended family, including her husband and her "hero," Curran.

"I never knew that being a mother would be so much fun and so enjoyable," Mitchell said. "I have nothing to complain about. I just feel so lucky every day."

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