Courtesy GoFundMe
December 28, 2014 12:10 PM

Melissa Carleton’s journey home has been a long one.

Carleton was hospitalized in March, when surgery to deal with a benign brain tumor resulted in a seizure that left her in a coma. Complicating the situation, she was pregnant with her son West, whom she eventually delivered via C-section in May.

“It’s been a real challenge,” Carleton’s father, John Farrell, told ABC affiliate KFSN in Fresno, California.

Saturday was the first time Carleton has seen West in two months and the first time her husband, Brian Lande, has been together with them both. Carleton’s parents brought the baby home to Fresno in October. Meanwhile, Lande has been regularly commuting 4½ hours between the Bay Area and Fresno to visit his wife and son.

“I’m thrilled that I don’t have to have my family torn apart 180 miles from one another, and that I don’t have to keep making a choice between which person I care about, which person am I going to get to see,” Lande told KFSN.

Carleton’s progress has been slow. She’s able to move her feet and is alert, though her health can very easily fluctuate.

For Lande, the experience is rife with highs and lows. Despite Carleton’s slow recovery, the couple’s community has rallied around them, raising nearly $120,000 in the past nine months via a GoFundMe account.

“The horrible and tragic nature of this. It’s devastating,” said Farrell. “Yet when you get to hold a baby like West, and play with him and kiss on him, watch him laugh and smile, it’s really something else.”

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