My miracle baby had 14 birthdays… before she was one

My miracle baby had 14 birthdays… before she was one

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Premature baby birthday celebration

Claire was terrified when she went into premature labour and delivered her daughter, Emily, at 24 weeks, weighing just 1lb 3oz. But Emily battled for her life…

By Helen O’Brien Google

My partner Alan, 47, and I were thrilled when we discovered I was expecting our fourth child in September 2013.

We already had three beautiful daughters – Caitlyn, now nine, Millie, five, and Brooke, one, and we couldn’t wait to add another girl to our brood in June 2014. But four months before my due date, in February, my waters broke. I was terrified as I dialled 999.

Emily, born premature at 24 weeks

I was 24 weeks pregnant to the day – right on the cusp of the legal limit for abortion – and I had no idea if our little girl could survive.

After an agonizing four day wait, I went into labour at home and Emily was born just 30 seconds after I arrived at the hospital.

Weighing just 1lb 3oz, doctors placed her tiny body in a sandwich bag to help maintain her body heat and whisked her away.

An hour later I was able to visit her, and what I saw floored me.

Emily didn’t look like a baby – her eyes were fused shut and her fingers and toes were partly webbed.

She didn’t even have earlobes. She was so small and fragile.

All we could do was watch… and wait.

Over the following weeks and months, I kept a bedside vigil at the hospital.

Emily had to undergo four blood transfusions and we had to rely on a breast milk bank when I stopped producing enough to help her survive.

But despite the odds, Emily battled bravely for her life.

celebrating birth of premature baby Emily
Emily’s sisters celebrating with cake

Determined to celebrate, Alan and I bought a birthday cake for every week Emily survived and shared a slice at home with the girls for the whole three months she was in hospital.

It was our way of marking Emily’s mammoth achievement and it showed the girls how lucky they were to have a little sister.

We shared 14 cakes and with every candle we blew out, it helped us believe that our tiny girl would make it.

And miraculously, she did. In June we brought her home and now, at 13lbs, Emily is a happy and healthy baby.

I’m so glad we never lost faith she’d make it.

Our little fighter made it look like a piece of cake!

If you’ve got a little fighter worth celebrating, we’d love to help you to tell your story in a women’s magazine. It’s a great way to give hope to other families going through a tough time. We’ve put together a bit of information about selling your family’s story, and our team is ready to answer all your questions when you are. Fill in the form on the right and we’ll be in touch.