Baby born tinier than hand with 10% chance of survival makes 'miracle' trip homeby Dan Coles
A baby girl born tinier than her dad's hand with a 10% chance of survival has has stunned doctors by making it home - thanks to cuddles from her doting parents.
Mirren Cook was born prematurely at just 25 weeks and one day gestation after mum Katie, 28, developed pre-eclampsia and medics were forced to deliver Mirren by emergency cesarean.
Weighing 467 grams - less than half a bag of sugar - at birth, Mirren was whisked away into neonatal intensive care (NICU), where agonisingly, new parents Katie and her Kevin, 30, weren't allowed to pick up their daughter for 10 days.
But as Mirren grew stronger, her mum was allowed to hold her every day and specialists showed her how to have special 'kangaroo cuddles' with her little daughter - skin-to-skin contact that helps increase the bond between parent and child, and regulate babies' heartbeats.
After having daily cuddles with Katie, Mirren went from strength to strength, and is now finally strong enough to return to the family home last week after 16 weeks in hospital in Dunfermline, Fife.
Katie, an early years officer, said: "It was such an overwhelming feeling getting to hold her for the first time, I could have cried happy tears. I had been waiting for that day for ages. In a sense it felt like she wasn't mine until that day.
"It was an automatic bond and my motherly instinct kicked in, the kangaroo cuddles really made a difference, because the skin to skin touch is crucial for bonding and developing, Mirren loved it.
"I feel it was comforting for her to feel snuggled and smell us. It also helps bring on milk for expressing as obviously I couldn't have Mirren latch on so had to express milk into bottles which was hard with no baby beside me.
"The more kangaroo care we had the better it got.
"We're so happy that she's back, she's doing so well and seems to be getting stronger.
"On our first weighing since she came home she had put on weight and she's starting to develop her own cheeky little personality."
Katie's pregnancy had been normal until she woke up at 25 weeks pregnant and realised she couldn't feel her baby moving.
She went straight into hospital for a check, where doctors found high levels of protein in her urine and diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia - a potentially deadly condition that causes blood pressure to rise, and can lead to seizures causing serious illness for mother and baby.
Doctors told the terrified couple they had acted just in time - if they had waited just another 48 hours Mirren would not have made it.
They were transferred to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, and had to have an emergency caesarean section at 25 weeks and one day.
Mirren was born on May 10 this year, weighing 467 grams, and would need to stay in hospital for four months.
Now, Mirren is finally home and healthy, and Katie and Kevin are sharing their story to help other future mums to know the signs of pre-eclampsia and how important it is to get a check-up when you have a symptom of it.
Katie said: "They also did blood tests to check my kidneys and the results were worse every time. If we had waited any longer Mirren wouldn't have made the next 24 hours and myself the next 48.
"We ended up having to have the cesarean section because of my pre-eclampsia diagnosis, it was slowly killing us both but luckily we both survived.
Mirren had to stay in hospital for four months while she got strong enough to leave and in that time Katie and Kevin couldn't hold her for the first ten days.
Katie added: "Over the next four months it was a rollercoaster, in 12 hours she went from having a 10 percent chance of survival to a 70 percent chance, she just kept fighting.
"She had to have five blood transfusions and has been through more at hospital than most will go through in a lifetime. "
"The first ten weeks were very difficult, I didn't take it in at the time, but I remember that I couldn't hold Mirren for the first 10 days.
"Now we're just so grateful that she's home and we can start our life as a family.
"It almost feels like she has just been born, I know she has been here for three months but when we got the call to pick her up that's when it sunk in that we were now parents to a healthy baby girl."
Kevin said: "We went to get a check-up because Katie felt that something was wrong, so we went to the hospital to get some checks.
"I wasn't allowed in the whole time, I waited in the car park for five hours when I got a call from Katie saying I should go home.
"I was home for ten minutes and got another call telling me to come back because Katie was scheduled to have an emergency caesarean section at 3pm the next day.
"The next day she was born and she was just tiny, my hand was bigger than her and her skin was very transparent."
Katie first decided to get checked up because she had symptoms that were similar to her sister who also had pre-eclampsia.
Katie said: "I was told it was very uncommon to get pre-eclampsia before 30 weeks, but I did have symptoms previously like headaches and raised blood pressure."
When her doctor realised what she had, he booked them for a caesarean section the next day and said if it had been much longer, they both would not have made it.
Katie said: "I'm so grateful that we went and got checked, it really did save us.
Kevin added: "It was hard because as soon as she was born we had to stay away from her."
When they could eventually hold her, 10 days after her birth, they were able to start doing all the things parents should be able to do right away.
Katie said: "We were allowed to change her nappy, read her stories and gave her lots of kangaroo cuddles.
"She kept getting stronger and stronger and by the time we were leaving we could really spend time with her."
Now, the new parents are sharing their story to give hope to other parents who may be going through the same thing.
Kevin said: "You'll go through phases of being angry, upset, and feeling helpless, but you have to keep going and follow the doctor's advice."
Katie added: "It was very isolating, not being able to have my mum or my husband there to support me was tough because the days never seemed to end.
"We're incredibly grateful to the NHS, and all of the doctors and nurses that helped us and made it possible to bring Mirren home.
"Now she weighs seven pounds, is getting stronger by the day and we're all just taking it a day at a time."