A mum was warned her baby may not survive when she went into labour – at just 25 weeks – after going to hospital with what she thought was an infection.
Naomi Appleby’s son Arlo weighed just 1lb 12oz when he was born prematurely, and was so tiny his hand could fit inside her wedding ring.
Now 16 weeks old and a healthier weight of 6lb 15oz, the weight of an average newborn, he is enjoying life at home with his mum, dad Liam, and sisters Lucy-Rose, six, and Darcey, five.
Naomi, 28, and her family have now thanked the staff at the neo natal unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital for helping her son beat the odds.
Naomi, of Overdale Grove, Layton, said: “I went to hospital thinking I had a urine infection. They examined me and they could see I was fully dilate. They took me to the delivery unit and two hours later he was born.
“He was actually born in his amniotic sac.
“I didn’t actually get to see him when he was first born. He was very small in the incubator. His legs were all bruised.
“He only had a 40 per cent chance of survival and all through labour they told me he might not survive. The first 72 hours were crucial, but luckily we didn’t have anything to worry about.
“When he was a week old he pulled his own incubator tube out. He was only ventilated for 13 days.
“When I first gave birth to Arlo, they put cling film over him to insulate him, and he kicked it off, and they said then that he was a fighter.
“All the nurses were saying how strong he was.”
Following Arlo’s birth, on on September 20, he was moved to Royal Preston Hospital for the first few weeks of his life before returning to the Vic’s specialist baby unit.
He was allowed to go home on December 12 after spending almost three months in hospital, though he is still undergoing treatment for a hole in his heart and a damaged lung, both conditions caused by being born 15 weeks early.
Naomi, a teen support worker with Blackpool Council, said: “I built a really strong relationship with the nurses and they became like my family. Some of the nurses are like Arlo’s aunties now.
“I can’t thank the neonatal unit enough for all they have done for us. I can now be a mum again to my other two children, and my husband will be able to see Arlo a lot more.
“The girls love him, and they are really good with him as well.
“He’s getting bigger now. We have got so many hospital appointments. He’s had a hip scan and a brain scan.
“He’s still got problems with his heart and lungs and when he’s older he might not be able to do certain sports because of it, but he’s here and he has been amazing.”
Naomi and her family donated more than £500 to Blackpool Vic’s neonatal unit as a thank you.
She and her mother, Amanda Cane, sold pens and raffle tickets for World Prematurity Day, and her 14-year-old sister, Millie Grazier, raised £263 at a cake sale at her school to buy a special Mamaroo baby chair.
Amanda said: “The care really is outstanding and we wanted to do something nice for the unit. The staff have a smile on their face and are always so helpful.”
Neonatal unit manager Catherine Nash added: “We are so grateful for Naomi and her family for all their help with the unit’s fundraising. As well as selling tickets they also donated a couple of lovely prizes, at a time when they were already very busy juggling family life and hospital visiting.
“We are so delighted that Arlo enjoyed his first Christmas at home. It’s fantastic to see how much he has grown and improved.”
According to the NHS, a premature baby is a baby that is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
About eight out of 100 babies will be born prematurely.
The NHS considers a baby ‘viable’ at 24 weeks, which means it is possible for the baby to be born and survive.
Twins and triplets are regularly born prematurely. The average delivery date is 37 weeks for twins, and 33 weeks for triplets.